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!

Read on for the tips!

-Hourly Gifts

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.

-Craft Projects


We loved:

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.)

-Travel Puzzles

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

-Fun Snacks

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.

-Potty Break!
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!