My top tips for stress-free travel with kids – what are yours?

Jan 20 • Featured, Saving Tips, Uncategorized • 938 Views • 9 Comments on My top tips for stress-free travel with kids – what are yours?

On Friday, I’ll be answering your travel questions on the KidStart facebook page and on twitter. But meanwhile, here are my top tips for stress-free travelling with kids – do share yours below:

*If you’re flying with a baby: try to get a bulkhead seat if you can and make sure you book a skycot; if you can, request the bulkhead seats in the middle so that light streaming in from the plane windows doesn’t keep your baby awake.  Make sure you have lots of soft (not noisy!) toys, for example a fabric shape sorter.  And plan to give a bottle on take off/landing to help your baby’s ear pressure.

*Make friends with the crew, take lots of nappies, walk up and down the aisles at frequent intervals and try not to get too stressed if your baby won’t settle – I know it can be difficult when you feel as though other passengers are glaring at you, but all you can do is your best.

*You can never have enough pens, pads, colouring books, story books, wipes and tissues when you’re travelling with toddlers and pre-schoolers. And a towel is always useful, too.

*For shorter journeys, make up a surprise goody bag filled with fun stuff to keep your child entertained, and give it to them when you get in the car/on board the train/plane/ferry.

*Try not to feel pressured into spending heaps of money when you’re on holiday if you’re on a tight budget. Your kids are happy to be away with you so simple pleasures will work wonders.

*You can never pack too many t-shirts for kids. And travel wash is always useful.
*Make sure you have enough medication, creams and other essentials, and if you’re going abroad, check with your GP whether your child needs any vaccinations well in advance of your departure date.

*Kids often don’t like airplane food – even the ‘kids’ meals’. It’s a good idea to buy them a sandwich/snack before you board, particularly if you’re flying long-haul.

*Get comprehensive travel insurance.

*Encourage them to go to sleep when you’re on a different time zone, but don’t worry too much about sticking to a routine – you can all go with the flow, you’re on holiday!

written by Liz Jarvis


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9 Responses to My top tips for stress-free travel with kids – what are yours?

  1. Tanya (Bump2Basics) says:

    I very recently posted about my top tips for long haul flights with a baby – find it here

  2. Mummy Zen says:

    I find stickers great for toddlers when travelling. My son loves sticking them on different surfaces, taking them off, re-sticking them….one sticker can keep him happy for quite a while! For long car journeys his nursery rhymes CDs work wonders for keeping him happy. I keep a bag of travel toys that he only sees when we travel so they have a novelty value to them. If I see something when I’m out that I think would make a good travel toy, I get and add it to the bag (but all the stuff is small and inexpensive).

