Travel Tips, Travel with Kids

15 Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Kids

We travel, a lot, and I mean a whole lot. Over the years we have come up with some tried and true tips for traveling with kids. I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I do have a lot of experience. I hope you will find something great to try on this list.

15 Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Kids #travel #kids #traveltips

I have three grown children and three grandchildren, which doesn’t make me an expert on parenting, but it has provided me with some ideas about traveling with children. When my kids were young, we moved every three to nine months because of my husband’s job, sometimes by car and sometimes by plane, depending on where we were moving. We have lived in several countries and a lot of the States and of course, we’ve been on vacations to other areas. It’s been fun. 

We have traveled by car, plane, boat and train, but the secret to happy kids is the same no matter what. Get them involved and keep them busy. Oh, and lots of snacks. Here are some ideas that I have used for my kids. Hopefully you can find a few that will help you survive.

Before Traveling

If you are visiting or moving to a new place, let the kids help you decide what you will do and see when you get there. There are loads of travel books in the library and bookstores. There are also thousands of websites detailing every corner of the earth. I personally like the Lonely Planet books better than the websites. Plus, then you can write notes and take the books with you. I have a big box of them. 

15 Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Kids #travel #kids #traveltips

Visiting another country? Please, please, please educate your kids ahead of time about the culture you are going to experience. You really don’t want to offend someone. For example, in Estonia it is considered rude to show the bottom of your feet or shoes to someone. In some cultures you only shake hands with your right hand. If you’re visiting a palace in some countries you can’t go in certain areas of the grounds. (Yes, we know this first hand. They will chase you down.)

While Traveling

Be sure to have lots of snacks, but not ones filled with sugar. Also, nothing too sticky. Some of our favorites are grapes, cheese sticks, carrot sticks, celery sticks, jerky, crackers, pretzels, Chex Mix, nuts (if your kids are a little older), raisins and animal crackers (not the frosted ones).

Ensure everyone has enough water to drink. For some reason traveling is dehydrating. This may or may not be a scientific fact, but it is my observation. Keep sugar drinks to a minimum. You don’t need them bouncing off the walls. 

Take breaks to stretch your legs and let the kids run out some of their energy. If you are traveling by car, you could take a picnic lunch and stop at a park. Then the kids can be fed something good for them and run around in the same stop.

This might seem odd, but believe me, it’s a good idea. Take a roll of toilet paper in your car. You never know when you won’t be able to find a bathroom and have a kid that can’t wait. (Yes, this has happened to us before.)

Make sure you have wipes, lots of wipes. A roll of paper towels if you’re traveling by car is a good idea too. With the possible bathroom break and all of the snacks, you will use them. 

15 Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Kids #travel #kids #traveltips

Side Story

Here’s a story about the paper towels for you. It’s a good one, so don’t skip it. When my youngest daughter was 3 years old, we were driving from Quebec, Canada to Idaho. If you Map quest it, that is a 42 hour drive. We were pulling a trailer, so it was a little longer. One of the days we were traveling, we were driving through Nebraska. Well, it happened to be football season and we couldn’t find a hotel for miles and miles. The people of Nebraska are serious football fans. I mean it, we ended up being in the car for 18 hours that day. It was terrible. Well, my then three year old daughter was coming unglued. We just couldn’t console her. I handed her a paper towel to wipe her nose with and she proceeded to tear that paper towel up into probably 5000 tiny pieces. We handed her another one and she did it again. I guess the repetition was calming to her. We had quite the mess, but we really didn’t care at that point.

Travel Activities

When traveling by car for more than one day, try to stop at a hotel with a pool at night. Then you can let your kids get some of their energy out before you need them to sleep. Plus, it’s fun for them. 

Have a lot of activities that your kids like to keep them occupied. We had magnetic boards with pieces that went with them, like cars, animals and dolls. It’s a great time for them to practice their reading, so be sure they bring books. Coloring books and colored pencils are a great time filler. Don’t bring crayons, they melt in the car. Towards the end of our moving around they came out with the portable DVD players with screens to watch movies. Those are a great thing. Hand held video games are good. Books on tape can be fun. Talking in the car is great too. You have a captive audience. Find out what they like or want to be when they grow up or see if they can think of a topic.

If you have a particularly long trip, before the trip go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of things your kids will like, such a cars, army men, dinosaurs, dolls, books, pencils, or treats. Then wrap them individually in wrapping paper. When the kids start to get restless, give them a present to unwrap. You don’t have to have one an hour, but several works great. Then they have something new to occupy themselves.

15 Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Kids #travel #kids #traveltips

My biggest kid!

Airplane Travel

When traveling by plane, be sure to take an extra set of clothes for each child in your carry-on. You never know when someone will get sick, spill something on their self or have an accident.

When you’re packing the luggage, put one set of clothes for each person in each piece of luggage so if a bag is lost, one person isn’t out all of their clothes. When we moved to Estonia, somehow my bags went to Paris and Belgium. Luckily I had packed so that no one was completely without clothes because it took a few days for the bags to find me. I have to admit, I was a little envious of those bags.

If you are traveling by plane, your kid’s ears will hurt during take off and landing. It’s the pressure of the air that does it. Have a little one? Give her a bottle, pacifier or nurse her during take off and landing. If the kids are a little older, chewing gum or a gummy fruit snack will do the trick of keeping their ears unplugged. It’s painful for them, so help them avoid it. 

