Traveling With Kids: Tips To Save You Time, Money, & Stress

Traveling With Kids: Tips To Save You Time, Money, & Stress

Vacation time!

Packing for a beach vacation used to be a breeze.  Throw some bathing suits, cute sun dresses, and sandals in my suitcase and I was good to go.  Before having a child that is. Now packing can be a bit more time-consuming and tedious.  There were trips that I felt like we were going to the ends of the earth and if I didn’t pack that one specific toy we would be toast.

Luckily, my packing and traveling con kiddo skills have improved over the past few years. I hate paying extra to check bags when flying so I try very, very hard to avoid doing so.  Not to toot my own horn, but last summer I managed to pack for a nine-day trip to Italy in one carry on suitcase.  Of course I didn’t have my daughter with me, but I was still pretty impressed with my packing skills!

Here are some of my favorite and most useful tips when traveling with a toddler.  Hopefully you’ll find a few that will make traveling less stressful and perhaps even save you some money!

Packing Tips:

  1. Pack undergarments and socks in Ziploc bags, one for each family member.  Have a separate Ziploc for dirty ones in case you won’t be doing laundry while you are away. Label each bag accordingly.
  2. Traveling With Kids: Tips To Save You Time, Money, & Stress

    Packing tip

    You know those mesh laundry bags you can buy to wash delicates in? (If not, check them out here. You can usually find them at places like Marshalls too).  They are great for packing kids outfits, bathing suits, and summer clothes in. They come in various sizes.

  3. Use every bit of space that your bag or suitcase allows.  Even if it’s not meant to be an actual compartment, usually there’s some space where you can squeeze some flat things in like magazines, books, or even a pair of flip-flops.
  4. Pack things inside your shoes.  Ok, not your stinky gym shoes, but a small bag of jewelry could easily slip inside the front part of your shoes.  Plus, then you won’t have to worry about your jewelry getting lost among your clothes.
  5. If you’re packing hats, be it baseball caps or beach hats, pack things inside of them! That’s valuable space!
  6. I like to pack a lot of my carry on stuff for my daughter in Ziploc bags.  I’ll have a few different bags of snacks, one for spare clothes, one with crayons and a small coloring book.  I also take a few empty bags.
  7. Traveling With Kids: Tips To Save You Time, Money, & Stress

    Packing tip

    Roll your clothes instead of folding them.  I have found it easier to fit more in that way and you can see what’s in there better.

  8. I always let my daughter pack her small backpack with whatever toys she wants to bring along.  It helps her to feel involved in the packing process, which she loves, and usually helps to avoid a tantrum about the toy that wasn’t packed.  Usually.
  9. If you have multiple legs on your journey, try to pack your suitcase so that the clothes you’ll need first are on top.
  10. Pack clothing items that can be worn in multiple ways.  A cute skirt might work for walking around during the day and then dressed up with heels and accessories at night.
  11. If you have a Kindle, download books from your local library on it.  It’s free, plus then you don’t have to worry about carrying the extra weight of books with you.
  12. Carry travel size versions of as many toiletries as you can.
  13. Speaking of, don’t get suckered into every single travel size item in the travel section of Target (like I often do). Take an inventory of what you already have and ask yourself if you really need that tiny, cute bottle of shampoo. (But for a germaphobe like me, you can never have too many sanitizing wipes!)
  14. Put a small pack of tissues in your purse.  Guaranteed that if you don’t, you’ll find yourself stuck in a bathroom that is out of toilet paper.

