A family trip can be so magical. As you start making plans, you can picture all the special memories you will make. Sometimes, however, the actual travel part can be less than magical. In fact, it can be downright stressful.
So how do you have stress-free travel with kids? We have some simple tips to help you keep the magic in your family trip.
Whether you are packing for a long road trip or for a flight, there are some important things to keep in mind. Traveling with kids can be amazing but sometimes it feels like you have to bring your whole house with you in order to really enjoy the experience. While this may feel daunting, it doesn’t have to be. We have some tips for packing and luggage to help you make the most of your trip and enjoy your kids while traveling.
Packing Luggage for a plane trip
Flying with kids doesn’t have to be overwhelming and there are some simple things you can do to make sure things move smoothly. Here are some tips for packing luggage for a plane trip. We will talk about carry-ons in a moment as that’s a different style of packing. This is specifically focused on luggage you plan to check on your flight. Here are some tips for packing luggage for a plane trip.
Keep weight restrictions in mind.The typical max weight for checked luggage is 50 pounds per bag. When you are packing for your trip, make sure you are balancing out the weight between your bags to avoid an issue when you get to the airport. Some places will have you take things out to make weight. Others will upcharge you for the additional weight. This might mean you have to leave behind some of the heavier items you planned to bring and rent them at your destination instead.
Pack for accidents.When packing luggage for a vacation, pack more than you think you will need as far as clothes, formula, and diapers go. You never know what will happen on vacation. There may be spills, messy play, or even sickness. Having spare outfits and supplies can help you avoid buying them at a higher-priced store at your destination.
Roll items to save space.If you are struggling to fit everything into your luggage, sometimes it can help to roll up clothes instead of folding them. They will take up less space and leave you with room for other items you might need.
Bag up toiletries.Items like shampoo, toothpaste, and other hygiene items have the potential to spill in your bag. Save yourself a mess and a hotel laundry day by bagging these items up in sealable bags within your luggage. Not only will this save you from a mess, but it will also make everything easy to find and put away when you reach your destination.
Pack for different weather.A lot of the time when packing luggage, parents don’t think about the change in weather at their new destination. Take some time to look at the types of weather you can expect at your new location. Will it be hot, humid, rainy, cold, or some other type of weather? Planning ahead can help you to avoid buying weather-specific items when you arrive.
Packing your carry-on luggage
When you are flying, carry on luggage can be such a great way to help manage a flight with smaller kids. However, packing the wrong items or forgetting certain items can quickly sabotage your trip. We have a few simple tips to help you with packing your carry-luggage. As we said previously, check with your specific airline for rules about carry-on luggage. These rules change often and it is important to stay up-to-date on the most current rules and regulations.
Opt for a quality backpack -When picking our bags, many parents will choose a rolling carry-on piece of luggage. While this can seem helpful, it can actually work against you when you are at the airport. Instead, opt for a quality backpack. This will free up your hands to focus on the kids while giving you ample space to store many different types of items you might need. Airports can be overwhelming with smaller children. Having your hands free can make a world of difference.
Bring empty water bottles (There is an exception here) -Bring empty water bottles with you that can be refilled within the terminal after security. While you can’t bring fluids through security at airports, you can bring empty bottles to be refilled at a later time in the terminal. There is sometimes an exception to this rule. If you need to bring water for formula, you can bring that bottle with you. You will need to remove it from your carry-on during security checks to be checked separately.
Pack their favorite snacks. -Sometimes the right snack on a plane can be a huge distraction. Make sure to add some of your child’s favorite snacks to your carry-on. This will give you a fantastic distraction or make a great substitute for plane snacks they may not enjoy. With longer flights, packing items that could be considered a small meal could also help you to avoid being stuck with hungry and potentially cranky children.
Pack backup clothes, diapers, and formula.- There are times when an airport will lose luggage. It’s not intentional but it happens. Pack a few backup options in your carry-on to avoid an emergency if there is lost baggage. Having these items on hand will give you time to find the lost bag or replace items as needed.
Pack a favorite quiet toy or lovey.- Depending on the time of day you fly and the length of your flight, having a favorite quiet toy or lovey on hand can be a lifesaver. These small items can be a big distraction while flying with a little one.
*Bonus Tip -Many airlines will let you bring strollers or car seats on the plane with you as a carry-on. This can be a huge help when running through the terminal or as a way to avoid losing these items with lost baggage. Check with your airline for specific requirements.
