Traveling with kids can be a tricky thing. You have to remember that children have different needs. But as soon as you manage to master a few details, it can be one of the best experiences for your whole family.
Traveling is so much fun, and there is hardly anyone that doesn’t enjoy it. It is something that provides your mind with the perfect time to rejuvenate and relax, but it can become quite complicated if you are traveling with children. These little heads need attention all the time, and they take more than usual time to settle down in a different place; hence, there are a lot of precautionary measures that you need to take in order to enjoy a stress-free trip with children. That’s why I have gathered the best tips that will allow traveling with children to be a much more relaxed experience. In this post, you will find tips for traveling with children.
Here we have compiled a list of some of the most useful tips that may help you out when traveling with kids. This will be separated into four bigger parts:
- General Tips for Traveling With Kids
- Tips for Flying with Kids
- Tips for the Travel Destination With Your Kids
- Health Precautions You Should Take
Note: If you’re looking for traveling abroad tips with kids, head to my Ultimate Guide to International Travel With Kids.
Table of Contents
General Tips for Traveling With Kids
- Book Ahead
- Book The Earliest Flights In The Day
- Minimize Waiting In Long Lines
- Pack Light… Or Not…
- Get Basic Medicines
- Always Put Safety First
- Keep an Eye on Kids
- Don’t Push Your Kids Too Much
- Put things into practice before traveling
- Don’t Forget To Carry Snacks
- Bring Favorite Toys and Games
- Have Your Kids Carry Their Own Luggage
- Bring a Baby Carrier
- Plan out your communication
- Tips for Flying with Kids
- Tips for the Travel Destination With Your Kids
- Health Precautions You Should Take
General Tips for Traveling With Kids
You might think traveling with babies, toddlers or kids, in general, can be exhausting, but we assure you that it is one of the most enriching and intense experiences that you can be living. There are many awkward moments when you are trying to keep traveling as you were earlier despite being a parent, and to do that, trying to decipher what your child wants and needs at each moment is the key. After having two sons, I learned a ton of tips for traveling with a kid.
When traveling with kids, it is not a good idea to wait until you get to your destination to figure out your accommodations. By the time you get there, kids will probably be tired from the bus, plane, or car ride. You need a place where kids can rest, so you don’t have to carry them around.
Book The Earliest Flights In The Day
It is not so easy to travel in the dark. According to the Aviation Authorities, flights in the early times of the day are mostly on time as well as are a lot less crowded. Keep this tip in mind and treat it as your golden ticket. At nighttime, children are mostly lazy and tired, so all you get to see is their tantrums. So fly safely in the day!
Minimize Waiting In Long Lines
No one wants to stay in long lines; it is not just tiring but somehow annoying as well, especially when you have children alongside. Usually at the check-in, security check, luggage drop as well as boarding, you get to wait in long lines. One way you can minimize waiting in these lines is to travel in premium/business class. For the business class passengers, wait time is mostly reduced, and they get to board first, so a lot of time is saved there as well.
Pack Light… Or Not…
If you’ve read travel guides or websites you might expect me to say something along the lines of, “Pack light, having fewer suitcases makes you more mobile, agile and makes it easier to get from a to b,” well guess what? I’m not. When you’re traveling with children, mobile and agile are often not your top priority, especially if you’re not a very seasoned traveler. Make sure that you’re prepared is. I’m not saying that you should try to stuff your entire house into your case, but there is a happy medium. I got you covered, I have a full packing list for traveling with kids.
Two simple principles can help you decide how much or how little to pack.
First, do you really need to be light and agile? If you’re going to get off the plane and get private transportation to and from your hotel then no, not really. If you’re going to be moving multiple times, and be using buses, trains, etc. then you probably don’t want to be humping the kitchen sink along with you.
Second, how important is the item that you want to bring? For the first pair of shoes that you pack the answer to this question will be “extremely, if I don’t bring them I’ll be stuck in the room all day every day,” But as you go through your packing list you’ll start to find things that are less critical. This is when you start to weigh the value of an item, against its physical size and weight.
Packing light has its upsides, as does bring a few potentially unnecessary items, don’t just assume one way is better than the other without consideration for your situation.
