How to travel with kids (hint: just do it)

At the Széchenyi Bath in Budapest. Photo courtesy of Allison Czarnecki.

Traveling with children can be a daunting proposition.

Strollers, car seats, nap times, milk, diapers, escalators – and, not to mention, the children themselves. Add it all up and it’s a recipe for one big headache.

But to raise good travelers, you have to start early, says Salt Lake City-area blogger Allison Czarnecki.

How?

“It’s so doable,” she says. “You just start. You just do it.”

Czarnecki, who’s been blogging at www.petitelefant.com since 2007 about fashion, life, family and travel, says traveling “all over together” is her family’s top priority.

It started simply enough: a quick jaunt to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with her then 2-week-old son to celebrate the end of the long period of bed rest that accompanied her pregnancy.

After that, she never stopped.

“Every age is fun in a different way. And the older they get, the easier it is,” says Czarnecki. “I mean, toddlers can be tricky, but it’s also really fun to explore with little, tiny people because they see things you don’t see. Part of it is just starting early.”

Czarnecki says she set a precedent with her children of “we like to travel, and this is what we do when we do that.” With part of her husband’s family based in Warsaw, Poland, it was a necessity.

“I think it’s important to set that expectation at every age, if you just establish it,” she says. “Like, ‘OK guys, we’re going to be on a plane for 12 hours and it’s going to be long, but here’s what we’re going to do.’”

For long plane trips or car rides, she packs little kits with surprises to be enjoyed at various mile points.

Czarnecki says it makes her sad when she hears people say they’re nervous to try traveling until their kids are older.

“Traveling with kids is more doable than they think. And, it’s really good for their little brains.”

Petit Elefant’s top five tips for traveling with children:

  1. Plan for everything, but don’t be afraid to throw out your itinerary once you get there.
  2. Use apartment-finding services like AirBNB, VRBO and others – a kitchen makes all the difference when traveling with little ones.
  3. Pack a little laundry kit with local currency, detergent and dryer sheets. Some apartments will have a washing machine, but if not, most cities will have a laundromat. Bonus Petit Elefant: How to make a travel laundry kit.
  4. Don’t be afraid to use gadgets – tablets, games, etc. – to entertain during long rides.
  5. Never leave home without a travel kit filled with kid essentials, like lip balm, wet wipes and more. Bonus Petit Elefant: Must-have travel kit for children.

This month Alaska Airlines begins new Salt Lake City service to Boise, Idaho, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. Earlier this week, we also added a third daily flight between Salt Lake City and Seattle. And, for a limited time travelers from Salt Lake City can earn a $50 discount code when they sign up for our award-winning Mileage Plan. Learn more about our service to “The Crossroads of the West.”

5 Comments on “How to travel with kids (hint: just do it)

  1. Don’t forget to teach your children how to leave the tray table alone on the airplane and also not to kick the seat in front of them.

  2. One more tip, fly Alaska!!! They treat families well. I travel often with my wife, 3 year old and infant. Not only do they gush over the kids but they are kind and go out of their way to make it a great flight!

  3. Airfare for a family is often the biggest obstacle for us! What I would love to see this blog produce, is family travel tips that include which destinations are the cheapest to fly to using miles, money or a mix. For instance, if my family wants to go to Germany, the searching for deals can be exhausting. But if this blog had posts once a week (or so) that laid out the differences of German airports, or the cheapest way to get to Bali by stretching miles, companion fares and using partner airlines, etc., this would be my go-to blog for travel (and Alaskaair would be my go-to airlines!) Thanks for the article and getting the conversation started!

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