Vacations are one of the best ways to make lasting family memories. But sometimes getting to the vacation with small children can be downright painful. Whether you fly or drive, it is important to plan ahead in order to be ready for… well, anything. These are my top tips for traveling with a preschooler.
10 Tips For Traveling With A Preschooler
Do Not Let Them Get Hungry Or Thirsty
Nothing can turn a sweet child into a grumpy mess faster than getting too hungry or thirsty. When it comes to traveling with a preschooler, you cannot bring too many snacks. I recommend individually portioned snacks: small bags of Goldfish, Cheerios, banana chips, pretzels, raisins, granola bars, nuts, etc. Be ready the moment someone utters the words, “I’m hungry.”
For water on the go, I love Thermos Funtainers. They keep drinks cold for hours. Even when we fly, I pack empty ones in our carry-on and fill with bottled water after the security check. Bonus, no spilt mess on the plane!
Strategically Plan Travel Time
When traveling with a preschooler consider your child’s schedule when planning travel times. We find mid-morning travel is best. Too early, and everyone is grumpy, to late and the kids are worn out. Not to mention we have to listen to, “Is it time to leave yet?” from the moment the kids wakeup in the morning. Think about when your kids are their happiest, and try to travel then.
Look, Learn, Explore
Travel is a fascinating process with lots of opportunities to learn. Instead of diving right into trying to entertain your child, give them a chance to look around and learn about what’s happening. Talk to them about everything you see. Use the opportunity to count, work on letter sounds and explore a new place.
Save The Best For Last
My preschooler is the queen of quickly moving from one activity to the next. In order to keep her occupied for as long as possible, I start small and work up to the big things. I’ll start with dolls to play with or a book to read and save the new coloring book and electronics for later.
Screen Time Is Your Best Friend
Travel is the one time I completely throwout screen time rules. After all, the name of the game is to keep them busy, and nothing occupies them like an electronic. Before you go, load them up with movies and games — new apps are a major bonus. I also keep my kids away from their electronics for a week before the trip in order to make sure they are really excited to use them.
Need ideas on what apps to download, check out these 14 Best Travel Apps, Games & Toys for Preschoolers.
This might be my germaphobe mom gene coming out, but travel = germs. Make sure you can easily access hand sanitizer, tissues,baby wipes, etc. at all times. When in doubt, clean it first.
Everyone Carries Their Gear
Kids love to pretend they are mini adults, and giving them their own backpack or mini suitcase to tote their belongings makes them feel special. Plus, is there anything cuter than a little tyke with a rolling suitcase? Before you go, let them “help” pack their special bag so they get to be part of the process. (Even if you have to repack later.)
In addition to the activities and electronics the kids help me pack, I always bring surprises. These items are stashed away in my bag (some for the trip there, some for the trip back), ready and waiting for when they are needed. Nothing big, but new. Activity books from the dollar store and after holiday clearance stocking stuffers or Easter Basket fillers are perfect. Your tiny traveler won’t care if the new doll is wearing a Christmas dress. So when you see 50% off tiny toys, buy them for summer travel!
Know Before You Go
If this is your preschooler’s first trip, tell them what to expect. Tell them about the places you will go and how you will get there. Tell them about lines you will wait in, things they will see and people they will meet. Explain to them the kind of behavior you expect and how much fun they will have. The more they know before, the less room there is for surprise and becoming too overwhelmed. And the more they kids, the more comfortable they will become with the process.
Preschoolers have a away of making a mess, even when you don’t think it is possible. Always keep a clean change of clothes handy. You never know if you will actually need it, but if you don’t have, Murphy’s Law says you will definitely need it. Don’t forget to pack a light sweater in case it is chilly too.
Tiny Travelers Disney Vacation Sweepstakes
Now that you have my tips for traveling with a preschooler, how would you like the chance to win a family vacation to Walt Disney World® Resort. Through the Tiny Travelers Sweepstakes one lucky family will win a 4-day, 5-night vacation to the Walt Disney World® Resort for four from Scholastic.
Through April 28 you can enter for a chance to win your dream Disney vacation where you can take your own family photo in front of the castle like my family.
Plus the first 2,500 entrants will win a free Scholastic book! Visit the Tiny Travelers Sweepstakes and enter for your chance to win today.
Then start planning things to do at Disney with your preschooler.
Taking a road trip?
Check out these 40 things to pack for a road trip with kids.