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Tips for Traveling with Small Children

Useful tips for traveling with small children on airplanes, cars, & trains.

Family vacations are a time for creating lifelong memories and fun learning experiences that parents and
children can reminisce about for years to come. However, traveling with children can sometimes be a test of preparedness, and patience. We hope that the following suggestions will help to make your next trip with the kids manageable and fun for the entire family.

Print This Checklist!

BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
Mark Off the Days on a Calendar (build excitement a few weeks before you leave by
counting down)
Make a Packing List
Let Children Bring their Own Bags (a small back-pack or carry-on is perfect)
Let Children Pack their Own Bags (after you have checked everything, of course)
Stock your Carry-On with Hard Candies, Gum & Wet Ones; (your bag should also include a surprise toy for each child in case of unexpected wait times at airports or hotels)
Bring a Disposable Camera (for the kids to use)
Discuss Safety & Security Rules with your kids the night before departure (including where to meet if you get separated)
Give the Children a Small Allowance each day to spend on whatever they want
Make a Rough Itinerary (allowing for some free time each day)
Bring All Transportation Information (including hotel phone numbers and confirmation numbers)
Bring Recent Photos of Children (just in case they get lost in a crowded airport or shopping area)

PACKING TIPS:
One to two weeks before the trip make a "to bring" list. As you gather these items, store them in grocery bag or box. Allow each child to bring a small bag with games, toys, stuffed animals, or other personal items to make them feel comfortable. For fun car games for the family, click here.

PACKING LIST:
Band-Aids
Antiseptic Hand Gel
Small Tissue Packs
Sunscreen
Dr.'s Phone Numbers
Tylenol -C
hildren's & Adults
Small Plug-in Nightlight (to help find the bathroom in the middle of the night)
Crayons
Mechanical Pencils
Paper
Deck of Cards
Zip Lock Bags (collecting shells, storing food, wet clothes)
Sunglasses
Hats/Visors
Light Weight Windbreaker
Umbrella
Camera with Extra Film
Extra Copy of Birth Certificates, Photo ID, Travel Reservations, Airline Tickets

TRAVEL FOOD:
Individual Applesauce & Fruit Cups (don't forget plastic spoons)
Dry Crackers (small snack pack size)
Individual Water Bottles (a permanent marker will help to keep these separate)
Poptarts
Individual Cereal Boxes
Flavored Rice Cakes
Juice Boxes/Bags
Jar of Peanut Butter & Loaf of Bread (don't forget a plastic knife)

ROAD TRIPS:
Bring Pillows
Keep the Kids Occupied with Car Games
Stop at Rest Stops Frequently
Have Snacks Handy (like dry cereal, pretzels, dry salty crackers, hard candy, & trail mix)
Bring a Cooler with Ice & Bottled Water
Bring a Frisbee
Plastic Boxes (one for each child) to hold kid's supplies; the lid makes a great desk or food tray
Several Bottles of Water (for drinking, a quick wash up, or cleaning a scrape)
Lightweight Blanket (for children to take a nap with)
Paper Towels or Wet Wipes (for quick clean-ups)
Compass (fun for the kids so they can help navigate)
Trash Bags (for storing laundry, wet items, or trash)

FLYING:
Chewing Gum (for the kids to help with the ear-popping)
Buy Favorite Magazines (for everyone to read while on the plane)
Take Advantage of Pre-Boarding (chances are good that you might just get a pillow & blanket)
Small Snack Bags (for your children's favorite snacks; they might not like the airline food)

CAR GAMES:

Odd or Even?
Game for two players - Have each child guess if there are more license plates that end in an odd or even number (plates that end in a letter do not count).
1. Give each child a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, or something to mark with.
2. Set a time limit, usually 10-15 minutes.
3. Have one child look for plates that end in an odd number, and the other look for an even number.
4. A tick mark or dash should be marked for each car they find (for extra learning have them group the marks in sets of 5).
4. At the end of the time limit have the children add up their marks (counting by 5's if grouping was used).

I Spy
Pick out an object that everyone can see. Then give them a clue by saying, "I spy something ..." (say its shape, color or size). The other players ask questions about what you see and you only answer with "yes" or "no." The first player who guesses correctly becomes the new spy.

A to Z
Find words beginning with "A," on signs around you. Have the players take turns; after "A", go to "B", and so on. Can you get ot "Z" and finish the alphabet? Alternate the starting person at the start of a new game, so that everyone gets a chance with the challenging letters (for younger players you may want to skip the difficult letters).

What Did I Bring on My Trip?
Start this game out by saying, "I'm going on a trip and I'm bringing..." The first player should name an item that starts with the letter "A." After "A," the next player will say the same thing but with the letter "B", and so on.

Guess the Number
Let your child think of a number between a stated range of numbers. You try to guess the number by asking questions. Here's a sample of how it might go: Your child, 'I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100.' You ask, 'Is it more than 50?' Your child, 'No.' You, 'Is it an even number?' Child: 'No.' You, 'Can you divide this number into three equal parts?' And so forth. After you have guessed the number, let your child guess a number that you are thinking of by asking similar questions. One benefit of this game is that, by asking questions about numbers, it helps the child to develop an understanding of some concepts, characteristics and meanings of numbers. If your child doesn't know the difference between odd and even numbers, this is an opportunity to explain and help them understand.

License Plate
You call out the number on a license plate and see who can add up the numbers correctly. Ask, How did you do that? Another license plate game is to copy down the number on the plate. Ignore any letters and read the number out loud, for example: T542216 would be five hundred-forty-two thousand, two hundred and sixteen.

Are We There Yet?
Try grappling with the 'Are we there yet?' questions with a little diversionary questioning of your own. Ask your child questions about how far you're traveling. Yards? Miles? Kilometers maybe? How fast are we going? If it's 3:15 now, and it takes us two hours to get there, what time will we arrive? How far have we gone?

Some of the other activities you might try while in transit are to have the kids watch for numbers on streets and buildings, phone numbers on the sides of trucks and other vehicles, dates on buildings, or business signs with numbers in them.