10 Tips for Traveling With Children

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Disney World Yacht Club ResortWith the spring break and summer vacation around the corner there will be a lot of us traveling with family and children. I thought it was the perfect time to offer a guest post from Travel Expert and Mom, Nicole Hockin of the Travel Smart Blog.

Nicole Hockin’s 10 tips for traveling with children

1. Pack light: Bring only the essentials. The more you bring, the more you have to keep up with and the heavier the bags. Kids can require a lot of stuff: car seats, strollers, cribs, high chairs. Check out http://www.babysaway.com/ where you can rent gear instead of packing it all. Some car rental companies also rent child safety seats and some hotels offer childproof rooms or cribs upon request. Call ahead and find out which items you can cut from your packing list.

2. Expect the unexpected: Not to contradict tip #1, but make sure you have plenty of what you need in your carry-on: diapers, wipes (which are great for a multitude of things), medications, change of clothes, snacks, and a secret coloring book.

3. Bring toys and games – quiet ones: Be sure to bring something to keep everyone entertained, but leave the singing Barneys and beeping video games at home. You and everyone else will be glad you did. Backpacks for each child: Toddler or teen – give each child his own backpack to carry with their chosen toys/books/etc. The catch is if they pack it, they carry it. Trust me, one heavy backpack experience and they’ll learn just how much to take to Grandma’s.

** Parents Note: check the backpacks to make sure there are not any toys with water elements (ex. a toy train car) or Play-Doh (TSA considers this a potential explosive device.)  as they will be confiscated.

4. Car seats: Do NOT count as checked luggage on any airline. You will NOT be charged. Get yourself a durable car seat cover and check it for your trip.  Nicole’s secret tip: when your suitcase is over 50 lbs, avoid the overweight fees and stick some of those extra clothes in the car seat bag.

5. Airplane seats: If your child is under the age of two, then he/she technically does NOT need a paid seat on the plane. Be prepared to prove your child’s age. I.E. – birth certificate. I recommend that you purchase a seat for your infant once the child is mobile (even if he’s only one year) especially for flights over 2 hours in length. The airplane seat allows them their own space to wiggle and dramatically reduces on-board melt-downs.

6. TSA Security Screening can really delay you if you aren’t prepared. Know this: medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Babies do have to take off their shoes, too. So go for velcro on travel day. Plan ahead!  Practice getting that stroller broken down quickly!

7. Eat breakfast where kids eat free and split meals. This can mean an enormous saving for a family of four or larger. Children are many times too excited or tired to eat much at a time. Restaurants that are kid friendly are more than happy to accommodate special requests for extra plates. Many do free meals for kids (with the purchase of an adult meal) on different days of the week.

8. Bring your own stroller. If you’re going to visit theme parks then this can save you $7 to $30 (for a double) a day in rental fees.

9. Bring along individual refillable water bottles. These can be refilled at the hotel and at restaurants around your destination. A family of four could easily spend $20 or more a day just buying water.

10. The most important tip of all is to be flexible. Lines will be long, traffic will be heavy, flights will be delayed and children (and adults) will get grumpy.  But with just a little planning and an open mind, you’ll survive and enjoy another family vacation.

Thanks for the great tips, Nicole! These will definitely come in handy this holiday season.

What about you? Do you have a favorite family travel tip?

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  1. Maralea says:

    These are some wonderful tips! I am going to pass these on to my daughter who has two boys age 4 and 9 months. She will find these very helpful.

  2. Heather Hayes Panjon says:

    Great Tips, Expect The Unexpected To My Motto When Traveling! :)

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  4. Vikki Billings says:

    These are great tips and I learned some new information, like that the car seat does not count as checked luggage. I can’t wait to put these tips to use this summer on vacation.

  5. Great tips! Especially bringing your own water bottle. Those ones with a filter are life savers at amusement parks.

  6. Thanks for the tips it’s sometimes hard to travel with little kids but older kids it’s more convenient because they can do a lot of other things my son is 5 the last trip we went on was about 3 hours not that bad but he slept most of the ride and my mom has an ipad2 so he was occupied with that as well LOL

  7. Alison Matalanis says:

    Very helpful tips. One other tip about traveling internationally. All children (even lap infants) need a passport. A birth certificate for international travel is not enough.

