9 Useful Tips for Traveling with Kids

Traveling with kids isn’t easy; it takes work. But, the connections your family creates will make it worth it. I’ve been traveling since I was 3 and traveling with my kids since they were less than a year old. From my many years of experience, here are some tips for traveling with kids.

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Related: How to Plan a Vacation with Kids, Tips for a Multigenerational Family Vacation, and Tips for Flying with Kids

How can I make traveling with kids easy?

With a little patience and planning, traveling with kids can be easier and everyone will have a great time. Keep reading for my 9 Useful Tips for Traveling with Kids.

1. Take it slow, be flexible, remember to be patient

Tips for traveling with kids

Don’t try and do too much. Take it easy, enjoy yourself, and go at a pace that works for everyone. Remember that things don’t always work out the way you plan. Actually, more than likely, they won’t. There will be multiple stops for the bathroom or snacks or to rest. So, don’t try and be too strict with time and be understanding. You might be surprised and have a better experience than the one you planned.

2. Another set of hands

When traveling with kids, it’s always helpful to have another set of hands. Is there a family member that wants to go with you, who would also help out with the kids? My sister sometimes travels with us and she’s always extremely helpful, even if it’s just looking for the next watering hole to rest and re-energize or pushing an empty stroller with our bags.

3. Avoid places that are closed

Might sounds obvious, but it happens. You arrive somewhere and it’s closed. It helps to plan ahead when traveling with kids. Research open hours to make sure things aren’t closed when you get there and then have to figure out what to do next.

4. Prepare for the unexpected

Things happen. Kids get cranky, it rains, it gets cold. And that’s ok. But, it’s good to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. These are some ideas to help you plan for the worst.

Hangry

Kids (and adults) get hungry. It’s helpful to pack snacks OR stop for ice cream in case someone starts getting cranky. When we travel we try and find somewhere that kids and adults might enjoy to stop. A café or restaurant with beer and ice cream? Yes, please!

Weather

Check the weather ahead of time. Be prepared with sweaters or rain jackets. Rain jackets can serve double duty—keeping water out and keeping you warm. You can have the kids wrap them around their waist. Mine won’t do that, so we carry a backpack and put them in there.

5. Sprinkle in the fun

Games of tic-tac-toe

Our philosophy when traveling with kids is that they can be taken anywhere with the understanding that you are their entertainment. Here are some ideas for keeping things fun while on vacation.

Find spaces to run around

Kids need to let out their energy. Find parks or open spaces for kids to play and move. Bonus: Find a spot where there are beverages nearby, either coffee or adult drinks. It will be a win-win for the kids and the adults!

Fun distracters

  • I Spy: Play “I spy with my little eye something [color OR shape OR can be anything age appropriate].”
  • Paper Airplanes: Make paper airplanes and try to make them fly.
  • Dinner Conversation: Every day on the trip, ask them something different. For example, ask them their favorite part of the day, favorite city or place so far, funniest thing that’s happened. It makes great conversation, keeps them engaged, and reinforces memorable moments.
  • Small notebook, pencil, and small crayons at dinner: Kids can draw or play tic tac toe.
  • Small toys: take small toys like magnetic tiles or blocks that can be used to make structures.

Silly, interesting, and fun pictures

Get the kids involved in the pictures with perspective shots. They can look like giants, can magically appear twice, or can show off their super strength.

For the giant look, get down low and take a picture of them in front of a large background.

Magically appear twice: In panorama mode, have the kids appear on one side of the shot and then when they are out of the frame, tell them to go around you and move to the other end. You will need to go slow and might need to stop moving the camera until they are in position.

Win over the locals

Teach the kids a couple of words in the local language, like “hi” and “thank you.” The residents will appreciate it and probably get a laugh out of it.

6. Flying

There are so many things that go into a successful flight with kids. So, here is another separate post with 16 Essential Tips for Flying with Kids.

7. Road trips

Road trips and can be fun, but they can also be tiring, for everyone.

Plan stops

Depending on the age of your kids, you may or may not need to make multiple stops. My daughter needs to stop every 1.5 to 2 hours to stretch her legs and have a break. If not, she and the rest of us will regret it.

Devices

We’re not a device at the dinner table sort of family, but I will give them one for long car rides. Make sure you get your kids headphones though. Download movies and shows ahead of time in case the connection is bad.

Car toys & games

Not all kids are happy with watching hours of shows and movies. So, make sure you take other things to distract them, such as reading books, coloring books, or just paper to draw. Car games like “I spy” or “how many red cars can you find” can be played by the whole family.

Cooler

I like to take a small cooler with extra water and snacks to help avoid those hangry moments.

8. Cruises

Tips for Traveling with Kids

One of the best things about cruising is the mindlessness of it. You don’t have to worry about where you are going to eat or how you are going to get to the next city. Major decisions are whether or not to get the drink package, what to pick on the menu, what activities to do next on the ship, and what to do at port.

Kids and teen programs

Most cruise lines have kids programs where you can drop them off. They have an amazing time playing and doing activities with other kids, while you can relax and enjoy your time with your spouse or alone. Don’t worry about missing out on precious family time. You’ll need to pick them up for meals and after a certain number of hours. Teens will be able to come and go. Just need to schedule meet up times.

Babysitting services

If you want a night out, most cruise lines offer babysitting services in your stateroom for an extra fee.

Crib

Consider the size of your room when reserving your stateroom. If you want a crib, you may want to get a larger state room so there is room for the crib and for you. Include crib requests when you book to make sure they have enough and that the crib will be ready for you in your room.

9. Helpful gear

Tips for Traveling with Kids

It helps to be prepared with gear that will make things easier when traveling. Here are some recommendations:

  • Lightweight stroller: a lightweight stroller can be helpful when traveling with a toddler for those tired legs and for napping, but not cumbersome that it can’t be carried when going up stairs.
  • Carrier: A good carrier will help in those places that aren’t stroller friendly.

Patience and planning are keys to having a great family vacation. I hope these tips for traveling with kids help you with your future vacations so you can create great memories with your kids.

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