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One of the decisions that my husband and I made early on in our marriage was that my husband would not let having kids affect our traveling. I have had a travel bug since I was young and love seeing the world and going on adventures. Traveling with preschoolers can actually be really fun if you plan your trip out right and if you are prepared. I recognize that it might seem overwhelming to take your preschooler on a vacation but follow these 10 Tips for Traveling with Preschoolers and you’ll see that the memories you make will be well worth it!
- Schedule Bathroom Breaks- It is important for preschoolers to have scheduled bathroom breaks. At home, they often have a bathroom near by. When their schedule gets messed up, you might find that they start having accidents. We took our 3 year old to Disneyland and quickly found that we had to make bathroom breaks a priority.
- Take Snacks- We all know how grumpy kids can get when they are hungry. When going on vacation, I have found that it is important to have a stock of waters, juice boxes and kid appropriate snacks available to diffuse any sitution. Snack include granola bars, fruit snacks, string cheese, dried fruit, etc.
- Listen to your Kids- It is important to recognize that your child’s schedule has been disrupted so you need to be willing to listen to them and adjust appropriately to their needs. If your schedule allows, be willing to shift your schedule for breaks to help your child not become overtired.
- Scheduled Nap time- You know your kids better than anyone else. Some preschoolers can go on vacation and do just fine without a nap. Others will not survive the trip if they do not get their naps. My kids always tend to be the ones that it is important to give them their nap. The nice thing about vacations are that you can be creative with their nap time. If you are driving from destination to destinations during their nap time, you can give them an environment to make it easier for them to fall asleep in the car. This would include a quiet environment with soft music. If you are already at your destination, you could have a reclining stroller where your child can snuggle up and take a nap. I have found that if they are shaded, have their favorite blanket and you take a few minutes to stroll around it will help them to fall asleep.
- Schedule age appropriate activities- Naturally, if you schedule a whole vacation of activities that your preschooler might find boring, they will melt down quicker. Make sure and schedule age appropriate activities every day to keep them engaged and happy.
- Stick to a schedule- Kids love routine and keeping a schedule is so important. With preschoolers, one of the most important parts of the schedule is bedtime. Help them to keep a regular bedtime and familiar routine even while on vacation by bringing their favorite book, blanket or stuffed animal. Getting enough sleep will help them to better enjoy the trip.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is important for everyone on your vacation, but you will especially find that younger ages with melt down quicker if they are thirsty. Make sure and always have water bottles on hand if they get thirsty.
- Bring an activity bag. Pack a bag that has activities your child would like for during a down time. This could be used on an airplane, in the car or at the hotel. This could include stickers, coloring books, toys, or some books to read.
- Be flexible. Unfortunately there are times on a trip that your child will be too tired and will melt down. If you plan ahead of time to be flexible, these moments will be less stressful. When we went on our Disney Trip, we recognized that my preschooler would not be able to have a full day schedule, so when she needed it, we would take turns taking her back to the hotel for a break. Sometimes, your whole plans don’t need to be changed. Often giving your child 10 minutes to run around in the grass, or taking a break from always being on the go is all that they need.
- Include your child in the planning process. If you talk about the trip with your child regularly, then they will know what to expect when your vacation happens. Let them know exactly what to expect, what they will be doing, and help them to get excited with you. If your child recognizes what they can expect, they will be better prepared when it happens.