Top Travel Tips To Survive Travelling With Kids!

With the help of these top travel tips, you’ll be having holiday family fun in no time…

Top Travel Tips To Survive Travelling With Kids!

Travelling with children is nothing to fear – you just need to get organised, and plan ahead before your trip – particularly when flying!

Over the last few years, and several trips with the kids (and a whole lot of trial and error!) later, I’ve worked out quite a few tips and tricks along the way – I just wish I’d known them a whole lot earlier!

So hopefully here I can save you some trial and error of your own, and help you and your family get to your destination just a bit more rested and happy – or at least, not completely losing the parenting-plot!

Here are my top travel tips for travelling with children…

A quick travel check-list…Essentials list icon

First-off, here’s a check-list of some not-so-obvious essentials that you may not have already thought of…

  • Sign your whole family up to your air-carrier frequent flyer scheme – we’ve been with Virgin Velocity for years, and you can pool your family points together!
  • If you’re shopping for new luggage, try to buy suitcases with four castor wheels on the bottom – they are much easier to move, and even a child can push one easily!
  • Take along kid’s travel pillows with a loop sewn on to hang off your carry-ons – these can have many uses, such as a security toy/pillow for children, a foot-rest for adults, an ipad rest, etc.
  • Pack some gummie lollies in your carry-on for the kids to chew on during take off and landing to help keep their ears unblocked – for babies, a dummy or bottle will do the trick
  • Buy a phone charger case for an instant push-button battery boost – smart phones have so many uses now, including checking-in – and a (parent life-saving) kid’s video game back-up!
  • Always keep hand sanitiser, wet-wipes and tissues in your bag – public toilets can be…basic!

Child-safety travel tips…

Get some safety habits firmly in place before you go anywhere to help keep your child safe during your trip – and beyond! Here are our family safety basics….

Mobile phone icon

Teach your child to memorise your mobile number

If your child can sing a nursery rhyme, then they can memorise your mobile phone number – sing or chant it in the car before you travel, and teach them that this is what they need to tell someone offering to help them if they are lost. It may be wise to also write your phone number onto a younger child’s arm in marker – just in case!

 

Lost child - don't move!Teach your child to stop and wait

It’s vitally important to teach your kids that if if they lose you anywhere, they should stop where they are and wait for you to find them. Teach them that you will never leave the building or area they have become lost in without them, and that they must never leave with anyone else – ever.

 

Hold hands icon

Hold your child’s hand in public places

Hold your child’s hand in public places – even older children if you are in crowded, unfamiliar territory. They may think it’s “uncool”, but explain to them that it’s a family travel rule to help keep everyone together and safe.

For times when your hands may be full, such as moving through the airport with your baggage, attach a handled strap to your bag for your young child to hold onto. Teach them that they must not let go! Toy-backpacks with a lead attached can be great travel accessory to take along for adventurous toddlers too.

Distractions are everywhere when you travel, but it’s much harder to lose a child that is attached to you in some way!

Getting-ready-to-go travel tips…

Un-met goals icon

Get real! Setting realistic trip goals

Sometimes, goals may not be reached

Sometimes, goals may not be reached – but that’s okay!

Before you go anywhere, sit down and carefully write out all of your trip goals – your absolutely must-visits and the essential activities that you must do. Then screw it up into a tiny little ball and throw it in the bin!

You need to prepare yourself with realistic expectations before you leave. When travelling with children, it’s quite possible that you are not going to make it all the way up the Great Wall of China, or to the end of your Kakadu cliff-climb – or even out of the toilets at a stop-over airport!

But with some luck, you may just manage a few of the things you would like to do – they’re just probably going to take you twice as long! But you know what? They will be twice as special now, because you’ll be doing it along-side of your kids. You’re opening up new worlds in their eyes – and that alone is an incredible thing to witness!

Suitcase iconPack only what you alone can carry

One thing's for sure - after a holiday, you're always going to bring back more than you took!

You always bring back more than you took!

Never take more baggage than the adults of the family can carry. Because it’s quite possible that you’ll end up struggling with the lot!

