5 parent-tested tips from our family make traveling with kids less stressful and more fun!
Our family of four has traveled abroad and loves to road trip the U.S.A. Travel can have its stresses, but here are 5 simple, parent-tested travel tips with kids that help us dial down the stress and dial up the fun. Try them on your next family trip!
1. Pack cards, dice, and a couple of small games
Small family games ease boredom, pass the time, and build fun moments and memories. We always pack:
- 2 decks of cards
- 6 6-sided dice (yahtzee!)
- A small game or two or three, such as travel Catan, Dungeon Mayhem, Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, and Uno
2. Less is more
We’ve done 4-week popup camping trips in the US West, 6 weeks road tripping and camping in California, over 6 months of travel abroad, and as we write this, we’re RVing the USA. Not once have we ever wished we’d packed more.
Each of us has a backpack, and we have 2 carry-on-size rolling suitcases. We still find things we could cull from our packing.
We don’t pack for every potential situation. If we need something that we don’t have, we can get it there. Typically, what we don’t have, we don’t miss. 3/8
3. Layers, layers, layers
Dashing through the airport might only need a t-shirt… but planes are cold! Layering clothes makes a huge difference in comfort and being able to adapt to changing conditions. Our layers might be something like a t-shirt or short-sleeve button-down, with a long-sleeve over, and a lightweight fleece at the ready.
Or you’re one of our children, who may be fusion reactors since they need far fewer layers than, say, Anthony, who might still wear his Scottish wool sweater when the rest of us are in short sleeves.
Still, having layers helps us all be comfortable in a range of conditions.
4. Pack something familiar
For example, each child has a cozy friend they travel with (small enough to fit on their backpack, but just big enough to make a decent pillow).
Travel can mean lots of new and unfamiliar places, situations, and experiences. A couple of familiar items can ease anxiety and smooth out tricky circumstances.
Note: This works for adults too.
5. Big travel days mean letting go of rules (except one)
Our family aims to eat a balanced diet, and we strive to keep the kids in a balance of recreational screen time (currently Minecraft and watching Phineas and Ferb).
But on travel days, we do not worry about this balance.
If the kids don’t eat their veggies while we cross the Pacific Ocean, we don’t worry about it. Diet will balance out later.
If the kids play games and watch Disney+ throughout the long bus ride, long train ride, and long plane ride, that’s okay. We do so many things out and about, that this time of lots of screen time will balance out.
BONUS! 6. On travel days, we let go some of our usual family rules.
Except for one: We try harder to be kind, understanding, and forgiving. Travel days are hard. A little more love and understanding go a long way, and that rule never stops being useful.
Travel days never go completely smoothly for us either. We have times where we’re anxious. Sometimes we snap at each other. Sometimes a to-and-from day is just damn hard. But these travel tips with kids make it all easier.