10 Tips for Travel With Kids

Traveling with your children can sometimes be a lot of work. It is wonderful, rewarding, and completely worth any effort you need to put forth, but it is a whole different thing than travel alone or as a couple.

See how fun?  Pay no attention to the candy that may or may not have been used as a bribe!
I truly believe that travel is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Some of their best memories, and ours, have been and will continue to be, moments during our travels.  Even people that do not travel as often as us usually cite a moment from a vacation as one of the most memorable in their lives.

We have done quite a bit of travel, before and after having kids.  We have done road trips in the US, bus trips in Central America, train rides through Thailand, and many flights all over the world!  Some lasting over 30 hours long. We survived and even enjoyed them all!  Over this time we have built up a few habits and methods that make all our trips run a bit more smoothly.

Here are 10 of the most important things to remember/do when embarking on a new family trip or vacation..

Before you go/packing

1. Research what type of trip will realistically work for your family. Trekking Everest is most likely NOT going to be best with a toddler in tow.  It would make for some amazing pics but....

2. Plan ahead of time and include the kids in the decisions and planning. When they have more of a vested interest in the whole process things usually go much more smoothly.  If your kids are young, there are still ways to get them excited about the trip.  By finding things to do, where they are going, that you know they will enjoy, you can show your kids that what they want matters.

3. Get your mindset in a positive mode.  There will be mishaps, crying and temper tantrums from all ages, but if you go into it with an open mind and accept that these things are normal and will pass, then it will make the journey much easier to manage.

4. Pack light! A lot of people will tell you to bring an absolute ton of crap in order to please your little one. But as a mom of a teen, 9-year-old, and a pre-schooler, I can tell you it is unnecessary. Kids make fun out of anything and the world is jam packed with interesting things for kids!  Even travel with a baby or toddler, which I have done plenty of, will be more work if you try lugging everything from home with you.

5. For the actual travel day, whether it is plane, train, or automobile, I always carry...Tylenol for every age group, wet wipes (one of the most useful multi purpose tools in any mom's arsenal), plastic baggies for left over food, vomit, or any other bodily fluid that needs containing, and whatever toy/game/book/electronic will help in entertaining.  Oh and snacks, candies, basically anything that will help avoid a meltdown:)

During your trip

Most important is to have FUN!

6. If you are flying, for goodness sake do not board the plane first.  I never understand why airlines offer early boarding to families. Maybe your kids are different, but mine would much rather have the whole airport to run around in and explore then be cooped up on a small plane any longer then they have to.  As a rule we always board last!

7. If you are traveling far enough away that jet lag is a possibility, try and plan an extra day or 2 to recover and get past it.  Jet lag is not the end of the world, nor will it ruin your trip, but it can take some children a day or so to get over it and back on a normal schedule.

8. Try the local customs, activities, and foods. You won't like everything and neither will your kids but you may be surprised at what they will accept.

9. Do the tourist things at your destination but also be sure to set aside quieter times during each day. Time for you to unwind, and time for the kids to either rest or just be kids by playing at the pool!

10. Consider renting a full apartment or vacation home as opposed to a hotel room.  The extra space is something we have come to greatly appreciate, especially during longer term travel. There are many websites out there to make searching easier.

See the look of fear  fun on my face!  My son made me and I am so grateful that he did!
Most importantly relax, enjoy your trip, and let the kids guide the way.  We have found so many wonderful sights because they pulled us in that direction and I have overcome so many fears at their prodding. Travel with children may not be as relaxing as pre baby days, but I think it's even more wonderful then anyone can imagine!  Try it and see for yourself!

See our previous post on tips for Saving Money on Food while Traveling with Kids.

Do you have any good tips to add?  Share them below in our comments section.

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  1. Traveling with kids can be tough. I know for me, the worse part is getting to your destination. You have the kids saying, “Are we there yet?” every hour and that can get frustrating. Keeping the kids entertained is the most important during the travel part. The kids have their DS games that they play all the time, and I let them use my iPad. With the iPad, the kids can play games, read, and watch movies on our Blockbuster@Home service. A co-worker at Dish told me about this service, so I downloaded the Dish Remote Access app and the kids can access our Blockbuster streaming. They have several family movies on there, so the kids never get bored with the movies and they can always find something to watch. It is such a lifesaver when you are traveling for hours.