When travelling, sometimes kids get sick. Or tired. Or hungry. Or cranky. Or sometimes just full-on tantrum-y for absolutely no reason!

When a young child’s good mood goes out the window at the airport, they dump their everything – wheelie bag, blankie, 3 toys they just HAD to bring – on you. If you’re really unlucky you may even need to carry your child too! Plus don’t forget the fact that at the end of a holiday, you almost always bring back more than you left with! 

The old travel rule remains – travel as light as humanly possible, and don’t walk into that airport with more than you can physically manage yourself.

Some in-transit travel tips…

Meeting point iconMake family meeting points

Everywhere we go, the first thing we do as a family is agree on a huge and obvious central meeting place – just in case we get separated. Nothing is full-proof, but back up plans are never a bad idea, and this agreed meeting place method is especially useful for large, busy locations such as airports, where losing a spouse or teen can mean losing precious minutes – and perhaps even your flight!

Carry on bag icon

During flights keep your carry-on down at your feet

Keep your carry-on bag near - especially if you have a grumpy baby strapped to your tummy!

Keep your carry-on bag near – especially if you have a grumpy baby strapped to your tummy!

Make sure your carry-on bag with any kid essentials – bottle, dummies, snacks, activities, video games etc is small or squashable enough to fit under the seat in front of you so that you don’t have to be getting up and wrestling with the overhead locker every five minutes during the flight – or are locked off from it altogether during take off and landing. There’s nothing like twenty minutes of “Can I have my video game yet?” to listen to until the plane levels out – grrr!

Fruit and vegetables iconEat healthy where you can

Sometimes it's hard to avoid junk food!

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid junk food!

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But when you’re travelling, it’s so easy to slip into the habit of eating junk food a lot, mainly because it’s just so readily available – but really, at any opportunity, make the extra effort to get some fruit and vegetables into everyone. Healthy options are out there – even if it is just fruit salad at the airport or a side of veggies in the let’s-deep-fry-everything tourist restaurant. It will help protect you all from getting sick, avoid kid-sugar-crashes, and sustain everyone’s energy for much longer.

That said, sometimes hamburgers and french fries are a much better alternative to nothing at all!

Plane iconMy top travel tip….just go anyway!

We all hear fellow-parents putting off taking their kids on major trips – It’s all too hard – babies have routines you don’t want to break – toddlers are going through a tantrum-ing streak, or you think the kids are too young yet to appreciate or remember the trip…

Go anyway – you can handle it! Kids are adaptable. They will eat and sleep places other than home. Yes, they may well tantrum on you, or exhaust you – but they’ll do that at home anyhow – you may as well be somewhere exciting!

Travelling with kids is nothing to be afraid of, really....

Travelling with kids is nothing to be afraid of, really….

Never underestimate the power of travel to educate, entertain and enrich lives – no matter what the age. Even if your kids are too little to remember much, as they grow you’ll have some exciting tales to tell them and photographs to show them about their very-own travel adventures!

Despite the parenting challenges, it’s all worth it when you get to see the look of wonder on your child’s face when they become an eye-witness to an exciting travel experience – or meet a new native animal – or see an amazing sight!

So just go – because travel is the stuff that extraordinary family memories are made of. Take the travel plunge – plan what you can, accept what you can’t, and know that you’re all going to have a great time, tantrums and all – enjoy!

 

Do you have any Top Travel Tips of your own? We’d love to hear them! Tell us in the comments below….

This post was our entry to the Virgin Australia competition for Problogger Event – we made the top ten, and were proud to be a finalist in this great competition!

Go and make your own memories, no matter what the age of your children!

Go and make some travel memories of your own – no matter what the age of your children!

 


64 Responses so far.

  1. Great tips Barbara! Especially love ‘only pack what you alone can carry’! Congrats on making it to the top 10 finalists for the comp – good luck for the announcement!! x

  2. Jessica Ashbrooke says:

    Don’t over pack clothes because your always bound to buy a whole heap while away

  3. Jenny says:

    The best travel trip tried and tested is making things a game, find the biggest of anything to stop at for photos, or play games inside the car – go A-Z – movies; fruit/veges; animals; songs; girls names; boys names; etc. If you can make it fun with time outs for music time and sleep time the experience of traveling to and from then also becomes a family memory treasured by all.

