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As a parent, it’s hard to imagine traveling with young kids. Especially on a trip that isn’t actually intended for the kids. We often put the trips we adults want to take on the back burner until the kids are older and might appreciate the experience. It is my belief, however, that if you want to take the trip, TAKE THE TRIP! Make it happen with the kids. They will adapt, they will enjoy themselves, and you will make amazing memories as a family. Travel can expand a child’s world. It can make them more empathetic towards different cultures and more adaptable to changing circumstances.

Before my son turned three, he had been to 12 states and 6 countries, and had been on over thirty flights. None of those trips were specifically intended for him, but we had so much fun as a family and we have memories with him that we will cherish forever. Plus thousands of pictures to show him one day! Now, I can’t say one hundred percent that it is correlated, but I think because we have been traveling with him since he was six months old, he is the most adaptable kid I know. We have a new baby now that slowed our travel plans down just a bit last year, but we will be back at it with two kids this year and I can’t wait!

There are a few tips and tricks that seem to help us when traveling with kids –

  • While in the airport, I recommend “baby-wearing” if your child is small enough.
  • You can also take your child’s stroller all the way to the gate and gate-check it.
  • For flights, I always take new small toys, favorite snacks, and a tablet with plenty of downloaded content to keep the kiddos entertained.
  • For long-haul flights, I also take an inflatable foot rest pillow that essentially turns the child’s seat into a bed.
  • For an overnight flight, put on your child’s pajamas and try to create a bedtime-like atmosphere. Set yourself up for success so that you can hopefully get some shut-eye, too!

A few things that have helped us when traveling in Europe with a baby –

  • You will all be tired when you arrive, of course, but if you try to get your child up after a nap at their normal time that first day, I think it really helps them adjust to the time difference!
  • As for you, try to stay up as late as you can that first day. It is the key to getting on local time.
  • If you are traveling by train, take the child’s car seat. It makes napping easier for them, which makes the trip easier for you.
  • Another gadget we love to take along on trips is an inflatable bathtub. Just in case your hotel doesn’t have a tub (and many don’t’), you can blow up the kid tub and stick it in the shower for bathtime.

My last couple of tips are for your mindset. Just know ahead of time that a trip with young kids may not exactly be a relaxing vacation for you. You’ll still be parenting – just in a new location. Keep your expectations in check and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much fun you all have as a family!

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