How To Travel With Kids: Helpful Tips and Ideas
Traveling with kids can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging at times. Whether you're planning a road trip or a vacation abroad , there are a few things you can do to make the experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. It is important to remember that traveling with young children is different from traveling with adults.
Family Travel Manual: Traveling With Kids
You must be prepared to be patient and ready to adapt to your expectations, so everyone will have a great, memorable time together. In this article, we'll provide some tips for traveling with kids of all ages that will help you prepare for your trip and make the most of your time together as a family. Before leaving, make sure to get your parking squared away with The Parking Spot for convenient and superior service.
Starting Off, Everyone Should Be Healthy
First and foremost, make sure everyone in the family is healthy. If you or any of your children are sick, for example with head colds, stomach aches, or recovering from the flu, it is wise to postpone the trip until a later date. Consult a family doctor or health professional for advice on when it is safe for anyone not feeling well to travel. Traveling when everyone is healthy is stressful. However, traveling when someone is not feeling well is not enjoyable for anyone.
Keep in mind that some destinations also require travelers to wear masks for precautionary reasons. Do your homework and contact the airports, airlines, hotels, theaters, museums, amusement parks, and other places you plan to visit during your vacation. Knowing the rules in advance will prevent problems and unexpected issues and disappointments. Be proactive and pack plenty of masks and hand sanitizer in a tote, purse, or backpack that you take along everywhere you go.
Prepare The Older Kids For Their Exciting Vacation
Preparing kids can be an educational and exciting activity leading up to the vacation. Explain where you are going and what they can expect to see and do. Share books, blogs, and articles with pictures about your destination to get them excited. Also explain what they will be experiencing to get there, whether it is driving long distances, flying in an airplane , taking public transportation, etc.
You might consider a "mock trip" or a visit to an airport, so they are familiar with what to expect. A short weekend getaway with the family or overnight excursion may be a helpful practice for everyone.
Take their age into consideration and their concept of time. For example, tell a teenager about vacation plans a year out to give them plenty of time to research and learn more about the destination. A toddler, on the other hand, can be told much closer to the date you plan to go.
Book Accommodations and Entertainment In Advance
To make your trip go smoothly, make airfare, off-site airport parking, overnight accommodations, and entertainment reservations in advance. Whether you plan on staying in a hotel, an Airbnb, or at a cabin at a state park, this will give you time to research amenities, pricing, and availability for the size of your family before you begin your journey.
The same is true if you are traveling in a motor home or camper. You will need to know if there is an acceptable hook-up available for your vehicle and what amenities are available like water hook-ups, restaurants, activities, etc. This is a very good idea if you are traveling with babies and toddlers who require baby beds, high chairs, and strollers.
You might have to provide a deposit with a credit card, but this is a very small price to pay for the uncertainty of arriving and the hotels have no accommodations for you. This can be an issue if you are traveling during a busy holiday travel season or heading out to a popular destination.
Book A Direct Flight For Convenience
The same is true for flying. Keep an eye on the best time to fly with children and research what airlines are more family-friendly than others. Book a direct flight instead of one that includes time-consuming layovers. This might cost more but in the long run, will provide a better experience for your family.
If you book your flight far enough in advance, airfare prices could be more affordable, and there are more opportunities for everyone to sit closer to one another. In addition, there is ample time to indicate to the airlines that you need special accommodations for small children. In the event you're stuck in an airport for a few hours, find out if that airport has an area for kids to play .
Ask A Neighbor or Friend to Watch Your Home
Ask someone you trust like a neighbor, friend, or family member to keep an eye on your home while you are on vacation. Give them a key in the event they would need to get inside. Either make arrangements for your mail to be held at the post office or ask this trusted person to collect from your mailbox and take it inside.
Share your itinerary with them as well as your contact information. This way, there will be activity at your home and someone checking to make sure everything is ok. The last thing you would want is to return home with a tired family and have to attend to damages or other unexpected issues.
Important Documents Families Should Pack
When traveling, especially with kids, it's important to have all the necessary documents in order. This includes passports, visas, vaccination schedules, and any other travel documents that are required for your destination.
Make sure to check the expiration dates of all identification cards and passports and renew them if necessary. If your child is traveling with only one parent, you may also need to provide a letter of consent from the other parent.
It's also a good idea to make copies of all important documents, such as passports, driver's licenses, identification cards, and insurance information. Keep these copies in a separate location from the originals, in case they get lost or stolen.
Pack Just What You Need For Your Family
We always seem to overpack when traveling, especially with children. Ask yourself if you really need that third pair of shoes or both heavy coats. When packing your suitcase for your trip, it's important to think about the weather and the activities you'll be doing. Pack clothes and shoes that are comfortable and easy to move in, such as shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, and sandals for warm weather and sweaters, heavy pants, boots, and coats for cold weather . Clothing for layering is a good idea as many places are cooler in the morning and evenings and warmer during the day. Layering allows you to be flexible and take off and add clothing when needed.
There are many resources and guides that will help you pack like a seasoned traveler. For example, tuck smaller things into shoes, roll your pants instead of folding them, and pack mini-sized toiletries instead of large full ones. In addition, don't pack anything that you can purchase at your destination. This will free up valuable space for your family's necessities.
