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Traveling With Kids: Tips & Tricks from Mom Bloggers

In this week’s edition of tips and tricks, we decided to consult the experts. We rallied up mom bloggers from across the Internet (and the globe) to ask for their best tips and tricks for traveling with kids. From 9-month-old infants to 15-year-old teenagers about to start driving, these moms travel the world with kids in tow. And they are here to offer you their best tips. 

Brooke-SidneyName: Brooke-Sidney J. Harbour

Website/Blog: Bella & the Babe

Number of Kids and Ages: One son, age 21 months

What are some of your best tips and tricks that you can share with parents traveling with kids?

My tips are for parents traveling with infants and toddlers. Pay attention to the rules for getting a passport; the U.S. Department of State requires both parents or guardians to appear in person with the child and provide consent, authorizing passport issuance to the child. If one of the parents or guardians is unable to appear in person, then the passport application form must be signed and notarized by the non-applying parent/guardian.

Consider using a baby carrier instead of a stroller while traveling. Full disclosure: I am a big fan of babywearing for all of the benefits (e.g., bonding with your child, closeness, ease of use, lightweight, frees up your hands, etc.). I found that having a baby carrier made getting on and off the plane really easy because I still had my hands-free, which is even more critical if you are traveling solo with your child. The carriers are super light-weight and not as heavy or bulky as a stroller.  They can be folded up and put in your carry-on bag. There are so many options for babywearing – structured and unstructured carriers, wraps, and more. Definitely try on a few different styles. And check out a babywearing meeting near you to get help! (You can visit Babywearing International at http://babywearinginternational.org.) On your next trip, try going stroller free.

Know your travel style: Know what you need to have on the trip to feel comfortable and prepared. Now is not the time to become a travel minimalist if you’re not one. Decide what you need to take to feel comfortable. Listen to yourself, not your friends. Also, Create a toy strategy: Kids will need something to distract them on the plane, in the airport, and all of the multiple waiting situations that occur while traveling. You need great toys. Two options. First, you can buy a couple of new toys that you break out selectively. Do not give them the new toys all at once. Space them out during key moments during the trip. Second, reintroduce older toys. This option requires a little more planning. You must put away some toys that your child has gotten bored with at least a few weeks to a month or more in advance. These toys can make a re-entry onto the scene during the trip. It is amazing how an out-of-sight, out-of-mind toy becomes brand new again after a little bit of time. And of course, bring their favorite toys and books to read.

What are some of the must-have products and/or gadgets that have helped you travel with kids?

My carrier is the Ergo Baby Organic Baby Carrier. My other baby carrier (when he was an infant) was the Baby K’tan Original Baby Carrier. I also love Babyganics Bug Spray and Sunblock to keep the baby protected from bugs and the sun. Also, be sure to bring an extra charger for your smart phone because it doubles as a camera and baby distractor, and load baby apps on your iPad. Also, to help your little one sleep a white noise maker application on your phone is important.

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Christine St.Vil - family - Turks & CaicosName: Christine K. St.Vil

Website/Blog: Moms ‘N Charge®

Number of Kids and Ages: 3, ages 4 (girl), 6 (girl) & 8 (boy)

What are some of your best tips and tricks that you can share with parents traveling with kids?

Pay close attention to connection flights. This sounds pretty straightforward. But we learned a big lesson on connection flights between international and domestic destinations. Going to Turks and Caicos we had a connection in Miami so no problems there. Coming back from Turks and Caicos was the issue. We had a connection flight in Charlotte from Turks and Caicos, which means re-entry into the US. Do you know what that means? It means we had to get off the plane, go through customs, collect our baggage, re-check our bags, go back through TSA, find our gates and then wait to board our connection flight. Oh, and keep in mind that gates change all the time, and ours did at the last minute, which added on an extra 10-15 min to find the new one. We had less than an hour between connection flights to get this all done and thankfully we made it. Otherwise, we would’ve had to wait another 3 hours for the last flight into DC.

What are some of the must-have products and/or gadgets that have helped you travel with kids?

LeapPad Platinum, coloring books, crayons, books, headphones, favorite snacks, blankets. Honestly, the kids really just loved being able to pack and carry around their own backpacks 🙂

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ClarissaName: Clarissa Esquivel     

Website/Blog: My Wife Styles 

Number of Kids and Ages: 2 kids (ages 4 and 2 years old)

What are some of your best tips and tricks that you can share with parents traveling with kids?

