Tips for traveling with kids. -

You may have noticed that we’ve been traveling quite a bit this summer. We decided to limit the number of camps and lessons we scheduled for the kids so we could spend more time playing, attending conventions, seeing the country and simply enjoying the time together. It’s only a matter of time and our teenager will have a summer job and our opportunities to travel as a family will be even more limited.

Traveling with kids is easier when you have a plan. -

Ever since the girls were babies, we have taken on the task of traveling. Sometimes to visit family, other times short weekend trips, as well as grand adventures to New York, Acapulco, Disney, Turks and Caicos, Hawaii, and a Hot Wheels convention, just to name a few. We even took the kids on a cruise. As the girls have matured, the travel experience has definitely gotten easier. They do their own packing, communicate their needs (IE food/restroom breaks) while on the road and spend less time asking “Are we there yet?”   But traveling is tiresome on its own; trying to factor children into the trip is an additional challenge. By packing the right distractions, venturing out with children can be fun. Here are some ideas for keep kids entertained and comfortable during long trips:

Keep kids busy during travel with a kid-friendly tablet. -  Use games and puzzles to make road trip time go faster! -


No matter how old the kids are, some things are universal. Playing car bingo or looking for license plates is entertaining. I remember a road trip when I was a kid and how excited I was to see a Hawaii license plate. I had a travel notebook with all the states listed and marked them off as I discovered them. Depending on the length of the trip, those simple tasks will only go so far. Be sure to pack snacks and activities for everyone on the journey. If your vehicle has a built-in entertainment system, pack movies that are friendly for the whole family. You can even find a handful of board games and compact puzzles like Hexus, Katamino and IQ Link that are perfect for use in the car.

Tips for traveling with toddlers and babies. -

Baby / Toddler Travelers

Babies and toddlers are going to get tired, bored, hungry and anxious. Let me repeat that. It isn’t that they MIGHT get antsy. They will… so be prepared by packing with a plan!
Feeding items: Bottles or sippy cups, food, bibs, wet wipes. We always pack a couple plastic travel bowls to help prevent snacks from ending up all over the rest of the vehicle.
Change of clothes: For those times when the mess is just too much to deal with. Sometimes that means they spilled their sippy cup, but let’s be honest and admit all the other unspeakable incidents. It’s happened to the best of us. With the change in eating habits, higher anxiety as well as excitement, sometimes their stomachs just cannot handle the change. Or worse, maybe they just get carsick. Keep a change of clothes handy just in case. It doesn’t take up that much room and you’ll be glad you have them if you need them.
Zipper bags: Pack a box so you have something to put wet clothes, dirty diapers or open packages of snacks. Or in the case of incidents where a change of clothes is needed… those.
Entertainment: This is a big one. Be sure to pack age-appropriate toys including rattles, teddy bears and board books. Find small items that don’t take up a lot of space but offer a lot of entertainment. Consider investing in a few new small items that will buy you extra “newness” time. Here’s a piece of advice though: Do NOT pack repetitive, noisy things that will ultimately drive YOU crazy.

Traveling with kids can be an adventure. Pack appropriately for the road trip. -

Preschool-age Travelers

Food: For preschoolers, nipping hunger pains in the bud can make the experience run much smoother. Pack an assortment of travel-friendly snacks and drink boxes. As I mentioned previously, having plastic bowls for snacks is fantastic. I’ve also been told that silicone muffin cups fit nicely in cup holders making cleanup of snacks a breeze. If you’re traveling on the plane, pack a reusable water bottle or sippy cup to fill with the complimentary juice. Keep in mind that you should pack the kind that won’t build up pressure. We made that mistake once and had pent-up juice squirt all over the place. Yeah, it was a mess.
Change of clothes: As with babies and toddlers, it doesn’t hurt to have a chance of clothes on hand for when that inevitable spill happens.
Entertainment: Pack a few books as well as a children’s tablet. When you’re traveling, encourage kids to balance their “free” time between educational activities, games, digital entertainment and sleeping.

