Over time I’ve shared a few posts on how to travel with kids, or at least what works best for us. We’ve taken our boys on quite a few family trips here and there, all together as a family or solo with one of us. Today I thought it would be fun to share my best tips to travel with kids all in one place.
- Be prepared. I can’t stress this one enough, but you should obviously be as prepared as you can when traveling with little ones. This doesn’t mean you need to pack everything including the kitchen sink, but if you know your little one’s favorite snacks aren’t sold elsewhere, you should probably bring some. Research every aspect of your travel so it’s one less thing to stress about when you’re in the thick of it.
- Travel light. This is basically my motto for any type of travel, but it’s especially important with little ones. My youngest is a little more difficult to deal with than his older brother and sometimes I am grateful for only having a couple small pieces of luggage to deal with. See my best packing light tips for families here.
- Look for special lanes. Most airports now have special lanes for families traveling who may need extra time or assistance with going through security checkpoints. These can be so helpful and less stressful than having everyone stare at you while you try to make sure everything gets through the right way.
- Stick to a routine. Whether we’re at home or on the go, if our kid’s routines are messed up, they’re probably not going to be happy. We try not to over-schedule our activities and try to leave plenty of downtime around jet lag, etc.
- Traveling with an infant? See if you can reserve a bassinet on the flight (not all airlines/flights have these).
- Let them pack their bags. I don’t mean their suitcases, but each of our kids bring a small backpack full of goodies they think they might like on the trip. A good bag will include snacks, entertainment, and other necessities I might add in like diapers or wipes. A good example is this road trip bag.
- Travel by train. Not only can you get up and move around, there are some cars that are stroller friendly, and even have sleeping quarters. Read up on our short-term train tips here, we rode them for our trip to Denmark.
- Fly with a carseat. Not only is it safer to use on a plane with little ones, but it allows you to snag a car if you need to once you’re at your destination. I use this super lightweight FAA approved seat. If your little is still in an infant seat, you can gate check the stroller part so that you can put them back together once you arrive at your destination.
- Book the perfect place to stay. I am partial to hotels because I like my breakfast to come to me, but if that doesn’t fit your family, find some place else! There are lots of different options including kid-friendly home rentals, here are a few more tips on how to find your perfect hotel.
- Feed during takeoff/landing. This will help alleviate ear pressure they feel and will hopefully curb the fussiness. If you aren’t breastfeeding, a bottle or pacifier should work as well. I let me older son have gum during takeoff/landing just in case he has any ear pressure issues.
- Bring medicine. This sounds really silly, but bringing your own tylenol/ibuprofen goes a long way when traveling with kids. Not only do you know the proper dosage, but you have it on hand in case you need it. We also bring our own thermometer. We once went on a cruise and ran out of tylenol. They wanted us to pay to see the doctor before they would allow us to purchase any infant/kids tylenol. It was kind of crazy.
- Take Turns. Are your kids early risers? Do you have (sometimes, most of the time) noisy toddler? We like to take turns giving each other ‘free time’ to relax or sleep in. Vacation’s aren’t fun if you don’t get any downtime. I love to get a massage after the kids are down for the night, or take the kids for a morning walk while my husband gets a little more sleep in the morning.
- Taking a carseat? Do yourself a favor and pick up a traveling toddler strap. It allows you to strap your carseat to your rolling luggage so that you can pull it along instead of carrying it. We’ve even let our little one ride in it while we made short connections at the airport. He thinks it’s the funnest thing, and it saves us the hassle of carrying him or the seat.
- Traveling as a single parent? Be sure to have a note from the other parent giving permission. It depends on the country, but the note should usually be notarized, and include locations and dates of travel.
- Babywear V.S. Stroller. When our kids were little often on trips we’d forgo the stroller for a baby carrier. I alternated between the Sakura Ring Sling and the Organic Ergo Carrier. One was lighter and easier to carry while the other was better for long hauls.
- Babyproof your space. As soon as you arrive to where you will be staying, immediately look around for any hazards or potential problem areas for your little ones. When Søren was a toddler we used to immediately unplug the telephone so he couldn’t make any fun calls if we turned our back for a few seconds. More on kids & hotels here.
- Taking a road trip? Plan for stops at least every 2 hours to allow little ones to stretch their legs, have a snack, and exert some energy. We like to find local parks that they can run around and have fun in so they don’t feel like they are stuck in one spot for too long in the car. I’ve found that the stops don’t have to be long, but they do need to be good enough to stretch and walk around.
- Fly at night. I’ve found that our best flights with our little ones involve red-eyes. We might not rest as well on the plane, but they do and that’s most of what counts. We even change them into pajamas and go through our usual bed time routine as much as possible before the flight. If you can’t book a night flight, try to book around little one’s nap times or wear them out a lot in the airport before the flight.
- Ask for help. Flying alone with kids? If someone offers, it’s usually best to accept the help. Flight attendants can be very helpful too if you are in a bind. It’s always in everyone’s best interest to keep the little ones happy on flights.
- Go with the flow. The number one tip I can give to anyone traveling, with or without kids, is to just go with the flow. Accept the things you can not change, and peacefully and calmly attempt to change the ones you can.
Do you have any tips for traveling with kids you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!