I love traveling and experiencing new things with my four boys. Traveling with a family of six including four boys ages 1 to 9 definitely takes some planning including deciding where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and how to get there. I have been traveling with kids since my oldest was three months old so I have nine years of family travel under my belt. Below are my top 10 tips for traveling with kids.
Travel Tip #1 Plan Your Trip
- Think about what destinations you want to travel to and research using blogs such as this or Pinterest what you can do there with your family
- Make a bucket list of attractions you want to try to visit while at the destination
- Make a bucket list of restaurants that you find interesting and would be good for your family
- Search for a place to stay (hotels versus VRBO) and make sure that there is enough places for everyone in your family to sleep comfortably
- Figure out how you are going to get there (fly, drive, or other mode of transportation)
- If driving, plan your route and consider where you want to stop for the night as well as places you may want to stop and visit.
- If flying, think about layovers and what you will need for that
- Any other plans you need to make
Travel Tip #2 Make or Use a Packing List
I recently created a packing list for all my trips and adventures and let me tell you it has been a GAME CHANGER. Packing can feel very overwhelming and it is so easy to forget something so a packing list reduces your mental load and helps you remember everything.
I type up my packing lists so every trip I can just print a one out and check things off as I pack. Packing goes SO much smoother and I definitely do not dread it as much now.
Travel Tip #3 Pack with Packing Cubes
Another change I recently made is the use of packing cubes. This, too, has made traveling so much more enjoyable and less stressful.
Every kid has one or two labeled packing cubes. I also have a couple of categories of packing cubes like swimwear and pajamas.
Packing cubes make the suitcases so much more organized and keep them organized throughout the trip.
Extra insider tip–If you are going to be traveling for multiple days and staying in multiple hotels I make a packing cube or two labeled for that leg of the trip or with the hotel’s name on it. That way I can just grab those packing cubes and throw them in a small suitcase or extra bag instead of hauling EVERYTHING inside to each hotel.
Travel Tip #4 Make Sure To Have Kid Travel Entertainment
To minimize hearing “are we there yet” 5,263 times during your road trip or flight make sure you have some activities or things for the kids to do while traveling.
We often use travel binders with activities in them that the kids carry in their own backpacks. You can download your own free 10 page road trip activities printable below!
Other ideas include stickers, small toys, window clings, small dry erase boards and of course iPads with downloaded shows, movies, and games.
I also usually print off a Google map that shows the route to our destination. The kids love following along on the map and circling different cities we drive through.
Try to have the kids change activities every 45 min to an hour. If all else fails, find a Disney playlist on your phone, turn the music way up and have a family sing-a-long.
Travel Tip #5 Always Carry Snacks and Water
One major way to alleviate meltdowns and complaining on your trip is to always have a snack and a drink available. This is a must and keeps everyone sane. We do not want anyone to get hangry.
If we are driving I bring snacks from home which is cheaper than buying things at the gas station. I buy either pre-packaged snacks or load up my own snack baggies to bring.
Travel Tip #6 Create a Sleep Environment Similar to Home
Good sleep is a must to keep the trip going smoothly. That said, when planning where to stay I make sure there is a good sleeping spot for everyone, and we even discuss BEFOREHAND what the sleeping arrangements will be.
We also bring our sound machines. Everyone sleeps with these at home so we travel with them as well.
If you are driving to your destination and there is a cozy blanket or lovie that kids usually sleep with make sure to bring these as well.
Travel Tip #7 Carry an Extra Bag Stocked for Emergencies
Whether traveling to our destination or anywhere we go while at our destination, I ALWAYS make sure to have a bag or backpack stocked for a multitude of emergencies that may happen.
Below are some of the items I put in that bag.
- Packing cube to hold extra underwear, socks, shirt, and shorts/pants for every member of the family
- Baby wipes (these can be used to wipe anything and everything)
- Extra plastic bags (have these ready to put anything that may need to be thrown away or to separate out muddy or soiled things)
- Extra diapers or pull ups (for baby or toddler)
- Small first aid kit (with various sized band aids)
- Couple of extra snacks
- Bottle of water
- Small toys (for a baby or toddler)
Travel Tip #8 Be flexible
When traveling with kids there is always something that seems to come up that causes me to have to modify my plans. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s sick kids, or perhaps everyone is just having an off day. That is OK! With kids and just life in general, change is going to happen. Stay calm and allow yourself to pivot. Look at it as an adventure. Take a deep breath, allow the change, and move on.
Travel Tip #9 Find a Moment to Do Something Just For You
You know the saying that it is a trip not a vacation when it comes to traveling with kids? That can definitely be the case oftentimes although I hope these top 10 tips for traveling with kids and my other blog posts help make traveling a little easier and more enjoyable for you.
One thing that I have recently been trying to do on my trips is finding some little moments just for me. Maybe sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on the beach outside of your hotel for five minutes or maybe go on a quick walk during sunset. Try to find something you enjoy and treat yourself a little too.
Travel Tip #10 Be Present
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the planning and what we are doing that I forget to stop and just BE. Try to be mindful during special moments during your trip. Just watch your children laugh and watch their eyes light up when they experience something new. Those moments are truly magical and it is in these moments that I truly love this adventure.
I hope my top 10 tips for traveling with kids helps you and inspires you on all your traveling adventures. If you love any of these tips leave a comment below or sign up for my newsletter to receive more insider tips. KW