25 Creative Tips For Travel With Kids

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We asked our community to help us find 10 great tips for traveling with children — and they gave us hundreds! We chose these 25 tips because they’re creative, helpful…and easy to implement. From packing prep to in-flight games, they cover every area of travel…right down to childproofing the hotel room. This time, enjoy your journey as much as your destination!

 

Before You Go

  • Start adjusting bedtimes at least a week ahead of time if you have a big adjustment. —Kelly
  • Practice ahead of time. Use pretend play to show kids how it will be to travel at an airport, ride in a car or even on a boat. This helps them figure out questions to ask that you might not think about until you’re “on the road.” —Dana
  • Put their clothes in ziplock bags, one outfit per bag. That way kid (or hubby) can easily grab a bag and have matching clothes. It also makes it easy to throw a change of clothes in the diaper bag and have the ziplock handy for the soiled ones. —Jeanette
  • Make little goodie bags for your plane mates that include candy, earplugs, gum, and a small note asking for their understanding while you travel with a small child. Your child will be so happy to give out gifts that they likely won’t cause any trouble at all. —Brittany
  • We just traveled as a family of 5 with just carry on and without doing laundry! My favorite tip is to give each kiddo their own small backpack with their own activities and their own snacks and water. Then no matter who is seated where, each kid has what is theirs! It helps if some of the entertainment in the backpack is new to them for that travel too! With multiple kids, you can just rotate the entertainment. —Monica
  • Keep the location of the trip a surprise!!!! Then a few weeks before, start leaving hints and clues for the kids to find about where you are going. Don’t make it too easy, you want them to try figure it out on their own. Clues should be things about the culture, language, cuisine, geography of where you are travelling. For example, if you are traveling to France, try cooking French cuisine for dinner. You can also start with broad clues and as the trip comes closer, start becoming more specific. This is such a great way to get your kids excited about where they are going and it teaches them a lot too, so once you arrive at your destination, they have a connection right away. Enjoy!! —Rachel

Do-Ahead Boredom Busters

  • I make “playlands” from felt for my kiddos to drive their cars or trains or play dinosaurs or princesses on. Just cut out felt shapes and use Wonder Under (or something similar) to attach it in whatever scene you want. —Cindy (Ed.: you can find a DIY for this here.)
  • I make simple busy bags, like winding yarn around Popsicle shapes, tracing drawings I make, or making a matching game with stickers. Simple boredom busters! —Roxanne
  • For airplane travel, fill a plastic pencil box with cheaper and healthier alternatives to the snack boxes they sell. Keeps things organized, unsquished and fun! Older kids can decorate their boxes before the trip. For long car trips, keep a dry erase map (placemats work great) to show the kids how far you have gone. —Kristen
  • When traveling, to move for work, we had to go through a few states. So, I purchased CHEAP toys and even camping emergency glow sticks, and wrapped them individually for the boy to open when we crossed state lines. His favorite ones weren’t even the toys I picked, but the bubble bath and glowsticks for when we stopped at our hotels for the night. It kept him looking forward to the next state and minimal whining. —Amber

Travel Hacks

  • Once my daughter hit the toddler stage I started filling a LARGE day-of-the-week pillbox with various small snacks (little pieces of cereal, small crackers, dried fruit, nuts, and occasionally a couple sweets like m&ms—the tinier the food the better!). This would fulfill the “novel snacks” idea and provide fine motor practice—plus—it would burn up TONS of time. Once we kept 3 kids—2 2-year-olds and a 4-year-old—occupied with one pillbox while we waited 30 minutes at a restaurant. —Mary
  • Bring blue painters tape to cover electrical outlets and keep doors and drawers closed. Also works for drawing lines on the floor to jump over and also works for entertainment at dinner or on the plane…kids love sticky things. —Jessica
  • Bring along a small whiteboard for each kid. There are so many things that this can be used for! —Gloria (DIY here.)
  • My favorite driving trick is to bring along a cookie sheet. The child has a hard surface to color or play on AND nothing rolls off onto the floor. —Carmin
  • Balloons! For layovers, these make for a great distraction and they take up no room in a carry-on. Find a quiet spot at an empty gate and blow one up! Just put it in the trash when it’s time to leave. —Jen

