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5 Best Travel Hacks if You’re Traveling With Kids

5 Best Travel Hacks if You’re Traveling With Kids

We have been traveling with kids since they were two and four years old. At first we started with a few European countries and a couple weeks at a time. Now we’ve been living and traveling internationally for nearly four years.

Every long flight or long trip has taught us more about how to travel with kids. Parents let stress and lack of preparation cause a lot of problems on travel days that can be eliminated by reading articles like this.

​Don’t let children stop you from traveling. Your travel life can continue without a blip as parents. In fact, having children is even more reason to explore. Your kids can learn history in person, stay active while exploring, and expand their food palette in the most authentic way.

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traveling with kids hacks

Learn the Five Essential Hacks for Family Trips

Enjoy your next vacation with the little traveler of your family. These travel hacks come from four years of full-time family travel. You will save so much time and stress by implementing these tips.

Travel Hack #1 – Master the Art of Packing

When you’re traveling with kids, packing can seem like a daunting task. The key is to balance what you need with the desire to travel light. Below are some strategies to help you pack efficiently.

Transportation Gear

  • Car Seat: If your itinerary includes car travel, you might want to bring a car seat. Having a car seat with you the whole time can be a huge nuisance, so look into local laws about small kids in vehicles. Most of the countries we have visited have limited or no laws regarding car seats. From the age of two we adopted a do as the locals do policy for our little kids riding in cars abroad.
  • Good Travel Stroller: Invest in a lightweight, collapsible stroller. It should be easy to navigate and fold when boarding public transportation or planes. Younger children usually can’t keep up with the pace of long travel days without a stroller. For us, the stroller was a game changer to cover more ground each day.

Clothes and Comfort

  • Change of Clothes: Accidents happen, so pack an extra set of clothes for your child in your carry-on luggage.
  • Plastic Bags: They’re handy for storing dirty clothes or trash.

Food and Hydration

  • Pack Snacks: Choose non-perishable, non-messy snacks to keep hunger at bay.
  • Water Bottle: Refillable bottles save money and reduce waste.
hydration for everyone when  traveling with kids

Accessibility and Convenience

  • Easy Access: Keep essential items like passports and breast milk in an accessible spot. Consider a belt bag for important documents and a cooler bag for expressed milk.
  • Travel Journal: Encourage your kids to document their journey. It’s a great way to keep them engaged and create lasting memories.

By focusing on these points, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of packing when traveling with kids.

Also Read:

Travel Hack #2 – Navigating Airports and Flights

When traveling with kids, navigating airports and boarding flights requires a strategic approach. You’ll need to account for everything from TSA interactions to keeping young passengers entertained during long-haul journeys.

Traveling by Car

Before you even think about airport security lines, your journey starts with getting to the airport. Ensure your car seat is FAA-approved if you’re taking it on the plane, and check it can be securely installed in a rental car for road trips upon landing. Direct flights can significantly reduce the stress of transferring between planes, especially when covering long distances with young children. Always carry essential travel documents easily accessible to ease interactions with TSA officers or flight attendants.

Utilizing Technology

Leverage technology to streamline your airport and inflight experience. Keep electronic devices charged. Technology is invaluable for entertainment on long flights and can distract from jet lag or air pressure changes. Remember to download any necessary apps for airline tickets and boarding passes, thus ensuring a smoother transition from car to airplane seat.

Bypass Lines

Enrolling in programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry can shorten your wait at security, especially beneficial on international flights. In some airports having Clear will allow you to jump to the front of even the already shorter TSA Pre-Check lines. You can sign up for Clear at the airport, but the other services cannot be signed up for at the last minute. All of these services can be paid for using credit card privileges.

Instead of eating out in the busy corridors of the airport terminal, opt for eating in lounges. Having elite status or Priority Pass gives you one less thing to worry about when deciding where to hang before your flight.

Travel Hack #3 – Accommodation Hacks for the Whole Family

When traveling with kids, finding the right accommodation can make or break your family vacation. Consider these tried-and-tested hacks to ensure everyone, from the tiniest tot to the older kids, has a comfortable stay.

accommodation hacks when traveling with kids

Choose Wisely

  • Survey room amenities before booking. Look for hotels offering cribs and high chairs to lighten your load.
  • Opt for a hotel room with a refrigerator and microwave. Kitchen items are life-savers for storing snacks and quick meals.
  • Ensure you have access to kid friendly restaurants or that lounges allow your kids during free food hours.