Get Basic Medicines
Last but not least, pack all the basic medicines when traveling. You never know when you need to pop a pill in case of a headache, stomach pain, or any other thing. Especially when you have kids, the risk of moving around without a first aid kit and essential medicines is a lot to deal with. In the case of an ill family member, it can utterly ruin your trip.
Whether it is you who has a headache or your child who feels sick because of motion, you need to be fully prepared for everything that comes your way.
Always Put Safety First
Most importantly, always put safety first. Take sunscreen everywhere you go, avoid high-crime areas, and put in the effort to ensure your kid is never far from your side. Remember, they’re only small, and the world can be a little scary sometimes. By putting safety first, both you and your child can focus on having the best time exploring the world together.
Keep an Eye on Kids
Even if your destination is incredibly kid-friendly, you should always keep your kids at a safe distance. To achieve this and still give them some independence, you can get something like a harness backpack or something like a GPS Tracker. This will allow your kid to have fun, and you to know where he is at all times.
Don’t Push Your Kids Too Much
You know your child better than anyone, which means you’ll know the signs that they’re being pushed too hard. If you want to hit a big city for the third time that week, but your little one shows signs of stress, it might be a good idea to hang back and take it slow.
Normally, when you travel solo, you want to do and see as much as you can in the least amount of time. But with children, it’s not that easy, they are small, and need to go slower. If you rush them, none of you will be able to fully enjoy your activities. They also need to rest more often than you do. So plan meals, snacks, or even naps for them.
Put things into practice before traveling
Parents establish routines throughout the day for their baby’s activities to help make things easier. This is especially important when it comes to sleep. Prior to travel, make sure to introduce to your little one the items that will be used in the trip.
One way to do this is to let your little one nap in the onesies or play suits for baby that you’ll be bringing along on vacation. By doing this, your baby will get used to things ahead of time and fall asleep easier when you’re on vacation.
Don’t Forget To Carry Snacks
Children often associate boredom with hunger; hence, they are most hungry when they don’t have anything interesting to do. Therefore, you need to carry some snacks no matter where you’re going. Although you can get snacks from the airport or even on the plane, we are certain you don’t want to risk your child’s health.
Your child’s health should be your top priority! Hygienic food is crucial in order to maintain good health! So make sure to carry a few homemade snacks when traveling around with kids. In addition to this, take the snacks that are dry and easy to carry, for example, nuts, energy bars, granola, and more.
Bring Favorite Toys and Games
Toys are a must-have thing when it comes to traveling with kids. Wherever you go, whether it is a beach, countryside or a fancy town, don’t forget to pack some games and toys (preferably the ones that your child loves). The healthiest thing for children is to encourage outdoor activities rather than virtual reality (tabs or iPad). For this, you can get a multipurpose scooter and hoverboard for your kid. Or if you are going to a beach, pack some sand toys, buckets, and stencils. Let the children enjoy the new place by playing outdoors.
Have Your Kids Carry Their Own Luggage
When your child carries his own bag, it instantly becomes easier to manage everything. In case you are traveling with an infant or toddler, they won’t be able to help you much. But when your children get a little older, let them carry their own bags. Pack a rolling bag for them so that they can drag it easily without nagging. It is something that will lighten the load on the parents.
Do not offer luggage service to your children if you frequently travel. Let them carry whatever they can. It will develop a sense of responsibility in your child.
We recommend talking to the pediatrician and a tropical medicine doctor before booking a trip. When they are so small, it is convenient to know what vaccines are necessary and if our son/daughter can visit a specific country depending on the age, he/she has. They will also recommend always carrying with you a good mosquito repellent and sunscreen.
Bring a Baby Carrier
Yes, a baby carrier is a necessity the time you are traveling with your kid. Your kid may not look anywhere else especially if he is tired and all hell will break loose if he happens to get irritated which will be the case if he doesn’t get a proper place to rest.
So, it is better for you to make him rest at the time when he needs it the most. Since you will be tired yourself, it will be a breeze not to have to deal with tired and as a result cranky kids.
