We’ve compiled a shortlist of our 33 quick family travel tips. These are the things that have worked great for us. Leave a comment below and share with us what has worked for you!
Our family has spanned countless States and countries over the last 10 years. We, as parents, have learned more than our fair share of things that work well when traveling with kids and things that do not work well while traveling with your kids.
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- Plan outfits for each day of your trip and put them together in a packing cube for each child. Label each outfit with a day of the week so they are easy to find and grab. Saving you so much time every morning!
- Always pack medication for your kids that you are familiar with and pack them in your carry on bags.
- Make sure to put anything that might leak (lotions, sunblock, hair spray, etc) in a sealed waterproof baggie before putting it in a suitcase.
Carry on Essentials
- Headphones that fit your child. You can buy my favorite headphones for my kids on Amazon for just $13.
- Hand sanitizer
- Sanitizing wipes (wipe down at least the tray table)
- Gum (for taking off and landing)
- Bottle ready to go for taking off (if traveling with a baby)
- Something familiar from home to cuddle (blanket, pacifier, stuffed animal, etc)
- Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! This goes for all ages, I always pack snacks for myself and my husband 🙂
Carry On Items That Are Nice To Have
- Entertainment for each child, such as their favorite electronic device (our kids love the Nintendo Switch), coloring book, books to read, a sticker book is great for young children.
- Backpack for each child.
- Post-it notes are great for all ages, babies love to stick them on the seat; toddlers love to color on them, and kids love passing notes back and forth.
- Playdough is great on a plane (not suggested for cars with light-colored interiors).
- Buy a few “presents” or new toys for your children before the trip and wrap them. Unwrapping them is half the fun. (I like to hit up Target’s dollar spot for these.)
- Baby wipes~ even if your kids are not in diapers you will be surprised how often you will use these.
- Socks for everyone. The floors on planes and trains are nasty and you’ll want everyone’s feet covered when you’re running up and down the aisles chasing kids.
Airport Security Tips
- Have all your documents (passport, driver’s license, etc.) out and ready as you get close to the front of the line.
- In most airports, kids do not need to take their shoes off.
- Pack liquids (including lip balms and lotions) in a waterproof baggie, not all airports require this but it’s a good idea and it will save you if something spills/explodes.
- If you’re wearing a belt, make sure it is easy to remove.
- Don’t wear a lot of metal jewelry that may set the metal detectors off. This will just cause you more work during security.
- Stay calm and give yourself plenty of time. There is nothing worse than starting your trip off rushing through security. Always plan extra time when you are traveling with your kids. Kids don’t stop you from traveling but they do slow you down!
Some general tips for traveling with kids.
- Plan on taking a break during the middle of the day. Even if your kids are no longer napping, it’s a great idea to plan a “rest time” midday. You could go back to your hotel and read, watch tv, take a bath, etc. Or if your kids are older, maybe plan to go to a movie in the afternoon.
- Keep your kids engaged. Give them an old camera or phone so they can take pictures. Or encourage them to keep a travel journal.
- Pre-arrange big activities. I always like to make reservations for our big activities before I leave home. Trip Advisor is a great place to read reviews and make reservations before you leave.
- Plan one activity per day for the kids. Don’t expect your kids to want to do grown-up things all day.
- Lower your expectations and remember that your kids are still learning. Even though a lot of our pictures show our kids smiling and happy; a lot of time is still spent fighting tears and fits. Kids get tired and they are in a new unfamiliar place. Don’t expect every minute of your trip to be all smiles.
- Be patient with yourself and your kids. Take your time and enjoy the journey. Slow down and have patience when things don’t go as planned.
Avoid these mistakes when traveling with kids
- Trying to see too much in a short amount of time. Your kids can not move as fast as you do when you’re on your own. Give yourself and your kids extra time and don’t try to pack too many things into your daily schedule.
- Stay as central to your top attractions as possible. Don’t waste time commuting into the city to save a little money. You will regret it! Everyone needs to be able to rest and it’s much easier if your hotel/Air BnB is close to the things you are seeing.
- Be graceful with yourself and your kids when it comes to jet lag! Take naps and try to sleep on schedule. Visit our post here for more tips on jet lag.
- Always pick your airplane seats at the time of booking! There is nothing worse than having seats spread all over the plane. Don’t count on flight attendants changing seats for you once you get on the plane. They don’t like to do this and it will add stress to your trip.
Enjoy your family vacations and travel bold together!