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.
Mark Off the Days on a Calendar (build excitement a few weeks
before you leave by
Make a Packing List
Let Children Bring their Own Bags (a small back-pack or carry-on
Let Children Pack their Own Bags (after you have checked everything,
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
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)
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
Antiseptic Hand Gel
Small Tissue Packs
Dr.'s Phone Numbers
Small Plug-in Nightlight (to help find the bathroom in the
middle of the night)
Deck of Cards
Zip Lock Bags (collecting shells, storing food, wet clothes)
Light Weight Windbreaker
Camera with Extra Film
Extra Copy of Birth Certificates, Photo ID, Travel Reservations,
Individual Applesauce & Fruit Cups (don't forget plastic
Dry Crackers (small snack pack size)
Individual Water Bottles (a permanent marker will help to
keep these separate)
Individual Cereal Boxes
Flavored Rice Cakes
Jar of Peanut Butter & Loaf of Bread (don't forget a plastic
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)
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)
Chewing Gum (for the kids to help with the ear-popping)
Buy Favorite Magazines (for everyone to read while on the
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)
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
4. At the end of the time limit have the children add up their
marks (counting by 5's if grouping was used).
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.