Travelling with Littles: Fostering Independence

We’ve recently returned from our first major trip with our kids, and now that we’re home, I can safely call it a success.  There is plenty of advice out there on how to entertain your kids on an airplane.  Some of the typical ideas worked for us, like loosening up your normal screen time restrictions and bringing pillows and blankets so they can sleep comfortably.  We also found it helpful to have headphones for our preschooler.  We were prepared with gummy candies to help their ears through pressure changes, but neither of our kids actually liked them, so that was a bit of a bust.  Our three-year-old just swallowed and yawned, and his little brother slept through both landings, so all my anxiety about that was for naught.

We are always trying to help our three-year-old be as independent as he can be, so for our trip preparations, we got him his own backpack, let him pack it, and made sure he could comfortably carry it through the airport.  This was a big help through our whole vacation as it allowed him to be responsible for and have access to the things he needed.  He kept his bag next to him any time we were in the car and brought it inside our cabin when we returned from our day’s adventures.  He typically carried his blanket, a change of clothes, some favorite books, a ball, his headphones, a snack, and his water bottle.  After our first day of hiking, we added a clean pair of socks so he could splash freely in puddles and have something dry to put on afterward.

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Especially on a family trip when they are out of their normal environment and routines, children benefit from having a sense of control and independence.  Something as simple as allowing them to be responsible for their own bag can give them some ownership in the trip and make it much more enjoyable for them.

How have you involved your children in the planning and operation of family events, such as vacations, visits with relatives, or holidays?

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