Traveling with Little Kids: Practical Tips

My previous post proclaimed the secret of traveling with kids is just do it! And I mean it, just do it! Learn as you go. Surprise your self with your unexpected ability and super parenthood. Laugh at your ridiculous mistakes and fumbles. Dust yourself when you hit a bump in the road and carry on. But why reinvent the wheel? Let’s learn from each other and here is my two cents on how to make traveling with kids a little smoother.

1) Keep your expectations low. Does this sound like a departure from my positive spin? Well, it helps keep me positive when things get choppy on a long trip. When taking a long flight with little kids, I go in with really low expectations. I think about the potential tantrums, ears that won’t pop, restless wiggling that drives other passenger bonkers, cranky kids that won’t sleep, diapers exploding, food flying, saturation of my patience and my clothes with untold liquids. I think about simple tools I can bring to combat inevitable messes and disgruntled travelers. In the end, the trip is always smoother than expected. The result is that I am grateful for what went smoothly rather than frustrated about the inevitable challenges.

2) Carry a spare set of clothes for each person. I am all about traveling light but comfort and health are essential. Messes are shouganai ( with little kids, so be prepared. You will get wet and sticky and so will they. To prevent misery, rashes, and dampness, bring a spare set of clothes. If you manage to survive the trip without a major spill, you can use the clothes for a fresh outfit change when you arrive at your destination.

3) Always bring wipes, snacks, diapers (if applicable), and a little treat for yourself. If you forget wipes, grab some paper hand towels from the restroom. You can dampen them as needed. If you run out of diapers, as once happened to me in the middle of an international flight, use your last clean diaper with sanitary napkins from the airplane. Planes and most bathrooms provide feminine products, but diapers can be hard to dinIf you use up your last diaper unknowingly, you will have to secure the pad as best as possible with a onesie. You can also ask any other travelers with small kids for a spare. Parents usually love to help other parents.

4) Ignore the jerks. This may be one of the most important tips. When you travel, you will bump into all sorts of personalities. Do not let them rain on your parade. Some people have no sympathy for kids, some people are having a bad day, and some people just aren’t nice. For some reason, certain people love to spread their own gospel about how you should raise your kids. No one has all the answers for traveling with kids and no one knows your kids better than you. Try to keep a smile on your face and keep on going. Remember, how you react to Erik’s will be passed on to your kids, who watch and imitate your every mood. Don’t let strangers suck your energy

5) Write down a list of the most important things for your trip: passports, license, keys, a favorite toy, credit card, tickets, important reservation information, and so on. Use the list for packing and on your trip. Every time you transition off a mode of transportation, check out of a hotel, or leave anywhere with your bags, go through the list and make sure you have what you need most. There is nothing like losing your passport or access to money while you are responsible for little ones. Really write it down. Mental checklists deteriorate when juggling kids.

6) Count the total number of bags/items you are bringing. Then, count your bags every time you transition with them (airport, in and out of taxis, check ins and check outs, etc.). If you are traveling with another adult or older kids, do not rely on their counts or you are bound to hear or say “I thought you had it…agh!”. Do your own count.

7) What not to bring: (a) Toys that roll: This includes cars, crayons, balls and so on. Unless your child cannot live without it, do not bring toys that roll on modes of transport (you can pack them and use them wherever you sleep on your trip). These toys will roll away on the plane, ship, bus, etc. They will annoy other passengers and risk a major meltdown by your child if the toy becomes irretrievable. (B) Sticky or smelly foods. You do not need more mess or more reasons to irritate fellow travelers. (c) All your baby and toddler gear. Think hard about what you really need and brainstorm ways that one object can multitask for you. For example, a shawl or jacket can be used as a blanket, nursing cover, shade from sunny car windows, etc.

What are your traveling tips for kids? I would love to learn more!



  1. We traveled to the Summerlin Patriotic Parade today and I kinda used alot on your checklist. LOW EXPECTATIONS….my car almost broke down on the way to the parade, had to come home and switch over car seats and the wagon to the other vehicle. THEN my husband got sick on the way. Yep. Wipes, snacks, drinks and non rolling toys…check. Sunblock? Yep.
    We ended up having a pleasant time but I know that’s because I kept my expectations low after our rocky start.
    Love reading your thoughts! See you soon.

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