Tips For Traveling With Kids

January 30, 2023 9 min read

Dreaming of traveling with kids, but not sure it is a good idea? Or looking for some family travel tips that will help you plan a truly unforgettable trip that the whole family will enjoy? Then read on!

Here are our top family traveling tips for traveling with kids.

Don’t Postpone It

First, let me tell you, there is no good reason to postpone your life and your travels until the kids get older. Not one good reason.

Don’t wait to travel until your kids are “old enough to remember.” If you would apply the same thinking to all childhood experiences, you wouldn’t do much with your children when they are young.

Travel when you can, as soon as you can, and as often as you can. Not only will you have great experiences and memories together, but you will stimulate your kids' interest in the world, encourage them to appreciate other cultures, and help them to be more open to new adventures in life.

Remember, you can still travel with your children when they are older. You just don’t have to wait that long to start.

Adjust Your Expectations

When traveling with kids, especially when they are young, you have to adjust your expectations and plan your trips with kids in mind.

Maybe you haven’t traveled much yet and are dreaming of finally taking your family on a nice trip. Or, it could be just the opposite: you have seen half the world before you had kids and now can’t wait to take your young children to the other side of the world.

I guess you know by now that nothing is quite the same when you have kids. This also applies to travel. Traveling with children is just not the same. As long as you understand this, and are willing to adapt to your new travel companions and their interests, you will have just as much fun traveling as a family as when you traveled on your own or as a couple before.

However, here’s what adjustment might look like: don’t take the kids to visit the most beautiful churches of Europe or on a temple tour of Asia. Long city trips and museum visits are too tiring and boring for young children. Young children have to be able to move, to play, to discover new things their own way. They need to be able to touch, to feel, to taste. Kids also need a lot of rest, and they need a certain routine in order to feel happy and safe. Make sure that you take all these factors in account when preparing any trip with kids.

Prepare Your Kids for the Trip

When traveling with kids, make sure to start preparing your kids for the trip in advance. Get them excited about the destination by telling them what they will see and do there, maybe get some age appropriate books or show some pictures of the destination.

Though it makes no sense to tell your 2-year-old child that he will be going to New Zealand in a year from now, a 10-year-old may spend months reading all he can find about Australian wildlife, and it will be like having a walking Wikipedia with you on your trip. The more the children know about the upcoming trip, the more excited they will be about it. They will be looking forward to it just as much as you are, and will be invested in not just the experience itself, but the preparations as well.

Plan in Advance

If you want a truly relaxing and fun trip for everyone, plan your family trip well in advance.

If you have plenty of time or don’t really care where you stay and whether you will be able to see the most worthwhile places, then you can go without any plan, of course. However, it’s a real challenge to find affordable rooms to accommodate four or more people in many places. Furthermore, it can get almost impossible to find suitable accommodations if you travel during school holidays and don’t book well in advance.

So figure out your itinerary, book your flights, accommodations, and reserve a car in advance. You might not need to have every day and every detail figured out, but having the basics in place can ensure a smooth trip. And once the basics are there, your older kids can help you start to figure out which activities they would like to do during the trip. Teach them how to look for nearby adventures, map things out, figure out pricing, and even restaurant plan.

Travel Light

One of our top family travel tips is not to overpack. Long family road trips can turn into a nightmare if you take too much luggage. Not only will you have difficulties squeezing it into your car everyday, but it will take you ages to find something. Also, your chances of losing something are always higher when you have more stuff. Pack only what you really need.

Pack smart and you will be surprised at how little you actually need!

Know How to Beat Jet Lag

When traveling over multiple time zones with kids, you really have to prepare for jet lag and plan on how you’ll deal with it. The best way to deal with jet lag is to start adjusting to the new time as soon as you land. Usually it means staying up late on the first day. But have you ever tried to keep a tired baby awake? Right! So look for ways to deal with jet lag and the time difference that will actually work for your family.

Remember that it’s much easier to keep the kids awake if you stay active and do something outdoors: go explore the city, take the kids to a playground, go to a park, take a short walk.

Oh, and when you are out and about, don’t forget to stop by a local store and get some snacks. The chances are pretty big that children (or you) will get hungry in the middle of the night.

Take a Road Trip

Being on a road trip means that you have plenty of variation without any significant effort. You see many new places everyday and have all kinds of exciting experiences along the way.

Try to plan your family road trip in such a way that you definitely get to visit the main landmarks you really want to see, and then fill the gaps with stops at the places which catch your eye along the way.

We have taken so many amazing road trips with kids and it’s our favorite way to travel as a family. You see so much, can stop when and where you want to, pack what you need (and always have it with you), and plan some great stops that the whole family will enjoy.

