Traveling with Kids
Things Will Go Wrong. Do It Anyway.

I’ve been traveling with kids since I was a kid myself. Once as a 12-year-old I was tasked with shepherding my younger siblings to and around Europe because my parents had lost a passport and missed joining us for our flight to Munich. So traveling (with kids) has always been a part of my life and remains important to me today with young children of our own. 

Since being born, our kids have moved three times, traveled to half a dozen countries and 30 states and made countless long-weekend trips. I drove cross-country with a 2-month-old and have traveled with every combination of our children both solo and with my husband. In our family, upon turning five, it is a rite of passage for each child to fly alone to visit family on the East Coast, and they’ve become familiar with the nuances of transportation by car, plane, train, boat, ferry, taxi and subway. We’ve traveled through breastfeeding, potty training, crawling and just learning to walk. We’ve been to big cities and middle-of-nowhere campsites.

For many, the idea of traveling with kids can be overwhelming, as the stress of unexpected traffic, long TSA lines or even just packing can be unbearable. So as a lifelong family traveler, I can offer some of my experience.

While no two families’ travel plans look exactly the same, a lot of advice for traveling with kids can boil down to some consistent themes:

 • Keep your hands free (consider checking your bags, travel light)

 • You probably can’t bring too many snacks (or wipes or plastic bags)

 • Involve your kids in the planning and the journey

 • Be flexible, as things will go wrong (more on that next)

One of the most important things that I have learned when traveling with our kids is that no matter how much you plan or what you pack, when you travel with kids, THINGS WILL GO WRONG, but do it anyway.

Embrace the unexpected and count on the problems. An unexpected late-night adventure to find ibuprofen (WHY DO I NEVER REMEMBER TO PACK IBUPROFEN) can be just that–an adventure. Here is some good news: There are children everywhere. So generally, the things you need for your children are . . . everywhere. This is to say, even the most kid-unfriendly parts of the world will have access to the things that you need to enjoy a safe and healthy trip without needing to pack the kitchen sink.

Even during the “worst” family trip, plan to learn a ton, and teach your kids a ton, about adapting to and dealing with different experiences and stresses. Through your travels, focus on enjoying the experience of traveling, which can be so much more meaningful than material things. In conclusion, leave extra time, pack smart and make your travels part of the journey. Remember that things will go very wrong but that often things will also go very right, so be ready to enjoy those golden moments together. And for goodness sake, bring the ibuprofen. ::

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