  4. Sherry says:

    Ive learnt to travel lightly, just a couple of changes of clothes/underwear toothbrush and a toy. I always love to seek out the local Op shops if we need something and at a fraction of the price bought new.

  5. Ellen says:

    Having recently flown to Hawaii with a 2 year old, my number one travel tip is to bring pull-up nappies for any long haul flights. The change tables in the toilets are cramped to say the least and it is almost impossible to change a toddler on one of them – basically no room for them to lie down on them! Being able to stand them up and pull on a nappy would have been so much easier (and less traumatic for my son too)!

  6. Mary says:

    My tip for survival is definitely hire an ipad if possible point to the wonderful scenery outside the aeroplane window and just talk about the exciting things we are going to do together as a family.

  7. Marie says:

    The best idea that made my travels bearable and fun for all of us with my kids was:

    Teaching my kids to read the time on a kids clock that we would literally take with us on our daily outings so they could see how long we had to go until it was snack time then lunchtime then playtime at a park. This way they could accept our sightseeing or shopping hour as they were the ‘time monitors in charge’.
    It gives kids a much clearer idea of time frames if the days are fairly broken down into shorter periods of a grown up activity followed by a kids activity. Everyone feels they got something they enjoyed & the kids don’t have a meltdown not knowing what’s happening next!!! Please try it….

  8. Erika says:

    Bring back up! I travel with Grandma (or Grandma AND Grandpa) so she can take one child or both with her, or one can stay with me (Go with Grandpa). Always carry snacks- my kids are always always hungry.

  9. maria says:

    Bring a bottle of childrens panadol with you on the plane best advice doctor gave me especially for flying incase there ears hurt, helps them feel sleepy, settles them, helps with block ears etc

  10. Rach says:

    The new colouring books that are all the rage are great for all age groups with a small packet of coloured pencils and pencil sharpener of course. My girls are 18, 16 and 9 and they all used them on the flight and in the hotel when we were having some relaxation time.

  11. Rach says:

    Remember it is your holiday as well, relax with the rules for the kiddies (a tad), schedule in some time to do something you like to do and enjoy being away from the every day routine of being at home.

  12. sapna says:

    To keep toddlers entertained during the flight pack some interesting picture books which they have never read before – they can look at the pictures and you can also read it to them for a short while. Books where kids have to find some hidden character throughout the page keep kids entertained for a good amount of time ..

  13. Bronwynn says:

    I always ensure I have seperate coin purses to keep the coins for the currency I’m currently using available for the train tickets, bus fares or quick water or snack, or coins easily accessiblefor rides to keep little ones entertained instead of having to sort through heaps of mixed currency coins.

    I have also found a collapsible cup so handy wherever you are. Often the little ones cant reach the water spout at the water fountain or just want a mouthful of a drink instead of a whole bottle.

    My third bestie travel tip is getting a couple of the folded compact bags that in a little zipper pouch – very useful for trips where you take a packed lunch or having them available for odds and ends you pick up on your travels and dont want in your backpack.

  14. Caroline Morris brown says:

    if you’re flying alone with little kids and you’re wondering how you’re going to manage when you land… Get the pilot to radio ahead for assistance… You will then be escorted via a little golf cart through customs and to the luggage carousel and helped all the way through to where you’re being picked up….

    Also pack lots of spare food, nappies, change of clothes for everyone (including yourself-if you get thrown up on), plus wrap little gifts-to be opened from time to time… Order the child’s meals… Plus ask if you can sit up where the bulk head is… For extra leg room…. Even if you don’t have a baby for the bassinet…

    I have flown long haul to the UK about 12 times… Alone with little kids…. First time my sons were 9mths and 2years… I now also have a daughter…. They’re now 22,21 and 11…. We have flown every 2 or3 years… Following these tips saved my bacon…. 🙂

  15. Samantha Watts says:

    Whenever I go anywhere with my daughter and it is going to be busy or there any chance she could get lost may it be a trip to the Zoo or a holiday to the Gold Coast i always make sure i have my phone number written on her hand.

