The holidays are a time of family travel, and with this can definitely come a lot of stress. I remember travel before children- you just throw a few things in a bag, hop in your car or on a plane and chill out. Ohhhh those days are SO over! Kids add a lot of excitement and variety to your life, but also a lot of angst and frustration. I have compiled my top 7 travel tips for kids in hopes that you stay sane and safe during your travels.
I know this sounds silly because, duh, we all need water to live, but keeping your kids hydrated can have a huge effect on their mood. Even mild dehydration can cause headaches, decrease energy, and create adverse changes in mood. Yes, it might be tempting to withhold water on that long car trip in order to increase the time between bathroom breaks, but I would much rather stop more frequently than deal with a cranky kid. I try to give my kids the freedom to drink water when they are thirsty (crazy concept) by giving them their own water bottles on both car and plane trips. My favorite? Hydaway collapsible water bottles.
They smoosh down to a 1.5″ disc when not in use, then expand to an 18oz. water bottle when ready to be filled. You can also purchase an adorable travel case that clips on to your child’s backpack. It is leakproof, dishwasher safe and comes with two different top options. Keeing kids hydrated is one of my top travel tips for kids. Drink up!
I am so guilty of playing inappropriate hardcore rap music in the car. Honestly, I just don’t like most children’s music out there- it gets stuck in my head, is too sugary and well, just silly. BUT I realized that my kids were starting to ask questions like…”Mom, why would someone want to back “thatass” up? And what is a “thatass” anyways?” Yep, time to find a happy medium. Music definitely soothes the savage beast, though, so I set out to find some tunes that didn’t annoy the crap out of me but that my kids loved to listen to. You know, a tongue-in-cheek music compilation that made me smile but maybe floated over my kids head?
Welcome to The Not-Its! They have kitschy/catchy songs like “The Battle of Curriculum Night” that discuss how there is going to be a fight a Curriculum Night, try to work it out but the budget is tight, and parents complaining that they don’t see their kid’s artwork anywhere. Genius. My kids loved it, especially the song A Lie is a Lie, which talks about the angst that accompanies telling that little (BIG) lie and not knowing why. Grab all of their CDs or purchase streaming on the website Bandcamp!
Give little feet a rest.
Imagine this scenario: the security line at the airport is massive, hours long. You finally make it through, screaming at your kids to run as you hear the last call for boarding on your flight. You look back and those gorgeous children of yours are dragging their feet, cranky and tired from waiting in that massive line, no sense of urgency. Sound familiar? Yep. Me too. But you can’t just bundle everyone up and run with them football-style under your arms because you have suitcases to carry as well. This is where one brilliant mom husband team came up with the idea to make her suitcase into a seat, the perfect perch for tired little feet- Lugabug.
I am not kidding when I say that this brilliant contraption will save your sanity at the airport. I used to try and strap a car seat to wheel and tow my kiddo that way- um, we ended up having a bit of a crash because I couldn’t figure out how to secure it correctly. Lugabug is ultra-slim and so simple to figure out- you simply strap it on to your rolling luggage, unzip the sides and the seat folds out. Your child, age 2+ and up to 60 lbs, simply sits back while you wheel them to your destination. It takes place of a stroller, and I even use it to stash all of our travel documents for easy access when we check in. Of all the travel tips for kids, this is the one that changed our travel process the most.
To each their own device.
In the early days of car travel, I used to set up my laptop on the console of my car so my kids could watch a movie together and I could focus on the route in relative peace. Well, as they have aged, my kids don’t agree on the show they want to watch anymore, and I have had it up to here listening to kids movies over and over. I finally decided to purchase two iPads and headphones so each child could be in their own little world while I listened to podcasts and cruised. Initially, I purchased corded headphones and quickly realized the issue- somehow my children found ways to get tangled in the cords and break the little jack that plugs into the iPad. MULTIPLE TIMES. After going through at least 4 pairs of traditional corded headphones, I finally tried Puro Sound Labs BT 2200 Headphones that operate via Bluetooth. These are the absolute BEST headphones you will find for children. They truly limit the volume to a safe level (whereas others claim to but many in fact do not), up to 18 hours per charge, ambient noise isolation and super darn comfy. No, they aren’t the least expensive option, but you will save in the long run. Believe me, staying separate when it comes to devices is definitely one of the travel tips for kids that I use.
Take the toys along for the ride.
I used to try and limit the number of toys my kids could take, mandating that anything with tiny little pieces is left at home. Well…toys with tiny little pieces are often the ones they want to take, and the ones that they take the most amount of time with which to play. Think about it- dozens of legos, any accessories for teeny tiny dolls, games with a billion pieces…all of these items get lost but allow your kid endless combinations and hours of immersive play. Take the darn toys along that the kids want, but stay smart with storage. Swoop Bags are the OG of portable toy storage- they have been around since 2011 and made from high-quality materials. If you haven’t heard of them before, imagine a circular play mat with a drawstring around the edge. When your kiddo is done playing, you simply tighten the drawstring and the mat becomes a sack. They have a large size and a mini size- the Large Swoop Bag is 44″ in diameter and perfect for any amount of toys your kid can throw in. The Mini Swoop Bag is 16″ and perfect for on the go quick trip play.
Keep them safe and seated.
Raise your hand if you have ever put your kid in an Uber without a booster seat? Now raise your hand if you would ever let your kid ride in your own car without a booster? I have totally done the former because I didn’t have a solution at the time and wouldn’t dream of the latter. With two children, lugging a booster seat to an event downtown just so my kids can hop in a Uber from the train station to a show a few miles away seems like a daunting task. They are just so bulky, and where do you put them when you are done? Another scenario: you are going on a trip but just need boosters to and from the airport. Honestly, I have purchased boosters on a trip and given them away at the airport. What a waste of money.
After a ton of wasted money and endless angst, I found BubbleBum- an inflatable booster seat that meets the safety requirements of the Federal Motor Safety Standard for the USA. I bought these for my kids to use on a trip to Florida where we would be combining a road trip with a cruise. In a few minutes, I had both seats inflated and ready to roll as we hopped in the Uber on our way to and from the airport. In the rental car, same deal- they worked for hours on end. When they weren’t in use, I could deflate, roll and stuff in the accompanying drawstring bag and stash in my big purse. I have also used them as booster seats at shows and on the airplane. You need to make sure your children meet the height/weight requirements for booster seat use, but once they do, welcome to a whole new world.
Put on a Podcast.
My kids need a digital detox after staring at an iPad for hours on end. They start to get cranky and crabby after watching endless hours of downloaded Netflix episodes, so I decided to switch it up. I have loved podcasts since Serial came out- I put in an earbud and listen with one ear while keeping the other free for traffic and kid clashes. When I was looking for another way to entertain my kids during a recent road trip, I stumbled across a few podcasts geared towards children. They were the perfect break from Ben 10 and Barbie for my 5 and 7-year-old! These podcasts were educational yet entertaining and sparked conversations beyond the basic “what did you do in school today?” questions. One that we like is called Brains-On, touted as a podcast for kids and curious adults.
What other travel tips for kids do you have? Any fun car games to play? Airplane awesomeness that you want to share? Let me know! ALSO- my friends at Well Traveled Kids are giving away some of these items- head over to their post and comment to win!
Cheers to adventuring with your children and not letting the fear of the unentertained keep you at home!
Disclosure: I received products for review but all opinions are honest and my own as always. This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you purchase through my site. It doesn’t, however, affect your purchase price. So muchas gracias.