  8. Love the second part of number four! Great idea.

  9. Michelle S says:

    Thanks for breaking it down to 10 tips!

  10. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Christina Strapp says:

    Great tips, thank you for sharing.

  12. Take breaks! Most kids can’t go go go like adults. They have shorter legs and get tired fast. It’s totally worth a break to go back to the room and rest and even nap for an hour and then get back at it.

  13. Thanks for all the great tips!

  14. I didn’t know about the carseats!

  15. Thank you for the great tips, I haven’t traveled anywhere with my daughter yet outside of a handful of miles.

  16. I love tip #2. Expect the unexpected. So true!! If is hard enough now a days to travel but traveling with kids is even harder. They always get tired and bored long before you do.

  17. Debby Chandler says:

    thanks for the great tips, very helpful.

  18. Great tips! On our trip last year I brought our own stroller and I couldn’t be happier i did the places we went to charged an insane amount to rent one

  19. The TSA tip can’t be overstated! As often as I travel, I STILL forget some things aren’t cool, and traveling with others, especially kids, really complicates that.

  20. Pack a cooler of snacks. You never know when the kids might need a granola bar or piece of fruit.

  21. Crystal Warren says:

    Being flexible is my main tip to anyone and to give yourself time on your trip to be flexible…give an extra hour or two on the drive times that way if the kids or you see something interesting and want to stop you’re not constantly looking at your watch and trying to adhere to some constricting timetable that never works out anyway! Getting there is always more than half the fun in my opinion!

  22. Water bottles & quiet games are the best tips.

  23. We like to bring night lights for the hotel room.

  24. saminder gumer says:

    thanks for the great tips. i do most of them already, but some are new to me.

  25. Ashley Nolan says:

    Have sanitizer, snacks, juice and spare clothes on a trip kids can be messy!

  26. Joni Mason says:

    We always try to take snacks, drinks and lunch food items on a road trip. It saves time and money to having to stop for these items. Also, we can have a light lunch or late night snack and we get get to spend that saved money on more fun things to do. Thanks for sharing these great tips!

  27. Travel with plenty of snacks. Ha!

  28. We travel to VA from MT twice a year and it never gets easier lol I pack LOTS of snacks!

  29. Elisabeth says:

    I second the packing light! Do you really need that extra pair of shoes? ;)

  30. Jennifer Marie says:

    I like the part where you said bring quiet games! that’s so true-games are good but if they are loud you will go crazy!! :)

  31. Susan Smith says:

    Great tips, It’s been a while since we traveled with young children but I remember brings a lot of snacks and activitied to keep them busy, especially while waiting in the airport.

  32. april yedinak says:

    My best tip is to plan for some way for the kids to blow off steam during long car rides. Stop more often, especially at places that have a park or playland. Somewhere that the kids can burn some energy.

  33. I just wish we had the handheld games back when we traveled with little ones. Really keeps them absorbed.

  34. These are some great tips! Thanks for posting these.

  35. We ALWAYS travel with portable, individually packaged non-perishable snacks. This began when our oldest was diagnosed with a variety of life-threatening food allergies and has now become a way of life.

  36. A secret trip bag with a variety of new toys books games thingies….(trade show swag like flashlights is the best stuff for this. And free.) You pull out a new thing when the going gets rough. Novelty wears fast though….keep your cell battery charged for angry birds!

  37. Karen Propes says:

    Really great tips, especially going early. The delays are horrible for the kids, hard to explain why it takes so long. The toys are great, but always have back up toys, as I found out.(lol). I have added your tips to my notebook, to help remind me when we go on our next trip. Thank goodness for computers and lists, really helps the brain say ahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Happy Family Traveling.

  38. Great tips! Thanks for sharing! Traveling with kids needs a good planning in advance.

  39. We leave Tuesday for vacation- great tips! Thanks :)

  40. I would add, plan some downtime in your vacation. If you try to cram too many activities in, the kids end up cranky and nobody enjoys themselves. With little ones, less is more.

  41. We always bring a pack of post-it notes for the sensors on the automatic flush toilets. When have toddlers still trying to figure out potty training, the last thing you want is a automatic toilet scaring the bejesus out of your child.Just put the post-it note on the sensor when you enter the stall.

  42. We’re contemplating a trip to Hawaii with or kids who will be 1 yr & 3 1/2 years. Have you done any long-distance travel with your kids?

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