While certainly a rewarding experience, traveling does have the potential of being stressful and even a bit chaotic. There are a lot of things to coordinate, from transportation to accommodation to the actual day-to-day planning. Bringing a child along can complicate things further since you will need to adjust some of your plans to fit in what is best for them, but it is ultimately a great experience for a child to travel and have adventures.
There are a few main things to remember when traveling with a child, ranging from what supplies to bring to checking your local website on the steps you should take as a divorced parent traveling with your child. As long as you follow the five tips below, you'll be sure to have a memorable trip.
1. Before you go — Check your child custody laws
This first point may seem over the top, but it's better to be safe if you are in the middle of a custody battle with a former spouse and wish to take your child on a vacation. Depending on the state you live in and your specific circumstances, you need to consider whether you're able to travel with your child in the first place pending agreements with your ex-partner.
There is also the potential that you are only allowed to travel to certain places. For example, vacationing to a nearby state may be fine, but international travel isn't recommended. To be sure, always check with your lawyer by phone or through their website.
2. Ask for child discounts
Once you're cleared to go on the road, a lot of businesses offer discounts for children, whether it is admission tickets to local attractions or a free meal at a restaurant. To keep the costs of your trip low, research each venue that you plan on visiting to see if they offer any discounts. Places that you might not expect to offer any type of discount for children might do so, so it doesn't hurt to ask.
3. Allow room for error
Traveling with children can be stressful. You never know if there will be a tantrum or a lost toy that causes an upset, but it's better to plan for a little error here or there. You might miss a train or arrive at the museum too late, but make sure that you have a backup plan in place.
This way your child won't become stressed out when they see you are stressed out. This is also a good opportunity to show children that plans can change, and we need to be able to adjust when they do.
4. Bring snacks
If you are planning a road trip, having a good amount of snacks on hand will allow you to keep your children satisfied without needing to divert from the trip to find a local restaurant or gas station to purchase snacks. The same is true for airplane travel since not all flights provide food and the ones that do may charge a large amount of money.
5. Don't over-pack
Lastly, make sure you don't over-pack for your trip. Your child will likely get tired of carrying their bag at the airport, leaving you with everything. Not only is this cumbersome, but if you are in a hurry to get from one point to another you also have more luggage to keep track of. Sticking to a few outfits and one or two toys is best, which makes the load less overwhelming for parents.
If you're feeling overwhelmed about your upcoming trip with your child, don't stress too much. As long as you keep these tips in mind, whether it is making sure to not over-pack, bringing a lot of snacks, asking for child discounts, or allowing room for a mistake or two, you'll be one step closer to a memorable family vacation.