Traveling is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming for kids and parents alike. Snag these tips for traveling with kids to ensure a fun vacation.
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When we booked our first Mexico vacation with our two children, three and seven, I didn’t consider all of the obstacles we might run into. From pressure building in their little ears on the flight to the spicy nature of Mexico’s cuisine.
All of these thoughts and possibilities started popping into my head about a month before our trip. Like anyone booking a family vacation, I want our trip to be as stressfree as possible. This is our vacation. Both the parents and the kids.
So, I read tons of forums and talked to friends about how to make this trip as enjoyable as possible for all of us. Below, I have listed out the 15 best tips for traveling with kids from our experience and others’ suggestions.
These tips are definitely geared towards traveling with younger children.
Did You Know? According to a report from Resonance Consultancy, 44% of Millennials travel with their children.
Tips for Traveling with Kids
- Pack Snacks: Many international cuisines are much different than that of the USA. If you have picky eaters, be sure to pack snacks for your kids in your luggage. For one, you will have food you know they will eat, and it will free up space in your luggage for souvenirs on your way home.
- Schedule Rest Time: If you are spending any extended time traveling, everyone is going to get tired. But, kids especially. Schedule in half-a-day to sleep in, take it easy and rest. We waited too long and it turned into a very rough day at the hotel.
- Download Movies Ahead of Time: For flights and quiet time at the hotel, be sure to come prepared with movies. If you have Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can download movies for offline watching on your devices.
- Fruit Snacks or Suckers for Flights: Depending on the age of your children, you can give them either fruit snacks or suckers for taking off and landing. For young toddlers, try these YumEart Organic Pops. For older children, we really like Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks.
- Leave Early: I cannot stress this one enough. I get super anxious and easily frustrated when we are running late. So to prevent breakdowns from both parents and kids, anticipate the added time at the airport, getting ready, during meals, etc. Be sure to schedule these extra bits of time into your itinerary.
- Include them in Decisions: Obviously not all of them. But on an open day, you might ask if they want to spend half a day at the beach or half a day by the pool. Ask what kind of breakfast they want to have.
- Keep Carryons Light: If your young child is packing a backpack onto the plane, be sure to keep it light. There might come a time when your little one gets tired and asks you to carry it. Neither of you wants to be lugging around another 15lbs.
- Wear Slip-On Shoes: While some airport security will allow younger children to keep their shoes on during the screening, others hold children to the same standards as adults. Keep this in mind when putting your kids in jackets as well.
- Something Familiar and Something New: This was fun for us. We allowed each of the girls to pack one of their favorite stuffed toys for the flight. Then, we bought little surprises that we could give to them during the longest leg of the trip.
- Bathroom Break Before Ground Transportation: About halfway into our hour-long ride from Sayulita to Puerto Vallarta, our oldest daughter, seven, needed to pee. By the time we reached the airport, she was in tears from holding it so long. Again, this one of those things to plan extra time for.
- Take All the Pictures: I know this may seem obvious. But after returning home from our vacation, I realized I took tons of photos of the landscape and architecture. There are a good number of images of the children, but I’m wishing there were more. For our youngest, this will be the only way she may remember the trip.
- Get a Pair of Children’s Headphones: For small children, adult size headphones are not going to fit right and are going to be uncomfortable. If possible, visit an electronics store ahead of time and try on different headphones before traveling with kids.
- Pack Comfortable Walking Shoes: You might have put your kids in slip-on shoes for the airport, but be sure they have a pair of comfortable shoes if you are planning on doing much walking. My oldest hates wearing sandals, so it was imperative for us to pack tennis shoes for her to walk around town in.
- Stroller for Younger Kids: Even the most energetic child may tire after a couple of days of traveling. Consider packing the stroller you have, which can be checked at the gate. Or you can snag on these GB Pockit Strollers that fold up small enough to fit in the overhead compartment in a plane.
- Remember, It’s an Adventure: I saved this tip for last because if someone would have told me this, I might have rolled my eyes. But, looking back, I know I got frustrated in moments that I should have remained calm. It’s an adventure, and it should be fun for both you and the kids. Allow the extra time, know some things will likely go a little wrong, and keep going.
The Honest Takeaway
I was so freakin anxious to travel with our kids. We have waited and waited. And put it off and put it off. There was even a moment the day of our flight that I wanted to cancel because I was scared of traveling with kids.
Scared that our youngest would cry the whole plane ride. Scared that we would forget something important (hint: unless you are headed to the most remote location, you can probably get whatever you need where you are going). And scared that I wouldn’t enjoy it and would feel regret for spending the money.
I wish I could tell the woman in that moment that everything would be okay. But, I can’t.
Instead, I want to encourage you to get out there and travel with your kids. It seems scary, but it’s incredible. And taking the little people that you love more than life along for the journey is nothing short of amazing.
Don’t be afraid. You aren’t going to mess it up. Things might go a little awry, but in the end, you will be so glad you did it. And so will your kids.