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Visiting new places can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. From the joy of meeting new people to experiencing different cultures and eating unusual foods, traveling is a wonderful way to enrich both your mind and your spirit.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to be young and carefree or older and wealthy to take advantage of everything the world has to offer. Even those with kids can have exciting and meaningful trips that involve more than the Disney Vacation Club (contact Step Zero to learn how to get out of that deal!)

The following are our top three tips for traveling like a pro even with your small kids in tow.

Travel Like a Pro, Even with Kids in Tow!

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Take It Slow

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Keep your expectations in check and don’t schedule more than one or two activities each day. It’s hard for little ones to match either your physical or mental stamina, and they’ll likely end up tired and cranky at the end of a full day.

There might be 35 “Musts” on your list of things to do, but this trip isn’t the one to complete them all. Pick a few things you’d like to do and let the kids give input on the rest.

This might mean putting off touring that cool contemporary art museum, but it could also mean seeing something you never would have considered without the help of a new perspective.

Beach family Em & Nate

Stick To a Routine

It’s not always ideal, but keeping some semblance of your usual routine can help keep your kids well-rested and, thus, well-behaved.

If you know someone needs a two-hour nap in the middle of the day, try to accommodate that by staying in or arranging for car and/or stroller rides during that time so your child can rest.

Try to have snacks and meals at similar times, and keep nighttime routines consistent as well. Although you may be able to manage a change in schedule with no problem, children can quickly become over-stressed and over-tired when plans change too much.

Baby sleep family travel RF

Encourage Adventure

Keeping a schedule doesn’t have to mean always sticking with what’s comfortable. Cultivate curiosity by offering new foods and stopping to chat with vendors and other tourists.

Leave time to explore and see the world through your kids’ eyes. In short, allow more freedom. Traveling should be a time to try new things. It’s an escape from everyday life with fewer rules and more fun.

Kids can understand that what you allow on vacation might become more restricted when everyone returns home if you just explain it to them.

Girl family travel suitcase bag luggage RF

And Remember…

Exposing all members of your family to different people and customs is one of the best ways to foster compassion and instill a love of learning in them.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that kids can’t handle an overseas flight or a five-hour drive or being away from their friends. Or that you can’t handle the effort it takes to convince them otherwise.

Traveling with kids will make all of you better people.

FOR KEEPING KIDS ENTERTAINED IN TRANSIT: CLICK PHOTO ↓

Hi-Def Noise Canceling Headphones

Power Bank Ultra High Capacity

Kindle Voyage E-reader

INSPIRED? PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    22 Comments

  1. Amen Meg, for adults too LOL. This is why I enjoy all travel themed posts for kids; they work for all humans! We should do as we do with our kids, going slowly, not pushing it, savoring the moment, and following a routine, while being flexible when need be. Simply the best way to enjoy long or short term travel, for any human being.

    Ryan

    • Lol yes very true Ryan, some of these tips are great for us older kids too 😀 When I began traveling I was all about the whirlwind, and packing in as much as possible, but now even on solo trips I enjoy taking it a lot slower.

      So glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. Kids also need time to blow off steam in appropriate places like parks. Especially before they are required to behave and be quiet, like in a restaurant or museum. A kid who has been in a stroller all day is going to have a hard time sitting at a restaurant.

    • Absolutely – great advice. I think this is especially important on your first day of vacation, if you’ve had the kids constricted on a long haul flight. As an adult I love visiting city parks and botanic gardens, and they’re always such a fabulous idea for a family friendly attraction 🙂

  3. I remember traveling the USA and the world with my brood. The trick was to ensure that we spent significant blocks of time doing what would excite them- and let them make little choices during the day.

    • Great approach Roy – especially in giving them control over little choices to make them feel special and that they’ve had some input 🙂

  4. I swear that travelling with children can be a bit like taking a herd of wild goats on holiday … we have 4 under 7. We prefer road trips because airports have proven too hard in the past.

    • Lol I promise it gets better 😀 Ultimately it’s about finding a balance that works for your family, so if road trips are less stress and hassle than flying, that’s great 🙂

      Happy road tripping!

  5. Pack each child a plane bag – We have three young children and my girls have amassed many flights between them at a young age. We always pack a plane bag for them, we don’t let them see if before we get on the flight and in it are cheap pocket money toys to keep them entertained. Things you can buy in supermarkets and that only cost a couple of pounds each, like crayons, colouring books, little sets of Lego they can build and of course sweets in case all else fails! They love it and get excited to open them as soon as we are up in the air.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Katie, a plane bag for each child is a great idea, and I love that you keep it as a surprise! Definitely something that would keep them occupied during take-off as they explore what’s in the bag. Going to pass that tip onto my sister who travels with young kids 🙂

  6. We generally try to avoid day flights, because we’ve found if it’s late at night, the kids zonk out straight away and sleep through most of the flight. We’re happy to pay extra for a night flight if we have to.

    • An awesome tip Dorthy lol I usually do the same re choosing night flights, because it’s so much easier too for me to fall asleep – so equally as beneficial for adults I would say 😀

  7. If I can urge all parents traveling with children to PLEASE drill your children on swimming pool safety. When staying in a hotel with a swimming pool kids will often make a beeline for the pool, especially if they see other kids playing. We had an incident on our last holiday where someone elses child didn’t know how to swim and hadn’t told his parents he was going. It could have ended very tragically.

    • Yikes I’m glad that the incident you witnessed didn’t become anything serious. A really great tip Tesha, I would say the same should apply to those traveling on a family beach getaway in terms of safety in the ocean.

      Thanks for sharing.

  8. If you can get the middle of the plane and use the bulkhead seats this is great for more legroom and more floor space for play. Also means the possibility of a baby cradle if the aircraft has them. That said the drawback is not having storage under the seat in front of you, but it’s easy enough to pull down from above, and families are first to board the plane so you never miss out on overhead space.

    • Great advice Laurel, thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

  9. Fabulous tips! Taking it slow is so important.

    • So glad you enjoyed the post Normand! Happy travels 🙂

  10. We use a packing checklist for every trip, and it’s a LIFESAVER. One new toy or book for every hour; an empty baby bottle for water; a change of clothes; plastic zipper bags; baby wipes; extra jackets and blankets; headphones; iPad; cups with lids; clothespins to fashion a tent over a baby’s bassinet; snacks; pacifiers; Dramamine because my kids suffer from motion sickness. This way you don’t miss anything.

    Also, make sure only one person is in charge of packing. Otherwise you think he’s packed it, he thinks you’ve packed it, and it’s a mess.

    • I love my spreadsheets 😀 Nice to know I’m not the only list nerd out there lol! It really is so much easier though to manage and organize everything if you’re working off a checklist. And awesome tip about limiting possible confusion by putting one person in charge of the packing.

      Thanks for sharing your tips Desiree!

  11. I give my kids a camera each (obviously not an expensive one), but it keeps them so entertained and they love it. 1 in every 100 odd surprisingly turns out to be decent, and it’s interesing seeing pictures from a kids knee height view!

    • Cool approach Hugh! I’m going to try that the next time I go traveling with my sisters kids 🙂

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