We love to travel really early in the morning or late at night, when we travel we like to leave around 4-5 am because it gives my kids the chance to sleep in the car and makes it easier on us for less potty breaks. We also make sure to keep a ton of snacks and water (not too much), along with a fully charged iPad for movies to watch.

What are some of the must-have products and/or gadgets that have helped you travel with kids? 

We always make sure the kids iPad is fully charged, my husband downloads movies for them to watch while on the road. We also make sure we have all the essential items while on the road. One of our most important must haves are wipes, although both my kids are potty trained, it seems that anything they eat makes a mess. So having wipes are the easiest way to clean up! My kids love to snack in the car, so we try to get spill proof water bottles and snack holder. We also make sure to keep their pillows and blankets by their side. It seems if they sleep longer while being more comfortable.

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Lauren GayName: Lauren Gay

Website/Blog: Outdoorsy Diva 

Number of Kids and Ages: 1 son, age 15

What are some of your best tips and tricks that you can share with parents traveling with kids?

Traveling with an older child is a bit different than when my son and I traveled when he was younger.  Teenagers are predictably moody and easily bored. Both of those factors can be the recipe for a miserable trip for everyone. To combat the moodiness I try to let him have a say in the trip planning and decision-making process.  On our recent getaway to Daytona Beach, he chose whether the outdoor excursion would be surfing lessons or kayaking.  I ask his input on food, and he gets to choose which type of food we eat for one of our meals. On our Ohio Islands trip for spring break, he requested that we find one of the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” challenge restaurants and so we had a meal at Melt in Cleveland. This only works if you follow through with it on your end parents!  If you reject their suggestion then they will not buy into the trip and undoubtedly mope, which leads to annoying you and putting you in a bad mood because of their teenage-woe-is-me-pity-party and disinterest.  Next time you are planning a trip with your tweens and teens, allow them to be apart of the process and they will stay engaged even on the things they aren’t that interested in.  It’s give and take for both parties.

What are some of the must-have products and/or gadgets that have helped you travel with kids? 

When traveling with my teen son I have accepted that our musical tastes may not always be in harmony. We both have our own headphones so that he can listen to what he likes and I can listen to what I like in the hotel room or the car. I don’t permit him to use headphones while we are in the middle of an activity, but during travel time or down time in the room, it’s perfectly fine.

There is one tried and true rule for traveling with kids no matter the age.  MUST BRING SNACKS. It held true when he was just a toddler and it still holds true now.  Growing teenage boys eat for sport. He wakes up asking what the next meal will be. The more “hangry” he becomes, the less agreeable and annoying he becomes.  A hungry child can make a trip miserable. I either pack snacks or have him pack his own in his carry on bag or backpack so that he has something to munch on at any given time.

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Celeste TanName: Ling Tan

Website: Kids On Board, a collection of travel tales by real parents

Number of Kids and Ages, 2 kids, 9 and 11 years old

What are some of your best tips and tricks that you can share with parents traveling with kids?

My 3 best tips are below. First start them young! Don’t wait.  Lots of new parents  “wait” for the right age to start travelling with the kids.  They worry excessively about breastfeeding, sterilizing baby equipment on the road, being unable to comfort their crying babies etc., etc. Don’t! My first trip ever with my then 7-month old firstborn was to the Canadian Rockies – we are based in Singapore, so that meant a 22 hours flight, with two connecting flights before reaching the destination.  On that trip, his eyes filled with wonder as he touched snow the first time, and marveled at the feel of snow melting against his skin.  You will discover that to your baby, new experiences out of their comfort zone, excite and stimulate them. Plus kids are highly adaptable – the sooner you start traveling with them, the sooner it becomes “routine” for them to be exploring somewhere new.  And the better travelers they become.

Try somewhere familiar for that first trip. For babies’ first trip, aim to go somewhere near-ish, and preferably, somewhere you’ve been to and are familiar with.  That gives you the extra comfort of knowing what to expect at the destination.  Also, choose your base properly – plan day trips! Pre-babies, it might have been fun, having a 13-day itinerary, spending 12 nights in 12 destinations, 12 hotels.  Not so fun once you’ve the kids – imagine dragging the luggage, strollers and the kids, the packing and unpacking! Instead, plan your holiday with many day trips in mind.  Choose a well-located base, from where you could plan excursions to the places you’d like to see, and places to explore.  A home away from home also brings comforts to the kids – it centers them while you are away, and helps keep the crankiness at bay.

What are some of the must-have products and/or gadgets that have helped you travel with kids? 

