Super Helpful Tips on How to Travel With Kids

Who's afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, with these super helpful tips from family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies.

The next generation of travellers is embarking on trips and travel with kids. A new study by Expedia indicates that millennials are seeking authentic and genuine travel experiences that they can share with their friends and family. Many millennial travelers are just as adventurous as the rest of us, if not more so, and they have money to pay for little (and big) luxuries.

However, some members of this generation with young families are slightly anxious about travelling with their wee ones. They’re worried about risk, safety, convenience and whether kids will cramp their trip style. All valid concerns for any new, young parent. But having kids doesn’t mean the end of travel. It’s the beginning of a whole new way of travel.

 “Adventure is worthwhile.”  – Aesop

So who’s afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, young traveller! Not with these super helpful tips from experienced family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies.

Travel with Babies and Toddlers

1. Pack For Emergencies

When packing your diaper bag for a plane ride with a baby or toddler, pack it in anticipation of a disaster (vomiting, diaper explosion etc.). While such a situation may occur only rarely, it is empowering to have the tools you need (extra clothes, wipes) to handle it with confidence!
Tara CannonPint Size Pilot

2. Really – Pack for Emergencies!

Here’s my (hard-learned) tip: Pack double the diapers, wipes, ziploc baggies and clothes you think you’ll need for air travel. Air pressure changes cause gas, and gas causes blowouts.
Dia AdamsThe Deal Mommy

Who's afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, with these super helpful tips from family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies.

Create family travel memories that you’ll remember forever, even if she doesn’t. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Book Flight Times that Work

When my kids were babies, I knew they were far too nosy to sleep on planes, even if I booked our flights for their usual nap times. So, when I was able to, I scheduled our flights for times I knew they’d be the most cheerful; for us, that was first thing in the morning. However, even red eyes can be ok with babies and toddlers with some preparation. Follow your usual bedtime routine–jammies, stories, bottle or nurse–and keep distractions to a minimum. If they have a special blanket or lovey, make sure you have it on board (and guard it with your life!)
Corinne McDermottHave Baby Will Travel

Who's afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, with these super helpful tips from family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies.

Heading off on a new adventure with baby. Credit: Globetotting

3. Buy a Seat For Baby

If you’re booking air travel, purchase a seat for your toddler. We’re now travelling with a toddler in tow. And not just any old toddler; a tall, solid, energetic 19-month-old. I did one long-haul flight where I shared my seat with him and vowed never to do so again. Pay for the extra seat if you can, even if you are not obliged to by the airline. You’ll all arrive happier, (relatively) more rested and ready to start your holiday.
Katja GaskellGlobetotting

4. Stay in the Zone

If it’s your first time travelling with baby or toddler, try to pick a place that is in the same time zone. This way you don’t have to worry about adjusting sleeping patterns when you leave or when you get back.
Christina Wagar – Wandering Wagers

5. Choose Accommodation Wisely

My best piece of advice for families travelling with babies or toddlers is to make comfortable accommodation a priority. A little extra space, whether it be two connecting rooms or an outdoor patio to potter and play, often means you will be able to relax after the baby is asleep.  On our first trip with our son, we didn’t think this way and ended up spending our evenings in our room, in the dark, reading with a nightlight for fear of waking him! We have learned from it and now family holidays are our favourite way of spending time together.
Marta CorrealeLearning Escapes

Who's afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, with these super helpful tips from family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies.

Full-time travel is the way we roll. Credit: Crazy Family Adventures

Travel with Young Children – Ages 2 – 5 Years

6. Do Your Research

Spend some time exploring places online before you travel so kids can understand where they’re going. They’ll be less overwhelmed if they know they have “seen” it before. This is especially helpful for kids who struggle with changes in bedtime routine — you can walk through the routine while looking at photos of the hotel bathroom and bedroom to help prepare them for the adventure.
Karen Dawkins – Family Travels on a Budget

7. Pack a Backpack Carrier

If you are planning on doing a lot of walking or hiking, exploring a location, or visiting museums, I recommend bringing a backpack carrier. We still put our 4 year old in one when we go hiking. It is a great way for them to feel connected to you and allows you to go further then you could if they were walking on their own. Plus it is much easier to manage then a stroller! We use an Ergo. Yes, our son is out of the weight range but it still works great!
Bryanna RoyalCrazy Family Adventure

Who's afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, with these super helpful tips from family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies.

A Trunki roller is perfect for kid-friendly air travel. Credit: Pint Size Pilot

8. Make Packing Easy

My advice would be to not let your kids pack their own bags. I’ve seen too many families giving each child a bag to carry and that just slows everyone down! Streamline the process and organize the necessities into large plastic bags and put them into one larger bag for mom or dad to carry. This way they can easily be found during a plane or car ride. When things are organized by child or by category (electronics, toys, snacks, etc.) into individual pouches, it makes everything a lot easier to locate when you need it.
Kirsten Maxwell – Kids are a Trip

9. Feed the Kids before Dinner

Feed your youngsters a substantial snack or mini-meal before heading to a restaurant for dinner. Taking the edge off of a small child’s hunger will make your entire dining experience more pleasant. Consider bringing a small snack to the restaurant in case it’s a long wait for the food. Pack plenty of quiet activities to occupy your child while waiting in the restaurant. Good choices, depending on ages, are play-doh, crayons, small dolls and cars, and books.
Lisa Grabelle – Hilton Mom Voyage

Who's afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, with these super helpful tips from family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies. | family travel

Will today be a hiking day or beach day? Flexibility is key. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Plan a Trip for Everyone