  16. Sean Sullivan says:

    I find the thing that works for my daughter and myself is to do things and go places that we can both enjoy together

  17. Michelle h says:

    If you have kids with ASD, sensory issues etc, rather than go for the big family adventure right up, take mini break first. It lets them create a better mental image of what travelling is, leaving them better equipped for a longer trip.
    Of course, it helps to get them involved in planning the all important itinerary too!

  18. Aleisha Direen says:

    Travelling with children – pack some munchies and a water bottle for each individual, saves arguements as if children are bored we all know they are then instantaneously hungry. Ear plugs so you cant hear them. No just joking. Lol. A device with games so they can keep occupied and last but not least something to chew on as being younger there
    poor lil ears seem to play up worse than adults. Cheers.

  19. Simone says:

    Teach your children about flying – show them pictures and videos of aeroplanes online. They will then understand everything about what happens on their journey – from where the pilot sits to how the luggage gets on the plane.

    Reenact the flight by sitting with them on a sofa at home. Explain about seat belts, safety and turbulence. They will have a lot of fun playing a game where they are all shook up – this will take away any fear of flying on a bumpy plane.

    Let your child carry on board there favourite toy, because their on holiday too!

  20. Misha says:

    Food, food, and more glorious food!!! All packed from home, a mix of healthy and treat food and you know it is food your child enjoys. Cold water and juice for hydration. Also, ipad for quiet time. Always pack spare clothes. Finally, and I cannot stress this enough – always, always allow extra time for everything…I promise it halves your stress levels and makes for a much happier child. Best of all you all get time to stop and smell the roses 🙂

  21. Lara Daebritz says:

    I have travelled quite frequently as a single Mum with my now 8 year old daughter.. Tips learned along the way:
    1. Include in your luggage some small plastic containers for snacks during day trips, tours etc. they are invaluable for snacks like grapes, crackers, sultanas etc that you buy on the way and eliminate the need for taking whole packets or boxes of food.
    2. Travelling inevitably means eating out quite frequently and this spells boredom for many a child. I’d strongly suggest taking small colouring books, stickers, small travel games or card games like UNO (I bought multicoloured plasticine at a supermarket in Bali for 40 cents which my daughter, and the waitresses, played with every night for a week!) to restaurants to ease the boredom before meals arrive or while you enjoy dessert (or that pre-bed glass of wine).

  22. karina l says:

    If travelling with a baby, I find catching a plane really early in the morning or at night works best as they are usually too tired to whinge and will prefer to sleep, especially if they are still on the boob!

  23. jody buhagiar says:

    Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer are handbag essentials.

  24. cat b says:

    The most compact form of entertainment is a device loaded with apps and games. Will keep them occupied for hours 😀

  25. lisa c says:

    Giving toddlers their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view.

  26. irene fernandas says:

    During takeoff and landing, make sure to have kids drink or chew gum. Make sure the baby is either nursing or drinking a bottle. I always take eucalyptus oil to help with blocked ears 🙂

  27. angela R says:

    Avoid all foods that are sticky, messy or crumby. Make sure juice boxes are small and will be finished at one time or bring spill-proof cups.

  28. Leanne Bognar says:

    Include them in your plans for the day!! If your going to a Zoo, Theme Patk anything really discuss what ride or what they REALLY want to see, if the places your visiting have a map get them one each and plan what you will so or do first so they know and can see (if old enough) visual is best. We pick a “lost spot” usually something that is tall flag poles etc, if by chance we get separated they are to go to the nearest pole, etc pick something that is not crowded or in the thick of things.
    If you have older children that can read a map get them to help with the navigation, if they are younger ask them to look for things like a big bridge or a river etc it will occupy them and include them, and make a big deal out of them helping you we all love compliments and sets a good vibe from a “team effort”!!