Space and Comfort

  • Reserve a suite or connecting rooms to give your family enough space. It’s a bonus if there’s a separate living area where kids can play.
  • Consider booking an Airbnb for more space to hang in between vacation activities. Look for Airbnb properties that allow you to check-in without needing to coordinate a specific time.
  • Bring baby carriers or foldable strollers to easily navigate hotel corridors and lobbies.

Stay Organized

  • Use packing cubes or Ziploc bags to separate outfits and essentials. This helps in quickly finding items without unpacking everything.
  • Have a system of packing suitcases with logic like separating per hotel room or per city for the entire family.

Healthy Environment

  • Upon arrival, wipe down surfaces with disinfectant wipes. Focus on doorknobs, remotes, and light switches to keep germs at bay.
  • Enclose the TV remote in a clear plastic bag to prevent it from getting dirty or damaged.
  • Check inside bedsheets and around the bathroom and advise staff of any cleanliness issues right away.

By integrating these accommodation hacks into your trip, you’ll create a stress-free and organized environment for the whole family. Remember to prioritize convenience and simplicity to maximize your enjoyment while away from home.

Travel Hack #4 – Make Destinations Fun for Everyone

When planning a family trip, your goal is to have engaging activities for all ages. Theme parks like Disney World are a classic choice when traveling with kids. They offer a variety of rides and attractions that cater to both the thrill-seekers and those who prefer a slower pace.

National parks are excellent for families who enjoy the outdoors. Your kids can become junior rangers, participate in educational programs, and explore nature trails. Be sure to plan activities that are age-appropriate and keep an eye on park events that the whole family can enjoy.

It’s enriching to immerse your family in the local language and culture when visiting a new city. Simple words or phrases can make interacting with locals a fun learning experience for your children. Plus, it’s a considerate gesture that’s often appreciated by the community you’re visiting.

Don’t shy away from new places. Kids love discovering them. Whether it’s a hidden alley with a secret mural or a beach with the perfect sand for castles, finding these gems can be the highlight of your trip. And when kids are delighted, parents are too, making the vacation memorable for everyone.

Always have a flexible itinerary and remember that sometimes the best moments come from spontaneous adventures. Keep snacks and entertainment on hand to keep the little ones happy between destinations. With a little planning and an open mind, you can create experiences that your family will cherish.

make it fun when traveling with kids

Travel Hack #5 – Eating Out and Exploring

When traveling with kids, finding family-friendly eateries can enhance your travel experience. Choose a coffee shop or restaurant that offers a diverse menu accommodating varying tastes and dietary needs. It’s best if you can align meal times with your kids’ usual eating schedule to keep things familiar.

Local Cuisine

Involve your kids in the culinary adventure. Encourage them to try new things, perhaps starting with less intimidating local snacks. A family travel tip: look for places bustling with locals to ensure an authentic experience.

Convenience and Comfort

  • Keep meal times stress-free.
  • Opt for restaurants that are not too crowded.
  • Select a venue with a comfortable atmosphere.

Make sure your food exploration doesn’t clash with local time constraints, like early closing hours. By planning ahead, you can avoid the hiccups that often come with looking for a meal spot while everyone is already hungry.

Traveling with kids is about making memories as much as it is about the destination. Each meal out can be a chance to bond over shared experiences and stories from the day. Keep your adventures light-hearted and open to spontaneity, your family’s smiles will be worth it.

Extra Tips for Easy Travels with Kids

Managing Health and Safety

When traveling with kids, your priority is keeping them healthy and safe. Ensure you pack prescription medications your children may need, as acquiring them abroad could be difficult. It’s essential to have an ample supply to last throughout the trip and a bit extra for unexpected delays.

Preparing for the Journey

Before setting out, equip your family with travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. This can provide peace of mind and protection against unforeseen healthcare expenses. In addition, pack insect repellent to protect your little ones from bites that can lead to disease.

tips for easy travel with kids

During the Trip

While flying, pressure changes in the cabin can be uncomfortable, especially for small children. Encourage your kids to yawn, chew gum, or suck on candy during takeoff and landing to alleviate discomfort. Remain vigilant about their hydration levels to ensure a happy travels experience.

Quick Tips for Smooth Sailing:

By focusing on these health and safety tips, you can minimize risks and enjoy the journey with your family.