Plan out your communication
Let’s be honest for a second, as much as you would want to believe that you will all be together at all times, the truth of the matter is that you will be off doing your own things in some situations. That being said, you will have to communicate with each other, and shouting things along the street or running around trying to find each other might not be the best solution.
Seeing as you will be traveling together like a family unit, why not act like it?
The best solution here is to grab yourself a set of the best walkie talkie units that you can find and use them to communicate with each other without having to disturb passers-by or other travelers. Not only that, but your kids will find this a bit more fun and engaging.
Tips for Flying with Kids
What to do with the stroller
Let us start with one of the most important things: What to do with the stroller when traveling by plane? Buy a folding one that you can take with you in the cabin is the most advisable.
Several brands sell strollers that when folded fit in the upper compartments of the plane, thus complying with the regulations of the companies.
If you do not want to carry a stroller, some airports provide strollers at no cost to get around the airport. They are usually at the boarding gates for everyone’s comfort.
Getting On The Plane: First, Isn’t Always the Best
Many airlines will allow people traveling with young children to board first, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If you’re going to be stuck on the plane for the next few hours, you don’t need to extend this by an extra 30 minutes. Pack your carry-on so that if there’s anything you want/need for takeoff you can grab it, then put your bag away.
You can take the time that everyone else is rushing to board the plane, to take the kids to pee and stretch their legs one more time. You can then pass through the gate after the lines are gone. This means a much smoother and less stressful boarding and a slightly shorter time on the plane.
While different families have different preferences regarding when to board the plane, there is one situation where you should never wait until the end. This is if your plane is full. On a full plane, overhead storage can quickly fill up. If you end up being last on the plane, you may have to store your carry-on much further away than you would like. If the plane is full, try to get on early and secure a bin that is close by for your travel necessities.
Book the bassinet
Do not forget to reserve the bassinet for your baby if you are preparing to take a long-distance plane trip. It is effortless to reserve it: you only have to contact the airline directly and request it. We also have to say that your kid might not want to use it, but sometimes it is practical to lay the baby down while you drink or eat something.
Also check, with which airline, you will be offering food and diapers for the baby before starting the journey. Moreover, do not forget that all airplanes have a changer, and although it is just space, it is very comfortable. You can also pack a portable crib along with you.
Prepare Your Children For Air Pressure
Air pressure is an issue for all first-time travelers, especially children. Once you are done with the security check, remember to stock up on the required amount of water so that you and your children can comfortably get through in case of a delay, and make sure to save some water for the descent as well.
Make your children have some water before taking off and in the last half hour of the descent. When you swallow something, it alleviates the pressure, and needless to say, water brings amazing other benefits, especially hydration.
Do not forget the pacifier
Keep in mind that the pacifier is perfect for pressure changes if the trip is by plane. If your child still has a pacifier, do not forget to take it with you in the suitcase. You will need it during the take-off, landing, and possible turbulence as it will help you relax and avoid earache. If your child does not have a pacifier, repeatedly feeding him can help you have a better time.
Tips for the Travel Destination With Your Kids
Deciding the Destination
You should have a couple of most probable travel destinations in mind. You can check the fun spots in the world famous for family travel. You will have to keep in mind the similar tastes of the members of the family in order to make the trip fun for all of them. This can seem like a hectic thing to do since everybody’s developing such different tastes. But places like Madrid or exotic places like Australia can be a few of the ones that everyone might agree on. In any case, you will have to sell the pitch to the family.
We think that choosing the destination and the activities or visits that we are going to carry out is very important, especially considering the age of our child. We recommend calmer destinations for when children are smaller and destinations that include more people and activities when they are a little older. We never need to stop traveling, but we have to do it at our kid’s pace.
Find Affordable Accommodations
It may be worthwhile to look into whether you can find affordable AirBnB stays that have long records as being clean and safe. Traditional hotels, and even motels, can be quite costly. You can also look into camping because, many times, it is less expensive to camp in a tent than it is to stay in a hotel or motel.
Find fun activities
This is actually where a lot of family vacations start going downhill and remember that no matter how young you feel or how open-minded you are, your kids will always know how to have fun better than you.
