I love to travel! Some of the best memories from my own childhood are from family trips. From small Jersey Shore road trips, to occasional splurges to warm destinations in the winter, to really big trips like my soccer team playing in Sweden (shout out to my Manalapan Aztecs teammates and the thousands of chocolate bars we sold to make that happen!). I want that for our kids. To break out of the routine, put down the screens (unless we’re in transit), visit family, see how other people live, hear different languages being spoken, taste new foods and just generally be reminded that there’s a big world out there!
Many of you will take to the highways, train stations and airports over the next two weeks, so we offer you Jugl’s top advice for traveling with kids:
1. Prep your gadgets
Technology has made traveling with kids sooooo much easier…when it works. Our number one tip is to make sure that your technology is ready to keep your kids (and probably you, too) happy and occupied. This means:
Putting new fun, interesting content on the devices at least 24 hours in advance. Inevitably something doesn’t download right and if you are trying to do that right as you’re walking out the door it’s never good.
Charging everything fully, bringing extra batteries for anything that needs them and having chargers handy in case of unexpected delays.
2. Test your tech
One of the biggest travel parenting mistakes we ever made was on the first flight when our youngest was just old enough to sit still for a movie on a plane. We plugged her headphones in with joyous anticipation…and she had a mini-tantrum, saying she couldn’t hear. We cranked the volume and put it over our own ears and realized we couldn’t hear either! Oh, snap! Turns out they were volume limiting headphones, which are well-intentioned devices meant to protect young ears and work fine in a car, but with airplane engine noise the kids literally cannot hear their movie or music. DISASTER!!! After that trip, the ones we found that worked best for little kids on planes (and still fit our 9-year old) are Kidsz Gear wired headphones.
3. Making a list and checking it twice – it’s not just for Santa!
No matter how relaxed you are when you go solo, traveling with kids is NOT the time to wing it. I personally like to use an excel spreadsheet (don’t judge me!) and create a new tab for each trip based on a similar previous trip. I have a section for me, and now that my girls are older I also have a section that I print for them so that they can lay out clothes, etc. for me to review and then help them pack.
If your kids are old enough to dress themselves, they are old enough to help you pack!
4. Items to remember – especially for plane trips
Headphones and/or headphone splitter for when kids (of course) want to watch the same thing and it’s only on one device
Don’t forget to bring the movie or music device altogether – especially if you have them charging the night before, be sure to grab them!
Refillable water bottles
Booster seats/care seats (Hertz will give them to you free if you are a AAA member which almost pays for the membership if you rent a few times a year). We also like the inflatable Bubble Bum for a travel booster, and when the girls were smaller we used our normal car seats and rolled them around using the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate.
Extra clothes and underwear for children under 5 (and extra clothes for you if your children are under 3)
Snacks, snack and more snacks (you can really never have enough)
Nut free snacks in case a nearby passenger has a nut allergy
Tissues, wipes, napkins, hand sanitizer and small trash bags
For younger kids, bring a bunch of fun, new, small, quiet toys that they have never seen before
Lovey or important soothing stuffed animal (pro-tip: buy multiples if you can so if one ever gets lost you can substitute)
Holiday gifts (and you might not want to wrap them until you arrive in case of TSA bag check)
5. Some things are better left at home
It should go without saying, but please be kind to your fellow passengers and don’t bring smelly or noisy things on planes, trains or other public transportation. Also, skip bringing items which have small pieces that little kids can throw or drop easily (unless you enjoy spending your trip repeatedly picking things up off the floor and banging your head on the seat in front of you…)
6. Bonus tips
Make it a habit to sweep your area of the plane/train/etc. before getting off. Under the seat, by the armrest, in the seatback pocket, etc. If our family is any indication, spending the extra two minutes will save you massive drama at least once a year!
Put name labels with cell number on EVERYTHING!!! The best chance of getting your iPad/Kindle/hat/lovey back if you leave it or drop it is if you have your name and cell phone number on it. Has saved us so many times that it is almost comical!!!
Apply for frequent flyer numbers for your kids if you fly with them (our youngest was able to get a free ticket using her own miles before she was 6 years old!)
7. Keep your sense of humor and adventure!
Don’t be too intense. Relax, have fun, enjoy your kids! Model for your kids the type of behavior that makes for a good traveler. Delays happen, lines are long. Be sure to show your kids that travel is way more fun when you keep your sense of humor and adventure and just roll with whatever happens. We can’t control weather or delays or grumpy passengers or harried gate agents, but we absolutely can control our own attitudes.
Travels are some of the most memorable experiences of childhood and of parenting! We wish you happy holidays, safe travels and the best of everything in 2018!! We can wait to get the first version of Jugl into your hands by the end of Q1!
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