Tips for Traveling with Kids
My top tips and tricks for smooth traveling with kids.
Aloha! Please excuse the absence last week. We desperately needed some family time and took a little trip to Hawaii. I will have new recipes and trip details for you soon, but since many of you are getting ready for summer travel, I thought it the perfect time to share some tips to make traveling with kids as much fun as possible. Because it can definitely be NOT fun – I’ve been there. These tips are from my experience with my preschoolers, but you can adapt them to your kids’ ages. The trick to making long plane and car rides go by quickly is to stay busy by preparing fun new things to do. Miraculously, my 3 and 5 year old didn’t ask when we would be there once during the 5 hour flights! Success!
Last year one of my dearest friends, Laurie, moved all the way from California to Holland with her husband and then infant and preschooler. Since then her family has traveled all over Europe and back and forth to and from California (an 11 hour+ flight! I’m super jealous of you all on the East coast who can pop over to Europe for a weekend!). Laurie gave her 5 year old a small gift to open each hour of the flight he behaved nicely. The gifts were craft projects that took up time, such as beading necklaces he gave to friends when they arrived. Thanks for the great tip, Laurie!
I got my girls each an age-appropriate workbook and new pack of crayons at our local educational supply store. Sticker books are great too for 1-5 year olds.
–Scratch Art from Melissa and Doug (first picture in this post). These are Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you order through them.
-Klutz fairy making kit (pictured above. This required adult help, so don’t expect to sit back and drink your coffee.)
We love the puzzles in a bag from Crocodile Creek. I’ve seen them Michael’s and kids stores, but you can get them here too. They fit perfectly on airplane tray tables, are fun, and will keep kids occupied for an hour.
-New Apps and Movies for iPads/smartphones/etc.
Air and car travel is the one time I don’t care how much the kids look at a screen. It’s waay better to have them entertained than screaming, “When are we going to beeeee there?”
Some of my kids’ favorite apps:
–TozzlePuzzles: interactive puzzles that are fun for ages 1-5
– FirstWords Animals: beginning spelling for 5-7 year olds (I’m guessing on the ages here)
– Teach Me: Toddler and Teach Me: Kindergarten
– Reading Rainbow: Read books, but be sure to download them before taking off as an internet connection is needed to add new books.
–Peekaboo book: Loved by 0-2 year olds
– Cupcakes!: Not educational, but fun to design cupcakes.
– Nick Jr. Draw and Play
If a flight is near a mealtime I try to have the girls eat during the flight rather than at the airport. They can run around and play at the airport, and eating kills some of the flight time. I packed snacks they were excited about because they don’t have often. Snackanimals cookies, little boxes of raisins, applesauce, oranges, pita chips and hummus, nuts or trail mix, sugar-free lollipops, gum to help with uncomfortable ears during takeoff and landing are some good options. Check out my post on travel snacks here too. Cheerios, puffs, and yogurt melts are great for 1 year olds as they take a lot of hand-to-mouth action = entertainment.
Grab a bottle of water before jumping on the plane. Beverage service can be slow and it’s important to stay hydrated on airplanes. We made Daddy get us water from flight attendants several times because we didn’t bring water.
Maybe it’s just my kids, but they seem to suddenly have to go “SO badly” during takeoff and landing when they have to be buckled in.
-Pack your Favorite Children’s Pain Remedy
The second night of our trip, my 5 year old woke up screaming in pain with an ear ache. As we were staying in a rental, I ran through the pouring rain in the dark down the road to a nearby hotel for baby Tylenol. Next time I’ll pack it just in case.
This was the first flight we have taken in over 5 years that we haven’t had anyone in diapers. Which means I didn’t even think to pack wipes. Until I took my 3 year old in the teeny tiny bathroom where she was touching every possible surface, had messy hands after eating, you get the idea. A small pack of antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer are a good idea.
-A Calm Attitude
Take a deep breath. Babies and toddlers scream sometimes, and sometimes there’s not much you can do about it. But most people are understanding and you’ll get to your destination eventually. Exploring new places with your family is well worth the travel hassle.