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Elementary (and above) Travelers

Food: Snacks! See a common theme here? Fruit is the ultimate portable food. They come with their own biodegradable packaging (bananas) or require no packaging at all (grapes). My favorite thing to pack is grapes. It’s easy to pop a few to take the edge off between meal breaks. Of course, we also use trips as an excuse to get seldom-purchased treats like cola gummies. Crackers and chips travel well also and don’t require a cooler.
Entertainment: Crafts. Use dedicated travel time to teach them to crochet, knit or create something. There are a lot of craft kits available that travel well. Books! It’s an opportunity to let them live their own adventure by encouraging them to read. To offset that, allow electronic time with some type of electronic game, laptop or tablet.

As I mentioned previously, be sure to pack a few inexpensive plastic bowls to make drive-thru food a little less messy. A sample sized bottle of dish soap is perfect for washing them out, too or purchase a roll of the paper towels that have the dish soap built in like we used for our mason jar milkshakes.

No matter the age of your child, use the travel time as an opportunity to bond. Whether by playing games or just talking, make the most of it. You won’t regret it.

Where are you headed on your next family trip?

31 thoughts on “Tips for Traveling with Kids

  1. I have such fond memories road tripping as a kid, and I think it’s a fun way for kids to have new experiences and develop a sense of adventure. As a new mom, these tips really help! Thanks. I especially love the idea of having kids learn a craft.

  2. We too have bbeen doing road trips, international travel, cruises, you name it since Marilu was just 6 months! Now she is 18 and loves traveling every opportunity she gets. Now she even wants to study abroad!

  3. I remember traveling as a child with my Mom and Dad–finding the alphabet or licence plates was a biggie back then! I don’t remember food being brought along and there were no fast food places back then–oh well–there must have been something to munch on —–my memory just isn’t what it used to be!!

  4. Excellent tips. Also, ” all the other unspeakable incidents” that’s absolutely hilarious. I don’t personally have any children, but I’ve been doing a little traveling with a few of my lil sibs-in-law and the majority of them are under the age of ten.

  5. This is a very comprehensive post. We travel a lot with our kids. We do at least one cruise a year. I do a lot of media trips and we often go as a family which is awesome. I love being able to share that time with the entire family.

  6. It’s great to be ready for the kids during the trip. They can be impatient at times and it would be nice to have some snacks and entertainment prepared! I love that you also classified their needs according to their age, that’s really helpful!

  7. Some really practical tips for traveling with kids. I agree traveling with your children is a great opportunity to bond and spend quality time together. We need to make the most before they grow up and leave the nest.

  8. While I don’t have children yet (but in a few years, hopefully), I look forward to taking your advise. However, I do a lot of kid watching on family vacations and will keep these ideas in mind!

  9. Kids can be a handful during trips and they always need something that will keep them occupied. This is a pretty awesome guide about traveling with kids! I’m sure a lot of parents will appreciate it!

  10. The great thing about travelling with kids is that they really are a quick pack and go. I always had a bag or backpack set aside to just up and go at a moments notice.

  11. These are some helpful tips. I have incorporated some of these already, but it’s nice to get an additional perspective. Thanks for this.

  12. It’s important that I be his voice and express to the agent that while he may seem non-compliant, it’s not the case, it’s just that he doesn’t exactly comprehend what’s being asked of him. When I did that the agent actually offered for me to stand next to her and help with giving him directions – what a relief, seriously. Something else that is key for us is to be sure he is flanked by myself and his Dad so there’s someone on either side of the screening machine to guide him.

  13. Great tips as the winter weather sneaks in. Too bad we have rain instead of snow down here in the South. Still having to make sure it doesn’t drop in puddles.

  14. It’s important that I be his voice and express to the agent that while he may seem non-compliant, it’s not the case, it’s just that he doesn’t exactly comprehend what’s being asked of him. When I did that the agent actually offered for me to stand next to her and help with giving him directions – what a relief, seriously. Something else that is key for us is to be sure he is flanked by myself and his Dad so there’s someone on either side of the screening machine to guide him.

  15. Thanks for the valuable tips. We have had a few annoying experiences and a couple of good ones when we signed up with tours in China. Since we will be making many more trips over the next few years I would prefer to get local guides who can take us to authentic restaurants and basically assist us in our desire to find some off the beaten path places to check out. Can you give me some ideas on where or how to go about finding them. Awesome recipes btw. Thanks again.

  16. When our kids were younger, we would start off with a game. We have a couple of license plate games. Somehow during all the hype and excitement from winning, the conversation would switch to other topics. Usually stuff we wouldn’t talk about at home!

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