Number one item is a clean-up kit. The truth is, kids ARE messy. They overeat, get sick, run too much, get sick, cry over a toy you refuse to buy them, get sick… you get the idea. And have you eaten with a 13-month old who thinks the apple puree you’ve lovingly prepared is better used to paint the table top? So, always bring a clean up kit – in mine, there are wet naps, dry tissue, a hand sanitizer, face towel, disposable sick bags and at least one change of cloths for each kid.

I also carry an entertainment pack consisting of books, an iPad loaded with games (which I use to bribe the kids on long transit days when they need to travel longer), and a smile. A smile is pretty much the most important thing to bring along.  A smile opens door, serves as an apology when the kids get up to too much mischief, helps you remember you are traveling and relaxes you… all will be fine, sit back and travel!

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nikki stephensName: Nikki Stephens    

Website/Blog: Mommy My Way

Number of Kids and Ages: One 9-month-old son

What are some of your best tips and tricks that you can share with parents traveling with kids?

The longer the trip, the more distractions you need to pack. A 3-hour flight versus a 12-hour roadtrip require a different level of packing. You have to be able to keep your child entertained for hours on end and a few coloring books and a video game may not be enough for a longer trip.

What are some of the must-have products and/or gadgets that have helped you travel with kids?

My Moby Wrap. My son is still young enough to need to be held and there is no way we would have survived the numerous flights we’ve been on solo if we had to lug a stroller around with us. I wrap in the Moby Wrap facing outward so he can interact with everyone passing by and this keeps my hands free to hold our luggage and carry-ons.

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que'anaName: Que’Ana Morris Jackson

Website/Blog: One Wellness Boutique

Number of Kids and Ages: 4 kiddos, ages 13, 12, 5 and 4

What are some of your best tips and tricks that you can share with parents traveling with kids?

Planning, planning, planning!!! Is the number 1 tip I can give when traveling with kids. I enjoy planning the overall trip. The organization of planning helps us to save money, too.

I also like to do a Survival Guide, which list the details about the trip, along with important numbers for emergencies. One section in the guide is a detailed itinerary. The itinerary details everything at each hour, minute, and second. Though there may be a few hiccups during the flow of following the itinerary, by it being in place it helps when we may get off track. I always pack a “tool-bag” for traveling. The tool-box serves he purpose of activities inside a bag that they can keep themselves busy in case of delayed flights or times that they may get tired of riding. This came in handy one time while traveling in NY. The flight was delayed for several times, and we ended up staying in the airport for 24 hours…The tool-bag came, to the rescue!

What are some of the must-have products and/or gadgets that have helped you travel with kids?

A few must haves are the “Tool-bag” full of the following: Baby Mum-Mums rice snacks, Tablets with their chargers, Crayons, coloring sheets, pencils, travel neck pillow and blanket, and a clip-on, collapsible water pouch.

The water pouch comes in handy when flying because we are restricted from taking liquids through security. So with the cost of beverages in the airport being pricey we will whip out the pouch and fill it up with the best thing made to drink, water. The pouch is great when visiting amusement parks that are also overpriced.

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shari wargoName: Shari Wargo Stamps

Website/Blog: Savvy Every Day

Number of Kids and Ages: One daughter, age 4

What are some of your best tips and tricks that you can share with parents traveling with kids?

When you’re traveling with kids let them help you pack so that they’re a part of the event. Also, let them choose at least one activity that you all do together on your trip. Be sure to pack a lot of regulation-approved snacks for the airport and flight, along with a variety of activities to do together and a blanket. If you’re flying, try to board early to get a seat in the front (those seats that don’t have backrests but do have a ton of space for your kiddo to sit on the floor and play).

Driving? Your family still needs snacks, and even infants need breaks to get out of the car seat every 2-3 hours. Be sure to bring a bunch of diapers for the journey to your destination, but don’t fill your suitcase because you can buy more there.

What are some of the must-have products and/or gadgets that have helped you travel with kids? Some essentials for me have been the stroller, activities and snacks. If your kiddo is old enough, load movies and games on a device for them, but also bring clay, books and coloring sheets (with crayons). I personally like the Pkolino coloring books with pencils because they zip up. I like to visit the One Spot section at Target and pick up some activity packets and things from there before a trip. When my daughter liked to run off a lot the stroller helped to keep her in one spot (before I had a toddler carrier). The stroller also came in handy for loading up her car sear, other luggage and purses. I also got Puro noise canceling headphones for her because they don’t go past the safe noise level for kids and they use Bluetooth to connect the iPad (or plug in).

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The moms have spoken! And to further assist, there is a curated category in my Amazon Store with recommendations from the moms. These links are affiliate links for products from which a small commission is paid. 

