Travel Buddies or Travel Bandits?

Airport travel is a hassle for most adults. But if you’re less than 3 feet tall, and you see only legs and butts, traveling can be rather unsettling.  Learn how to have a pleasant journey.


Since we’re in Sweden this week, we thought it’d be appropriate to talk about traveling with children. Parents love their kids, but those rose-tinted glasses get a good cleaning when kids suffer the gauntlet of cramped seating, long waits, time changes, strange food, disrupted sleep schedules, and stressed parents. Strangers will give your parenting ability the evil eye if your little darlings act out in loud demanding ways that disturb the normal discomforts of travel.  Since Lis is Swedish and we’ve traveled across the pond many times, the Marr family has encountered many discomforts and observed many other families’ behaviors over the years.

Here are some tips to make your kids travel buddies instead of travel bandits:

  1. Preparation is the key to happy travel. Begin a week or so in advance in getting them excited to go see mormor and morfar (Swedish Grandma and Grandpa) or whatever the destination might be. Giving them the goal makes most discomforts endurable. Get them to pick out things that will self-entertain them during the long waits.

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  • Explain the process. “First we pack everything we’ll need. Then on Saturday we’re all going to the airport. We’ll go through long lines to get to the plane. We’ll wait patiently to get on the plane. Then we’re going to feel the plane shwoosh into the air. It’ll be fun! Then we’ll be on the plane a long, long time. When we land, mormor and morfar will be waiting for us!”. Knowing what to expect helps them feel in control.

  • Role play during a time of non-conflict well in advance of the trip. Discuss specific hassles that may arise: bad food, lost luggage, bumpy flight, delayed flight, potty time, and all kind of misadventures. This gives them tools to overcome the unexpected.

  • Bring food. Snacks are key. Be careful of too much sugar because the crashes are murder. Fruit, nuts, crackers, string cheese, etc.

  • When your travel buddies are babies, a new toy and their favorite old toy gives a good combo of something interesting and something comforting. Try to time bottle feeding or nursing toward landing time to help them clear the pressure in their ears. Reading their favorite book will help comfort them.

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  • Older kids can bring reading books or coloring books or game electronics. We always had playing cards for the kids. It’s important on international flights to make sure you check what TV programs they’re watching. They do have nudity and violence in some movies. Apparently 11 year olds love Wedding Crashers.

  • Age appropriate responsibilities helps them have ownership in the event. Having them help pack their carry-on and snacks, pushing the stroller, giving the ticket to the TSA agent, and other tasks will grow in value over the years.

  • Self Control. Fighting with siblings is a no-no. Kicking the seat in front of you, talking loudly, running up and down the aisles, and whining are all travel bandit behaviors.

  • Preciousness of others. Now’s a good time to teach courtesy toward others by discussing it before the trip and praising them during quiet playtime.

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  • Open mindedness. Everything that comes will be a new experience. Teaching them in advance to gladly accept new experiences makes them good travel buddies.

  • Traveling with your children is a great experience, times that fuse family bonds in a way little else can. Your children will become best friends and have memories that will impact their relationship at home in ways that are hard to describe. Our little travel buddies have grown to enjoy the thrill of adventure, making it a part of their lives as they have spread their wings.

    From our family to yours – Trevlig resa!!

    To your family’s well being,

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    Lis and Dave Marr

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