In-Transit Activities

  • We love letterboxing! We just got into letterboxing a few months ago and love the fact that you can go just about anywhere in the world and find a letterbox! —Amy
  • Scavenger hunts! If I am going on a plane, I make a list of stuff we might see on a plane — a cup, a pillow, emergency instructions, etc. and when they see it something, they touch their noses and point. It’s fun, it’s quiet, and it keeps them entertained. —Sandra
  • Depending on where we are going I make a printout of all the animals/statues/places/ things we may see. My daughter is 3 and she enjoys matching her pictures with the actual person/place/thing and crossing it off as she sees them. She is always asking “what else?” and “what’s next?”. —Katie
  • If I’m not the one driving, I have a list of questions to ask my daughter while we travel. It’s amazing how long of an answer a four year old can have to “Who is your favorite person in the whole world and why?”. We also hand out “new” (previously hidden…toys that are “lost” for a week or two seem freakishly new on a long trip) toys each hour that we are driving to create variety. —Caroline
  • We make sure to run, hop, and jump our way through rest stops when we take driving trips. It gets out all that extra energy that being trapped in the car brings. It “gets the sillies out!” —Shelly
  • On our last trip the only toy we brought with us was binoculars and every time we saw something interesting he got out his binoculars and was amazed of all the details. At times he would try to reach out to see if he could touch what he was looking at. —Carmen

Document Your Trip

  • Each of my 3 kids has a travel journal that they can write about or draw pictures of the things they see along the trip and at our destination. The kids love going over previous trips we’ve taken and builds anticipation for the journey we are on! —Tara
  • From your first flight create a “Passport” (travel log). Have the pilots sign it. You’ll love having the record of your trips. —Beth
  • When I travel I have 4 kids 1 of which is a set of twins. Each child gets an old-school camera, (although the oldest has my old digital one) and each child gets an age-appropriate scavenger hunt sheet. Depending on where we are going, road trips or airports ect., they have certain tasks and things they need to do or find. And they take quick snapshots of them. When we get home I print of the pics and it’s their very own scrapbook of their travels. Kinda like eye spy with a scavenger twist! The game goes for our entire travels! My younger ones participate and take pics of EVERYTHING! It’s cute watching the trip through their eyes. —Jaime
  • We love postcards. Not only are they inexpensive, but you can write or draw about something of the trip. Also the photo on the front usually is of something interesting to learn about. We collect the postcards wherever we stop. Sometimes we even mail them to ourselves and it is fun reading about and remembering our trip. Plus the postmark is a great time stamp. —Tina

(More travel ideas? Please share in the comments!)

  1. Posted by Jay |

    When I travel I bring the ipad, with games and movies and a headphone splitter so I can hear what is going on. While driving II can’t drive and do a lot of play. When flying the space is so limited, especially with ‘the guy’ next to us to do much more than try to keep my daughter focused on something so she doesn’t want to get up. Also, flying early in the AM and getting to the location early is a lot easier than overnight flights.

  2. Posted by Betsy |

    We recently took a driving trip. At the last minute my granddaughter emphatically decided she had to have her large ball. It was a lifesaver with a 2 year old. Every rest stop we threw the ball and she chased after it. What would have been a horror when it was time to leave was easy since she had run and played hard for ten minutes. Other parents commented how smart we were but in fact, the 2 year old did it!

  3. one of the objective to travel is to make our kids happy right? If their happy with the travel we also happy but if the travel bored of course we will feel bored along the travel. So we must creative to make them happy :)

    Thanks sharing.

  4. Posted by Miss ET |

    What marvelous ideas! Such clever moms!

    One of my favorites has been the ‘walk’. We scope out a free area and use different ‘walks’ to go back and forth – crab walk – waddling like a penguin, stoop over and hang arm like a truck for an elephant…gets some of the wiggles out.

    Also check out the pre-made acitivity kits here:

    http://www.theeducationaltourist.com

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