Whether you’re taking a road trip or flying across the country, taking your children on a vacation should be exciting, not overwhelming.
Traveling with the entire family is an experience in itself and can be a challenge at times. Although it gets easier the more times you do it, the first time is inevitably the toughest.
There are always going to be challenges that arise when you travel with kids but being prepared for those challenges will make the experience so much better.
Let’s dive into the ultimate guide on how to travel efficiently with kids of all ages.
General Travel With Kids Tips: Before, During & After
The more you travel, the more you know, and the easier it gets.
Here are a few generals before, during, and after travel tips that’ll save you the anxiety, stress, and headache that skipping town for a few days can bring.
Overpacking is Overrated
We all tend to overpack, especially when we’re traveling with our kids.
Many people have the mentality of, “Maybe I’ll actually wear this or use that,” when they know very well that they won’t.
Instead of taking all the kids’ toys (and your entire closet) on the next family vacation, bring the items that’ll keep your routine familiar and consistent, as it would be at home.
The less you pack, the easier it’ll be to lug your kids and stuff around. Plus, this leaves more room for souvenirs! Read more packing tips.
Typically, we book our flights and stay before a big family trip. I suggest you read more here about flight ticket bookings.
Sometimes if I’m traveling alone, I’ll wait until I arrive at my destination to pick a hotel that suits me best, but that doesn’t work with kids in the picture.
When you pre-book your flight and hotel, you’ll have the luxury of getting off the plane and going straight to your room to get settled in.
With activities, it’s also easier to pre-book fun excursions so that you can fit in everything that you all want to do.
Pack Extra Food
There are few things worse than a hangry child, and you’ll come to find that out soon, if you forget to pack the extra Goldfish or peanuts
Overpack the snacks because they’ll always get eaten.
It’s also a good idea to pack balanced, healthier snacks that’ll keep your children full for longer, so that you only have to get snacks once or twice during your travel.
Leave Extra Time for Yourself
Traveling typically means rushing…or is that just my family?
We always make the mistake of either starting the drive or getting to the airport way too early or late, there’s no in-between.
Whenever I’m hopping on a flight by myself, I leave just enough time to make the boarding time.
However, with kids, you can easily assume that everything during your travel will take longer than expected.
Whether it’s checking in at the airport, pulling over to a rest stop, grabbing a bite to eat, or going through security, you’re going to need more time than if you were traveling without your children.
During Travel with Kids
Kids Can Carry Luggage Too!
If your child is under the age of 4, carrying their own luggage either isn’t a possibility, or won’t be much help at all.
Trust your kid to carry their own backpack or roll their own luggage while you’re traveling, if they’re capable and willing to do so.
This will save you time without you worrying about where Henry’s backpack disappeared to.
Toys, Books & Entertainment
Whether you’re on a plane or in a car, it’ll get boring after the first couple of hours or so.
Pack different forms of entertainment so that your kids are distracted and not constantly asking, “Are we there yet?”
Toys, books, and electronics are all great ideas to keep your younger ones amused during travel.
Flying alone means the shorter the layover, the better. You have the ability to run across the airport and make your connection if you have to.
Traveling with kids means shorter strides, longer walking times, more restroom stops and lots of distractions.
We’re not saying to book a flight with a fourteen-hour layover.
However, do yourself a favor and schedule a couple hours in between if you have the chance to do so.
After Travel With Kids
When you finally arrive at your destination, plan for some downtime every day that you’re there.
While it’s exciting to be in a new place and environment, heading straight to the activities early in the morning will have your children falling asleep sooner than later.
Downtime doesn’t necessarily have to mean napping the day away, so getting recharged by going on a walk or relaxing by the beach are good ideas too.
Let the Kids Choose Some Activities
If your kids are old enough to understand what snorkeling and hiking mean, let them pick out a few fun activities.
4-year-olds definitely understand the word ‘Disney’, but even if your children are toddlers, they may understand what horseback riding and swimming mean.
Explain the activity options to your kids and have them choose a couple so that everyone can have fun.
Be as Flexible as You Can
We saved the most important travel tip for last!
If you’re anything like me, you like to be organized, planned out, and in control.
Traveling with the kids and entire family calls for the unpredictable. Before you get disappointed or stressed, accept that things will likely go wrong at times.
Being flexible allows you to plan the important things, but also leaves room for leisure time.
A flexible mindset will reduce every family member’s crankiness and anxiety, which are two moods that aren’t needed on a family vacation anyway!
Truly enjoying your vacation with loved ones is what’s most important and what you’ll always remember in the end.
Find out more helpful information below.
Infographic created by The Parking Spot
Do You Agree with Us?
Don’t let your kids stop you from traveling and showing them the world.
Stop delaying that trip to Mexico or Colorado because you’re afraid of the possibilities and inconveniences.
Inconveniences happen every day anyway, vacation or not.
Your kids learn from you and being the amazing parent that you are, you’ll prepare them well for a weekend away.
Follow these helpful tips (and even add some of your own!) and we can assure you that the next trip will be enjoyable and stress-free for the whole family. For more travelling advice, follow our post; 3 Ways to Make Your Vacation Rental Amazing and Family-Friendly
My name is Andrea Thompson and I’m a home based freelance writer. I’m 23 years old, married to my best friend, and mother to a wonderfully independent and opinionated 3 year old girl and step-mother to a sweet seven year old boy. I live in a tiny, little town in Kentucky, where I spend my free time fishing with my kids.
Writing has always been my passion, which I followed through high school, and for a while in college. Life happened, and once I discovered we were pregnant, I switched directions; opting for the healthcare industry because of the stability.
Finally, years later, I was in a place where I could leave the day job that never truly made me happy, and pursue my dreams. I’ve built, and am still building, my writing career from scratch. But, I’m passionate and I’m good at what I do. And, in the end, I can prove to my daughter that she can do anything she wants with this life.