  3. Elizabeth - Letters from a Small State says:

    These are great tips! My hubby and I are confirmed travelers with 4 kids 6 and under. We fly, drive (live in America… so LONG car trips!) and even like to hike and kayak with the kiddos. Here’s my tips: 1. Be flexible with schedule YES! BUT, if you have a little one on a strict nap sked, keep that nap intact. All will be glad! If you are flying, try to schedule the flight so you are hitting the air around nap time. Bring your child favorite blanket on board and carry on a certified carseat for squirmy toddlers. You will be glad and they will feel more secure. 2. Car trips: Pack a ‘bag of wonders.’ Gather a bag full of small toys that you keep in the front seat with you grown-ups. Only hand out one small toy at a time to the kid/kids. You will be shocked how long they will play with a tiny pony or a stuffed crab! Let them rely on their imaginations. 3. Bring less. We camped for two weeks in Maine and Canada. The only toys we brought for our four were those in that one bag of wonders. The kids actually entertained themselves the most with a BLANKET! And with other kids they met, swimming, rolling in the grass, hiding behind rocks and trees and generally being imaginative. 4. Eat crap airport food they love. I am all about organic and healthy. However. In the airport is the time to let the kids enjoy nuggets and fries. Actually, buy them and bring them on the plane with you. We ALWAYS entertain the kids with food and try to plan our flight times around meal times. That way they are likely to be hungry and then SLEEPY afterward. 5. Rude kids are blamed on rude/thoughtless parents. If your kids are over the age of terrible twos and are being awful and disruptive to other flyers, it is the parents job to settle them down and stop the bad behavior. Remember: you bought those SEATS, not the entire airplane or airline. Most other flyers will give harried parents some space and allowance for the erratic behavior of babies and toddlers on airplanes. But once the kids are old enough to understand NO, the parents need to step up and give the kids enough distractions and BOUNDARIES to behave properly. 6. Let them carry on. From the age of 4 on, eat child can carry a small backpack with their own stash of small notebook, crayons, small toy, and a couple snacks. Let them be in charge of their own entertainment. 7. DVDs. Bring videos with headsets for the flight and for the car. BEST TIP: Don’t turn the videos on until the last possible moment, especially for longer flights and drives. You will be surprised how long your young children can entertain each other and themselves without being zoned out by the screen. 8. Don’t apologize. You have kids. Kids exist in the world! Stop apologizing for being a parent, for having people with shorter legs than everyone, for having to haul more than most. But be as prepared as you can be by putting slip on shoes on your kids at the airport, streamlining the carry-ons, and making sure the kids know they are expected to use their best manners wherever they go! 9. It’s your vacation too! Travel with other family members! Have a sister and brother in law with two kids? Plan a vacation with them so you can share the fun, and maybe get a night out by yourselves!

  4. Julia from KidsTravel2 says:

    Sweets to suck for take off are a good idea to distract from take off and ease pressure on the ears. Following on the goody bag and budget note, this needn’t cost a fortune – put to one side freebies from cereal packs and other bits and bobs in the build up to your holiday – you’ll soon have built up a supply of things to use!

  5. Marneta from Relax Kids says:

    Also some simple stretches and breathing exercises can help them relax on long flights.

  6. Clare from says:

    Some additional flying with kids travel tips for you… Toys – I’m with mummy zen for stickers – especially for younger children. My daughter’s first ‘sticker’ experience was on an aeroplane – it was hilarious watching her work out how to put the stickers on the page – lasted a good hour too! Little library books fit nicely into bags. I also look out in charity shops for good sized books for travel. I take a couple of jigsaws packed into plastic food bags – familiar ones so we don’t need the box. Someone on our blog recently recommended triangular crayons – then they don’t roll off those nasty little trays. Luggage – take bags big enough for all your gear, but small enough to fit under the seat in front otherwise you’re forever up and down to the overhead locker. Eating – if possible, ask for your and your partners meals to be served seperately if you have an under 2 on your lap. Snacks – take more than you need if you have the space – just in case they don’t like the airline food. Or on short haul flights take small things they have to pick up – like cheerios – they’re happy to have something sweet and eating them takes longer one by one. Clothes – layer up – it always seems chilly on planes and any excess clothes can be used as pillows. hope these are helpful.

  7. Real Mamma Diaries says:

    I’ve got children with a big age difference – my daughter’s only two while my son is eight going on 18. How can I find the perfect way to keep them both entertaining during the journey to the airport and on the plane? I can’t face any screaming and rowing during the flight…I haven’t travelled since youngest was a baby, and they don’t stop bickering now she can talk and walk. Help!

  8. sharon says:

    I’d say avoid getting into DVD players at all in car travel – once they’ve had one all imagination disappears – my nieces can’t do anything in the car but stare at the little screens …. However we have a DVD player "that doesn’t work in a car darling" but does on a plane where we found the action of wearing headphones was very time consuming for a 3 year old. Also a big fan of the bag of tiny toys – they go back into the bag at the end of the holiday til next timeand come out

  9. Ellen Arnison says:

    For babies – wipes, clothes pegs and long laces for fixing things places. For bigger kids – batteries, bottled water and playing cards/ dominos


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