Ah, the beauty of a road trip or long-awaited destination. Tropical, perhaps?
You’re beyond thrilled to share your love of traveling with the kids, but as a parent, it’s up to you to pack the necessities and keep track of flight schedules, hotel rooms, and of course, the kids!
But you also want your family to have a good time and create memories they’ll cherish forever.
So what are the best ways parents can prepare for traveling with their babies, toddlers, and kids?
Whether you have young children or older children, here are 19 travel tips to help everyone have the best time on vacation – even when local!
Tips For Travelling With Kids
1) Pack Ahead Of Time
Don’t let delays start your vacation off on the wrong foot! Get packing the night before so you can easily grab and go.
2) Write A List
Jotting down everything you and your kids will need is a surefire way to prevent the dreaded “Oh sh*t, we forgot the swimsuits.”
Start creating your list at least a week in advance to give yourself plenty of time to remember everything you need to bring.
3) Leave Beloved Toys At Home
If your toddler has ever lost a stuffed animal on a plane or train, you know you’ll try your best to prevent that heartbreaking moment from happening again.
While your child may want to bring their favorite plushie, talk with them about bringing a lesser-loved toy instead.
Toddlers can still enjoy the trip with their “friend” and tell their favorite plushie buddy about it when they get home!
4) Put Liquids In Sealable Bags
Don’t forget to pack liquid and sprayable items like drinks, sunscreen, perfume, toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner in plastic bags.
In the event of a leak, the contents won’t dirty up your luggage.
5) Bring A Compact Stroller
If you’re walking long distances (hello, trip to Disneyland!), then a compact stroller should be your new best friend.
I like Zoe Baby’s ultra-lightweight The Tour+ stroller. It weighs only 12.5 pounds and can fold nicely next to your stuff in the trunk.
6) Don’t Forget A Foldable Bathtub
Older kids may not need a portable bathtub, but toddlers and babies might because that’s likely what they’re used to at home.
And if you booked a hotel room that’s not as clean as you thought, a baby bathtub you can set up in the hotel tub – or virtually anywhere for that matter – is a good idea.
My favorite is the Stokke Flexi Bath because it folds flat and can fit kids up to 4 years old. Get the XL if your child is 5 or 6 years old.
7) Deck The Car With Window Sun Shades
Keep the car seats cooler and your kid’s more comfortable on a road trip by adding sun shades to the back windows of your vehicle.
8) Use A Stylish Diaper Bag As Your Purse
Do double duty with a diaper bag that also functions as a chic purse. This way, you’ll only need to carry and keep track of one bag.
Try Mina Baie and Lily Jade for modern, innovative styles.
9) Don’t Forget The Travel Potty
You can still travel with your potty-training kid, just don’t forget the travel potty!
I’ve brought a standalone potty (kept in the trunk for emergencies) and a foldable kid-sized seat to make the going more comfortable for smaller booties (which I stashed in the diaper bag).
10) Make Time For The Kids To Stretch Their Legs
If you’re on an hours-long road trip, you’ll want to plan extra time for you and the kids to get out of the car and stretch your legs.
Thank God for rest stops. Picnic, anyone?
11) Keep Necessities In The Trunk
Keep a closeable box or bin (I like fishing tackle boxes for this) inside your car’s trunk so that no matter what time zone you’re in, you won’t have to rush to the store to pick up something you forgot.
Stash wet wipes, diapers, and underwear, plus an extra set of clothes per child. Keep sealed water bottles to rinse poopy hands in case of a diaper explosion!
12) Keep The Car Tidy From Trash
Keep plastic bags in the car to put your trash inside and toss at the next rest stop.
13) Dress Your Baby or Toddler In Velcro Shoes
Skip the laces and take advantage of the convenience of Velcro shoes and strappy sandals.
Untied laces scream lost shoes!
14) Ask For Child Discounts
Research your destination city (and those along the way) and take advantage of kid-friendly discounts to save some cash.
For example, restaurants like Denny’s, Chick-Fil-A, and Fuddruckers have “kids eat free” days.
In addition, airlines like Frontier and Southwest allow kids to fly for free, depending on their age.
15) Plan Some Downtime
You know you’ll be tired, and your kids will be, too. So schedule a few hours in the hotel room to relax, especially after you’ve booked in but before dinner.
16) Avoid Annoying Toys With Headphones
Whether you’re trying to sleep or concentrate on driving, listening to your children play with their loud-ass toys for hours is guaranteed to drive you bonkers.
So, bring headphones for their electronics!
17) Bring A Modern Cloth Coloring Cloth
My kids are obsessed with The Modern Cloth Company’s reusable coloring cloths!
They’re perfect car companions and fantastic for family visits where you’ll have access to a washing machine.
And to boot, there’s zero percent chance of papercuts!
18) Bring A Small Journal Everybody Can Write In
Get a notebook and invite the family to write and doodle inside.
It’s like a vacation diary!
19) Talk To Your Kids About What To Expect
From how long they may have to wait in airport lines to the ferocity of Niagara Falls, it’s a good idea to discuss with your children what they can expect on the trip to minimize temper tantrums and maximize having a good time!
Kris McCormick is a boy mama, wife, and blogger. Since becoming a mom six years ago, she’s been researching the best advice, resources, and baby gear from small businesses to make pregnancy and child-raising easier for all parents.