After our last trip to Scotland, I did a big Q&A over on my instagram stories about traveling with kids. The conversation was so great, I thought it would be helpful to round up all of my tips and tricks for plane travel and road trips with kids as we enter the busy summer travel season. Scroll down for my tips about preparing kids for big trips, our favorite kids travel gear, and all the best kids entertainment to bring on planes, road trips and in restaurants. Happy travels! Preparing Kids for the Trip. For trips that involve some lengthier travel, I like to do some preparation before we leave but setting expectations and helping Jane get get ready (and excited for!) the destination. In the past we’ve gotten books out from the library about our destination, or watched shows that reference where we’re going. We also love to make a countdown calendar to post on the fridge; which helps answer the never ending question: “mommmmm, how many more days until we go to insert-travel-destination-here.” Another fun tradition I’ve started is to get a blank sketchbook that we decorate before the trip with stickers. It’s something I keep in my bag for drawing when we’re waiting in airports or restaurants, and the fact that it’s “special” for the trip seems to add some allure.Kids Travel Gear. I’m a staunch-proponent of carry on luggage, checking a bag is something that causes me unnecessary stress so I avoid it all costs. Another form of unnecessary stress is the inevitable crankiness about having to juggle too much travel gear and baggage, so as a family, we are packing minimalists! I find that less stuff makes for a smoother travel experience for all of us. We have the State Bags mini Logan roller suitcase for Jane and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a perfect size for her to wheel herself (and she actually wheels it the majority of the time!), and a sleeve on the back so we can slide it over the handles of the adult suitcases when we need to do stairs/hustle to a gate. I also love Paperboat Bags for a family carry-on or weekender bag (I’m biased, my sister-in-law designs them!). The large bottom compartment in their weekender bags is a great spot to stuff everyone’s coats, our travel booster seat, beach towels, etc.
We also have been traveling with a mifold travel booster seat now that she’s big enough, and it’s a game changer for traveling without a car seat. It folds up small enough that it can fit in a tote bag or backpack, and makes taking quick cab rides infinitely easier when traveling (of course, check the height and weight requirements and local car seat rules beforehand). My one frivolous travel gear item we bring on trips is a kids neck pillow, because nothing makes traveling kids with more enjoyable than having them well-rested! We let Jane pick hers out (a fun dog one) and make a big deal about it being “special” for sleeping on planes and when we’re traveling. The special-factor has definitely helped us convince her to rest when we’re in transit, pulling out the special travel pillow is a signal it’s time to sleep/nap/rest.Kids Travel Entertainment. On a plane, all screen time rules go out the window! A good pair of kids headphones is my best piece of advice for long travel journeys with kid. On road trips, I have brought our Tonie box and headphones (plus this great Tonies carrying case) for listening to stories and music. I like that she can switch the stories herself without me having to struggle to manage iPad-assistance from the drivers seat. For non-screen time activities, I’ve mentioned we like to pack light so I will bring the travel notebook we make before the trip, some anti roll crayons or a multicolor-click pen that’s easy to keep track of, and maybe some card games. On our last trip we brought a paint by sticker book that was also a great quiet-time activity.Exploring and Sightseeing with Kids. I got a question from a follower recently who asked, “How do you balance sightseeing “adult” attractions with kid-activities?” Every trip is different, but a few things that work for us are doing “adult” activities in the morning when we’re all high-energy (plus being first in line is a great way to beat crowds), and setting a kid-activity for the afternoon that serves as a bit of a reward. On our last trip for example, we agreed to pool time in the afternoon after we did some walking tours. On a few trips we have brought Jane’s micro scooter for exploring cities where we knew we’d be walking longer distances – they make a foldable version now that is ideal for fitting into a large suitcase!
Bringing along a kids camera to let them take their own picture is another good way to prevent the boredom-whining – on a recent trip I actually asked Jane to take pictures on my phone and we got some very cute (rare!) snaps of my husband and I! When it comes to eating in restaurants or cafes on our travels, I pull out that trusty blank travel sketchbook from my bag and a set of colored pens (this gel pen set is a great purse-size!) so we can draw what we saw on our daily adventures. And postcards! Collecting postcards on our travels and writing them to friends is such a fun, low-key activity to keep kids busy while the grown-ups try to relax.
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Great tips! I love the idea of a kid’s camera and they look pretty durable.