10 Tips for Traveling with Kids

Travel bloggers - and moms - share their secrets for surviving train, plane and car trips with kids.

little girl eating on a plane

Whether you're taking a plane, train or automobile, when talking about travel with kids, "vacation" can be a pretty loose term. How do you make your summer trip easier, more fun, and more relaxing for everyone -- including mom and dad? Follow these tips from a few of our favorite family travel bloggers and you'll be on your way.

Flying with Kids

1. Avoid enemies. "Remember the more you tell children not to press the attendant call button the more they will do it. Respect the comfort of other passengers by dealing firmly with unacceptable behavior, such as kicking the seat, but be prepared for some passengers to give you the 'raised eyebrow' treatment merely at the sight of your little darlings."
-- William Gray, Family Travel Expert

2. Let go of your rules for today. "If you've got a baby, make sure to reserve one of the bassinet seats. I know what it's like to take a 14-hour flight with a baby on my lap and it's not fun! For toddlers and older kids, let them watch as much TV as they want - trust me, it's worth it."
-- Nancy Harper, Travellin' Mama

3. Occupy them. "When flying with young children, I recommend packing chewy candy and suckers if they don't chew gum yet. Also, I recommend Color Wonders for little ones. These markers and books are wonderful because they don't color on anything but the coloring pages. And if you buy new books to surprise the kids with on the flight, it will keep them busy for ages."
--TÚsa Nicolanti, 2 Wired 2 Tired

4. Don't skimp on treats. "Pack snacks! A hungry kid is a cranky kid, so snacks are critical. I pack small boxes of raisins, granola bars, and some 'bribe/reward' item like M&M's. Also, the one piece of travel gear I advise parents to have is a Sit N Stroll. It does double duty: a car seat that turns into a stroller and fits in a seat on the plane. The Sit N Stroll totally eliminates the need for extra car seats, gear to carry and can be used for rear facing infants and toddlers through 40 pounds."
-- Elizabeth Thorp, Poshbrood

Traveling by Train with Kids

5. Get creative. "The great thing about trains is that you usually get a fairly decent sized table on which to spread out your stuff. So remember to bring lots of coloring pads, activity books, and comics to help the journey go by. And don't forget that train journeys are the perfect opportunity for a game of I-spy or travel bingo (where you tick off a list of things you might see out of the window, such as church tower, tunnel, etc)."
-- William Gray, Family Travel Expert

6. Splurge for comfort. "Reserve a sleeping car if possible. Kids love it! We took a train trip from Singapore overnight to northern Malaysia and, although it was a rough ride, sitting up all night would have been a whole lot worse."
-- Nancy Harper, Travellin' Mama

Taking a Road Trip with Kids

7. Stock up on books and movies. "I checked out an audiobook from the library, and each kid brought two or three books to read. Having a DVD system in the car also helped, although surprisingly, they watched only a total of five videos. All of this, combined with their favorite pillow and blanket, made for a couple of happy and content kids."
-- Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom

8. Involve the kids. "If your children are old enough, get them to help you research the route, compile a schedule and pick a few options for rest breaks. Giving them joint ownership of the drive plan offers them an incentive to look forward to the journey rather than lapse into moan mode."
-- William Gray, Family Travel Expert

9. Manage your expectations. "See as much of the United States and Canada with the kids as you can, but don't expect them to care about the scenery. They won't! If you've got plenty of time, drive only a few hours at a time, and give the kids plenty to get excited about at the next destination."
-- Nancy Harper, Travellin' Mama

10. Pack surprises. "Pack a separate bags of toys, games, books, and snacks for each state you will drive through. Every time you cross a state line, break out the 'new' bag of goodies to keep the kids entertained."
-- TÚsa Nicolanti, 2 Wired 2 Tired

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Comments (2)
Melissa L.
We made many domestic car and train trips and some transatlantic airplane trips with our three young children. To help them endure the long trips I made travel packs for them. Each child got a special bag (usually a heavy plastic bag tote bag from a store) filled with age appropriate items,such as writing and coloring supplies, treats, a book, some manipulatives, such as paydough and travel games (e.g.magnetic). Sometimes the travel pack was the most anticpated part of the trip and once they got them they were happily engaged for hours.

If traveling with an infant, please buy the extra seat, not just for your comfort, but for your child's safety. An infant in a lap on an airplane is unprotected and can be easily injured if there is turbulence or a rough landing, etc.
Posted: July 09, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Photo of Gina M.
Gina M.
I take amy 7 hour car trip from Philly yo Cleveland Ohio to se my dad and sister. When my kids were 2 & 3 I keft at 3am and they slept until 2 hours bafore we got there. When they woke-up I stoped at the next rest stop, changed them and we got back in the car and fed them breakfast, put ona kid cd, and we were there in no time.
Posted: July 04, 2012 at 9:47 AM
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