Canadian Museum of Nature

Top 5 tips for travelling with kids

Canadian Museum of Nature

The Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa will make kids roar. (Julia Pelish/

Story by Jody Robbins Writer

Losing your passport, getting lost in a foreign city and being chained to the hotel toilet — all harrowing experiences every traveller dreads. Yet sitting next to a screaming child on a long-haul flight, also ranks up there as one of the worst travel experiences. It’s a fate made even more terrible when the annoying child is your own. Successfully surviving a trip with tots in tow is no small feat. Here are a few tips to help ease the pain.

Set Realistic Expectations

Parents often forget that successful travel experiences accommodate all members of the family. Nix hours spent meandering through museums and browsing around the shops, if that bores your child to tears. Keep in mind, kids have short attention spans and are going to need to burn off their energy. Intermingle kid-friendly activities with plenty of downtime (that doesn’t include listening to the woes of elder relatives).

Pack Snacks

We all know what picky eaters kids (and some parents) can be. When you’re travelling across time zones or need to accommodate someone with a disconcerting palate, it’s a wise idea to pack your own food. If travelling by plane, grab a take-away meal prior to boarding. Granola bars, pre-cut veg and PB&J all travel well, so load up your cooler or carry-on bag with goodies such as these, which can all be eaten with one hand.

Rent Whenever Possible

Thankfully, there’s no longer any need to pack around big, clunky strollers and folding cribs. With so many rental services available in Canada and the US, it makes sense to have all the necessary supplies delivered to the door of wherever you’re staying. Besides the convenience, the extra room saved in your suitcase can be put to good use, by stashing fun purchases from your trip.

Load Up on Entertainment

Travel involves the unknown. When you’re logging long hours and unpredictability is part of the terrain, you’ll want to distract the kids so everyone stays sane. Ideal for car rides, are cookie sheets with edges that become lap trays to prevent toys and crayons from being dropped. No matter how you get to your destination, a surprise bag for each child filled with magazines and Dollar Store items, will hold their attention longer than everyday toys from home.

Stick to a Routine

Kids are comforted by the familiar. Set them up for success, by sticking to regular bedtime and eating schedules. And if you’re travelling with others, make sure you plan to do your own thing for a few hours each day, so everyone gets a break. Times of transition (like family travel) can be a great opportunity to break bad habits and create new routines. So if something’s not working for you at home, talk to your child beforehand and let them know the new expectation. So long as you’re consistent, you can use this travelling opportunity to your advantage.

Jody Robbins is a travel and lifestyles writer. Contributing to the Calgary Herald, Today’s Parent and Up! magazine, she divides her time between Calgary and Canmore. She is also the Family Travel Columnist for and the Alberta Regional Chair for the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada, which earned 2.5 million Twitter impressions in its first month for the #Vacay50 hashtag campaign. Jody is active on Twitter (@Jody_Robbins) and maintains her own blog (Travels with Baggage), where you can keep up with all of her latest adventures. When not travelling with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband and one dog), this wannabe foodie can usually be found chowing down at the latest hotspots before attempting to work it all off on the trails.

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