Traveling with kids might seem like an impossible task — wrangling rambunctious kids or a sleeping baby onto a plane? — but it’s doable. Mom travel bloggers like Rattles and Heels or Prettysweet.com make it look easy, but truth be told anyone can plan a fun-filled vacation with kids in tow if they just prepare, put in the work and be committed to a good time. Check out these 10 tips for traveling with kids:
Choose the Destination Carefully
Finding the perfect vacation spot as a family is the first step. Some vacations just aren’t suited for kids — while the adults might love a trip to a spa or wine country, the little ones will find it boring. Similarly, some dream vacation spots for kids like amusement parks can be a nightmare for the parents.
Find something that satisfies both parties, with a sense of adventure for the kids and some grown-up excitement as well, like an African safari, exploring a historic European city, or traveling by party bus to Lubbock.
Check things like the climate and travel times as well to make sure it’ll suit your needs: extremely hot weather can impact the little ones harder.
Before the tickets are booked, make sure you have everything in order. If passports are needed, get them for the whole family — even babies need to carry identification while traveling between countries! If your child has a different surname than you or is adopted, you might want to bring their birth certificate as well in case there are any issues while crossing the border. Better safe than sorry! Speaking of, also make sure you are all up to date on your vaccinations, and book any necessary travel vaccines.
It’s also smart to pack a medical kit for your trip with things like allergy medication, bandaids and child-strength painkillers.
Plan Your Packing
Create a packing list early so you’re not stressing last minute! While the kids might want to ‘help,’ it’s best to let them pack a small carry-on bag for themselves and not their main suitcase. That way, their luggage will be filled with clean clothes and not 87 of their favorite toys!
If you are traveling with a baby or toddlers, make sure to pack enough diapers, bottles and baby wipes for the trip, especially if you’re going abroad and might not be able to find your preferred brand. Also be sure to back some entertainment for the kids, whether you’re flying or driving!
Get the Kids Onvolved
Introduce the idea of the trip to your kids early on, and get them involved in the planning. Show them pictures of where they’re going and talk about the things they can do there. If your kids are old enough, they can even pick out a few activities to do on different days. You could provide them with a list of a few options and let them choose which sound most exciting.
The more invested they are in the trip, the more excited they will be when it’s time to go!
Break Up Long Travel Times
Kids get bored and restless easily, and long travel times can really wear on them. If you’re traveling abroad, skip a long-haul, direct flight and opt for a flight with a long layover in between. That will give you kids time to stretch their legs off the plane, maybe get something to eat and be refreshed and energized for the next flight.
Keep the same idea if you’re on a road trip: break up the long drive with a few stops so the kids can get outside and run around for a bit instead of spending all day cooped up in a car.
Find Kid-Friendly Accommodations
Whether you’re staying in a hotel, bed & breakfast or renting an Airbnb, look for a place that is welcoming for children. Some hotels have daycare areas and kid-friendly swimming pools that can be great when you need some downtime.
Also consider booking a suite with an additional guest room, so that when the kids go to bed early, you won’t disturb them by watching TV.
If you’d rather stay at an Airbnb, you can filter by ‘kid-friendly’ and find apartments that have children’s bedrooms and come fully stocked with toys.
Everyone needs a bit of downtime while traveling, but especially kids. Little ones require naps throughout the day and will get tired easily after a day of walking, and even older kids will feel exhausted after several days of non-stop exploring. Fit in time for naps or relaxing at the hotel, or even break up the days with quieter, more relaxing actives like visiting a park or library.
Tired and cranky kids will put a damper on a trip more than spending an afternoon lounging in the hotel watching a movie ever could!