With that in mind, chances are that the activities that you consider to be fun, and oftentimes are looking forward to, will end up either boring your kids out of their minds or simply not impress them as much as they do you.
A good solution for that is to, believe it or not, let your kids pick out the activities and then decide as a unit which ones to go on and which ones to skip. This way you will not end up looking like the bad guy for saying “no”, your kids will be satisfied that they had a say in the matter, and you will still have complete control over the situation, all be it from behind the scene.
Find Out About Laws
Research the laws of the visiting country that you are taking your family to before you go there. You don’t want to accidentally break the law and get into trouble by doing something that is no big deal in your home country.
Go for Street Shopping
Most cities have one or more areas dedicated to street shopping. Visit these places to explore and buy the best of local art, crafts, toys, clothing, and much more at affordable prices. Although you might have to polish your bargaining skills though, the experience will be worth it.
This is not something that you will be able to do 24/7 and whether you like it or not you will have to deal with them sooner or later, but try and avoid them as much as possible.
This is because of crowds and large gatherings of strange people, especially in cramped conditions like on a bus, or standing in line in a tight corridor, is not only off-putting but also a big cause of nervousness and anxiety in children.
A great way to avoid crowds is to be smart and plan everything in advance. Make sure that you have the tickets that you need in order to get around in advance, make sure that the reservations are made and confirmed before you set off, and so on.
Go for Sightseeing
Kids love watching places and the easiest way to maintain their interest is by regularly giving them a reason to be awestruck. Take them sightseeing and let them witness the beauty of the world around them.
Get them involved in taking pictures
If kids know that there is the possibility of being able to take pictures, they will pay more attention to the places and truly enjoy where they are.
Health Precautions You Should Take
Children shouldn’t travel abroad before they’ve completed their standard schedule of vaccines, but those aren’t the only ones that matter in some parts of the world. For example, if you’re planning to travel to sub-Saharan Africa, your whole family should receive the vaccine for yellow fever. Consult with your child’s doctor at least 6 weeks before your trip to find out what vaccines your child should receive.
Control of Chronic Conditions
Do any of your children suffer from a chronic condition like type 1 diabetes or asthma? Before you leave for your trip, it’s important to make sure you have all the medical supplies your child will need, such as antihistamines and bronchodilators for an asthmatic child. You may not be able to refill your medications abroad, but many times you can get an exception from your pharmacy to receive extra supplies if you’re going to be away.
Learn About Foodborne Illnesses
Food-borne illnesses are among the most common problems that travelers face, and they can cause symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting that are both unpleasant and potentially dangerous if left unaddressed. Before you leave on your trip, learn about what foods may play host to hidden dangers. Certain cooking and sanitary practices can also help reduce everyone’s risk of getting sick. This is a good time to follow your picky eater’s lead and skip the food from street carts and food stalls. These items are more likely to make you sick than foods prepared under normal restaurant kitchen conditions.
Beware Of Bugs
In addition to food-borne conditions, many people become ill with diseases carried by mosquitos or other local bugs when traveling, but while many people are worried about Zika virus at this time, this shouldn’t be your primary concern. However, your doctor may recommend that your child take anti-malarial drugs, as malaria is a far more dangerous illness. You should also bring plenty of bug spray and anti-itch ointment for treating the inevitable bites, stings, and rashes.
International travel is a great adventure, but that doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. Preparing for unpleasant health events is part of responsible trip planning, and should be one of the first things addressed when you schedule a trip. The better prepared you are, the less likely it is that illnesses will disrupt your travels.
Going out for a family adventure, especially with kids, can be a memorable experience or a complete nightmare- it all depends on how you handle the situation! If you do the right things and plan your trip well, I can bet you will experience and cherish the most awesome moments of your life. In fact, such trips not only you make feel happy, jubilant, fun, and de-stressed, the bond among your family members also gets deeper and stronger; as they say, ‘Family, who travels together, stays together.’Going out for a family adventure doesn’t have to be hell at all. With some planning and the right activities, it will be an amazing experience.
As you can see these are really simple, but they can make your vacation with kids a lot more enjoyable.