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25 Clever Hacks To Make Traveling With Kids Feel More Like A Vacation

We asked our readers for the best parent-approved travel tips, from what to pack to how to survive the hours-long flight or drive.

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Let’s be real: Going on a trip with your kids doesn’t always feel like a vacation. Between packing for an entire family, avoiding meltdowns (or diaper blowouts) on a long flight or road trip, and dealing with inconsistent bedtimes and other routines, it can sometimes feel way more exhausting than relaxing.

We asked our readers on Facebook for their best tips to make traveling with kids easier — and even fun (imagine that!).

When Packing:

“Pack painter's tape and black trash bags to cover bedroom windows! Zero damage and doesn’t take up a ton of space, or you can buy them anywhere when you arrive. (Blocks out light that can wake kids up early.)” – Brandi DaVeiga

“Bring large laundry bags. Dirty clothes go in the laundry bags each night, and the bags go in the suitcases when you leave for home. When you get home, just pull the laundry bags and empty them right into the washer.” – Michele Bultman Tracy

“I take all of our regularly used products (sunscreen, bug lotion, itch cream, etc.) and put them in travel-size bottles. It’s cheaper and easier than trying to find travel sizes of my favorite products.” – Jenna Tagtmeier

“Ziploc baggies take up zero space but are so useful for leftover snacks/food items, soiled items of clothing, and collecting things like shells on the beach.” – Jeanette Maddron

“Bring a full change of clothes for yourself if flying with an infant. I learned that the hard way.” – Alexandra Acker Lyons

“Baby wipes. No matter the ages of your kids, they are good for any kind of clean up.” – Tanya Lyn Hull

“A new toy or activity book. Something they haven’t played with a million times.” – Brittany Tess

“I save goody bag nonsense from birthday parties to bring when traveling with my kids.” – Juliana Jakubson Doggart

“I make pencil case activity kits. I fill with mini puzzles, dolls, cars, coloring sets, etc.” – Jessica Bolden-Kuntz

“Take advantage of baby gear rental services. Trying to pack a Pack 'n Play, high chair, etc. in a car or with you on a plane can be too much stuff.” – Chelsea Darrow

When Flying:

“If you have assigned airline seats, board LAST. Priority boarding just means you get on first, get all situated, and then wait for the rest of the plane to board. Waiting to get on the plane with the last group means little legs can still move and walk around before being stuck in a seat.” – Shvonne Davis

“Fly at off times. The airport is much quieter and easier to navigate later in the evening or early in the morning.” – Arianne Garner

“When flying and in busy places, I dress my kids alike. So much easier to track the same outfits as they are running around or in a public place.” – Kate Jenis Robertson

“Everyone carries their own stuff on the plane. My kids have done this since they were 4, and it made my life traveling as a single mom so much easier.” – Rebekah Obst

“My best flying hack is always to stop at the store before we go and buy little boxes of candy for the flight crew. We stick a note on them, and my son hands them out to the crew as we board. They remember us and LOVE him, and we get the best service every time!” – Liz Ahrens

When Road Tripping:

“If traveling by car with littles, pack a potty chair, plastic bags, and paper towels. It can make a bathroom emergency so much easier. We were stuck in bad traffic, and it was a lifesaver.” – Julie Marie

“Stop at least every two hours for bathroom breaks and to stretch. It gives everyone a chance to get some extra energy out.” – Crystal Lynn Hopkins

“Get internet for your car and just let kids use the devices.” – Karla Absher

“Download the Seek app. It identifies plants and animals, and gives you achievement badges for collecting. If you are traveling to an area far enough from your home that there are different flora and fauna, it makes for a really fun activity.” – Beth Tyler

When You Get To The Destination:

“Do less. I plan one thing a day, and the other half I let the kids have downtime. I think overscheduling is one of the biggest issues with kid travel.” – Kymberly Marie

“We visit the shops on the first day of a trip and then actually get our souvenirs on the last day. That way, the kids can see all their options and think about it a few days before they choose.” – Kymberly Marie

“My kids were early risers, so I would roll their socks, underwear, shirt, and pants together, put a rubber band around it, and label it with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. It was easy for them to get dressed without rummaging through the suitcases, making a mess, or waking me up.” – Kelly Kilburg

“Know where your first meal will be when you arrive. Everyone will be hungry, tired, and cranky, and you will not want to figure that out when you get there.” – Josie Baker Morris

“They may get more time with an iPad and eat more fast food than they normally do. My best advice is to give yourself and your child grace.” – Kendra Ferree

And The Ultimate Tip:

”Leave them with grandparents. 🤣” – Sylvie Sauvé

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.