We are big on vacations around here. Our kids have traveled across oceans, time zones, and been through more airports than I can even remember. In fact, I’ve blocked some of them out. :)
If you are new to traveling with kids you’ll find tons of stuff here, but if you’re a pro and I leave anything out, be sure to add it!
What's in this post...
Packing tips for Kids
- Pack kids’ outfits in ziploc bags. This helps them pack flat and gives you somewhere to put dirty or damp clothes.
- Include socks, underwear, and hair accessories or hats in the ziploc bags with each outfit.
- Pack coordinating outfits that all match one (or max two) pairs of shoes, and have them wear those shoes to travel in.
- Choose easy to dry clothes. If you have kids who are still potty training or if you’re going somewhere like an amusement park with water rides, have the kids wear dry fit clothes or others with thin material (like linen) to minimize dry time.
- Take photos or keep digital files handy on your phone so you can easily access information for flights, hotels, or directions.
Make sure you don’t forget these either!
- If driving, pack an umbrella, ponchos, and a clear shower curtain from the Dollar Store to keep strollers from getting wet. Thanks, Jen!
- Research what apps you might need in advance, whether it’s train times, museum tours, where to eat apps, or flight time checkers. Download them at home on your WiFi for free.
- Pack garbage or grocery store bags for dirty laundry. This helps keep dirty things from souring clean ones if you’ve used your Ziploc bags.
- Fill the diaper bag, but buy the rest of your diapers when you’re at your destination. They take up tons of space and are priced similarly in most places.
- Let kids help pack their clothes and assign each kid their own piece of luggage.
- Have your child help pull the suitcase (particularly if they roll easily and don’t fall from side to side) like the ones from Atlantic Luggage. If the wheels go in one direction it’s very difficult for children to pull, but these suitcases make it easier for younger ones to help you go through airports with the bags, etc. Especially if you are busy pushing a stroller.
- Choose pieces of luggage that travel well together. I’ve made the mistake of bringing lots of bags that need to go over my shoulder and, hello, I only have two arms. Get toiletry cases or carry-ons that hook together with larger pieces for ease of carrying.
- Keep extra pairs of kids’ underwear, diapers, and wipes handy either in the front of the car or in a special carry-on for flights so you aren’t left without.
- Feed everyone before you leave the house. Having every depart on a full stomach helps keep moods in check.
- Have a “medicine” bag. This is where you’ll keep your band-aids, essential oils, over the counter meds, Triple antibiotic cream, etc. for the not-urgent-but-still-need-care boo boos.
- Don’t wear jeans to travel unless they’re fake jeans. Kids will likely get uncomfortable in fitted clothing, particularly after big meals, wear something stretchier and more comfortable for long travel times.
- Research food vouchers ahead of time. Some sites will offer vouchers or coupons that will allow you to save mega bucks over the course of a few days if you plan on eating out.
Extras to throw in!
- Pack a small bottle of detergent. If you are dead set on packing minimally then be sure to bring (or buy when you arrive) some detergent so you can wash your clothes in a machine at the hotel or even in the bathroom!
- Minimize devices. I personally don’t let our kids on phones or iPads, but on vacation I’d say no unless it’s a specific destination app. Let them explore the real world!
- Get a white noise app on your phone. I use these daily around here, but this will help allow everyone to sleep well at night. Or at least it’ll help.
- Try to get a room away from elevators. If you have a few young kids you’ll want to protect their night sleep so everyone still has fun. Try to stay away from elevators, the hotel bar or lounge, and get ear plugs or the white noise app.
For more in-depth tips and advice on traveling with small children check out my book Can The Kids Come Too?