On the Road
Are you planning a road trip with kids? Driving with the kids can get stressful quickly without some precautions being taken. The last thing you want to remember about your vacation is crying or screaming children. So what do you do to try and keep the negative side of road trips under control? Here are some tips for traveling on the road with kids.
What to pack in the car
Did you know when packing for a road trip there are items you definitely need to bring along? We have a few of those items on a list for you.
Snacks and drinks and clean up items. -Whether you are going for a short road trip or a long one, having these items in the car and ready can make a world of difference. Make sure to either pack items that don’t need ice, or pack a cooler for items that will need to stay cold. You will also want a garbage bag or a way to dispose of these items to avoid a really messy car at the end of the trip.
Activities and fun. -Car rides can get boring for children quickly. Having a container of things for them to do can make a world of difference. Items like coloring books, seek and find games, and small toys can make a world of difference. (Pro-tip, avoid noisy toys unless you are good with hearing them the entire drive.)
Pack blankets and loveys.- Road trips can quickly pull a child out of their routine. Having a favorite blanket or lovey on hand can help them to rest as comfortably as possible while on the road. These items can also be a big relaxer for kids.
Headphones, Chargers, and Tech -If you use technology such as tablets or portable DVD players with your kids, make sure you pack their headphones. A pair of kid-safe headphones can help them enjoy their favorite show on a loop without you having to listen to it repeatedly. Having chargers on hand is also incredibly important. Make sure you have a car-friendly charger for any devices you are packing. But remember, to draw a line between tech time and family time to find that perfect balance.
Pit stop bag -Think of this as yourroad trip diaper bag. Add items you know you will need for pit stops. This might include cash/change for vending machines. Make sure to also pack any diapers, wipes, or other items you may need while out of the car at a pit stop. Grab this bag when you stop for an easy to meet everyone’s needs without scrambling for all the items you need.
Keeping the car organized
The car can quickly get messy on a road trip. There are few things more stressful than a messy car with kids on a road trip. It doesn’t have to be that way though. There are some ways you can keep things clean without much stress. Here are a few tips for keeping the car organized on a road trip with kids.
Have a plan in place for trash. - Whether everyone has a small trash bag of their own that goes out on pit stops or there is a larger garbage bag, having a plan will avoid the mess. Set up a plan before leaving for all trash.
Have bags/containers for each kid. -Set aside a bag or container for each child to keep their toys, books, and snacks in. Not only will they have independence on the road trip, but they will also be able to keep their area of the car organized.
Go reusable when possible. -Reusable water bottles and containers can help to avoid messes. It can also save you money in the long run.
Don’t underestimate the value of a small cooler. -Having a small cooler on hand for drinks and food can help you to keep clutter at bay. Storing many of the food items in this cooler not only keeps them fresh, but it also keeps the messes to a minimum.
Do pit stop cleanups. - When you stop for bathroom breaks or meals, take a few minutes to do some quick cleanups in the car. This may mean removing trash, putting up toys, refilling drinks, or organizing the car for the rest of your trip. These simple pit stop cleanups can help you to tame the chaos and make the most of your family road trip.
At the Hotel
Visiting a hotel is seen by many as the ideal relaxation environment. It can be that way for parents as well with a bit of preplanning. Hotels don’t have to add stress to your vacation. In fact, if you do it right, they can be the safe home hub on your trip. Here are a few tips for your time at the hotel.
Ask for a room near parking areas or bus shuttles.- Not all hotels understand the importance of being close to transportation but parents do. Ask for a room either near your vehicle in the parking lot or near the bus shuttles if you are planning to take advantage of them. Having these nearby can save a lot of stress.
Find out hotel towel policies.-Every hotel has different rules for the hotel towels. Some want them left on the floor to be replaced while others will replace all towels when cleaning a room. You will also want to find out what the towel policy is with the pool. Do you bring your own or will there be towels provided?
Ask for the quieter side of the hotel.- Not everyone working front desk takes into account other events that might be happening at a hotel. If there is a party, prom, or another loud event it can quickly ruin bedtimes. Ask for a room that is away from the noise and chaos to help keep bedtime as reasonable as possible. When they can’t accommodate this, using a white noise app on your phone can be a big help to give kids a calm environment to sleep in.
Bring as much of your routine as possible. -When on vacation, kids quickly get thrown off schedule. Bringing small bits of their routine can be a big help for getting restful nights. Try to stick to bedtime routines as much as possible to avoid struggles. This may mean a bedtime bath or storytime in order to keep things calm for all.
Check refrigerator and snack policies. -Some rooms will have a mini-fridge or snack station in the room with items that can be consumed for an additional fee. Some hotels will remove these in advance for you if you know you have young children and don’t want to assume that risk. Ask your hotel about removing these items to avoid the children accidentally getting into them and adding unplanned charges to your trip.
When on vacation, it can be fun to visit some of the local attractions. This could mean a trip to a theme park, tourist attraction, or something unique to that area. These attractions can be a lot of fun and add a special touch to your trip. However, they can also quickly turn stressful without some pre-planning. Here are some tips for visiting attractions on vacation with kids.
Bring a bag along. -When traveling to attractions having a quality backpack can make a world of difference. Pack this bag with snacks, diapers, changes of clothing, or anything else you might need while out and about. By having this bag on hand, you will save yourself stress and money.
Find out outside food rules. -Many families will cut costs on visiting attractions by bringing food along with them. Make sure to check with the attraction to find out about their specific food requirements. Not every place will let you bring food in and this is important to know in advance so you can plan to either eat before you go or bring cash for food while you are there.
Set a safe meeting place. -Kids can get away from you in an instant. When you first arrive at the attraction, set a safe meeting place and make sure your children know who the employees or safe people are. Having a plan in place can help you avoid an emergency.
Plan for the weather. - When visiting an attraction, find out what the weather implications are for that location. Will things be closed down for rain or snow? Will this place have plenty of shade for the heat? Are there places to go if it rains? Having this information can help you to better enjoy these attractions.
Have a souvenir plan.- Almost every attraction you visit will have a souvenir shop or three for you to visit. Before you go in, have a game plan for how you will handle these shops. Will you set a budget with your child for what they can spend? Will you have something in your bag to give them as a surprise instead? Knowing how you will handle these shops will save you money and help to avoid a breakdown or tantrum.
Planning for Emergencies
Even the best-planned trips can end with an emergency. No matter how magical the vacation. Life happens. However, there are some things you can do to plan for these emergencies. Having a plan in place can reduce the stress and help you to make the most of the situation at hand. Here are some tips for planning for emergencies to keep travel stress-free.
Have an emergency binder. -An emergency binder can be built with folders or sheet protectors that contain any important information. Items like insurance cards, car registration, medical history, or a list of emergency phone numbers can go in this binder. Having a binder like this on hand can help you to have what you need in case of an emergency without the panic.
Pack a first aid kit. -Having a first aid kit on hand can help to avoid a stressful situation while on vacation. A few items to consider packing are bandaids, alcohol wipes, single-use ice or heat packs, children’s Tylenol, children’s Benadryl, topical itch cream, and tweezers. Having these items on hand can be a huge help.
Take a current pic of your child each day. -During a vacation, make sure to take a picture of your child each morning before you leave. In an emergency situation you will be able to show this picture to search-personnel to help them quickly locate your child. Having a picture on hand with current apparel and appearance can help expedite the process and get your child back in your arms.
Program your emergency settings in your phone. -Within your phone, there is the ability to set an emergency contact and in some newer phones even share medical history. If you lose consciousness in an accident, having all of this information on your phone can help medical personnel to treat your family. While you hope to never need it, having this programmed can help so much. Reach out to your cell phone provider to find out how to do this on your device.
Set an emergency fund. -There are instances when the financial side of things can go downhill on a trip. Whether your account gets frozen because of spending that isn’t typical for you or something else happens to your money, it can be a huge help to have an emergency fund on hand. By bringing along this extra cash you will be able to take care of any emergencies that arise. If you are uncomfortable with bringing cash, load up a prepaid debit card so that you have this money on hand.
Let’s face it… being stuck home all day with the kids is tough. And the temptation to plop them in front of a screen for entertainment is strong. We can either look at this situation as a depressing, drive-each-other-crazy event, or we can embrace this gift of time and make the most of it.
Packing a lunch for a day out with the kids can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of options for a delicious lunch bag out there. In fact, we are going to share some simple options to add to your lunch bag that won’t add any stress to your day. These tips will work for children of multiple ages and remove some of the worries from lunch on the go.