Keys to Worry-Free Family Travel with Your Kiddos this School Holidays
We’ve already given you Tips & Tricks For Stress-free Traveling With Toddlers, so this article is dedicated to parents whose children are in that ‘golden age’ of 5 to 11. Time to celebrate your (virtual) freedom! Kids this age don’t need as much ‘gear’ (buh-bye, diapers!), they are more self-sufficient, and they are able to carry their own small bags on-board. Now that they’re more responsible, why not take some of the pressure off by getting them involved when making your next journey? Here are our tips for travelling with kids ages 5 to 11!
Prep & thinking ahead, it’s all in the details
Parents are always so busy, but if you want to avoid any hiccups, get prepped beforehand. Here are some tips designed to tick off all the boxes and ease your worried mind before your flight, all designed to get the kids involved.
Pack with the kids, assign jobs, and have them keep track of specific items while packing. Prepare a checklist ahead of time and tick it off right before you travel, along with your kids. Be sure they pack books, coloured pencils, paper, their favourite stuffed animal, and – no judgment! – a tablet for when you need some quiet time. (Check out the Entertainment section of this article for more carry-on ideas).
Even older kids can have meltdowns when they don’t know what to expect. Brief your kids in advance on what will happen (the good – everything runs smoothly as planned) and what could happen (the bad – flight delays, cancellations and other problems). At check-in, let them know the luggage and carry-on bag rules, tell them how to behave during security checks and boarding procedures, and definitely fill them in on immigration etiquette. It may be a good idea to set behaviour rules and expectations in advance as well.
Check in early and online to ensure your family is all seated together, and, if possible, print boarding passes at home.
Try to get to the airport with plenty of time and take advantage of early boarding. It may be a nice idea to enjoy a meal together before boarding the plane, and always make one last visit to the bathroom before boarding.
Assign travel duties to your kids such as time tracker, bag finder, gate scouter, bathroom and water duty. Why not make the whole experience a game and integrate activity to keep the kids interested?
Carry-on suitcases & backpacks
When you’re travelling with kids this age, packing light is key — the less you bring, the less you will need to keep track of. We recommend getting your kids their own carry-on suitcases or backpacks. Hand them the list you created together and check to make sure everything has been neatly folded and put in the bags. If you need some ideas for bags, check out these adorable cases here, here, and here.
We also recommend checking as much as you can at the counter, especially liquids, to save yourself from the unnecessary added weight, clutter, and hassle at security.
The Essentials: what to pack for older kids
We recommend packing comfy warm clothes for the flight such as a hoodie, fleece or sweatshirt, a portable pillow and compact blanket to stay extra warm and comfy in the chilly cabin temperatures. Dressing your kids in layers is highly recommended; it is much easier to remove than to be without.
Snacks are a must, as usually flights do not accommodate multiple snack breaks and your kids may not like the food provided, either. We love the idea of meal prepping ahead of time. This is a great activity to get the kids involved in. Have them pick out and prepare what they want to munch on, and put them in reusable containers so you can do the same for the flight home. We think pretzels, goldfish, saltines, dried fruit and nuts are a good start (in rare cases, flights are designated as nut-free so bring a back-up option).
TSA allows most food items (such as snack bars, cooked meals, nuts and solid foods). However, foodstuffs such as yogurt, peanut butter, applesauce and other gelatinous or semi liquid foods do not pass if over 3 ounces, so be careful.
Avoid the waste: pack a reusable water bottle (we recommend getting one for each child). We also found some awesome reusable snack bags as well, which you can get here.
While distraction is key for infants and toddlers, older kids will need more engaging forms of entertainment and interactive activities to make time fly. Have a go at our activity list.
The Essentials, the activity list:
Although no one wants to shove their kids in front of a screen for several hours, when traveling, we sometimes have to be prepared for boredom. It’s not like you can just pop outside and run around when the kids get antsy, so prepare a fully loaded tablet with their favourite music, movies and games, and bring along protective headphones (these or these are pretty cool). If you have more than one child, a headphone splitter for sharing may be helpful, but if they are too far apart in age to enjoy the same movies, get them their own headsets.
Journals, activity books, or homework are great ideas to pass the time (don’t forget to bring a pencil case with markers, pens, crayons). To make the journey a memorable one, have your kids start a travel journal. All they need to do is add pics. A great camera is a Polaroid (available here and here), which lets them get creative with immediate photos and gives them something to do when putting them in the journal.
Hand held games are also a great time killer, but why not make them educational? Check out some popular resources here and here. Fun games such as Travel Scrabble, Bananagrams, Spot it, Take ‘n’ play Bingo, or a deck of cards are all easily packable and fun for the whole family. You can even play them if the weather at your destination isn’t cooperating.
If you’ve got an Inspector Gadget on your hand, these interactive cameras and watches are a great way keep your kids entertained. Not only do they have camera for photos and videos, but they have games and a voice recorder as well.
Safe & happy travels!