The Two Routines You Should Always Stick To When Traveling Internationally With Kids

Jet lag plus a steaming bowl of miso soup for breakfast can make for a very unhappy kid on vacation. According to the Family Travel Survey 2021, 93% of people surveyed believe that family travel expands their children's horizons and education. International travel can be especially good at this, but there are usually limits as to how far you can push a kid out of their comfort zone before they snap.

Sleep and food are the two most important components to making sure that your kids have a happy vacation. Different countries will have wildly different customs when it comes to these things. Head to Spain, and you'll see kids still roaming the streets late into the evening, and heading to bed around 10 p.m. Over in Korea, your child might be presented with tteokbokki (a spicy rice cake) as an afternoon snack. And while this can be exciting, not all kids will be ready to embrace the differences. With a bit of planning, you can make sure that your vacation goes smoothly.

Stick to their sleep routines

Even without jet lag, kids can miss quite a bit of sleep on vacation. Dinners out often mean later bedtimes and a jam-packed schedule can have your kids skipping their afternoon naps. The New York Times recommends traveling slowly and not cramming too much into one day. Try to plan your activities around nap time to make sure your child isn't exhausted and cranky. And either suck it up and have dinner earlier so you can put your kids to bed on time, or get a babysitter. Lots of hotels offer this service.

In terms of making sure your child sleeps well, REI advises bringing along something that they normally sleep with at home, like a blanket or a toy. If they normally sleep with a white noise machine, bring it. Blackout blinds are tricker, but if your child needs darkness to sleep, try the slumber pod, made especially for travel.

Snacks combat hangry meltdowns

A hangry kid is not a pleasant kid. Understandably. The answer is snacks. First, the TSA allows travelers to take baby food and formula through security and they permit a huge range of packaged foods through too. This means you can pack things you know your kids will eat in transit. (Always check your destination's rules for bringing food in!)

When you arrive at your destination, hit the grocery store and let your kids pick out some snacks, with a focus on healthy stuff like nuts and fruit. And, while children shouldn't be stuffing their faces with sugar 24/7, it is important to let go a little when it comes to your kids' food on holiday. An expert in The New York Times said that kids should be allowed to indulge on vacation, but parents should be wary of sugar crashes (this is where your fruit and nuts come in). So buy them waffles and ice cream and let them eat pizza for dinner five nights in a row if it makes them happy. Just make sure to keep them fed and well-rested for a peaceful vacation.