50 Tips For Traveling With Kids
I have had some successes and some extreme failures when traveling with my kids. I write down what works for next time, keep my thinking cap on all the time, and know that next time will be better- that is what has given me this list.
Gather you a big bag, a list pad, and your thinking cap and by the end of these tips, you will be ready to take on traveling with kids. Just add in a cape and tiara and you'll be ready to take on the world.
1. Get your kids involved- mine are still little, so I give them a little drawstring bag to fill with toys. This bag goes in their backpacks and they get to pack it while I pack everything else.
2. Embrace technology- while we want to limit screen time at home, traveling can be the time to embrace it. Pop in a movie, load an app, and let them entertain themselves for a bit.
3. Start thinking ahead of time- planning really can make all the difference in the world.
4. Make a trip to the dollar store- there are all kinds of toys and activities to make the trip a little easier, all for a dollar!
5. Bring as much of your night time routine with you as possible. If your child has a lovey, their pillow/ blanket, sound machine, etc. It will make it feel more like home.
6. I give my kids a reward our first night away- it is either a new movie, quiet activity, new lovey, or flashlight- it keeps them motivated to be good.
7. Keep carsick meds on hand, you never know when a kid will get carsick. As many trips as we've made to the mountains, it wasn't until this summer that Tbomb started getting sick.
8. Give each of your kids a mesh bag, basket, or container for collecting treasures. My son always wants to pick up rocks and sticks- now I can limit what he carries home. *Trying on our next trip*
9. Stay organized! I cannot stress this enough. There is nothing like starting our organized and not being able to find anything on the way home.
10. When it is time to leave, check everywhere, including under the beds and remove all bed clothes checking for your items. I once left Tbomb's favorite blanket and he screamed the whole drive home.
11. Bring along your child's favorite snacks
12. Help your kiddos get comfortable enough to sleep in the car. We bring along their pillow pets, lovey blankets, and a blanket to cover up with. When they get sleepy, they will snooze along.
13. Invest in educational electronics. We have several that go in the car- the kids love playing with these and they keep them entertained for a while.
14. Download new apps the night before, but be sure not to get rid of favorites.
15. Using Format Factory, you can rip DVDs to MP4 format and put the on phones and tablets- great way to have entertainment on the go.
16. We make sure to get seuvenirs in the mornings (or suprise them with a new toy) because it will entertain them all day.
17. We let the kids choose something to do in the evenings (out of a list we have made). They can't wait for it all day!
18. Be prepared- we always include tylenol, ibuprofen, band aids, teething meds, and allergy meds in our luggage. You really don't want to have to find a pharmacy and fight traffic when you have a kid with a fever or that is hurt.
19. Headphones- seriously, you will be glad. Whether they are watching a movie, playing apps, or listening to music, you will be glad. Actually, I'm going to include headphone exteners in our next trip- for watching cartoons in the morning at the hotel.
20. Bring breakfast with you- this will allow you to get everyone woke up and moving. We slack off a little while on vacation and let them have pop-tarts and dried fruit. It travels well, there are no eating arguments, and it is less morning stress for mom. You can also get milk boxes that do not have to be reridgerated.
21. I make my kids have a little bit of quiet time while we are away. If they don't get quiet time, they get entirely too cray cray. They have to be still and quiet- they can either watch a movie, play an app, listen to music, or lay there quietly. They don't have to go to sleep, but they usually do.
22. Purchase a pan from the dollar tree. It can be used for activities in the car or for eating in the hotel room- I will be writing more about this later.
23. Invest in an inexpensive tablet (you can get one for about $50 that is decent). You can put apps, books, music, and movies on them. It will be well worth the investment. You can also download apps that will block anything you do not want your kids in. (We locked the settings, google play, and camera apps).
24. If you have multiple kids that are just a few years apart, make sure you have the same for both. I learned this the hard way on the last trip. Koda had her hexagon ball thing and Tbomb wanted one. Next time, I will lay everything out on the bed and make sure they have equivalent of each. (Koda also wants Tbomb's tablet, so we are getting her an Innotab before next trip)
25. It may seem like quite the investment, since you are already spending money on the vacation, but purchasing items to make the trip easier is worth it- you can use them at home and they will save your sanity.