  29. blakester says:

    ALWAYS bring an extra pair of clothing for all the children and for you as well. Trust me, you do not want to spend the flight covered in vomit or anything else that seems to happen when traveling.

  30. salvatore says:

    Depending on the age of the kids, have each child bring a small backpack filled with their toys and goodies for the flight.

  31. Leanne D says:

    I found on long roadtrips that having various kids music with us that was specifically designed to either get the kids to join in singing, with mum and dad or involve an activity like finding something red, was fantastic. Pockets affixed to the rear of the front seats with a drink and snacks, colouring books and crayons for rotational things to do are also time consuming ways to pass the time. Not forgetting the renowned I spy game too.

  32. AL says:

    Get your child a trip diary….fun way to write down bits about each destination, glue in brochures, used airline tickets and so on..

  33. Naomi says:

    Having lots of things planned like craft , colouring, anything to keep their minds ticking and not getting bored.

  34. jan wilson says:

    having a parents mobile phone number written on something worn by a child is a great way of safety in case of wandering lost children

  35. Jo says:

    Long haul: take a different activity for every hour of flight.
    Use small drawstring bags to pack different things into hand luggage – one for food, one for toys, one for dummies and bottles etc. that way you aren’t rummaging through your bag pulling out all the contents every time you need something. Also 2 x spare clothes for baby 1 x spare clothes for you – for spills, food chucks and poo explosions :/

  36. Kylie Hedges says:

    Keep a sensitive toddler in their own car seat! I had a very sensitive toddler who struggled with airports, flights and travel in general. On our worst day we help up a flight by 45 minutes. In the end we were both sitting on the floor of the air-bridge in tears. That was until I discovered that (in the fine print) most airlines will allow you to use your childs own car seat on the plane. So I kept my son strapped into his car seat, transferred it from the car to a cheap luggage trolley and wheeled him through the airport and plane and strapped the whole car seat (with child intact) into the airplane seat using the existing lap belt. I would then do the reverse coming back off the plane. All of the time he had his face planted in his dvd player but felt safe in his familiar car seat. This could work for small kids on the autistic spectrum too. Always print out the page from the airline website and be prepared to show it to airport staff if they object.

  37. heather says:

    Look into getting a kids camera, one of those sterdy ones for kids that takes photos. Its a great idea for kids to take photos of what they want on your trip. You could make a scrapbook with them after with all the photos they have snapped its a great keep sake memory for both of you

  38. Julie v says:

    My tip is take lots of photos. You won’t regret taking them. And make sure that you’re in at least some of them!!

  39. Tracy says:

    Patience! & Plan your days for the kids and then time out for yourself as well 🙂

  40. Belinda Mouk says:

    I give my 5 year old niece a camera to heighten her awareness of her new surroundings. She loves showing me the photos of her holiday.

  41. heather says:

    2 tips i have learnt is;

    1. Get the kiddies one of those kid cameras because it helps kids explore and they will love it! You could get the photos printed out and create a scrapbook with them after your trip, see what they see!

    2. Kids love public transport! So instead of getting a hirer car try catching boats, trams, buses, and trains, its a hole new world for them! New experience! They will love the experience. Specially if they have their own camera to snap some shots on the way to your destination. Also saves money on the hirer car and petrol. Kids under 5 are usually free.

  42. Sharyn thomas says:

    I always make sure i have enough snacks, an the tablets for them to watch movies, but depending if its a plane or car we always take books to read and their favorite music

  43. Becky Downey says:

    I find adding an extra rear-view mirror in the car helps. Stops me having to turn around to see, especially when I’m travelling alone and I need to keep an eye on the kids.

  44. Nicole says:

    Sure take an iPad, comfort toys couple of treats but my all time favourite is s whiteboard and whiteboard markers. They can draw pictures. Write stories. You can make a list for them to do a scavenger hunt They are endless, light weight and you don’t have pencils everywhere that need sharpening and you don’t have loose paper everywhere Dots. Naughty and crosses Oh good memories

  45. Tiffiny says:

    As a single parent with a 6 year old and 1 year old my last trip to Phillip Island was a disaster. Kids did not keep to a routine, my 1 year old was tearing up the apartment and I was utterly exhausted and stressed. My tip is to start with overnight trips first.