For more tips and tricks, check out BarrisTourista every Thursday. And if you sign up, you will get a free Travel Deals Cheat Sheet to help you save on all things travel! 

 

Main Image Credit: shutterstock/Nadezhda1906

Baby carrier


Leap Pads

Kids Headphones

barristourista

I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

34 comments on “Traveling With Kids: Tips & Tricks from Mom Bloggers”

  1. Great tips. Where were these in 2014 when I travelled with a 4yo and 3mth old..lol. I made it tho and agree with ur bloggers.. Be calm and have a strategy. At the same time u will be surprised by the help an airline and strangers will offer 🙂

  2. I travel by car with the kids and they are okay as long as they have their electronics I am suppose to be going by train next summer to the west coast and I am scared lol

  3. I love this post and all of the tips. They were all very good and serves as a reminder that when you travel with children, you really have to have a plan and be organized.

  4. OMG so many great, great tips shared here from some fab moms I will be sure to follow! I just wrote a post about my international travel tips as we just got back from Turks and Caicos. But when my oldest was a baby and we traveled with him, we made sure to pack the things that were familiar to him at home, and that seemed to help (the longest we were away was two weeks).

  5. These are great tips. I am wondering what the passport rule is for kids when there is only one parent. I am trying to conceive on my own usuing donor sperm so my kid will not have a father to show up for or notarize the passport.

  6. Aw man, I used to travel so much with my first daughter. Since having our second daughter (she’s now 5), I’ll be honest, traveled just one time and it was HELL! Glad to hear tips and tricks from other mothers. Makes life so much easier to hear about others experiences and advice. Our girls are age 8 and 5. So although they’re a bit bigger now, it’s still hard. Grrrr

  7. My kids are in their 20’s now but these are some good tips, I especially like the tip about the water pouch, which is good for any kind of traveling and I take my noise cancelling headphones EVERYWHERE, I can’t live without them

  8. Great tips on traveling with kids. I am not a parent, but when and if I do have kids I will be prepared. Love reading all the tips and advice from the mommy bloggers.

  9. These are definitely some great tips for traveling with kids! Although I don’t have kids, I do quite a bit of traveling (usually one trip/flight) each month and it’s so important to be prepared when you’re traveling <3

  10. I always enjoyed traveling with my kids and now, with my grandkids. We always get compliments on how well behaved they are. Of course, my daughter makes sure she has their iPods charged, a “surprise” travel bag filled with activities and lots of good, wholesome snacks. And they’ve been taught good manners, how to treat others and to show respect to adults. These are all great tips you’ve shared!

  11. We write a family travel blog (with the kids, who write their own posts) so we travel a lot with them. These are some great tips, and what’s clear from them and from our experiences is that things change so much as they get older. It gets very much easier, and you need less stuff (though probably more electronic chargers!)

  12. Your son seems way more civilized than mine. Just the thought of bringing him on a trip abroad makes my eye twitch. Great tips though. I also like to keep my son occupied and bring as many gadgets with me as possible. I forgot to charge his tablet once and will never make that mistake again.

  13. I would add noise out headphones that do not fall out. My daughter has sensory issues to noise. I put on her headphones and we are good to go.

  14. From my experience in traveling with my 2 and 4 year-olds since my first was 9 months old, I concur with these lovely ladies on most points. Babywearing through the airport IS the way to go. Packing plenty of wet wipes is handy in all situations. Driving at night is a great way to have some peace and quiet on the road while the little ones sleep. I’ll also add that it’s great to contact someone in your destination city to ask to borrow a carseat and/or stroller when you arrive. That way you don’t have to haul big clunky baby items through the airport.

  15. Great tips! I’ve done road trips, but not plane rides with kiddos. Our biggest thing is back seat entertainment and thankfully we have a built in entertainment system in our journey that helps, we’ve got old phones with games, ipads and I also like to hit the dollar store for some activity books to do on the road. And yes a new toy spaced out helps. Of course my kids are a bit older, 3 and 6, but some of this still applys to a three year old who’s attention span isn’t much better than a 2 year old. Great tips!

  16. This is such a clever idea! I love that you gathered ideas from a bunch of different bloggers! This post will be invaluable to those travelling with little ones!

  17. I love this post! My husband and I have two kids now and we want to travel to Europe this summer. We have travelled with our one child quite a bit and SWEAR by the baby carrier!

  18. We don’t have kids yet, but we travel a lot and I don’t expect that to slow down once we do. These are great tips and I’m making lots of mental notes for the future.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

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