11 Hacks for Traveling With Kids to Maintain Your Sanity
As important as it is to go on family vacations, traveling with young children can be a bit daunting. Sometimes, it can feel downright impossible. No matter how you’re getting where you’re going, incorporating one or more of these tips for traveling with kids will help the ride or flight go by more smoothly. From ordering supplies online and shipping to your hotel, to improvising a movie screen for your car, these hacks will make the trip more fun for everyone.
1. SHIP AHEAD
Order items you know you need and have them sent to your hotel or resort ahead of time; you’ll be able to pick your packages up at check-in. Shipping ahead allows you to avoid high carry-on or luggage costs if you’re flying; but it also ensures you have the items you need on hand for a picky toddler. Not all brands are available in all areas, and the last thing you want to do after checking in is head out to look for the cereal your child just has to have to escape an imminent meltdown.
2. EASY ID HACKS
Keeping the family together and traveling safe is constantly atop every parent’s mind. And while your older children can recite their phone number and your name, the little ones might not have this knowledge, especially in places they’ve never seen before. Just to be safe, create a wristband with your phone number and hotel information for your younger children to wear during your trip. For teens, add the name and address of your hotel into their phone contacts and GPS so they know where you’re going, and where they will be staying, just in case they should be separated. We all know how kids like to explore on their own, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
3. RENT, DON’T BUY
If you’re heading to a popular tourist destination, one of the best travel hacks is to look for services that rent everything from strollers (including jogger and special needs versions) to video game consoles; your items can be delivered to your resort and be ready when you arrive. Some items may even be available at your resort or hotel already! For example, Welk Resorts allows you to borrow their pack-n-plays and high chairs for your babies and toddlers during your stay—free of charge! Just be sure to coordinate with the Front Desk before you arrive as some items are available on a first-come, first-served basis. These perks can be huge lifesavers for parents; we can all agree that the less you need to pack into the car or plane, the better!
4. FORGOTTEN CHARGER HACKS
Left the wall plug portion of your charger at home? Your older kids won’t be able to charge phones or tablets without it, and buying a new one is just another expense. Take a peek at your hotel room outlets and even the back of the TV; you may spot a USB port in one or both areas, which can be used to charge things like mobile phones and tablets. Some newer cars also include USB ports, so be sure to investigate all devices before purchasing a new charger.
5. MAKE A MOVIE SCREEN FOR THE CAR
One of our favorite hacks is the one that keeps kids entertained for at least a solid hour. Place your iPad or tablet inside a gallon freezer bag, then tape the bag to the back of your car seat; this way, your little ones can enjoy their favorite show without you having to worry about them fiddling with the screen. This is also a great time to watch that movie they’ve been hoping to see.
6. PACK WATER BOTTLES—WITHOUT WATER
Add an empty or reusable water bottle to your family’s carry-ons (don’t worry, TSA is okay with this). You’ll be able to add water from a drinking fountain after you pass through security and have something to drink on the plane that isn’t soda and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
7. MAKE A TRAVEL KIT
Start a few weeks before your trip and collect small but fun items for each child; place these items in a tote and pass them out during the car ride. Try things like simple coloring books, puzzles, arts and crafts kits and chapter books or novels. Try passing out a new item every 50 miles or so (or on whatever schedule you’d like).
8. COUNTDOWN CHAIN
How much farther? Create a chain or signs for each milestone you’ll pass, whether it’s by state, by mile marker or by landmark. The older kids can watch for the milestones while younger ones can enjoy watching the chain get smaller. You’ll also cut down on the “are we there yet” questions, too.
9. PACK A SNACK SURVIVAL BOX
A few trips through various drive thrus on the way to your destination can leave everyone feeling queasy and put a serious dent in the travel fund. Instead, pack snacks for the trip and distribute them as needed. Granola bars, apples, nuts, pretzels, rice cakes and other similar items won’t go bad quickly and will provide a healthy option when you’re on the go. Using compartmentalized hobby boxes are another fun way to add variety to you kids’ snack attacks. They’re also easy to travel with and essentially smash-proof.
10. PAY FOR THE IN-FLIGHT WIFI
You may have to pay a little extra, but if your flight is longer than an hour or two, paying for in-flight wireless connectivity can keep the kids occupied while you get some much-needed shuteye.
11. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
If you are traveling during the school year and you can get your “away” homework from the teacher up front, have older children and teens do it on the ride to the airport or in the first part of your car ride. You’ll feel better knowing it is done and you won’t have to worry about losing it on the way.
Have something to add to the list to help out your fellow moms and dads? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more useful tips and tricks.