Traveling with your family, especially when it includes young children, makes planning ahead essential. Whether you’re driving a few hours or flying internationally, these family travel tips will make your vacation as stress-free as possible. Family trips or multigenerational travel are that much more memorable when your kids have what they need to be comfortable in new surroundings!
Planning for a great trip starts well before you arrive at your destination. These packing tips will make sure you prioritize your time and use limited space well!
Pack purposefully. Organize outfits in individual bags or individually for each family member to save space and make getting dressed in the morning simple. Remember to prioritize comfort over cute or matching looks.
Pack for simplicity. Pack items that coordinate with other outfits so you can mix and match if something gets dirty. Try luggage cubes to keep clothes separate and tidy. Packing cubes are available in a variety of fun colors.
Stock your carry-on bag. Your carry-on bag will be within reach while traveling, whether on an airplane or in a car. Keep it stocked. Use a bag with lots of compartments to organize entertainment and plenty of snacks. Make sure your snacks include chewy items (gummy bears, granola bars, etc.) for kids who are too young to chew gum during altitude changes. Keep a spare outfit in your carry-on in case of spills, illness, or accidents.
Carry a stroller. Ask yourself whether you’ll need your kids’ stroller while traveling. Most airlines will provide space for a stroller free of charge with an infant ticket. Strollers are great for walkable cities with smooth sidewalks or while waiting in lines.
Find a stroller alternative. A beach or cobblestone streets can really hinder the use of a stroller. Consider a baby carrier as a secondary option. Some varieties of carriers have built-in stands to make them functional in multiple environments.
Avoid overpacking diapers. Too few diapers can be a nightmare for those traveling with infants but it’s easy to overcompensate. Too many diapers can take up a lot of space, especially when traveling with the whole family or multiple kids. Pack enough for your first few days. Then, consider ordering diapers online and sending them ahead to your destination.
Consider travel insurance. Losing your own luggage is a setback; losing your family’s luggage is a small crisis. If you’re really concerned about luggage loss, check out travel insurance.
Mark your luggage with eye-catching tags that your kids will be able to help you spot as the bags rotate on the baggage carousel. Kids will be more apt to keep track of their luggage if it’s bright and fun!
Long drives or flights can be stressful for everyone, especially kids. Give them positive outlets with some fun and satisfying distractions!
Download kids’ favorite movies, shows, and educational games to your tablet so you don’t have to rely on WiFi.
Split headphones to engage with your child’s favorite media together.
Pack a backup power pack or fully charged standby battery to charge entertainment devices on the go or in an airport, where an open outlet is a hot commodity.
For screen-free entertainment, surprise your kids with a new book and a special (quiet) toy. Window clings, magnetic puzzles, reusable stickers, and more are easy to play with within the confines of a plane row or backseat.
Take your pet with you. Bear with us; we know this sounds a little out there. Why would you want to add to your responsibilities while on vacation? But really, a pet could help comfort and occupy kids. Of course, not every pet is suited for travel but there are some ways to make a trip with your pet easier.
Take it slow. Plan ahead to allow kids time to rest between travel activities. No matter how many games and activities you have, kids will probably need a break from the experience of traveling.
After you arrive at your destination, the fun really begins. And when you’re figuring out how to travel with kids, it’s the fun that really matters!
Childproof your destinations. In your hotel room or vacation rental, do simple childproofing with painter’s tape if traveling with a toddler or young child. Cover outlets, sharp corners, and low doorknobs with the tape, which comes right off at the end of your trip.
Modify your expectations. Parents know there’s no guarantee new places and activities won’t set off a meltdown. Pack plenty of snacks, toys, and familiar items to fill in those moments between fun.
Promote exploration and discovery. You choose to travel with kids for the memories you’ll make. The most memorable moments are the ones when children experience something for the first time. But some children are more adventurous than others. That’s okay! Don’t force it and recognize the difference between genuine fear and stubbornness.
Keep a routine. Don’t miss nap time, eat meals and snacks when you normally would, and take advantage of the times of day when your kids tend to be the most well-behaved.