One if by land, two if by sea. That’s about the number of cocktails you’ll require when you travel with kids. (And, that’s PER kid.) That’s why you need a vacation strategy this year, Mama. Whether you’re planning a multi-city globe-trotting tour, a road trip across a couple of states, or boarding a a plane with your tribe, follow these kid travel tips to keep them engaged and your sanity intact.
1. Set Expectations
We all know new environments and schedules can throw kids for a loop, so give them plenty of time and info to get ready. Get them excited about your vacation destination through picture books or online videos. If this is their first time on a plane, talk through the process of security lines, boarding, and taking off, so they’ll know what to expect.
2. Give Yourself Extra Time
Last-minute rushing to catch a train or flight is stressful. Dragging kicking and screaming kids along is soul-crushing. Leave extra time to get to the airport or wake up a few minutes early to enjoy a leisurely breakfast if you have to get on the road by a certain time.
3. Don’t Overpack
Trust us, your kids will not need every stuffed animal they own on this trip. Bring the essentials like the kids travel bags, but embrace a “less is more” approach, because the last thing you want to do is throw your back out lugging around heavy suitcases of things you don’t need. Unless you’re traveling to the Australian Outback, you can probably pick up anything you forgot.
4. Bring Entertainment
A vacation requiring long stretches of car or plane time is the perfect excuse to temporarily throw your screen-time rules out the window. Preload tablets with new and favorite shows, movies, and educational apps. Just remember to do it before you leave your home Wi-Fi! And don’t forget those travel games for kids.
5. Surprise Them With Gifts
Head off meltdowns with strategically-timed presents of new toys or books. Hey, a little bribery never hurt anyone.
6. Snacks, Snacks, And More Snacks
Did we mention snacks? Behold the powerful distracting capabilities of Goldfish, Cheerios, or fruit snacks. Some carefully curated finger foods will cure their hangriness — and yours.
7. Stroll Lightly
Consider picking up a lightweight travel stroller before your trip. Your regular stroller might be too bulky and heavy to lug around during travel.
8. Plan Perfectly
Back in your backpacking days, you probably hit 10 landmarks before sunset, but good luck doing that with kids in tow. Keep expectations low and don’t over plan. Try to schedule activities in the morning when younger kids have the most energy and don’t schedule stuff back to back.
Create a travel strategy that keeps the energy levels high and the number of tantrums low. And don’t book a single ticket ’til you invest in these critical globe-trotting kid essentials.
Freestanding Case For iPads
This foam holder with freestanding legs holds iPads steady for little kids and makes them indestructible from tantrum-induced violence. One staffer even said hers survived a three-story fall off a balcony. (We’re assuming the kid was ok, too.)
Light Up Cat Earphones with Bluetooth
Avoid pissing off everyone around you by keeping your kids’ Baby Shark addiction under wraps. Your kiddos will love the light-up cat ear design, you’ll love the bluetooth and fold-up capabilities, and your traveling companions will love not having to listen to Peppa Pig episodes on repeat.
Kids Travel Rolling Bag
Your kiddos will be so excited to start jet-setting with this kids travel bag. Looks sleek, feels lightweight, and fits all their stuff. That’s just how they roll.
Snack Containers with Built-in Ice Packs
No more soggy, squishy plastic bags that rip and drip into the bottom of your purse. These are great for keeping healthy snacks like fruit and veggies fresh and intact.
Munchkin Snack Containers
These spillproof containers fit in most car and carseat holders and have soft plastic flaps that allow easy access for chubby toddler fingers. Fill ’em with cheerios, blueberries, wasabi peas..whatever gets them through the trip.
Yum Earth Organic Lollipops
Consider these your ripcord for when the shit hits the fan. And if lollipops are organic, gluten-free and non-GMO, they can’t be bad for you, right?
Reusable Color with Water Pads
Got some budding artists? The pictures in these pads magically color when painted with the water-filled pen. Not only is this an easy, mess-free way to color and keep them busy, but it’s reusable! Once the pad is dry, it’s like a BRAND NEW picture. (Hey, we won’t tell if you don’t.)
Melissa & Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Pad
Stickers are back and cooler then ever. These reusable stickers are the perfect travel games for kids — they provide hours of fun and are great for fine motor skill and hand-eye coordination development.
Colorful Pipe Cleaners
Kick it old school with easy-to-pack pipe cleaners! Kids love bending, shaping, and twisting them into colorful crafts. Bonus: they’re lightweight and easy to pack.
Kids Travel Bed and Foot Rest
If a long plane ride is on your itinerary, this blow-up pillow works for kids of all ages – as a bed or a foot rest. It’s lightweight and easy to inflate. And, what the hell — it’s cheap enough to get another one for you to use, too!
Kids Travel Bed
“When I travel, I love bringing along and setting up blow-up mattresses every night,” said no one ever. This cute cot has a super easy set-up, is lightweight (6.3 lbs!) and holds kiddos up to 75 pounds!
Zarbee’s Children’s Melatonin
Sure, we’d all love our kids to conk out on cue and sleep soundly during overnight flights, but drugging them can be unpredictable and risky. Stick with melatonin instead. It’s a safe, effective, and drug-free way to get your kids the rest they need. Also good for jet lag!
Summer Infant 3D Lite Umbrella Stroller
Pack this super lightweight, and fully reclinable stroller for naps on the go. 2K 5-star reviews on Amazon can’t be wrong, Mama.
Now, put these travel tips to use, Mama! Check out our fave fun destinations for families: