Traveling with kids is no joke. If you’ve done it, you know what I’m talking about. With that said, I will always be the parent that would rather bring them than leave them. YES, I’m that person. I love watching my kids experience new things, and yes it is harder to do activities with them when we are out and about, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do them at all. We always just end up having to adjust our expectations when we go places, and think about how we can do a specific activity to tailor it to our/kids’ needs!
Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t have tips and tricks to help make these vacations run a little smoother! I wanted to share these with anyone who is traveling with little ones, because it can be truly daunting. And I fully encourage traveling with your children because they might completely surprise you!
First up, are a couple of things that are more for travel versus entertainment/activities.
These were perfect for my kids. We’ve used this in Mexico to divide their sofa bed in half, and we used this in Europe to make sure they didn’t fall off the beds. They come in a super small bag with a pump to put in air and to take it out! It’s probably one of the my favorite things to travel with! We also take it on our short trips to people’s houses and it always is so helpful!
We never take the kids’ carseats, but we’ll travel with these when we go abroad just to have something to use in the cars. They fold up real small, and you can inflate them when they are in use!
It helps to have these foot rests on planes because it almost turns into a mini bed for the kids. Plus, if you’re sitting next to them, you can put your feet upon them too! You can blow them up with your mouth, but we preferred a pump since we already to had to blow up two of them. I recommend either this manual one or this automatic one which is awesome!
This is something I recommend whether you have kids or not, but man, having these made packing for them so much easier! I’m talking LIFESAVER!! Or maybe sanity saver! Either way, you need these in your life! I HIGHLY recommend packing cubes to divide up all the clothes between the kids.
Here’s how I use them: I dedicate three cubes to each kiddo. The medium or the small ones do just fine since their clothes are so much smaller and fold up to be pretty tiny. You can also do a big one for each kid, but that ended up being a little more messy if I wanted to just pull out one thing, so it was more organized if I did three per child.
- One for pajamas, socks, and underwear
- One for shirts, tops, dresses
- One for pants, leggings, shorts, sweaters etc.
After you’ve got these packed, write down what the contents were of each one on your phone. Why you ask? When you pack and move hotels or are heading home, refer back to that list and put those same clothing items back into the ones you wrote down. It’ll save you SO MUCH TIME for packing up in your hotel! Trust me on this one…seems time consuming, but SO WORTH IT.
These are really helpful for packing things that take up a lot of room like jackets! Stick them in these, and push all the air out so they fold up real small! I also used them to pack night time diapers! Rolled each diaper up, and put them in these so they would take up less room in the suitcase. Another great way to use them is to put things in them that need to be constrained, but don’t really have a space… mine was coloring and activity books for the kids. I put them all in one, and it was nice to be able to just pull it out of our carry-on so that you’re not holding all their activities separately while trying to get situated on the plane!
Next up, I’m gonna talk about the few toys we take on trips! We don’t take a lot of toys to be honest…I’ll take a car or two for Rishi since he’s obsessed with cars. They’ll both get their one stuffed animal that they sleep with at night. And really aside from that, I take activities. Things for the planes, trains, hotels, etc.
1// Crayons, Markers, and Paper
This is a must for my kids. This doesn’t even apply necessary to travel. I try to keep this ALL THE TIME! They are always up for drawing and coloring so I always take a tub full of crayons for both of them to share in a sterilite box!
I know a lot of people might judge me for taking things for screen time, but I’m ok with it. We had a 10 hour flight, and I knew if I wanted myself and the kids to enjoy our vacation, our kindle fires were going to come with us! They obviously don’t watch it the whole time, nor do they want to. But I love having the option! Also, we would take it with us on our outings during the day in case we went somewhere that was a little quieter. They’d play a game or watch a quick show and then we’d continue sight seeing! Now, I’m a mother that is ok with this…feel free to skip this one if this isn’t you!
I highly recommend some kid headphones so that you don’t hurt their little ears! After trying several brands, we landed on these as our faves!
This is one that we absolutely love! All you need is water, and you’re set! You can only paint with water on these, and they dry pretty fast so you can re-use within minutes!
I’ve always loved carrying stickers with me when I travel, but having these is so much better! They can re-use so many times and with the different sceneries, it definitely kept them busy! Only downside is that they are rather large, but I was ok with it since I knew that my kiddos would love to have this as an activity!
Last but not least, puzzles. We take these little ones that are in a tin box so that they are easy to pack, easy to throw in a backpack as you’re sightseeing, easy to pull out on a restaurant table while you wait for your food to come. We take about 6 of these, I rotate them as we head out for each day! I don’t love these for the plane because if you lose a piece because it fell in between the seats/etc. you could potentially have an unhappy kiddo on your hands!
The last thing I want to talk about is random things I’ve picked up along the way as we’ve traveled over the last 5 years.
- Keep your schedules and itineraries loose. – You never know when your kids will get sick, or something will happen that will not let you actually get out and sight see. I know the first instinct is to get frustrated, but after all they are kids, and if you keep your schedule loose, you can shift things around so that you can still sightsee later in the week potentially. We kept a list of things we wanted to see while we traveled. I had made three columns… (1) must see, (2) good to see, (3) we’ve done it all. What that meant was that I had to prioritize what we actually saw so that when there’s a good day, you know exactly what you’re heading out to do! We also planned on having chill days to let the kids rest, and have some downtime so that they aren’t cranky from being out and about while jetlagged.
- Take activities or ipads/kindles to restaurants. – You could potentially be against this but there were plenty of times where there were long waits to get food, and they were too little to understand that it was going to take a little bit of time to get the food. BAM…pull out those gadgets and activities to keep them occupied!
- Pack pull-ups to put in your backpack when you sight see. – This could gross you out, but we don’t get a huge warning when our son needs to pee. I think we have MAX of 5 minutes to find a bathroom, and even that could be pushing it! We kept some pull ups in our purses/backpacks so that if there was an emergency, we could at least slip one on to let them pee, and then be able to throw it away.
- Keep snacks on you. – Head to the closest grocery store or something to stock up on a few things. I don’t know about you, but my kids seem to always be hungry. So we would keep all sorts of things in our backpacks/purses as we walked around to make sure that hunger wasn’t something that would be an issue with the kids!
- Naps are your friend. – I highly suggest taking naps if possible! For both you and the kids! If it was feasible, we would return to our hotel to just relax or take naps. The kids would get re-energized, and be ready for the second half of the day. The dinner would go much more smoothly, and the kids were able to stay up late no problem! If it was harder to come back, we would sit somewhere and potentially let the kids sleep on us to take cat naps and get recharged. It was crucial to maintain those good moods and keep the crankiness at bay!
- Incorporate “kid fun” into the sightseeing. – This one is probably most important. Maybe your kids are into staring at art at a museum…mine are not. For us, it was the journey that was the most exciting. I’m not sure they gathered how epic it was to be at the top of the mountain in Switzerland, but the gondolas and the boat rides were something they are still talking about. When we are on Mt.Pilatus, there was a playground along the way, and we made sure to stop there because we knew that would be one of the coolest things ever to do with the kids! A playground on top of a mountain?! Even I’m game for that! Instead of taking a hop on/hop off bus, we opted a guided tuk-tuk around the city of Lisbon, and my kids had a blast while we still got to see and here the history of the cool city. My point is to maybe see it from their point of view and figure out what they will enjoy. It’ll help create a more fun excursion and a very memorable trip!
I guarantee these tips and things will make your trip go much smoother!! Pin to save and share!!