Caring for Kids - Travel Tips 

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Traveling with children brings its own special adventure, as well as challenges. You are more likely to have a joyful journey if you start with thorough preparation, add a dose of patience, and try to be open to finding joy in the most unexpected places. Here are three tips to help your travels go smoothly.

Involve Children in Planning 

“It’s important to remember that for young children, traveling can be very abstract,” says Christine Snyder, Director of U-M Child and Family Care. “It may be hard for them to anticipate the end reward of seeing loved ones or doing something fun. Getting them involved in the planning can help them feel included and give them a sense of control.” 

Including children in the planning process will help them visualize the journey, familiarize them with what to expect, and excite them about the adventure ahead. Here are some suggestions:

  • Let them choose a location they wish to visit or an activity they want to try from your list of destinations.
  • Involve them in packing their bags, letting them select a few favorite clothes or toys.
  • Discuss the travel route and what they should expect at each step.

Be prepared for Delays and Have Backup Plans

“Traveling often involves a lot of waiting that can be hard for children to endure. Having a plan in place ahead as well as a backup plan (and plenty of patience) can help ease any travel challenges.” Snyder adds. 

Whether it's flight delays, traffic jams, or energy surges from too much sitting or waiting, having alternatives in your back pocket can help save the day. For example:

  • Pack a compact travel bag with selected favorite toys, books, and games, which can serve as a distraction during the waits. 
  • For older children, portable electronic devices stocked with family-friendly apps and movies can also be a lifesaver. 
  • Ensure you have plenty of healthy, non-messy snacks and water to keep them satisfied and hydrated.
  • Consider in advance nearby alternative destinations in case of cancellations or weather disruptions.
  • Keep a list of kid-friendly activities or attractions along your route.
  • Prepare "surprise" bags containing new toys, games, or books to offer as a "plan B" distraction when patience runs thin.

When you pair advance planning with flexibility and creativity, traveling with children can transform from a challenge into an opportunity to make cherished memories that last a lifetime. It's all about shifting the focus from the destination to the journey, enabling children - and adults - to rediscover the joyful art of anticipation.

Suggested Resources to Learn More

Tips for Air Travel

Tips for Road Travel

General Tips

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