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Traveling with Children Made Easy

Aug 13, 2008
First, think about mode of transportation. If you are going in a car, you have more flexibility in terms of activities for children than if you are in a plane or other public transportation. Secondly, think about the age of the children. Very young children are likely to sleep a lot; teens are likely to complain a lot; middle kids are likely to elbow each other and ask, "are we there yet?" or sing "Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall."

There are a couple of characteristics of kids that are really significant to the travel problem. First off, a bored child is unpleasant to be around. Secondly, when children have a period of active play, they can settle down for awhile. Thirdly, always, always, always at least go into the restroom and try during every stop. How to put all this together: No matter what form of transportation you are using, there needs to be a period of high energy activity before sitting down.

You are going to look strange at the airport doing jumping jacks or running in place, but the other passengers will appreciate it when your kids get in their seats and promptly go to sleep. If you are traveling in a car, the same thing applies. Come up with some high energy games (races, relays, frisbee, whatever) for every rest stop. When you are getting to the point of needing to get back in the car or on the plane, then do a couple of quieter activities to settle people down.

Next, a trip should be a little like Christmas, with kids getting new activities. It might be a video game (with earphones if possible for the comfort of other passengers) or an mp3 player loaded with songs the child or teen likes or a DVD player and some new DVD's or a travel version of a game (only if the kids aren't so competitive that the loser will get upset). By the way, mp3 players are great for kids who get motion sickness and can't look at a video game or a book while riding.

You can load the mp3 player with stories and music. Or, if you have a laptop computer, bring along a new game or two. There are free ones that can be downloaded. These things should be treated like Christmas presents--hidden until the day of travel and actually reserved until the new wears off the experience of traveling. If you are going on a long plane trip, don't give out the loot until everyone is just starting to get bored with looking out the window and putting the seat table up and down and reading the emergency card.

Finally, it helps to have snacks that are treats to the children but familiar enough to feel a little like home. Some kids have a hard time eating new foods and need to have something they know they like available. If you are on a road trip, you can also pack a cooler of bottled water and soft drinks (although limit the amount kids drink unless you want to visit a lot of rest areas).

If you look at travel from a child's perspective and keep in mind the key characteristics of kids, you will be able to plan a reasonably happy trip for the whole family.
About the Author
Chris Jensen is a contributing author of Jetfly Blog. For more related articles and views visit Jetfly Travel & Vacation Blog now. Also, for the best up-to-date related online products, check out Jetfly Apple iPod Shop for todays current online deals.
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