What About You

Take your kids where ever you can. They really need to see the world and experience other cultures, even in their own country. It makes them more empathetic towards other people and gives them a broader outlook on the world. This is so important at this time in history.

Do you travel with your kids? What are some of your tried and true tips for traveling with kids? 

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Pin this for your next trip and to save other parent’s sanity.

15 Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Kids #travel #kids #traveltips

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  • Rob Taylor July 18, 2018 at 7:57 am

    I wish the reminder about packing a set of clothes with your person wasn’t a valid one… but EVERY single trip we do, particularly on planes, requires a full costume change within hours of starting… and it hasn’t changed as the kids have gotten older.

    • ppadmin July 23, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      It’s so true! And not just for the kids either. It just makes good sense.

  • Ann Snook July 20, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    OMG yes to bringing toilet paper! We always had some in the car for family road trips. It serves so many purposes, the best of which being when there’s no rest area for miles ahead!

    • ppadmin April 7, 2019 at 11:59 am

      Yes! We have used it on long, lonely roads more than one time.

  • Medha Verma July 22, 2018 at 5:05 am

    I like how you say take lots of snacks but not ones with sugar, that’s bound to keep the kids awake and jumping around with the sugar high haha. I don’t have children of my own but I have seen that with my nephew and I know exactly what its like. I can’t imagine it would’ve been easy for you to move around so frequently with three little kids but seems like you made the most of it and certainly learned a lot!

    • ppadmin April 7, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      Our kids are grown and still don’t eat a lot of sugar on road trips. We all loved moving around when they were young and actually miss the closeness we had.

  • sherianne July 22, 2018 at 10:25 am

    My sister has 2 little ones and they travel often. She always says how much work it is but does it so well it appears effortless! I think it’s the snacks, she always has a variety of snacks and no one is ever hangry!

    • ppadmin April 7, 2019 at 12:02 pm

      If you do it enough, I think you just do it on auto pilot.

  • Elaine masters July 22, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Parenting is humbling isn’t it?! You never know how resourceful you’ll need to be. Love that story about the paper towels. I drove across the country many times with my family and it was dire. The worst was taking a road trip with my ex and young son. Getting from Point A to B as fast as possible is just inhumane. Sounds like your family is doing so much better than that!

    • ppadmin April 7, 2019 at 12:03 pm

      Parenting is humbling, almost daily. We try to stop and smell the roses, although sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Thus, the paper towels.

  • Jenn and Ed Coleman July 22, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    When I was a kid (and I was a high energy kid) the pool at night was critical. If we were driving from Quebec to Idaho, I would be bouncing off the wall if I couldn’t swim a bit. One road trip, we went through Dodge City Kansas and found a hotel with a full on indoor mini-water park. The kids were super happy with that (we were driving Tucson to Ohio so it was a much-needed break)

    • ppadmin April 7, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      That sounds like a fun place to stay! Those long drives can be tough.

  • Linda July 23, 2018 at 5:33 am

    It has been awhile since we travelled with kids. But I remember those days. Giving the kids some input into plans definitely helps them to buy into the plans. Letting them have time to run free is important. Especially if there are many stops where they need to be more constrained. Your tip about hotels with pools is golden. As long as my son had a pool, he could be entertained for hours. Sometimes I figured I could book a hotel in my home city with a pool and he would never know the difference 🙂 The other thing I learned was the value of booking a place with some structured kid activities in a camp. Then we would get a few hours to enjoy on our own too!

    • ppadmin April 7, 2019 at 12:07 pm

      Ah, that is a good tip. Kind of like the kids camps on cruise ships.

  • Nisha July 23, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Great tips here!
    More than snacks a big yes to carrying toilet paper with you. So right. You don’t know when it’s needed. The story of your 3 year old is so encouraging. That reminds me of a friend who used to carry a cupful of uncooked rice and her daughter used to play for hours if she was off-mood. These kids, you don’t know what’d excite them and calm them. 🙂

    • ppadmin April 7, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      So true. We were all so surprised by the paper towels. We always traveled with them after that. Poor little kids, you can’t really explain it all well enough sometimes.

  • Renata - July 23, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve been travelling with my daughter since she was 9 months old. When she was two, we used to stay for six months in Belize, eventually when she was 4, for another six months in Honduras and finally one year in Honduras and Costa Rica. No wonder she caught an incurable travel virus 😉 But it did her very good – and me, too, although I had to be much more organized than travelling by myself. However, it was totally makeable.

    • ppadmin July 29, 2018 at 10:43 am

      I love this! It’s so great for her and you gave her a gift that will shape her whole life. Congratulations to you for seeing the value.

  • Carrie July 24, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Now I TOTALLY get why my parents always wanted to stay somewhere with a pool when we were on long road trips when I was a kid! That’s brilliant — the kids love it, plus they burn off all their energy.

    • ppadmin April 7, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Yes! Exactly. See, your parents were smarter than you thought.

  • Jas July 24, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    I feel like toilet paper (or even tissue) and wipes apply to adults as well sometimes hahaa. You never know! These are great tips though and I’ll be sure to send them along to my friends who have younger children.

    • ppadmin July 29, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Unfortunately, very, very true. Sometimes you just have to go.

  • Jennifer Melroy July 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    My favorite part of traveling as a child was when my parents let me pick a few of the activities. I loved doing something that was my idea. I love parents who included their kids in the plans. Then the kids get more out of the trip.

    • ppadmin July 29, 2018 at 10:14 am

      That is so great. I feel like if the kids have a stake in the trip, the more interested they will be.