Travel Tip Tuesday: Family Travel Tips
Family Travel,  Tips and Tricks,  Toddler Travels,  Travel

Travel Tip Tuesday: A Complete List of Family Travel Tips

This guide of family travel tips will give you useful tidbits to make your next family vacation go smooth!

Why wait for travel tip Tuesday to get helpful tidbits you could utilize today while traveling? We have compiled a list of our top family travel tips to help you navigate your next family trip.

Whether flying with an infant, traveling with a toddler, or essential packing tips, we share all of our best-kept secrets so your next vacation is full of good times. Be sure to pin this post to refer to for your future trips. This post contains affiliate links.

Travel Tip Tuesday: A Complete List of Family Travel Tips

The Best Family Travel Tips

Leave Your Expectations At The Door

One of the best tips I could ever give is to leave any expectation of traveling with kids at the door on your way out. While you may have envisioned this picture-perfect vacation, the harsh reality is kids have their own agenda. Their schedule often includes; acute life-threatening hunger pangs, unwarranted crankiness, and extreme disinterest in any planned excursion and, my personal favorite, untimely use of the potty.

Don’t get discouraged if you leave later than expected, have to make unexpected stops, or don’t get to check off everything on your itinerary. Go with the flow, and it will still be a great time for everyone.

Snacks Are King

Whether you are flying or hitting the road, having an abundance of snacks is necessary. It doesn’t matter your child’s age; pack plenty of snacks for your family members. Inevitably someone will always be hungry at the most inopportune time, or they will act as if you have never fed them a day in their life.

Check out our top road trip snacks for a few new ideas on what to nosh on during your next trip.

Plan For Extra Time Everywhere You Go

Traveling with a family is like traveling with a pack of sloths. Expect everything to take longer. Go into the travel experience being flexible and leave plenty of room in your schedule for things to take longer than expected.

Kids move like sloths
  • Packing takes extra time to ensure that everyone has the proper gear, attire, medications, etc. The last thing you want to do is bring your child’s stuffed animal but leave your wallet at home. I am speaking from personal experience.
  • The airport is one place to plan on arriving at least a half-hour earlier than you typically would. Early arrival gives your family more time to get through check-in (remember you will have more luggage), security screenings, a snack attack, and boarding the plane.
  • Road trips can even take on extra days, as many families opt to break overnight or make additional stops along the route to their destination.
  • Suppose you have a timed activity? Be sure to leave early. I can almost guarantee someone will need a diaper change or snack right as you are getting ready to depart.

Don’t Overschedule

There are some incredible destinations out there with endless activities and attractions. It is only human nature to want to go and explore them all. Be forewarned, to much activity can lead to exhaustion, tantrums, and disappointment.

A packed schedule can often be near impossible to complete with a family in tow. Not only will the kids get tired, but young children especially have a hard time when their routines are off schedule. Don’t let crankiness spoil a fun activity that your child typically enjoys.

Bonus Tip: Embrace having a designated downtime each day. Whether it is going back to the hotel room for a bit of TV time, a nap, or having a little quiet time, it drastically improves the quality of a vacation.

Pack a wellness kit

Pack A Wellness Kit

As any frequent traveler knows, a best practice is to pack a wellness kit when on the road! No one plans on catching a cold, but it is best to be prepared for all scenarios. Nothing is worse than being stranded in a hotel room with your child running a high fever. Preparing a wellness kit to bring on trips eliminates the emergency trip to the drug store when sickness unexpectedly hits. Without fail, this will be in the middle of the night, when everything is closed. 

A few things to include in your wellness kit are:

  • Thermometer
  • Basic First Aid Kit
  • Children’s Tylenol and Ibuprofen
  • Pain medication
  • Immodium,
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Benadryl
  • Dramamine
  • Lysol Wipes

Tips For Road Trips With Kids

Get Organized

If you open your car door and an entire Target snack aisle falls out, it is time to get organized. Chaos in the car sneaks up on you. It starts with a few harmless wrappers on the floor, a book, or two left on the seat that slowly transforms into a toy tornado, and the need for a hazmat suit.

I know because I was there. Then we discovered the Backseat Butler by J.L.Childress.

Friends, this item needs to be in every car transporting a child. This organizer contains toys, books, and snacks and has cupholders!

