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8 Ways to Help You Get Along While Traveling With a Child

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With the holidays just around the corner, a lot of us will be getting ready to travel to visit family. It’s no secret that traveling before we have kids is quite different from traveling with little ones. There is a lot more preparation, and potentially a lot more frustration, and while it can be challenging at times, there are ways to make the trip more enjoyable.

Over the last 2 years I have had my fair share of flying with the kids, and l have to say it was harder than I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, the trip is always a blast, but it isn’t always all rainbows and butterflies either.

There is actually a study done where out of 1500 adults, there was no happiness gain after vacation if there was moderate to high travel-related stress. I don’t know about you, but stress is usually at least some part of your travel experience when you have kids.

I think that we often think about the destination instead of the journey, and you have probably heard that it is all about the journey and not the destination, right? Well when you travel with kids, the journey isn’t always easy and it can test your patience and your willpower. And I don’t just mean with your children, I also mean with your spouse or significant other.

I thought I would pass on the top 8 things I learned about getting along while traveling with a child. I think a few of these might help save some relationships and make traveling a whole lot more tolerable.

1. Pack early: If you tend to wait until the day before to pack you will probably find that you are stressed out before you even get to the airport or on the road. I like to start a list, nothing formal, a week early and just add to it throughout the week. That way I am not running around trying to remember everything. Make sure your list indicates where you will need this item. Sounds silly, but If you need something that happens to be at the bottom of your suitcase, then it doesn’t really help you right? Keep a running list and pack early so that you can keep your stress levels down. Staying stress free will help keep arguments or harsh words at bay.

2. Hydrate: Studies have shown that, staying hydrated can actually help keep your stress levels down. Being dehydrated often makes you feel tired and can give you a headache. Make sure to bring a large bottle of water when you travel. (If you are flying bring an empty bottom to fill up after you pass through security or buy one before you board) When in doubt, check your pee….yep I said pee….if it’s not fairly clear, you need more water. You don’t have to feel dehydrated to be dehydrated.

3. Move: From my experience, when I stay in the same position for too long, it becomes hard to see the world from a different perspective. So when you are frustrated, or upset, move around. Not only do you help get the blood flowing and muscles moving, you help yourself see the world from a different point of view. Seeing the world from a different vantage point can help let the frustration pass.

4. Don’t play the blame game: I remember turning to my husband and saying something like, “well if you had…” That’s right, I was pretty much saying that if he had done something differently our child would not have misbehaved. Don’t let the stress of travel be the cause of unneeded blame. The words you use now might not be easy to forget later, and that can put a damper on the rest of the trip.

5. Acknowledge the frustration: It’s ok to be frustrated.What you don’t want to do is let it turn you into someone you are not. Instead of pushing your child over to your travel partner in anger, which I have done before, take a deep breath and say, “I’m frustrated, can I take a minute to myself?” Acknowledging your frustration to your partner lets them know that you are being proactive about regaining your calm. It also lets them know that you appreciate their help.

6. Say thank you: Say it often and say it sincerely. Not everyone has children and not everyone understands that you can’t always make a child stop crying on demand. Let those around you know that you appreciate their patience. When you feel like people appreciate that you are trying, you feel less stressed and guilty, which means getting along better with your travel companions.

7. Make eye contact with others: As a mother I understand it’s hard to see everything else going on around you when you have a crying child, but the more you acknowledge the world the more the world acknowledges you. Making eye contact helps you feel not so alone and you will be amazed at how others will engage with you and your children. During a recent flight one of the flight attendants offered to hold our son for a few minutes so we could both stretch and take a breath, it wasn’t the time that mattered, it was the kindness that was important, and it all started with eye contact.

8. Compliment your travel partner: When you are a parent your kids tend to take over your life. I know that when we travel, it is hard not to let my son dominate my world, but it is so important to acknowledge how lucky I am to have someone there to help. Not everyone gets to have a travel partner, so when you do, compliment them…and not just about how great they are with the kids. Any compliment will do the trick, just let them know they are pretty awesome, because making someone feel valued helps every relationship.

In the end, how we feel internally and how we act to the outside world can really affect our close relationships. So next time you head out on a big adventure with kids, try out these 8 tips and let me know if they helped you get along while traveling.


Dana Malstaff

Dana Malstaff

Dana Malstaff is the Founder of Boss Mom and creator Nurture to Convert.
She is a mother, author, speaker, messaging strategist, podcaster, blind spot reducer, and movement maker. She believes that too many brilliant moms are struggling to figure out how to grow their business while balancing all that is required to be a good mom, partner, and woman. So many moms are trying to grow their business using trends that feel inauthentic and aren't realistic for their inconsistent schedules. She has helped thousands of women become known for their brain and not their dance moves

2 thoughts on “8 Ways to Help You Get Along While Traveling With a Child”

  1. Hi Dana,

    Great tips! I would add that having the right expectations can also help make your trip a success. Travelling with kids just isn’t the same as how you might have travelled before…

  2. These tips are great Dana. We just got back from a family holiday and it was so lovely… but it wasn’t without tantrums, missing drink bottles (read: tantrums lol) and whinging. I try to think holidays now as “we’re making memories for my son”, instead of “I’m going to totally relax”.

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