Also, pack a few extra clothes for your kids in case of accidents or spills. Don't forget to pack a light jacket or sweater, as well as a hat and sunglasses to protect your kids from the sun. You're on vacation too. Plan to pack enough clothes so that you don't have to do laundry during your trip.
Research and Plan Kid-Friendly Activities In Advance
Planning activities in advance can help keep your kids entertained and engaged and everyone happy. Whether at home or away on vacation, kids love to play! While setting your itinerary make sure to include a kid-friendly restaurant, a visit to the playground, a walk in the woods, or a swim at the pool.
Research the area you'll be visiting and look for kid-friendly activities, such as museums, amusement parks, and zoos. Most destinations have visitor centers that have a wealth of information to review. Connect with them on social media, sign up for emails or call them to learn everything there is to do and see while you are there, including special events and family-friendly festivals. Take a look at some ideas for a family spring break trip.
If you'll be traveling by car, bring along some games, books, and toys to keep your kids occupied during the ride. You can also download movies and TV shows to a tablet or laptop to keep them entertained on long flights or train rides.
Follow A Bedtime Routine Especially for Young Children
Traveling with young children is scary and overwhelming, especially for younger children. As much as possible, follow the same bedtime schedule and routine on vacation as you do at home. For example, if your children take a bath before bedtime, do it on vacation, too.
If you always read a bedtime story or give them a bedtime snack, follow this wherever you are. Routines are comfort zones for kids, no matter what age. Knowing what to expect and when, especially at bedtime, will help them feel safer and calmer, and sleep more soundly.
Make A Checklist of Toiletries and Medications to Pack
Make sure to pack all the necessary toiletries for your kids, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap. Don't forget to pack sunscreen, as well as insect repellent, just in case. If your child has any specific medical needs, make sure to pack any medications or medical equipment they may need. It's a good idea to make a checklist of everything they need and check it off as you pack.
It's also beneficial to pack a small first-aid kit, including band-aids, pain relievers, and antiseptic wipes. This can come in handy if anyone gets injured.
Other Helpful Advice For Traveling With Kids
- Be flexible: Traveling with kids can be unpredictable, so try to be flexible and go with the flow. If your plans change, don't be afraid to adjust your itinerary and make the most of the situation.
- Pack light: Traveling with kids can be a hassle, so try to pack light. This will make it easier to move around and keep track of your belongings.
- Get plenty of rest: Make sure your kids get plenty of rest before your trip, as this will help them cope with the stress of traveling.
- Arrive early for every event on your itinerary.
- Take time to relax: Make sure to take time to relax and enjoy your trip. This will help you bond with your kids and make lasting memories.
- Don't over-schedule: Avoid scheduling too many activities in a day, as this can overwhelm both you and the children. Going from location to location and activity to activity back to back can be overstimulating for younger children and frustrating for older ones. Scheduling some relaxing activities throughout the day is just as important for a well-balanced vacation.
What To Pack For Different Age Groups
Pack All The Essentials For Babies
Pack a diaper bag with all necessities, such as diapers, wipes, and changes of clothes. Include a few of your baby's favorite toys, pacifiers, or blankets to help them feel more at home. The less you have to pack the better.
If you can, take a baby carrier or stroller to make it easier to move around with your baby and a playpen or portable crib to give your baby a safe and familiar sleeping environment. If there isn't enough space for these extras, take advantage of the hotel's cribs, high chairs, and strollers. Contact the hotel in advance to reserve the items you will need, so they are available when you arrive. Consider using their babysitting services and enjoy a night out with your partner.
Pack a Backpack For Toddlers
Pack a small backpack with your toddler's favorite toys, pillow, and snacks. Bring along a few coloring books and crayons to keep them occupied. Plan enjoyable age-appropriate activities such as visiting a playground or a zoo.
Consider bringing a tablet with movies and their favorite TV shows. Remember to take regular breaks to let your little ones run around and burn off energy when and wherever it is possible.
Give Pre-Teens A Budget To Spend
Encourage your teens to research and plan some activities during the trip. Ask them to gather and pack their favorite books, magazines, portable gaming console, or tablet with games and apps to keep them entertained. Give your teens a small budget to spend on souvenirs, snacks, or activities. Encourage them to document their trip by taking photos or videos and keeping a journal.
These tips also apply to older teens and young adults. Encourage your young adults to take an active role in planning your trip. Give them some independence and freedom to explore on their own.
Ready To Embark On An Amazing Family Vacation?
Planning in advance, maintaining a proactive approach, and keeping your children’s ages and needs at the top of your travel agenda is the first step in a memorable, stress-free family vacation. One more way to make sure your travels are as seamless as possible is to consider the amazing amenities available by The Parking Spot.
The Parking Spot helps travelers enjoy every leg of their vacation from start to finish. Reserve a Parking Spot or make other reservations before you start your journey. Enjoy easy-to-find parking, airport shuttles, luggage assistance, and more. Read more from our experts today and learn more about how we can make your family vacation amazing.
Read the other Articles in our Family Travel Manual
- Spring Break ideas for families.
- Tips for planning a family vacation.
- Where are kid play areas inside the airport?
- Ideas for keeping kids busy while flying.
- Tips for traveling with children.
- Weekend Getaways for Families