Andrea Khan, the founder and chief travel officer at The Family Backpack
- Pack like a Pro - we like to carry on everything and have favorite toys, books, electronic devices, a change of clothes for blow-outs for babies & parents, etc. We also use packing cubes to organize parents and kids alike. You can organize kids by color and use them later for dirty clothes. This helps on both flights keeping suitcases organized and road trips where you can pull our one cube for one night in a hotel and not have to unpack the entire car!
We also like to pack some electronics and our favorite airplane and road trip tip is to utilize kid-friendly podcasts — like Story Pirates and But Why? that are great for all ages...parents too.
Out of the box here: Especially on flights with babies and toddlers, have a couple gallon size zip lock bags to seal up any soiled clothes.
2. Bring (lots of) snacks - and not just sugar, but healthy snacks that the kids love to keep their blood sugar up and stave off "hangry" kids — and parents, especially during layovers, flight delays and more! Think fresh fruit, yogurt, goldfish, made in nature protein snacks, granola bars. It’s also nice to have some favorite snacks at holiday events in case kids’ don’t like the food and so they don’t rely entirely on holiday cookies and sweets!
3. Factor in kids' sleep schedules: It is nice to consider flight times when you can (think early morning or evening flights so kids can sleep) but also once you're at your destination, try to stay consistent as much as possible with sleep schedules - bedtimes, nap times, etc. so that kids’ aren’t overly tired or over-stimulated. This can be tricky with holiday festivities and travel delays, so simply do the best you can.
4. Over-prepare & be honest – We have learned that traveling with kids 9-18 months is the hardest age to travel. And toddlers will have meltdowns no matter what. We can’t sugar coat this, but we’ve learned from experience that when you are prepared, these situations become a lot less stressful.
5. Manage your own stress - Those meltdowns are handled better when we take care of ourselves too! Think: essential oils, taking deep breaths and going with the flow - pack your own healthy snacks, talk to your spouse or partner to take a walk, read a book or take a short break from the chaos of travel with kids. Sometimes, as parents, we’re so concerned about keeping our kids calm and engaged that we forget about ourselves. Ask for help.