Thursday, May 31, 2012

traveling with small children: tip #3

One of the first things Ella asked when we returned from Southern California was, "When is our next trip?" She loves to travel. But we've had our share of not so great days, melt downs and tantrums too. This isn't really a single tip, but a compilation of ideas that have worked for us to help alleviate (or at least lessen) the drama.

A Home Away From Home
The first thing Ella does when she arrives at a new location is "set up" her room. For small children, familiarity makes them feel more safe and secure. Home is a safe place. So we allow her to choose a few "treasures" from home to bring along. When we arrive at our destination, she arranges them in a special place or just keeps them close by. The point is, find something that will make your little one feel safe and secure in an unfamiliar environment.


It's a Plan
Let your child know the plan each day, and then follow thru as best you can. Children will feel safer with structure and knowing what's coming. It's as simple as: first we'll eat breakfast, then we'll go the Disneyland and ride the Dumbo ride, then you can choose what we do next. At lunch time we'll leave the park...and so on.

*The first ride Ella and Lynn ride each time we've gone to Disneyland is Dumbo. Won't it be fun when she's 16 years old and they still ride Dumbo first? ;)

 Just Chill
As amazing and wonderful as Disneyland is, for a little it can also be very overwhelming. With the crowds, noise, sights and excitement constantly surrounding them, children can easily become overstimulated. Many times we think little ones are tired, when in reality, they're just overwhelmed with trying to take in everything at once.

A simple solution is to first recognize what's going on, then take some chill time throughout the day and share a snack or just sit in the shade for a bit. It's good for the bigs too! :)

Yep, this is the moment.

I had a major Aha! moment on one of our first trips to Disneyland, when after two days of running from ride to show to ride, we decided to just stop and have some ice cream together. For the first time on the trip, Ella said, "This is fun!" Really? Okay, point taken. From that moment on, we've taken our days a lot slower and focused on just enjoying ourselves, not fitting everything in.

Create Traditions
We started a new tradition at Disneyland this year. At home, Ella is allowed one treat per day. (She's gotten very good at choosing to pass up a soda at lunch, knowing she'd rather have a sucker when she gets home. And yes, soda is considered a treat in our home. :)) But at Disneyland, Ella gets two treats per day! This is cause for great celebration for a six year old with an insatiable sweet tooth.

Why? Because traditions are grounding and it's a vacation. And I knew it would make her really, really happy.

Happy Traveling,


  1. Great advice (tip 1 especially)! It makes perfect sense about being/sleeping somewhere strange and wanting something(s) familiar around. I will never get onto my kids about "putting up" their little trinkets from home.....I will just ask them to straighten them at home when cleaning their room. Pick battles wisely, especially while on a fun vacation!!! :)

  2. Thank you! And amen to picking your battles wisely! :)