Feed and Water Frequently
First, children do best if kept fed, watered, given adequate potty breaks, and plenty of time to sleep. Of course, this last one isn’t always possible! Traveling internationally, in particular, can be a challenge. If your child doesn’t sleep well at home, this is unlikely to change when you travel. If your kid will sleep well after a major excursion then schedule the big hike! But always beware of the dreaded travel combos hangry (hungry + angry) or sungry (sad + hungry). Some friends will adjust their children’s sleep schedules for weeks ahead of a trip with 3+ hour time zone changes. We’ve always just tried to adjust to local time that first day.
Second, carry a bag that allows you to pack what you’ll need for the day, something compact yet spacious; one we definitely recommend is the Thule of Sweden Subterra 25L Daypack; lightweight, durable, with logical layout and superior design.
Here’s what we carry in our backpack:
iPad or other tablet along with a portable charger and battery and reliable headphones
Sealed snacks (nuts or jerky go a long way to keep you full)
Change of clothes for myself and any child not big enough to carry their own pack – airsickness is real
Gum- international death breath is far from a victimless crime
Refillable Aktiv water bottle, just remember to empty it before security if you’re flying!
We remember well the advice we were given on our first international trip to Scandinavia with a two year old and a six year old. The good advice: bring extra clothes on the plane, not just for them but for you (so if your luggage is lost, or if someone has an unfortunate barfing incident you’re covered). The bad advice, well, I’m not going to repeat that. All these years later and after many trips our system is streamlined and effective, although that may have more to do with the ages (now 8 and 12) and their travel experience than anything Mom and Dad are doing…
Realistically, bringing snacks (especially if it something they don’t usually get to eat) and having an activity bag with what our child’s school would call rainy day activities are key. A kiddie backpack with pockets in which you’ve hid things for the younger set offers hours (ok, many minutes) of entertainment. If you’re flying, remember liquids that aren’t breast milk or juice are not allowed to go through security in your carryon. Always inform security if you have these items ahead of time. TSA does not like surprises. Here’s a good place to check what you can or can’t bring. These rules are almost universal so if you are hopping a pond on your travels, keep them in mind.
For those still in diapers, set out the diapers you will think you need, and then add at least 3 more and don’t forget the wipes (so many wipes!!). Soft activity books and sticker books for the under 4 crowd are fantastic, anything to keep their hands occupied with not playing with the seat in front of them. With the 5-10 year old crowd something they’ve looked forward to, or something they have helped pick out is always helpful. (And then pack it away in their backpack so that they know it is special, and for later- build anticipation!) Free games such as I Spy, the License Plate Game, 20 Questions (our family does this with animals as inspired by the Wild Kratts) is also fantastic.
If you don’t typically allow iPads or other electronica*, vacation is sometimes the time to allow them to binge on videos, etc, geared to their level or new coloring books and pens/crayons are obvious big hit choices. Lucky enough to have a big reader? Pre-load the Kindle app to avoid the weight of paper books. We have family friends who love podcasts when doing long drives, or perhaps you’re like us and enjoy singing to Dear Evan Hansen or Hamilton. Pick an album from your youth! Your kids deserve to hear the Gin Blossoms! Legos or other craft items with small parts aren’t for traveling, unless you enjoy diving under seats trying to find the quarter inch brick that has gone missing and is key to whatever your child is building. Our kids love picnics- eating food outdoors is the ultimate reward for them, especially after a hike across a glacier are a day long car ride.
Channeling obsessions with social media with the tween/teen crowd and asking them to find the coolest place at your destination, or stops on the way is always helpful. #Lit Get your child to help plan the itinerary. Give them buy-in on the plan!
Speaking of itineraries, and this circles back to that whole sleeping thing- make sure there is time in the schedule for downtime. Even if that is just spending an hour or so hanging at a local café or coffee shop, some of your best experiences can happen when you aren’t doing anything. My sister finds parks with green space and sets her soccer playing progeny loose on the local populace- a fantastic way to meet locals.
Wear attractive, but comfortable layers
Travel clothes need to be layered to account for extremes in temperature, and above all comfort, but you don’t need to look like a mess either.
Wear our Orn or Rak jeans by reDEW8 in transit so they aren’t taking up space in your luggage, and their stretchiness means you can wear them constantly and they will still look neat and stylish. There are no droopy seats with reDEW8! Our wool and silk underwear for men or women from Northern Playground is antimicrobial, keeping you fresh even if you experience delays that keep you in them for days. Layering is key, so we would recommend a Cashwool sweater overtop of a Agaton wool t-shirt from Ivanhoe for men, or the Roalda Rollneck sweater by Amundsen Sports over the silk/wool tank by Northern Playground. Both sweaters are made of 100% fine Merino Wool that regulates temperature and (unless you spill your Chardonnay on it) only needs to be hung up to air out and be refreshed! (If you do spill, refer back to those wet wipes.)
Coming or going someplace cold? Our Dunfri coats for men and women, made out of superlight Primaloft, keep you warm even when it is wet. More importantly, it packs into its own pocket so if your destination is hot, pack it away or use it as a pillow once you are on a plane. Super sustainable, this jacket will last forever!
Packing light is essential, make sure you can maneuver your own suitcase, and carry it up a small staircase. And if you forget something? Great excuse to shop local.
That is the basics from our standpoint; what steps do you and your family find helpful when traveling?
*Please let us know if this is you as we literally do not know any parents that haven’t embraced technology. Make us feel bad about our lazy parenting.