What am I forgetting? Let me know in the comments!
Great post! Thanks for all the tips 🙂 I'm preparing for my big 30th bday trip, we chose the Bacara because we have a six year old and a six month old. Vegas wasn't an option.
Any tips? I know you live in SB we are driving up from Irvine. I'm hoping the Bacara will be okay with the kiddos.
Hi! Happy Birthday!
Yes, Bacara will be great with the kids! They are very kid-friendly while still being luxurious which is a win-win 😉
My kids love the sandbox by the pool! The beach right in front of the resort is also very nice. We love Shoreline Cafe for dinner on the beach and East Beach Grill for the best pancakes on the beach. The Sea Center on the pier is fun for kids as is the zoo. Boathouse and Brophy Brothers also have nice SB views. I hope you get to relax and enjoy your birthday vacation! Let me know if you have any questions or need any more recommendations. You'll love Bacara 🙂
Aloha mama!! Thank you for the post I just love your blog. Could you tell me how you budget for family trips and grocery bills. I feel lost when it comes to budgeting for stuff. Thanks pretty mama.
Thank You 🙂
It's hard, for sure. For family trips, we use credit card points as much as we can. It saved us a lot of money this time. Also renting a condo on VRBO was very inexpensive compared to hotels and it also saves money when you don't have to pay steep resort prices and can cook your own food.
For groceries, I shop at particular places for particular things. For example, I think the milk at Whole Foods 365 brand is the least expensive for organic milk. But I get most other things at Trader Joe's. Grocery budgeting is something I need to work on as well 🙂
Great travel tips Mummy!
Marina, I'll have to pass these tips on to my daughter…She will be traveling with her four kids (8,6,5,2) by herself(her husband has to miss this trip), from TX (requires two plane changes)to our home here in Orcutt in June…Hopefully it will go smoothly!
Aloha, I just love love love Hawaii. So jealous. 🙂 I love your tips for traveling with kids. We are taking our 5 year old to Lake Tahoe in September and I these are definitely helpful. Thanks
Hi! You mentioned your friend Laurie who moved to Holland. We are about to move to Tanzania with a 1 and 3 year old. I was wondering if you know about taking a carseat on the plane? I was thinking especially for my 1 year old so she can sleep better. We have three flights. First on is SFO to Dulles. Then Dulles to Zurich. Then Zurich to Tanzania. It's going to be a long trip, LOL hope we are all laughing at the end 🙂 Great timing on this post! Thank you.
Hi! Wow, that is a lot of travel but will be an amazing adventure for your family.
Yes, I think the car seat for your 1 year old is a good idea. Many of my friends have said that their kids do much better in the car seat and it's easier for them to sleep. Have you seen the rollers you can set the carseats on to pull around the airports? That may be helpful as well.
I'm sending you peaceful travel vibes 🙂
Thank you for all the tips! We'll be driving to Yosemite in July from Southern CA (wish me luck on tent camping for a week with a 4 year old;) and flying to Oahu in October. I've been picking up little travel appropriate items here and there, but new ideas are always appreciated. We used Home Away to book our condo on Oahu. I think it's going to be great staying there versus a hotel. Not to mention the money we'll save by cooking in. It will be a great RELAXING vacation after the camping trip;)
Oh have so much fun. You will love having a condo. We did save a lot that way. And I too am glad you're doing Oahu after the camping 😉 Camping will be great though and something your 4 year old will always remember. Have fun!
My niece and nephew have a history of sinus/ear problems. Sis was worried about them getting airplane headaches. In addition to having something to suck on – their pediatrician recommended decongestant they normally take for allergies starting 24 hours before take off. My doctor has me do the same thing.
My kids travel with me since they have been 6 months old. Although they say it is not goo, they are now 12 and 17. And they are well educated and healthy. So thanks for the tips.
My kids are also pretty much inspired about travel. Although they have started traveling with me since 12. Now the youngest is 18 and we went on Highlands and Islands Jeep tours in fall. So I really don’t know who was the most impressed about this journey, me or the kids. We all were just over the moon!