Traveling Tips:

  1. Pack snacks so that they are readily accessible.  Whether you are driving or flying, you don’t want to be digging around frantically while your toddler is screaming that they are STARVING (even though they just ate five minutes ago).
  2. On the snack note, don’t hand over all the loot in the first hour of your trip.  Stash some snacks away because there is nothing worse than traveling with a hungry toddler.  Take it from me.  Or my fellow passengers on our last airplane ride 🙂
  3. Pick up some dollar store toys and save them for the ride/flight.  While kids love toys, they love new toys even more (even if it breaks within ten minutes of having it. Then just pull out your backup dollar store toy).
  4. Speaking of toys, try to avoid ones with lots of pieces when traveling.  Inevitably, those pieces will get lost somewhere and we all know what happens then. Meltdown city.
  5. Dress comfortably, that includes you and the kiddo.  Save the cute wedges and outfits for your destination or for when you’re traveling solo.  Your child will not care if they spill goldfish or applesauce all over your new white shorts.  Nor will they care if they are the best dressed baby on the plane in that adorable romper from your great-aunt.  They only care that they are the best FED baby.  (Plus, if you have one still in diapers, rompers can be a major pain to get on and off if they don’t have any snaps in the diaper area).
  6. Carry a lightweight cardigan in your purse when flying.  It’s often freezing on the plane, plus it can also serve as a small blanket for your kiddo if need be.
  7. My 4-year-old loves her Leapfrog LeapPad. (Great birthday/holiday gift from the grandparents by the way).  That thing has saved us from numerous meltdowns on long rides.  I like to add a new video or learning activity right before we go away so that she has something new to watch.  Headphones are a bonus 🙂
  8. Try and wear out the kids’ energy as much as possible before settling in for a long car ride or flight.  But you also don’t want an overtired child so a good night’s sleep leading up to the trip is essential.
  9. Even if it feels like your kid is the loudest one on the plane or the only one who has ever had a complete meltdown mid-flight, I promise you that’s not the case.  We have all been there and if not, well you probably will at some point.  Kids feed off our energy so try to stay calm.
  10. If you’re taking a long car trip with the kids and you’re the only adult, make the snacks, toys, and anything else you may need easily accessible.  Driving while trying to reach into your diaper bag is definitely not safe, so the more you can do before you get on the road, the better.  I make sure to lay out some stuff on my passenger seat so when my daughter beckons/demands, I can just grab something next time we stop.
  11. Try to avoid buying water on the road or at the airport.  When road tripping it, I always bring along full water bottles for all of us.  At the airport, I’ve always managed to get my daughter’s sippy cup through security with no problem.
  12. Save a snack for takeoff and landing.  The chewing/swallowing will help with ear discomfort. Applesauce pouches are always a hit with my daughter, plus they aren’t messy!
  13. Keep your child’s lovey (if they have one) nearby.  You would hate for a nap not to happen because they didn’t have it.
  14. If you’re flying, make sure to put your ID back in your wallet right after you go through security.  Otherwise, you may end up leaving it in your pants’ pocket and then freaking out when you are looking for it days later.
  15. Pack a yummy treat for yourself.  Traveling with kids is no joke, you deserve it!

If all else fails, I’m not above a simple bribe to keep toddler-mania from happening.  A promise of an ice cream cone at the end of a long car trip can go a long way!

What’s your best tip for traveling with kids?

I think you’ll also like these related posts:

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30 thoughts on “Traveling With Kids: Tips To Save You Time, Money, & Stress

  1. Swati

    Thanks for sharing the tips! Whenever we plan a trip packing is something that takes most of our preparation time. I am not that good at packing, like you but guess I have learned a lot from your post.

    1. Jody Post author

      You’re welcome Swati! I feel like I learn something new every time we travel somewhere with my daughter and I am happy to share my tips! Traveling with kids can definitely be challenging! Thanks for stopping by1

  2. Jessie, FlusteredMom

    Good tips. I always make sure to pack Dramamine too since my littlest gets air-sick/car-sick. They have a non-drowsy, all natural version, which is a clinical dose of ginger. Next time we travel, I’ll be picking up some wrist bands to try to help with his nausea.

    1. Jody Post author

      I didn’t realize there was an all natural version of Dramamine, that’s good to know Jessie! Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend!

    1. Jody Post author

      You’re welcome Addie! Traveling with kids is definitely challenging so I am happy to share any tips I have! Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend!

    1. Jody Post author

      Thanks Devon! Rolling my clothes definitely seems to allow a little more room in my suitcase and when traveling with kids, I need all the extra room I can get! Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend!