I have deemed that we only keep toys in the car that will fit in the organizer. In addition to an easily accessible front zipper pocket that is perfect for items you need in a pinch, side pockets are great for crayons and wipes.

Having an organized car while traveling will make your trip go a whole lot smoother. Pack a handful of plastic bags that can be used for garbage bags, tie up dirty diapers, or put dirty clothes in. I even recommend setting up a mini diaper caddy for quick and easy changing on the go.

Pack A Cooler

We recently purchased an excellent day cooler that is perfect for road trips. Cold drinks, sandwiches, fruit, and cheese are perfect items to bring on any road trip to help keep hunger at bay. Throw in an ice pack, which always seems to come in handy again later in the journey.

Travel Tip Tuesday: A Complete List of Family Travel Tips

Create Road Trip Goodie Bags

A family road trip can be full of adventure and long periods of anticipation and boredom. To help overcome road trip fatigue, put together fun road trip goodie bags for toddlers, kids, and even adults to enjoy in the car!

Road Trip Goodie bags

Road trip goodie bags are inexpensive, fun bags that can be given to toddlers or kids periodically throughout a road trip. Inside each bag is either a small toy, activity, or snack for them to enjoy. Some families choose to give a new bag every hour, while others opt for a new bag for each new state they enter. There is no right or wrong way to do road trip goodie bags. Choose things to put in the goodie bag that you know your child will enjoy.

We share our fun ideas on creating road trip goodie bags for the whole family, even adults!

Hotel Family Travel Tips

One of the best tips I can give about hotels is to look for a hotel that offers a complimentary breakfast in the morning and a swimming pool. As much as I enjoy the luxury hotels, the reality is my child is up at 7 am starving. Being able to swing down to grab breakfast quickly is priceless. The hotel pool is a bonus as it gives my daughter a chance to burn off that extra energy, plus it is an ideal rainy day activity.

Travel Tip Tuesday: A Complete List of Family Travel Tips

Have Your Travel Documents Together

Keep your travel documents together, such as passports, contact information, etc. Regardless of where we are heading, I always want to know where the closest children’s hospital is in case of emergency. I have a particular file where I save essential places such as hospitals, embassy information, rentals, and any planned excursions.

Packing Tips and Hacks

Don’t Overpack

It is hard not to fall into the trap of bringing everything your child loves on vacation. While we may want their stay to have all the comforts of home, packing it all can be a logistical nightmare. To help weed out what to bring, decide the necessities and pack them first.  

Bonus Tip: Leave the exersaucer at home!

Two items to consider are:

  • The stroller: Is this going to be an item you use more than once? Does the place you plan on going rent strollers?
  • Pack-N-Play: Call ahead to your hotel or Airbnb to see if they have a Pack-N-Play or crib available.
Travel Tip Tuesday: A Complete List of Family Travel Tips

Prepare For The Worse

Life loves to throw curveballs at our well-thought-out and detailed plans. You need to pack for the unexpected because the last thing you will want is to be broken down in frigid temperatures with no blanket or way to heat your child.

Here are a few scenarios you will want to ensure you have packed for:

  •  If your little one has a complete blowout in their car seat, do you have what you need to clean it? Do you have an extra set of clothes readily available for your child?
  • Your little one starts to run a fever and isn’t feeling well. Always have medicine in a place that you can access quickly. We also recommend mapping out children’s hospitals along your route in case of an emergency.
  • The air conditioner goes out on your drive through Death Valley.
  • Hit road construction or traffic that has everyone at a standstill for hours. Do you have enough snacks to keep hunger at bay?
  • Your car breaks down at night on the highway or on a backroad that is less traveled. Do you have a flashlight?
  • Bring a road atlas as backup insurance in case your GPS goes out. Getting lost with a child in the car should not be a thing.
  • Make sure the car is road-trip-ready. Plenty of gas, oil changed, the air in the tires, spare tire ready to go—little things to give you peace of mind while on the road.

Pack as if all of these unfortunate events might happen. We all have misfortune at times, but it will make it a lot less painful for everyone if you are prepared.

Packing For Baby

The rule of thumb when packing is to pack for the baby first. Why you ask?! Because if it comes down to taking that extra pair of shoes (which you will never wear) or packing an extra pack of diapers, diapers win.