  46. Annette says:

    Yes these are great. Also when my kids were small I used to make two bags (boy & girl) & collect little things to put in the bags that they hadn’t seen before. Might be Lego figure, small closing mirror, age appropriate game book, squishy ball, small packet of play doh, notebook & pen, mini dolls were always a hit, dress up paper dolls, comics as they got older.

  47. Nic T. says:

    Take plenty of stickers, pens, and finger puppets – lots of entertainment that way!

  48. tracy wedding says:

    lots of fun games to play a pillow for comfort and yummy food to keep them full
    Goold luck

  49. Jeanette says:

    I always found the best for my kids was running them rampant prior to leaving this way they slept the whole way there and packing to do bags for when they woke up.
    But sometimes its hard to judge hoe they will go, will they be sick,over tired or just too excited to sleep so when these happen its just good old deep breaths and smile all the way through.

  50. kim gascoigne says:

    Try to book flights with times that suit the kids. If a long flight try to book night time flights so they can sleep.

  51. Sonya says:

    Take spares of everything! Spare pants and T-shirts for not only your kids but you as well! Whether it’s a blowout or just sticky fingers, spare clothes can be a lifesaver!

  52. Vanessa says:

    I write contact details on the arm of my child when traveling. Just in case the “hand holding” doesn’t work for a second.

  53. Jewel Ienna says:

    Boyne Island QLD

    My tip with almost teens is to:
    1. get them to pack their own bag and weigh it.
    2. get them to imagine the waiting periods in between flights, what are they going to do to occupy their time ( these days it is easier, not preferable, with the versatility of their phone use )
    3. Offer a morning tea visit at their fave destination to entice `non tech ‘interaction.
    4. a spot of airport window shopping can be exciting even if you cant afford , sometimes a small treat to the value of..might be nice to alter tired attitude.

  54. Marg says:

    Lots of car and travel suitable activities and games. And try and break up long trips with stops at interesting places or even just a playground to stretch the legs.

  55. Andrew Mc says:

    I try and make the journey a part of the holiday. We stop along the way at places where there are exciting / interesting thing to see or do.

  56. Natasha Lonsdale/Meyer says:

    If you can, take your Mum! That way you have an extra pair of hands and another adult to converse with!

  57. Bron says:

    My tip is when flying with kids and there are connecting flights always have plenty of time in between. Flights delays, tired kids, slow walkers can add time, having some extra up your sleeve will make a difference. Easier to have to wait for a short time than miss the flight altogether.

  58. Saskabel says:

    I pack healthy, easy digestible food that can be eaten with fingers and is not that messy. Food at airports can be unhealthy and expensive. So when the kids say “I’m hungry”, I can pull out a range of snacks. I also always travel with a water bottle for each member of the family.

  59. Rebecca H says:

    I wish you massive Good Luck! My tips are be prepared, organise months in advance if you can, travel insurance is very important and try to minimise the number of bags you will be taking. 🙂

  60. sarah says:

    best tip that’s always helped us have an itinerary each for all to look at so each person big and small can see whats happening at what time and where we are going ! saves a lot of questions!!

  61. Monica S. says:

    Organise flight/travel times to suit your family. The bargains might be early or late in the day but it could add extra stress.

  62. linda says:

    Put a little effort into preparing games, instead of boring eye spy print a page of pictures you will most likely see on your trip.
    I give them fake passports with maps of their journeys, they can draw and mark their own stops and fill in their travel journal with pictures.
    they get a munch bag and drink.. and all pack their own nap sack with their items.

  63. kds says:

    There is always the risk of losing a cherished companion in transit, which is heart-breaking, so whenever you buy them a soft toy, buy two and if the worst happens, substitute New Porky for Left-On-Plane Porky. 🙂 This happened to me and now I always buy two!!!


About LetsGoMum

Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at barbara@letsgomum.com.au!
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