Cultural Experiences and Learning

When traveling with kids, immersing your family in local culture enriches your journey and broadens perspectives. Explore local arts by participating in workshops, like painting a Faberge egg in St. Petersburg or trying a Batik workshop in Bali. It’s not just fun, it’s a hands-on history lesson.

Language and media are also key to cultural understanding. Encourage your kids to learn a few phrases in the local language. This simple act builds connections with new friends. Watching local TV shows can give insight into everyday life and humor of the region you’re visiting.

Even on cruise ships or during long international flights, cultural learning can continue. Most airlines have in-flight entertainment systems with international channels—perfect for a mini-language lesson. On cruises, attend onboard cultural events or talks that provide a background on your destination’s heritage.

Local Activities Checklist:

  • Art workshops (e.g., painting, Batik)
  • Learning basic phrases in local language
  • Engaging with local TV shows

Embrace these experiences to help your kids become global citizens who appreciate the vibrant tapestry of world cultures. Remember, every cultural encounter is a building block in your child’s education.

Time Management and Flexibility

When traveling with kids, it’s essential to balance a well-planned itinerary with the ability to adapt. Kids thrive on routine, so consider their nap schedules to ensure they remain rested and happy. Plan activities around these downtime periods, perhaps a museum visit aligns well with your child waking up refreshed.

Start the day early to make the most of the “great time” in the morning when kids are often in high spirits. Schedule your most important attractions first, so if delays happen, less critical plans can be shifted without much disruption. Bear in mind that on long trips, dividing the journey into segments with breaks can make the experience more manageable for everyone.

Remember, things rarely go exactly as planned. Allot extra time for unexpected detours or those moments when your child needs a slower pace. In the rush of sightseeing, embracing flexibility can turn a missed event into an opportunity for a spontaneous adventure. Shorter trips or activities can be a good starting point for first-time travelers to adapt without overwhelming them.

To ensure a great time, try not to overpack the day. Leave plenty of time for leisure and unstructured play that allows the whole family to relax and bond. Ultimately, the best time traveling with your family comes from enjoying the journey together, not just the destination.

traveling with kids is fun

Travel Documents and Safety

When traveling with kids, ensuring you have the correct travel documents is essential. Your best bet for a smooth journey is to prepare all documentation well in advance. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Passport or Trusted Traveler Program Document: Every child, including infants, requires their own passport or document for international trips.
  • Birth Certificate: Useful for domestic flights as proof of age, especially for children under 18.
  • Consent Form: When traveling with one parent or without parents, carry a notarized consent form from the absent parent(s).

It’s a good idea to keep a digital copy of all documents as a backup. Credit cards are also handy for unexpected expenses and provide a record of your travel expenditures.

For your child’s safety, teach them important information like your contact number. It’s a great way to stay connected in case you get separated. Always keep your travel documents and credit cards close to you, preferring secure pockets or travel wallets.

Making the Most of Short Trips

When planning a family trip with children, maximizing short trips is crucial. Taking a short flight can minimize travel stress and keep everyone’s spirits high. Here’s how to ensure you’re making the most of these brief getaways.

Choosing Your Destination Wisely

Opt for locations that offer a blend of activities for all ages. Ideally, you want a place where travel time is short, and entertainment is readily available. Think theme parks, children’s museums, or nature reserves.

Packing Smart for Last-minute Escapes

Preparing for a last-minute family trip requires efficient packing. Use a checklist to bring only the essentials:

  • Clothing: Match the climate and activities.
  • Entertainment: Keep kids engaged with travel-friendly games.
  • Snacks: Have healthy options on hand to avoid hunger-induced tantrums.
packing smart

Streamlining Your Itinerary

Crafting the best way to enjoy your destination means balancing fun with relaxation. Look for family packages or tours that cater to short-term visitors. They often offer experiences that highlight the best of the area without overwhelming you or your kids.

When traveling with kids on short trips, remember the mantra, which is less is more. Keep your schedule flexible enough to accommodate the unpredictable nature of traveling with little ones. By focusing on the quality of experiences over quantity, you’ll create lasting memories without the need for a lengthy vacation.

Preparing for Diverse Travel

When embarking on a journey with your little ones, diversity in travel can enrich the experience and cater to varied interests. If you’re at a train station, engage with your children about the upcoming ride. Discussing the day’s itinerary can set a calm tone for a long travel day.

Train travel can be a good option for families looking to avoid the hassles of air travel. It offers more legroom and opportunities to walk around, which can be a blessing when traveling with kids. Arm yourself with a mix of activities that match your travel style, from coloring books to digital games, keep everyone entertained.

Invite each family member to pick a favorite activity beforehand. This inclusion allows everyone to feel part of the trip and can help manage expectations. Remember to plan for regular breaks, as they’re crucial to keep the journey smooth and stress-free.

Your approach to traveling with kids should be adaptable. Whether it’s a train journey or a different mode of transportation, remain open to adjusting plans as needed. Flexibility can make all the difference in creating a joyful travel experience for the whole family.

After the Trip

After you return from a week trip with your family, it’s a valuable time to cherish the memories and begin planning for future adventures.

Reflecting and Planning the Next Adventure

As you settle back into your routine, take a moment to reflect on the best thing about your trip. Was it the quality time spent with your loved ones? Or maybe it was witnessing the joy on your children’s faces at a new attraction. Revisit your travel journal and note down these highlights, they’re precious entries you’ll want to look back on.

Consider the entire time being away, this reflection might reveal moments you couldn’t fully appreciate in the midst of traveling with kids. Discuss the experiences as a family. What did everyone enjoy the most? Recognizing these aspects can direct your planning for the next trip, ensuring it’s even more aligned with your family’s preferences.

While the memories are still fresh, start thinking about where your next adventure will take you. Use insights from this trip to inform what you’ll do differently next time. Was that great travel stroller you bought worth the investment? Could it handle the pavement and crowds, or should you look into more travel-friendly options? Incorporating these practical reflections into your future plans will make each trip smoother and more enjoyable.

planning the next adventure

Managing Travel with Young Kids

When preparing for family travel, especially with young kids, organization is key. Pack essentials like snacks, water, and comfort items in an easily accessible bag. Your little ones will appreciate the familiarity amidst the hustle of travel. The good news is as your little munchkins become older children they will get better and better at being world travelers.

Tips for Long Haul Flights

Ensure you bring entertainment, such as card games or coloring books, to keep your children engaged during a long haul flight. Strategize your screen time, allow it when you sense they are getting restless. A tablet with headphones can offer a much-needed distraction and a little bit of quiet time.

Keeping Routines

Try to maintain a semblance of routine for your young children. Schedule flights around nap times if possible. Stick to bedtime routines by bringing along a favorite book to settle them down before sleep.

Remember, traveling with kids is a wonderful opportunity to create lasting family memories. With thoughtful planning and a dash of patience, you’ll navigate this adventure successfully.

family travel

Adventures in the United States

When traveling with kids, the United States offers a rich tapestry of adventures that are sure to entertain the entire family. Whether you’re embarking on a scenic road trip or jumping between cities using public transportation, there’s an experience waiting at every corner.

Explore Beaches to Mountains

  • Honolulu – Oahu: Your family can bask in the sun on beautiful beaches, learn to surf, or explore the rich Hawaiian culture.
  • Colorado Springs, CO: Embrace outdoor thrills with your kids through hiking in the Rocky Mountains and visiting kid-friendly attractions like zoos and museums.

Kid-Friendly Urban Escapes

  • Boston, Massachusetts: Discover history on the Freedom Trail and engage young minds at the Boston Children’s Museum.
  • Maui, Hawaii: Encounter marine life hands-on at the Maui Ocean Center and snorkel to see sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Nature’s Playgrounds

  • Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas: Children over 11 can soak in natural hot springs and explore the park’s trails.
  • Death Valley National Park, California: Walk across the salt flats at Badwater Basin and learn about this unique below-sea-level landscape.

A rental car can give you the flexibility to create a customized itinerary that suits your family’s interests. Remember to plan your routes and consider the comfort of your little ones on longer drives. Enjoy your family vacation exploring the wonders of the United States!

nature's playground

The Joy of Family Journeys

Traveling with kids is an enriching experience that offers more than just a break from your daily routine. It’s a chance to create enduring memories and foster personal growth for your entire family. Prepare thoroughly, engaging your children in the planning process to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

Packing strategically is key, include comfort items, entertaining games, and snacks. Always have a plan for keeping your little ones engaged during the journey. Yet, be flexible and allow for spontaneous moments, these often lead to the happiest travels.

The most important thing is to maintain a positive attitude. An adventure with kids is unpredictable, but your adaptability can turn challenges into opportunities. Embrace the unexpected and you’ll find joy in every step of your journey. Remember, the last thing you want is to stress over imperfections. Instead, focus on the happiness and bonding that come with family travel.

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FAQ: Traveling With Kids


  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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