It is incredible how much crap you can part with when you need to make room for baby’s things. Trust me, they may be tiny, but they take up a lot of space in the suitcase and car.

You will soon find that you can wear one pair of jeans multiple times, mix and match shirts, and live off two pairs of shoes.

Traveling with infant tips

Be sure to stock up the diaper bag for the road trip. Make it easily accessible, so you don’t have to rummage through a suitcase for a new pack of wipes.

Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are vital for staying organized while traveling. Packing cubes come in all shapes and sizes; they are typical mesh bags perfect for keeping everyone’s stuff separate. Typically each person gets an assigned color of packing cubes, making it easy to identify.

Tips For Flying With Kids

Book An Early Morning Flight

As painful as it is to get the whole family up and to the airport bright and early, it will pay off in the long run. Kids will often be tuckered out from the early morning hustle of getting on the plane that they nod off on the flight. Catching one of the first morning flights is your best chance at avoiding delays as well. 

Wipe Down Everything

Planes and most people are straight-up gross, and illness seeps from every seat. Naturally, your little one will want to touch and put their sweet mouths on everything. 

We opted to use sanitizing wipes to wipe down all surfaces, don’t forget to wipe the window and walls, back of the seat, seatbelt, everything!

Prepare For Air Pressure

The changing pressures can wreak havoc on infants’ ears. Try feeding your little one during takeoff and landing to avoid a meltdown. If they don’t eat, try giving them a pacifier.

I often give drinks, a sucker, or snacks to help with the pressure change for older kids.  

Tips for flying with kids

Pack a Few Sandwiches

In recent experiences, the world of flying has changed. Getting a meal at the airport is an unpredictable adventure. On rare occasions, there are plenty of quick options available, but many restaurants are often short-staffed, leading to long lines. If you are hustling in between flights, I would have a few sandwiches packed away if grabbing a meal at the airport is not an option.

Take Advantage of Early Boarding

Many airlines give those traveling with small children the option to board early. This allows the family extra time to secure car seats and settle in without the pressure of onboarding passengers. The early boarding privilege is only reserved for those traveling with small children, typically two and under or with a car seat.

Talk About What To Expect

Sit down with your child to review the trip so that there will be no surprises. If flying, review how security screenings work and how they may feel pressure in their ears during takeoff. For road trips, highlight how they will be in the car for an extended period but involve them in fun activities, pit stops, and car games to play.

Tip: Check out books from your local library to help with any anxiety or questions about the airport.

tips for flying with kids

Fly Direct If Possible

Always choose the direct flight if available. Hustling to catch a flight or having a long layover can be stressful for everyone. Making a mad dash through the airport terminal holding a child is not a marathon I recommend. There may be a stayover option for long flights that will allow your family to experience a new city for a day or two before continuing your journey. These are typically for international flights.

Tip: If you have a long layover, consider paying to visit a lounge to have more room for your family to spread out, along with food and beverages. Many credit cards offer points that can be used for lounge visits.

Prepare For Long-haul Flights

The best way to tackle a long flight with kids is by being prepared. Pre-select your seats, pre-load shows and movies on electronic devices, and come with the proper gear. Invest in child’s headphones as the earbud ones typically fall out of their little ears, bring a neck rest or inflatable pillow, and plenty of activities. Having a lot of things that can keep your kids occupied will help make the flight more enjoyable.

Have A Change Of Clothes Ready

Younger kids have a knack for spilling things, especially while traveling. Keeping an extra change of clothes for each child in a carry-on is a great way to help keep stress levels down. Potty accidents can also happen as they get nervous about flying. There is nothing wrong with keeping a pull-up on during flights.

Tips For Traveling With an Infant

Pack A Size Up And For All Types Of Weather

Be sure to pack a few clothing items in the next size up because babies miraculously grow overnight when traveling. Having an assortment of clothes for all sorts of weather should be in your suitcase. Even if you are going to a tropical destination, the nights can get chilly.

Get The Milk Situation Under Control

One of the most stressful parts of traveling with an infant is traveling with milk! The good news is that many airports now have pods for breastfeeding and pumping.

You can also bring your child’s milk (in reasonable quantities), icepacks, and a small cooler through TSA. This includes breast milk. The bad news is that they will have to do additional screening on them. It is a minor inconvenience that may seem like a hassle at the time but completely worth it when your child wants that sippy cup of milk mid-flight.

