We’ve taken probably 30+ flights with kids (and even went across the world with Coco), so I feel like we know a lot of little and big things that will save you time, energy, and (most importantly) your sanity when traveling with kids! Here are the best tips and travel hacks if you’re jetting off with kiddos anytime soon.
How to prepare to travel with kids:
01. Book flights around nap time or bed time:
This one always feels slightly dicey but if your kids are able to sleep in cars, then highly consider scheduling your flight during nap/bedtime. I know not every kid sleeps well on the go, though, so if they don’t, try to fly when they are awake so they can get a good nap or nighttime sleep in when you get to your destination! Now that Coco doesn’t nap during the day, we have a bit more flexibility in how we book travel!
02. Use lingerie cubes to pack all of their stuff and keep it separate:
This might be the best $30 you’ll spend! Not only do these cubes make your suitcases look like a dream, when you arrive you can just transport cubes right into the dresser or closet without having to unpack. We pack full outfits together in each little cube so we know what goes with what and have easy outfits to grab when we arrive. This has been a LIFE CHANGER for traveling with kids and keeping things organized! Their little garments and socks and toiletries can easily get mixed up and unorganized, but packing cubes will save you from all of that nonsense.
03. Pack a carry-on with a change of clothes:
And I mean for everyone (not just kiddos!). If you have a baby, you know that spit-up and blowouts can get pretty much anywhere and everywhere, so make sure you have backup options for the whole fam whether it’s on a carry-on suitcase, backpack, or diaper bag. Plus, be sure to have a few of the main necessities handy in your carry-on in case luggage gets lost (white noise, diapers, etc.).
04. If you check your car seats…
You can put things like diapers in the car seat bag (or any bulkier items) to save space in your suitcases! We also recommend getting the travel bags made by the brand of the car seat/stroller if you can, because when you use them, it will (most times) insure the product so if it gets broken, they will replace for you! This happened with our stroller, and the brand replaced a part for free (and very quickly, I might add).
05. See if the place you are going has a travel crib:
(A pack-and-play also works!) If you can borrow a crib from your vacation rental or hotel, it will cut down on one more thing that you’ll need! If not, we recommend this one — it’s so easy to carry, compact, and a breeze to put together. A lot of hotels can have cribs in your room upon arrival and a lot of Airbnb’s have kid stuff if you ask.
06. Bring something to make their sleeping space dark:
If you can swing it, get the SlumberPod (basically, a blackout, breathable tent to go over a crib and keep it pitch black no matter the room’s brightness). I’ve also seen mom’s bring these black-out window attachments that help darken any room! It’s been a lifesaver for room sharing on our travels and for jet lag because it keeps kids on a schedule and blacks out any space. We once even set it up in the airport on a long layover to get Coco a nap while we were traveling! It’s the size of a shoebox, so very easy to travel with.
What to know during your travel day with kids:
01. Do an airport door drop and swap:
Have one person drop off the other at the entrance to check luggage vs. hauling it from parking (anything to ease getting the bags checked!). And then when you land at your destination, have one person go to get the car while the other keeps the kids and collects the luggage to cut down on time and hauling the kids everywhere.
02. Baby wearing is a godsend:
Any way you can baby wear (we use this carrier most often and have for years) to free up your hands, it’s so invaluable and needed when getting through airport/TSA. And a lot easier than hauling a stroller or double-stroller.
03. You can also gate-check a car seat:
We didn’t do this much when we just had Coco since I would wear her in the Ergo, but with the two kids, we’ve been gate checking our Doona and using it to push Quinn through the airport as she gets bigger. It’s been a nice way to get through and have a more hands-free experience. Both options (checking at ticket counter vs. checking at the gate) have their pros/cons! If you want your hands free, then gate check your stroller and if you want to just baby wear and have less stuff to navigate with, then check it with your luggage.
04: Ideas for plane distraction:
Screens (duh! I promise it won’t wreck your kid to use a screen for a short period of time), painters tape to tape around toys and have them unwrap or play with without ruining anything, window clings for the windows, water books (paint with water!), and any magnet-type activities or games. Also, LOTS of snacks… like, more snacks than you think you’ll ever need. We also have noise-canceling headphones if needed for the little one and headphones for Coco’s iPad, which we load with movies/games.
After you arrive to your destination with kids:
01. Macgyver a toddler bed:
If you have a toddler who sleeps in a toddler bed, but you have a full size hotel bed, we shove pillows under the fitted sheet on both ends to create bumpers to make it safer and cozier for them to sleep.
02. Bring a good travel monitor:
We like this monitor, since it doesn’t need Wifi to connect and you can hook up multiple cameras so that’s been the easiest solution for us.
03. Don’t forget white noise:
White noise is a must for travel! We have 3! They help us create a similar sleep environment as at home for the kids and helps drown out any hotel noise or potential things that could wake them up in a new space.
04. Do a quick online order before arriving:
We like to do a quick Instacart or Target delivery for bigger items or items that you’ll need but don’t have room for like diapers, snacks, or meal supplies if we’re staying somewhere with a kitchen. Bring enough to get there and then place an order upon arrival if possible so it gets to your lodging around the same time that you do!
I’m dying to hear if you have any tricks of your own up your sleeve for traveling with kids… Leave your best in a comment below!