Limit Driving Times and Fly the Long Distances

Now that we told you how great road trips are, we’re telling you to fly instead. Confusing? Well, road trips are great with kids, but they’re only fun if you don’t have to spend the entire day in the car. So if you have to cover some really big distances for multiple days in a row, definitely consider flying instead.

We try to avoid long driving days unless absolutely necessary. More than 2-3 hours in a car in one go can be too much to handle for little kids. Sometimes it’s best to fly the long distance and then rent a car for the road trip once you get to the destination.

Foresee Enough Variation

Variation is probably the most important factor for a successful family trip. Kids get tired and bored quickly. Avoid this by keeping them busy and engaged.

If you foresee enough variation in your activities, you can travel pretty much anywhere with kids of any age.

Go to the local market. Go to the beach. Take the kids to see some animals. Visit some historic ruins. Climb a tower. Do some water sports. Go on a boat (kids love boats). Do a desert ride on a camel. Visit a museum (definitely stick one or two into your trip). Take a hike. Eat at a fancy restaurant for dinner. Find a snack at a food truck. You get the idea. Variety is the spice of life.

Consider other ways to bring variety to your trip as well with different types of accommodations, various means of transport, and don’t forget local food. Kids are surprisingly open to new experiences. Mind you, they can be difficult about the food at home, but on the road, they eat pretty much anything.

Let the Kids Play

Kids, and especially young kids, are pretty much single-minded. They want to play! So give them the time and the space to do that when you’re traveling.

Look for accommodation with a garden pool, go to a child-friendly restaurant once in a while, stop at playgrounds. Play games in the car or on the plane or train. Play games while you hike. Play, play, and when you are tired play some more.

Look for Animals

When traveling with kids, make sure to look for animals. When it comes to animals and kids, any kind of animal is better than no animal. They’ll even play with a snail on the pavement.

Young kids love to see animals. While some destinations like Yellowstone, Australia, or Africa are perfect for wildlife, it might be less evident in some other places. However, remember that feeding ducks or chasing pigeons might be just as exciting for your children as seeing an elephant.

Stick to the Routine

This is very important when traveling with your smaller kids, but less important as they get older. When traveling with young children, try to keep the same routine as at home (as much as possible, of course).

When traveling, try to keep the same habits that you have at home, especially the ones related to going to bed in the evening. For example, we always read stories to our kids before going to bed after they take a bath or shower. No matter where we are, we keep the bedtime reading routine.

Kids feel safe and more relaxed this way and they know what to expect. They also sleep better, which is a win for everyone.

Visit Nature Destinations

Traveling with family can be very expensive, but there are ways to make it as expensive or as thrifty as you want it to be. One of the best ways to keep your family’s travel budget under control is to visit nature destinations.

Furthermore, it’s so much more relaxed in nature than it is in cities or theme parks. There are no large crowds of strangers where your kids could get lost, and no souvenir shops and other expensive distractions behind every corner. Enjoy all that nature has to offer. The most glorious things are often the ones that don’t cost anything at all.

You don’t have to do every excursion that’s available in the area, often you don’t have to do any at all. Go hiking and take a picnic with you, a great time guaranteed.

Don’t Buy Souvenirs (or get just one)

One of the biggest challenges when traveling with kids is that they want you to buy something all the time.

We know how difficult it is for kids to just look at something without buying it, and especially so on a trip where you see all kinds of new and irresistible items everywhere you go. But you really have to resist the temptation, especially when it comes to buying souvenirs. Once you start, there might be no end to it.

On top of that, things get lost, they get broken, and the worst is that they take up space in your luggage during the trip.

Pro tip: Tell your kids that they can choose one item to buy on the very last day of the trip. That saves a lot of whining, endless discussions, and money. By the end of a vacation they usually have a better idea of what they really want and they have something to keep them busy at the airport or on the plane or car ride home.

Want to Buy Something? Get Binoculars

If you want to get your kids something special, get them a pair of small binoculars.

Some people advise buying a small digital camera for your kids, and while that may be a good idea for older children, we wouldn’t give it to a 4-year-old unless you want them to take a thousand photos of their feet.

We always pack binoculars for any trip. It’s one of the cheapest and most useful travel gadgets you can get your kids of any age.

Live in the Moment and Enjoy

And the most important of all the family travel tips we can give you is to relax and enjoy your trip and time with your family.

Live the moment, embrace new experiences, try new things, get out of your comfort zone, and make ever-lasting memories with your kids. That’s what traveling with your family is all about!


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