  3. Katie

    Hi Lauren! I love using Ziploc bags for packing. You and I have kids that are similar ages, and it looks like we have similar packing strategies. 🙂 Great tips!

    1. Jody Post author

      Ziplocs are a lifesaver for me Katie! I use them for so much, and I do try and re-use them several times. Thanks for reading and stopping by, have a great weekend!

  4. Michelle

    It takes a brave person to travel with kids. You do what you gotta do, right! Great tips. I love how you suggest saving some of your snacks for later. I made this mistake before and the kids ate everything as soon as the trip started. We were driving, but still. Great tips. Pinning!

    1. Jody Post author

      Yes Michelle, I am all about doing what I need to do to avoid the toddler meltdown! I’ve even started stashing a few random snacks around my car for real emergency snack situations! Thanks for stopping by and pinning, have a wonderful weekend!

  5. Kim Smith

    This has come at the right time for me. We will be traveling with my grandson who is 10yrs old and have decided to have a carry-on just for him and his “stuff.” That way I won’t be hunting for anything in my bags and hopefully, he will enjoy being in charge of his own. This won’t be his first trip, so I have high expectations that he will behave well. Wish us luck.

    1. Jody Post author

      Good luck Kim! Packing a separate kid bag is definitely smart! Hope the trip goes smoothly. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

  6. Kristin

    These are all great tips and the fact that kids are so food centric definitely helps. I agree with all of them. I too have been the mom with the only kid not sleeping on a red eye and that is never a fun place to be. We have also used spacebags for packing when we needed to fit a lot in a small space and that seems to help. Great tips!

    1. Jody Post author

      Thanks Kristin! I’ve never thought about packing things in a space bag but that’s definitely one I will add to my list. Traveling with kids is definitely an adventure, to say the least! Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend!

  7. Lauren White

    Oh I’m sooo OCD when it comes to packing. I love all of these tips! Especially the mesh delicates bag! 🙂 When we went to Buffalo for vacation this summer, I had each one of my little one’s outfits (she’s almost 11 months) in separate ziplock bags. It made it so easy! 🙂

    1. Jody Post author

      Me too Lauren! Keeping each person’s things separate seems to help my organizing OCD a lot! It’s amazing how much stuff little ones require! Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

  8. Ashley

    Great tips and tricks! We are a road tripping family but I am always so amazed at how well kids to on planes! Maybe one day (and with these tips) I’ll gather enough courage to fly with them all! ?

    1. Jody Post author

      Thanks Ashley! I feel like once you get the first flight over with, that seems to help a lot. Just remember the snacks! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend!

  9. Nikki Frank-Hamilton

    My kids are older now, so at least I don’t have to worry about diapers or toys, but it’s toothbrushes and chargers and underwear that seems to get forgotten. I love 2 of these tips the most
    “14. Put a small pack of tissues in your purse. Guaranteed that if you don’t, you’ll find yourself stuck in a bathroom that is out of toilet paper.”
    Always! Even just going to dinner or the grocery store! Hate that I always choose the wrong stall.
    “6. Carry a lightweight cardigan in your purse when flying. It’s often freezing on the plane, plus it can also serve as a small blanket for your kiddo if need be.”
    This is a must too, I always get cold when sitting, and invariably my daughter forgets hers and ends up covering up in mine!

    Great tips! Thanks for linking this up to “What are you working on?” Wednesday, pinned and tweeted, see you next Wednesday!

    1. Jody Post author

      Thanks Nikki! I’ve found that as my daughter has gotten older, the travel needs have changed…except for the food part, that is still always a necessity on trips! And since she likes to try out every public restroom possible (she clearly hasn’t developed my germ phobia yet) I always have plenty of extra tissues in my purse! Thanks for stopping by and sharing! Have a great week!

  10. Amy Ngai

    Great list! Ziplock bags are my best friends when we are travelling. And I always make sure I have tons of snacks and goodies for the kids! Thanks for sharing. #ConfessionsLinkUp

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