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Traveling with kids seems like the only way I travel these days. Since each of my kids were born, they’ve been on planes, boats, subways, and long road trips.
They’ve made dozens upon dozens of trips from Florida to Maryland to visit family, and of course, have been to various vacation destinations.
One impressive thing about my kids on our Florida to Maryland road trips is that on average, we only stop two times during a 900-mile drive. For those of you keeping up with the math, that’s about once every 6 hours.
While we’ve had the occasional breakdown when we hit traffic or get overly stressed in scenarios that we have no control over, for the most part, my kids are great travelers!
My core group of friends must know this because I’m always getting asked for travel tips with kids. So I decided to share some of my favorite travel tips with you, that work for our family.
Traveling with Kids Tip #1: Don’t Overpack
I’m a fan of less is more, especially on airplanes. Even with babies and kids under 2, the more things you have, the more stressful it is to navigate the airport. The smaller the object, the more obnoxious it is when they drop it and you’re scrambling to pick it up under your seat.
My first time flying with both kids was nearly a disaster when we almost missed our connecting flight; add on juggling all our luggage and a baby’s car seat PLUS a 6-month-old and a 4-year-old and well, we looked like the McCallisters running through the airport like a hot mess.
After that experience, I vowed to travel with less.
While minimizing screen time is always ideal parenting, when you’re traveling with kids, tablets can be a lifesaver. Download their favorite shows, movies, and games ahead of time and let them tune in while you’re en route. Of course, don’t forget kid-friendly headphones to ensure courtesy to those around you!
Reusable sticker books are also so much fun and encourage the imagination and are great to use during take-off and landing when electronics can’t be used.
When we’re in the car, my eldest opts to draw while my youngest wants every toy she owns to ride with her. We make an agreement on how much she can bring ahead of time, which helps her make a mindful decision on which toys are most important. I give her a mini backpack and she’s only allowed to take what she can fit. We then go through her bag together, eliminating items that might make a mess or are too small and might get lost.
Speaking of drawing! If you’re going on a long trip – skip the crayons. If your kids drop them, they’ll melt on your seat or floor and it’s awful to clean up (speaking from experience). Take it from me and stick to colored pencils. Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils are especially fantastic. Another great product is the Aquadoodle Travel Doodle, which is mess free and can be used multiple times.
Traveling with Kids Tip #2: Consistency is Key
One of my former clients, known as The Sleep Lady, always preached the consistency of maintaining good sleep schedules while traveling. This means limiting how many different places you stay, aiming to keep nap time the same, not allowing them to stay up too late, etc.
When my kids were younger, I didn’t allow them to stay up past their bedtime on vacation. Now that they’re older and sleep in, I’m more relaxed on the rules. Routines are crucial for kids, especially those who still nap.
If you have a child under the age of 5 and need help getting your child to sleep or need some tips when it comes to a sleep schedule when traveling, check out The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Without Leaving Them to Cry it Out
Traveling with Kids Tip #3: Snacks are Life
In case you think you’ve packed enough snacks, I’m here to tell you – you haven’t.
We all tend to indulge a little more when we’re on vacation and kids are no different. If you’re traveling on a plane, crackers, chips, and granola bars are great to put into ziplock bags and throw in your carry-on. My kids also love beef jerky and cheese sticks for a little protein.
If you’re taking a road trip – pack a cooler! I typically make sandwiches in advance or even a small container of tuna with some rackers. The tuna pouches are also easy!
My eldest daughter also is a milk fanatic; I typically use these reusable beverage bottles and fill it up with the rest of the milk that we had in the fridge. Not only I’m still giving her something she likes while we’re road-tripping, but it helps clean out the fridge of things that can spoil before leaving.
Traveling with Kids Tip #4: Schedule Breaks
I like to save time and get to where we’re going as quickly as possible.
I mentioned earlier that when we travel north, we aim to stop twice. What we do is roll our gas stops and potty breaks all into one-stop. If someone has to go to the bathroom before we need to get gas again, we try to hit a rest station as it’s easier to get on and off the road again.
If you have younger children who need more stops, pack a cooler like mentioned in Tip #3 and use the rest stations. You can let them run out some energy, sit outside to eat their meal or snack, and then get back in the car.
If you’re planning a longer trip, schedule overnight stays along your route. Look for a hotel with free breakfast, so it’s one less meal you have to plan for and/or purchase. When booking overnight stays, I tend to use hotels.com when booking a site because I earn free nights!
As a pit-stop bonus, aim to do one fun thing in that town before you leave to get back on the road. Even if it’s simply a picture at an iconic place!
Traveling with Kids Tip #5: Let Your Kids Know the Plan
Unless it’s a special surprise, letting your kids know the plan ahead of time helps them understand what to expect. I do this with basically everything when it comes to my kids.
Whether we’re going on a long trip or to a birthday party, I always recite to my kids our plan so they’re able to process what to expect as well. This also helps avoid meltdowns.
Family trips are so much fun and I love traveling with my kids. The earlier you start traveling with kids, the more adaptable and open to changes they are!
Looking for a family-friendly day trip in Florida? Check out our guide to St. Augustine!
Adventure forth, my friends.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I’m Lauren!
I’m a mama, a collector of crystals, a beach fanatic, and an adventure seeker! After a decade of living in Florida, my family now calls the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia ‘home’.