Taking Milk Through The AIrport

Keep in mind to make the process go as quickly as possible, pull out your milk, ice packs, and any other liquids you are bringing and place them in a separate bin. Inform the TSA agent if you wish for the milk to not go through an x-ray so that they take additional screening measures. TSA guidelines do change, so head over to their website for the most recent procedures.

Do you still have more questions about traveling with milk? We answer all the questions in our Traveling With Milk post!

Wear Your Baby Whenever Possible

I got the best advice from a friend when she told me to start wearing my baby early and often. It is convenient and keeps my infant contained and right on me. It makes getting around the airport a breeze.

 I didn’t take a stroller because hauling that behemoth around would be a nightmare. Once babies can walk around, a stroller will be a great asset. 

Tip: Not bringing a stroller meant that I didn’t have to check it at the gate and then wait to get it after the flight. It was nice to get off the plane and go straight to our next stop, which was likely the family bathroom. 

Tips For Traveling With A Toddler

Plan Pit Stops

The energy that young kids have can almost be superhuman at times. Be sure to check for fun and entertaining stops during your journey. Whether getting out to stretch your legs at a playground or spending a few hours at a local children’s museum, do something to get their little legs moving.

On the hunt for great pit stops along the way to your destination? Download the GoWhee App to help find the perfect spot to stop with kids. No more looking through Google maps to help find a park or attraction!

toddler travel tips

Bring Plenty of Activities

One of the biggest struggles of traveling with a toddler is keeping them entertained. Being your children’s clown for hours is downright exhausting. I have a few toddler toy ideas for those long travel days. 

  • You should bring two new toys that have never been seen before.
  • Be sure to bring your child’s favorite portable toy. 
  • Don’t forget to pack your child’s favorite things such as loveys or blankies. Those items are mandatory and need to be checked each time before leaving ANYWHERE!
  • You should bring toys that will entertain them for more than five minutes. We love Melissa and Doug Water Wow Books, sticker books, and a coloring book.
  • Books, Books, and more books. We love the indestructible books mainly because they are paper-thin, don’t rip, and can be put in the washing machine. I always love getting a few new books for our trips. We like to hit up our local library the day before we leave!
  • Every parent has a different view and option of screen time. Having a favorite movie or show downloaded and ready in the event of an epic toddler meltdown is always something we have in our arsenal.
  • Ensure you have a car seat mirror if your child is still rear-facing.
  • Plenty of music! We have tons of children’s CDs and streaming options constantly going in our car! Sing-a-longs make for great memories and help pass the time!

Check out our complete guide on taking a road trip with a toddler.

Get out the Painters Tape

Mandatory when traveling with little kids is blue painter’s tape. This multi-purpose gift from God can cover outlets sharp corners, be used to help tie back curtains, and so much more. We have used it to shut curtains for a blackout effect. You can even use it to secure drawers and cabinets. It is unbelievable all the things I have used painter’s tape for during my travels, besides stuff for the baby. Labeling, suitcase repair, and lint roller are just a few.

Sleeping May Be Difficult

Don’t be discouraged if the sandman doesn’t come right away. Many younger children have difficulty falling asleep in a new place. It can take a night or two to adjust to their new surroundings. I have spent many nights rocking my daughter to sleep in hotel rooms because she was scared. I found that a good sound machine helps tremendously.

If you are staying at the hotel with your little one, check out our Hotel Tips for Toddlers

Travel Tip Tuesday: A Complete List of Family Travel Tips

Additional Helpful Tips 

National Park Family Travel Tips

When hiking at National Parks, it is good to review safety with your kids. Informing them about potential hazards, warnings, and dangers can help keep everyone safe. An excellent way to learn about the great outdoors is to have them participate in the Junior Ranger Program.

Look For Discounted Admission For Kids

Many attractions such as theme parks, museums, and transportation offer a child’s rate. For example; Kids under four get in free to Dollywood.

Consider Travel Insurance

Travel insurance has never been more desirable than now. Travel plans can abruptly change with the ongoing pandemic, especially for families traveling to international destinations. 

Many counties are now making travel insurance mandatory to enter. Shop around to find a great deal on travel insurance.

We hope these family travel tips come in handy on your next family vacation.

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