I’m always looking for clever tips for traveling with kids and so when I saw that my friend, Laura, was vacationing with her two little ones in Italy recently I knew I had to ask her how she does it. I mean, she makes it seem so easy. She travels all the time with her family to really awesome destinations and is really good at finding hidden gems locally.
Believe it that I was super excited when she said she’d reveal her biggest secrets to taking a vacation with kids to ALL of us!
Related: Ten baby gadgets you need for your next trip.
In her own words, here’s Laura’s best tips for traveling with kids:
Laura: I hear it all the time from friends. “I want to take my kids to (fill in the blank) but it’s just too stressful so I’ll wait until they are older or just leave them with the grandparents.” Trust me I understand. Traveling with kids is never easy, but it’s something that is definitely doable. My friend, Courtney Blankers of Courtney Lynn Photography, took our family photos while we were in Italy recently and you can see that with the right preparations it can be so much fun!
I’m not quite sure when my love of travel started or when I decided we’d just bring the kids everywhere we go, but somewhere along the way travel has just become part of who we are as a family. Some of our best family memories are from trips we’ve taken together and I love nothing more than exposing my kids to other cultures. Traveling is a great way to show kids that despite language and cultural differences we are all the same! While our trips are far from perfect I have learned a few things along the way that make things go a bit smoother!
Best Mom Tips for Traveling with Kids
Hopefully these Helpful Tips for Traveling with Kids will make your next family vacation a bit less intimidating!
Plan Destinations with Kids in Mind
This doesn’t mean every trip has to be to Disney, but it does mean that you can’t expect to hit up all the sights in NYC every day for a week straight with kids in tow. Traveling with kids is fun, but have realistic expectations of what you can accomplish each day. We like to alternate between exploring and relaxing, as well as between bigger cities and smaller towns. Kids are going to need more downtime so plan for that accordingly. And speaking of downtime….
Choose Accommodations that Allow for Relaxation
Sure it’s tempting to stay in the trendy hotel in the center of all the attractions, but trust me after a night or two of being cramped in one room with kids fighting, different bedtimes, jetlag, etc space is your friend! We tend to get a separate bedroom for the kids when we can. If that is not possible we at least get a one bedroom with a couch bed. Airbnb is our go to for accommodations and we more times than not find entire houses for less than the cost of a nice hotel room. Whenever possible we also look for places with some outdoor space or a pool so we can really enjoy our downtime.
Don’t Over Pack!
For as long as I can remember, whether we are going for a weekend or for two weeks, we have only taken carry-on bags with us. My husband and I both take small, roller suitcases and we have travel backpacks for each of our boys. (they are in charge of wearing these) I can’t tell you the stress this has saved us. We get straight off the plane and never have to spend time at baggage claim waiting and it’s so nice! It’s so much easier getting from place to place without giant bags weighing us down.
Another helpful tip for traveling with kids is to look for places with a washer and do laundry during our trip once or twice. I also try to wash most of our things before our last day so we don’t come home to an overwhelming amount of dirty clothes!
Flying with Kids
Flying with kids may sound stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! We took our first long flight when my youngest was only 18 months old. Overnight and to Hawaii. Since then the kids have been on more long flights than I can count and for the most part I don’t dread them anymore. I would actually rather be on a long plane ride than a long car trip. A few tips I’ve learned when flying:
- Do your research on the type of plane and what the airlines provide ahead of time: Some airlines don’t even provide a free drink so be sure to prepare for that by bringing things on board.
- Check to see if your plane is equipped with wifi, seatback tvs and power outlets, especially on long flights
- Download wifi free games on phones and ipads
- TSA precheck is worth it’s weight in gold!! No lines at the airport, no taking things out of your bags, no taking shoes off. It makes the entire airport experience SO much less stressful. This is $85 and is good for five years. Kids under 15 do not need to apply.
Take Lots of Pictures!
I’m a North Dallas newborn photographer so this is a given for me but with today’s technology, it’s easy to take memorable photos! There are several great point and shoot cameras on the market that provide high quality images at an affordable price. The GoPro is also a great option because it’s not only extremely small and compact but also waterproof!
Get older kids involved by letting them take photos too! My oldest son used my phone on our last trip to snap photos and even started learning to edit them! He proudly printed them when we returned home and added them to his travel album! When you return home take the time to print your photos to an album so you have them to always look back on. My favorite is ZNO.com for high quality and reasonably priced albums.
Be Flexible When Traveling with Kids
Remember things are not going to always go as you envisioned. We recently got back from Italy with our two boys. We started out in Rome and after exploring some smaller towns for the next 10 days, we were scheduled to fly out of Florence late in the evening of our last day. I had heard nothing but amazing things about Florence so I’d planned to spend our entire last day there exploring.
Well no surprise after 10 days of go go go I knew that dragging those kids through a big city on the day we were flying home, with no hotel to rest in, would have been quite possibly my worst idea ever. So we rerouted our trip through a small town, enjoying our last day leisurely with pasta and gelato. It’s important to have a plan in mind, but be flexible to change that is needed for your own sanity!
And you know what? While we missed out on seeing Florence we had the BEST meal of the entire trip that day, so sometimes being flexible has it’s advantages.
I feel so much more confident about traveling with my kids now that I’ve read my friend’s, Laura’s, awesome Tips for Traveling with Kids and Family. And now…I’m craving a scenic Italy family vacation and gelato!
Traveling with kids? The check out these car activities for toddlers!
Do you love traveling with kids? We’d love to hear your best vacation tips!