Our director of advertising, Ty Flandreau, travels frequently with his wife and their two kids (ages 8 and 10). According to him, once kids hit age 7-ish, they are old enough to be “responsible” for some essential travel duties.
Here are some tricks he’s picked up along the way to ensure smooth sailing on each new journey.
- Let kids manage their own carry-ons – we found bags with wheels and straps so they can roll them or wear them like a backpack. The kids like to wheel the bags through the airport (like the other adult travelers), but if we’re in a hurry to make a connecting flight, we have them convert to “backpack mode” so we can move a lot quicker. That makes it much easier when you have to get from Terminal A over to Terminal ZZ to make your connection.
- Allow them to pack said carry-ons…well, with a little help – we let each of the kids pack a few treats and small toys for a flight or long drive. Small Tupperware containers with fruit snacks, goldfish, and almonds provide a nice snack to keep them happy. We try to stay away from too much sugar so they won’t get wound-up. If flying, we also bring an empty water bottle they can fill once we get through the security line. That way we don’t need to wait for the beverage cart once we get on the plane.
- Bring a pal – each of the kids gets to bring one (and only one!) small stuffed animal. Their stuffed friend keeps them company, and once we reach our destination it doubles as their bedtime buddy. Having a familiar stuffy makes the experience of sleeping in a new bed a little less worrisome.
- Get artsy – we pack a binder with blank paper and colored pencils so they can draw and color when they get antsy on longer trips. Once we get to our vacation spot, they use it write letters to friends back at home. We have them draw pictures of the things they see on the trip that we don’t have at home – people snorkeling was the popular sketch from our last trip to Hawaii.
- And when all else fail and the kids are at the end of their rope…and maybe I am too…I bust out my tablet – I keep it in my bag but we don’t pull it out unless we’ve hit a flight delay, or it’s been a really long day. I’ve got an audio splitter, so the kids can share the screen with two sets of headphones. I preload it with two movies so they get a little bit of choice, but not too much. That way, they can pretty quickly agree on what they want to watch and we all get to sit-back and relax.