26. Repurpose toys your kids have forgotten about. I have gone through toys that Tbomb has not even seen in a while (that were in storage) and will be using them on our next trip as "new" toys.
27. Don't forget: sunglasses, hat, jacket, umbrella, and sunscreen.
28. Dry erase crayons will be your best friend. Use them on all dry erase surfaces, and they are washable!
29. Set up old smart phones with fun games, movies, and more as emergency entertainment. I put a rattle app on my old phone and it kept Koda entertained for about an hour.
30. If your kids are little like mine, keep the car entertinment by you- or they will have everything a mess and go through all the activities in no time. If they are older, put them in charge of their entertainment.
31. When picking out movies, choose some favorites and some new ones. Their favorites are comforting, but new ones can be exciting- however, you never know when a kid will despise something.
32. If you are going to be changing elevation, prepare for that. I try to get them to sleep during it, but if that doesn't work- I give Tbomb gum to chew and Kodabug a sippy cup (she usually doesn't use one, but sucking on something helps)
33. Plan for stops along the way- potty breaks and stretching legs. This is good for parents and kids. This is especially important for kids that get carsick.
34. If you cannot invest in a child locator (which is a must out of the country), have a bracelet or label on your children with your cell phone number.
35. Antibacterial wipes are a must. I keep a dispensor in the car bag that can also be used in the hotel room, but I also throw some individually wrapped ones in my daypack.
36. Don't forget bottled water. I learned this lesson the hard way. When Kodabug was still drinking formula, I forgot the bottled water and had to keep getting water out of vending machines and from the gas station close to our hotel. Now, I pack several bottles, and include our waterbeans.
37. Dress the kids comfortably for the car ride and be sure to pack comfortable and easy clothing or the vacation.
38. Color code everything- this is easy or us because everything is already color coded, but it makes travel so much easier. Toys, cups, snack containers, backpacks, tablets, tablet cases, everything is color coded!
39. Try to make the drive during nap time or early in the morning when the kids will go back to sleep.
40. Set up travel rules a week before you leave and start practicing. We go over them again in the car and each morning during breakfast. (include things like holding hands with mom and dad, not touching things in shops, and leaving important things, like lovey, in the hotel room).
41. Label everything. I know that I say this once a week. But seriously- label everything. With this, be sure to put a phone number on important things.
42. Bring along extra batteries and batter packs. You will be glad you did. Also, don't forget chargers.
43. Traveling in a car can be a good time to get kids to learn a new quiet activity. My kids concentrate with something new. Just be sure to change their activity beore they get frustrated with it.
44. When you book the hotel, see if you can get a photo of the crib/ play yard available. I once got one from the hotel and it wasn't safe so my son slept with me and my husband. I wish I had just taken his. Now, I ask or a photo so I know what to expect.
45. Bring along leashes for the kids. We don't always put them on the kids, but I hang them in a bag from the stroller just in case the crowds are more dense or one of them gets a little more wild while we are out and about.
46. Bring a picnic blanket and use it on the floor of the hotel room for the kids to eat on and play on. It keeps the kids off the nasty hotel floor, gives them somewhere to eat and nap, and keeps spills off the floor. I spray it with travel lysol at the end of each day. If needed, I can also take it to the hotel laundry to have it washed.
47. On the family calendar, makr down the days until you leave- this get kids excited!
48. I possible, have more than one adult- especially with multiple kids.
49. When you get home, plan a day to rest. Travel, even for just a few days, can be exhausting on parents and kids. It helps to have a down day. Plus that gives you something to look forward too without stressing about what you have to do at home.
50. Keep a spare change of clothes in your car bag- if one kid gets sick, has a blow out, or spills something, you don't have to dig through your luggage to find a change. I put a onsie for Kodabug in one ziplock bag and a tshirt and cotton shorts (plus undies) in another for Tbomb. The ziplock bags get doubled as a wet bag for the messed up clothes.
Have fun and enjoy your kids and spouse!