TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH KIDS
We recently took William to London and it was the most memorable and fun trip we’ve taken as a family so far. Traveling with kids can be challenging (and we only have one child!) but it’s also very rewarding. I’ve received lots of requests for travel tips so I thought it might be helpful to put all of my advice in one place so you can refer back to it.
Overall planning ahead and being well-equipped and prepared to divert meltdowns will help make it a smoother flight and trip.
Here are some things that really helped make our flight smoother.
Pack tons of snacks. I packed things like fruit leather, apple sauce pouches, raisins, popcorn, a sliced apple with cinnamon and snack-size ziplock bags with his other faves like pretzels, cheese crackers, dried mango, mixed nuts, a few candies (I try to keep candy to a minimum in our house , but I’m less strict on vacation). I put everything in an insultated lunch box and brought it in my carry on bag. Having snacks on demand has helped me avert many a meltdown.
Bring coloring and sticker books, small puzzles, flash cards, load up the iPad with downloaded shows and movies, and don’t forget head phones. International flights usually have a screen on the headrest in front of you with lots of kids shows and movies, which is super helpful.
Grab a few small toys, games or things from the Target dollar section as surprises to use throughout the flight when a distraction is needed.
Pack a full change of clothes for the plane in your carry on in case of a potty accident or spill.
Bring your child’s nighttime blankie or stuffy to help soothe them into sleep.
Pack your kiddo’s pajamas if it’s an overnight flight.
Pack your child’s jacket or a warm sweatshirt and a cozy pair of socks since it’s usually quite cold on the plane.
Here are some additional things that made our trip less stressful and more enjoyable:
Pack your kiddo’s best walking shoes and at least one back up pair just in case they get wet, super dirty or lost (all of these things have happened to us on trips before, lol). If they don’t have a pair that fits well, get a new pair at least a couple of weeks before you leave so they can get broken in before the trip. No one wants blisters on vacation.
Bring a backpack to carry around all of your stuff and snacks while out exploring is a must! I forgot to pack ours and had to buy one when we got to London. It was kind of a hassle to find one once we got there, so note to self not to forget it again next time!
Consider giving your kiddo your old digital camera that you don’t use anymore or get them a kids camera (the one we have is linked here and here). This would make a great surprise gift for when you arrive at your destination and need a distraction. This kept Willam very busy and stimulated! He loved taking his own pictures and even selfies (it was petty darn cute!).
Pack a few of your child’s favorite snacks to take on your daily outings in your checked luggage, as well. You may have trouble finding the exact things you need when you get to your final destination (especially if traveling internationally), so this will make things easier on you and them. Hungry kids (and Moms for that matter) are grumpy so these snacks can help tide them over until the next meal.
Only plan one big activity for each day. One activity each day seemed to be the sweet spot for us as it provided enough stimulation to keep our little guy interested but not too much that he grew overtired. I also tried not to plan too long of activities. We got started pretty early every day with lots of energy and enthusiasm and got back to our hotel by the late afternoon/early evening. We brought dinner in every night as we ready to relax and change into our pajamas after being out all day.
- Jet lag is inevitable when traveling internationally but kids rebound fast. Don’t fight it, it’s ok to allow their clock (and yours) to shift gradually over the first few days. The first morning we woke up at 3:45 am. We played games until it 7:30 am, then headed out for breakfast and our first adventure to ride the London Eye. The next day we woke at 5:30 am and the third day 6:30 am. By the fourth day we were completely adjusted.
- When things get hard just take a deep breath and remember it will all be worth it in the end. The wonderful, positive moments will outweigh the challenging ones.
- UPDATE: Here are some great additions from readers of the blog:
- Stay flexible! This one is KEY when traveling with kids and such a great suggestion.
Traveling as a family is something we love and plan to do more and more of as William gets older. It is so interesting to see how people live in different places and provides a different perspective and educational opportunity for kids. Plus, there is nothing like seeing the world through your child’s eyes to make you feel like a kid again!!
London was an easy choice because there no language barrier and we have both been there before (Tim and I even lived there together for a little while early in our relationship). In addition to domestic travel, a few international destinations on the top of our list for the coming years are Italy, Buenos Aires, Spain and Portugal, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Galápagos Islands.
If you are planning on traveling with your kids I hope this helps you! Or if you are still in the “thinking about it” stage I highly encourage you to do it! It’s cheesy to say, but the memories made truly will last a lifetime.
Do you have any other tips? Share them in the comments below!