When traveling with young children you have to adjust your expectations. Take your kids’ interests into account and plan a trip with a variety of activities. It’s great if you can do some different activities every day: spend one day on the beach and go sightseeing the next day; visit a local market, book a scenic boat trip, organize a picnic in the park, see if you can find some animals (animals are always a big success with kids of any age).
Jurga – Full Suitcase

11. Take It Easy

Our top tip is to relax and throw away plans. There’s no need to see it all.  I remember a few days into our first trip with our kids I made everyone miserable because we were always running late. Home or on trips there was still a schedule to keep. We were on the brink of giving it all up, then we tried a different approach: a vacation kind of travel. Now, we sleep in late, we eat pizza at the beach, catch or don’t some nap time when we drive around. I no longer feel guilty for having our breakfast when we should be queuing for the museum. We’ll get there, eventually. If we don’t it means we had found something better.
Inga BaturCoolkidzcooltrips

Who's afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, with these super helpful tips from family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies. | family travel

Family trips are the best. Truth from the mouths of teens. Credit: S Laroye

12. Just Do It

Be adventurous and go for it – travel with your kids. It doesn’t matter whether you pack the car for a long weekend camping in the woods, or stuff that diaper bag full of wipes and extra diapers for the transatlantic flight to visit relatives in Italy or Japan. You will survive the trip, and so will your child. Yes, you may be tired, and yeah, you may not get to read the book you brought. Welcome to parenthood, where your time isn’t your own anymore. But just do it anyway. Creating family travel memories is something that outlasts today’s inconveniences and temper tantrums. The day may come – it did for us – when your 18-year old millennial posts a family selfie on Instagram, declaring to his friends that “Family trips are the best.” We know that we’ve done something right, and that’s worth its weight in gold.

Claudia, The Travelling Mom

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Who's afraid of a baby with a suitcase? Not you, with these super helpful tips from family travel experts on how to travel with kids and babies. | family travel

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Photo Credits: Shutterstock or as noted.

Are you nervous about travelling with your child? Share your questions, tips or comments below.

30 Comments

  • Great tips. Although I disagree about staying in the same time zone. Traveling is really easy when the kids are little. Plus you can take more trips because you don’t have to worry about missing school.

    • Claudia says:

      Yes, very true! We took our first trip to Europe when our wee one was 5 months old – nine time zones away. Apart from a few days of jet lag for everyone, it was a great time to visit with a little one who can’t get away easily. 😉

  • My kids are now grown and in college but I remember taking them all over the place. I absolutely agree that packing and planning are essential. Eisenhower said that plans are worthless but planning is everything. Before kids I thought that meant I could just jet off into the wild without too much thought. After kids, I realized that if I didn’t have a plan to take care of the easy stuff, I didn’t have a framework to modify when things started to break down. (when, not if)

  • Carla says:

    Your kids look cute in the photos! I don’t have one of my own but this sure is helpful for my 2 rowdy nephews when we go on a roadtrip.

  • Meg Jerrard says:

    Great tips! I would also add to have one designated parent or adult in charge of packing, and one in charge of handling important documents throughout the trip. That way there’s no confusion as to who’s got what and who’s done what. Also, checking the bags before loading them into the car for the airport to make sure there are no stowaways that have been snuck in by the kids 😀

  • Hi Claudia,

    Whether traveling with kids or not, taking it easy is my fave advice 😉 Me and my wife plan, but are flexible too. No forcing things. No bucket list to explore, just to tick off list items. Nope. We go with the slow travel flow. And watching our 5 month old niece in the States now we see the value in taking it easy and going with….*her* flow LOL. Babies call the shots. Their world. We’re just in it 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    • Claudia says:

      Thanks so much for your great comments, Ryan. You’re a wise uncle. 😉 Enjoy your niece, and happy travels!

  • Hugo Cura says:

    These don’t apply to me yet but are great tips! I certainly intend to keep on traveling once the kids arrive.

    The pictures are super cute!

  • Jody says:

    I love your tip on buying a seat for the baby. It seems like a lot, but the benefits seem to outweigh the costs.

  • Carol Colborn says:

    Super helpful but I guess, at 68, I am already free to travel without kids. But I do travel with grandkids as long as they are 11 or older!

  • Dana says:

    Lots of great tips! We always pack for emergencies. Usually we don’t need these extra items, but the times that we do, it’s a lifesaver. Feeding the kids before dinner is also a great tip. There’s nothing worse than hungry, grumpy kids.

  • Lillie says:

    As a new parent of two young kids, I am smacking my head “Duh” about the tip, “Feed the kids before dinner.” Brilliant! Thanks!

  • Nancy says:

    Excellent advice! I have been traveling with my kids since they were in Baby Bjorn front carriers. While there might be challenging moments, travel is one of the greatest things you can do for your children.

  • Nancy says:

    Since we are hoping to become first time grandparents in the near future these tips are exactly what we need. Things have changed quite a bit since we used to travel with ours. Love the Trunki roller! I will be bookmarking this page!

    • Claudia says:

      That’s so exciting. Glad to hear that we offered some helpful tips for your future multigenerational trips!

  • Mar Pages says:

    Very organized list 😉 A A Trunki roller is super cute, I’ve seen many people use it! This just gave me an awesome gift idea

  • I don’t have kids, but I know a lot of people that think that they can’t travel because they have kids. It’s such a shame! It’s great to see that so many people are able to do it though. Hopefully you will continue to inspire others to do the same!

    • Claudia says:

      Yes, that’s exactly why we wanted to share experienced perspectives and dispel those fears. Thanks so much for your kind comments.

  • Great and very useful tips, all in one place! Thanks for including ours.

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