Tips for Traveling with Kids

“Are we there yet?”,  “I have to go to the bathroom!”, “Mom, he’s looking at me!”, and then there’s the one all parents dread hearing, “I don’t feel so good”. Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart. As parents we try our best to make the most of our children’s summer break and that often means fun day trips, adventurous road trips, extended weekends, and family vacations. Each requires travel time, and it doesn’t matter how long, far, or how you are traveling, as a parent if you are not prepared you will hate yourself. What’s more, you’ll miss out on an otherwise awesome opportunity to make the most of the journey. So, how exactly does a parent prepare to travel with kids? We asked the experts, parents!! Parents who have been there, experienced the whole, “I don’t feel so good” scenario and lived to tell you what to do so you don’t have to make the same mistakes. You’re gonna wanna grab a notebook, this is some good stuff, like legit quality advice that only those who have navigated these treacherous roads before you know about, these parents have experienced the tantrums, meltdowns, accidents, etc. and refuse to go back to their amateur ways. 

  • “DON’T DO IT!  JK, I love traveling with my kiddos! I always find one small new thing to bring with us, especially if we are traveling by car for long periods of time. We also keep it old school with DVDs and a DVD player, which gives them something to figure out. Most importantly, we talk about our upcoming trip, what to expect when traveling, etc. this helps set the expectations in advance. Obviously, you can’t do that with babies. With babies, just bring everything and hope for the best”- Miranda Louise 
  • “We play the alphabet game- try to find every letter of the alphabet outside the car (signs, license plates etc.), see how many licenses plates from different states you can find, name that tune (connect your phone to Bluetooth and play random songs), and travel bingo, hangman and tic tac toe!”- Lori Johnson Stammen
  • “Hotels: Flip the trashcan over to use as a step stool for the sink. Bring Lysol wipes to give the tub a good scrub before baths. Sound machine. Pack a Paring knife for cutting fruit for snacks and get a huge jug of water when you arrive. Planes: Band-Aids and stickers, give them new things in waves, not all at once. emergency backup “if all hell breaks loose” candy, pop rocks, favorite suckers. iPads and headphones work wonders. Headphone splitter if you only have one iPad.”- Ashley Balester
  • “Headphones and snacks. Lots of snacks. You also need more snacks.”-Michele McFarland
  • “If you have a little bit older kids give them a roll of quarters and if they act up on a car trip then take a quarter away, when you get where you’re going take them to an arcade and whatever quarters they have left that’s what they can use. Helped us recently on our road trip we took!!”-Rachel Woronec
  • “We’ve been to lots of places – Disney, Myrtle Beach, then last year we did a long weekend in Dayton. That ended up being my daughter’s favorite trip (even over Disney!). She said it was because she got to spend more time with us and it was a more relaxed vacation. Get your kids involved in the planning of things they want to do. She was much more willing to try our ideas when we let her have her days too! Also, stay at Drury Inn if you can, and if you are looking for a hotel! They have great breakfasts! They also have a dinner each night that is included (adults get 2-3 adult beverages also)! Pop machine is always open for drinks. They are well kept as well. Pre-Covid they also had popcorn in the lobby for snacks at a certain time”.- Jennifer Carner
  • “When I was a kid my Mom always bought me comics to read in the car and those books that had pages with “invisible ” answers to puzzles and you rubbed the pen over it to get the answers. We also played car games like seeing who could find license plates from the most states. Headsets are a must! Pillows for a long car ride. Always try to have a backup plan in case places are closed or because of weather. We always reserve a place that has a pool and plan at least one evening to swim and relax. Kids need a little down time. Don’t over plan things and allow a little down time, after all it is a vacation” .-Judith Schorling
  • “Their own backpack for phone, headphones, book, toys, etc. Put snacks in individual bags with their name on it. A small blanket. Take advantage of rest areas to stretch and maybe geocache if your family likes that bc there’s lots at rest areas. Expect to get there a lot later than an adult trip would take so plan accordingly on when to leave lol”-Jessica Dudek
  • “Pipe cleaners. Quiet, clean, creative. My kids played with these for hours in the car. I got really good at guessing what they made.”-Kristie Reighard
  • “Feed the kids in the car (pb and j or something like that) so when the grown ups stop for food, the kids can run around and it doesn’t become a battle to keep kids seated and get them to eat”-Hannah Apple
  • “Baby wipes for all the clean ups. Individually packed snack assortments and extra water in the car to fight hangry attacks, and a change of clothes. Assortment of distractions (toys, coloring books/activity books, etc.), sunscreen, hats. Fave blankets or stuffed animals for the car. A DVD player for the car works wonders if your travels involve a drive. Forethought into some good eye-spy, tongue twister, distraction word games to play”-Sara Jane
  • “Magnetic toys and dollar tree cake pans are awesome toys to keep young ones busy”-Kendra Stamy
  • “Tell my daughter to take a nap, we will get there faster, works every time.”-Angie Battle
  • “Stop at parks, etc. to wear them out with exercise.”-Susie Brazeau
  • “All the snacks!!!”-Melissa Mcdonald
  • “Stay calm and do not overpack!”-Nichole Schneider
  • “Travel at night when they’re sleeping”.-Jen Weiland
  • “Be prepared for anything but be willing to be flexible. And baby wipes. Lots and lots of baby wipes” -Lindsey Kile
  • “Dog poop bags!!! Quick and easy garbage bags, hold soiled clothes, wet swimsuits, you name it. All in a tiny roll.”-Amanda Clampitt
  • “Snacks, drinks, portable potty for toddler age, some sort of entertainment…movies, phones, etc. pillows, blankets, and patience, lots of patience!” – Niki Schultz
  • “I packed school workbooks in the car for my 3rd grader and PreK and for every page they finished, they got a piece of candy. I was impressed by how many they did. But also videos from the library!!!”- Melissa Wehrman Householder
  • “Headphones for their tablets. Snacks & drinks ready Togo at their beckoning and a side of sanity for mom and dad” -Joshua D Knudsen
  • “We started traveling with our kids when they were babies so they are used to it and behave really well for the most part. If we are traveling a long distance by car I plan a stop or two at someplace to break up the drive and get their energy out. Like when we drove to Colorado we stopped at the Arch and did a river boat ride and stayed in a hotel and then continued our drive the next day. On the way home we stopped halfway at Legoland.”- Melissa Crosby 
  • With several round trips driving 3 kids ages 2-9 to Florida under our belts, I would say leaving a few hours before bedtime helps. We usually leave at about 7pm. This allows most of the drive time for them to sleep. We always rented a minivan until we bought one. The extra inside space keeps kids separate or store n go seats allow for more leg room inside. Lower expectations if long trips or cramping to many activities during the trip. Know limitations! It will take longer, they will be crabby-ier, more stops than planned, take advantage of big spaces of area during stops i.e. if you stop at the gas station or rest areas let the kids play for 10 mins. Bring a ball, Frisbee and bring out during those times. We buy a new movie they’ve never watched but wanted too. Grammy always surprised them with a bag of goodies, snacks, activity books, surprises, little toys. Kept them busy.-Amber Lynn

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