Traveling with children may seem daunting at first but don’t be afraid! It’s also a rewarding experience. When you start traveling with children you appreciate other things about your travels, like how they enjoy discovering new places or how everything seems different if you look it through the eyes of your children.
The more you travel with children, the easier it gets and the more prepared you are for the next one. If it’s your first time traveling with children, check these tips! They’ll surely be super useful.
Visit also our section on travel tips to find information about packing, budgets, itineraries, and more!
Planning a trip with children
- Don’t begin stressing: start from the beginning with planning your trip!
✔️Research the place you’re traveling to and find activities your kids will enjoy. If you know people that have traveled there, ask them for their tips. Have an idea of what kind of weather you’ll be getting into. Look for the forecast days before you’re traveling so you pack appropriately.
❌Don’t be afraid. Just do it! Remember many parents travel with their children every day and they survive: you can do it too!
✔️When choosing accommodation think about details like: is the place safe for children? Is it accessible? Do you have to climb many stairs to get there? Are there places near to eat or buy food (that your kids will like)? Research these details before getting there or booking to avoid disappointments.
✔️Most of the times, when traveling with children, it’s better to rent an apartment or house. That way you can save money by cooking.
✔️Explain to your children that you’re going to travel. Let them know what will happen and when. Try to get them as excited as possible!
❌Don’t overschedule your days from the beginning. Remember traveling with children means everything is slower.
✔️If you’re flying overseas, go to the doctor and ask if any vaccines are needed or if you need to take any precautions with your children.
✔️Check if you need visas for your children.
✔️Get your kids involved with the destination. For example, if the food is really different, you could try some new recipes so they get used to it.
✔️Do pack extra diapers if your children still use them. Also, bring an extra set of clothes in your carry-on (or the children’s carry-on if they’re old enough to pay for a ticket) in case your child vomits or gets wet. Have plastic bags to put the wet or vomited clothing so they don’t wet anything else in your bags.
✔️Check our guide on how to pack for any destination for more tips.
✔️Bring wipes and tissues (my mom always tells me this even if I don’t travel with children haha).
✔️Have a refillable water bottle for everyone. Remember to empty it before going into the security checks.
❌Don’t overpack but be sure to bring the necessary stuff. With children, there are always emergencies.
✔️If your kids are old enough, chances are they’ll give an opinion on what they want to bring. Give them that chance but always edit in case they’re bringing stuff they won’t use.
✔️Pack food for your children. Bring something they like so you don’t have to worry if they get hungry. Great ideas are snacks like cereal bars, cereal, puree. Bring stuff that doesn’t spill. Remember most of the food served on the flights may not be kid-friendly so take your precautions. Also, pack a spoon or fork so your kids can eat their food.
❌Avoid bringing fruits or stuff that may spoil if you don’t refrigerate it. My sister once brought a banana for my niece and when she wanted to eat it, it was too ripe. Also, don’t trust you’ll find food that your children will like at the airport.
✔️Prevent motion sickness. I actually had to take motion sickness medicine well into my twenties because I always felt nauseous when traveling, I only stopped taking medicine some years ago. So, I imagine how bad children would feel not even knowing what’s happening to them. If you’re giving medicine to your children, check for how long the effect lasts (and if you need to give them more doses).
✔️Try to keep children awake in the airport and on your way to the airport, that way it’s easier for them to fall asleep during the flight. In some airports, there are play areas for children!
❌Don’t “tire children” the day before. It’s better if they rest well the day before a trip, otherwise, they might get grumpy. Also, avoid giving them sweets, since they could cause them to be awake longer.
✔️Bring a light stroller. It will also help you to put some small bags or carry-ons there. Do check before your flight if the airline gives you a chance to have your stroller on board. For example, most low-cost airlines don’t permit it.
✔️Use packing cubes to divide the clothing of your children and yourself on your bags.
Flights with children
- Flights may be the scariest part of traveling with children but there’s a lot you can do to prepare for it.
✔️Make your kid (or take that decision for them) choose the toy to play with during the flight. Also, think that this toy may be lost so be sure it’s not one of their favorite ones! Depending on how long the flight is, you’ll maybe have to prepare other activities (or pray they’ll fall asleep!). A tablet with different apps and kids’ shows is always a great idea.
❌Avoid toys that make too much noise. Remember you’re sharing the flight with other people that may not be used to be with children.
✔️Bring, in your carry-on, a hooded jacket for your kid. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the beach or to a warm place. There’s always air conditioning during flights and you wouldn’t want your kid to get sick during vacations. Better be safe than sorry.
Dealing with jet lag
✔️Check the time zone you’re traveling to and make your kids go to sleep before/after their usual times one week before your trip. That way, it’ll be easier for them to get used to the new time zone.
✔️Go walking with your children if you get to your destination during the daytime: natural light helps a lot!
❌Don’t try to keep your children awake so they go to sleep at night. Give them the chance to sleep a little nap, otherwise, they’ll be grumpy all day.
The trip itself
- Let kids enjoy the trip at their own pace, don’t rush them!
✔️Plan activities everyone can enjoy. Traveling with children is easier in the sense that they’re not shy to tell if they’re bored, hungry or wanna get out of a place (have you traveled with adults? This gets complicated sometimes!). If you’re traveling with babies, it’s way easier! You can walk around with the stroller and that’s it.
❌Avoid places that may be boring for your children. Of course, this depends on each family. Some kids enjoy museums, others parks. You’re the one that knows what your children will appreciate, so listen to your gut.
✔️Use public transportation when possible. It’s cheaper and it’s a great adventure for children!
✔️Keep the routines your children have: like their sleep and mealtimes. Of course, you don’t have to be completely inflexible with those times but keeping that in mind will help your children feel more comfortable when traveling.
✔️When going out to eat, go to places that have choices your children will like. Since you’re on a vacation it’s ok to have more ice cream than usual or more dessert, let the children have a good time!
❌Don’t force children to try new food. Try it yourself and it’ll be their choice to eat it or not. Most of the times, as days pass by, they’ll become more open to trying new things.
✔️Enjoy it! You’re in a different place with your children, keep making memories!
❌Don’t rush it. Children tend to entertain with the smallest things and they take their time to enjoy everything.
✔️Take a day or two to “rest” from your vacations before your children go to school or you return to work.
As you can read, there’s a lot you can do to have a better trip with your children! What other tips would you give to us?