Traveling with children can be tricky, to say the least. But, it doesn’t have to be impossible. Make your next family vacation manageable by following our readers’ tips on how to travel with children! You’ll feel less stressed and more content on your travels.
Traveling with Children
Travel Fashion Girl help! A reader asks:
“Travelling with small children: who has done it? Would you do it again? What were the challenges of doing so? I would like to make my Italy trip a family affair–my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and their two young kids. Is Italy suitable for little ones like that?”
Traveling with small children can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible! While it takes some effort and organization, you can easily travel anywhere with your family. Our readers are sharing their tips on how to travel with small children. Scroll to the end of the post to see the full packing list for the above image!
Leave the Stroller at Home
Particularly if you’re visiting Italy or any other busy European country, navigating the narrow, cobblestone streets is nearly impossible with a buggy or stroller. One reader says, “the biggest challenge is going to be with a buggy. It’s hard to navigate through crowds and cobblestones. And there are a lot of stairs. I’d suggest the kids walk.”
If possible (and depending on your children’s ages), make the kids walk and take lots of rest breaks for them to recover. One reader adds, “walking is hard on little feet so bring several pairs of the sturdiest shoes. I love Livie and Luca.”
Use Snacks as Motivators
Traveling can be overwhelming for adults, let alone young children who are adjusting to a time change and long days of walking. Even if you don’t normally give your children treats at home, snacks can be a great help when traveling as a reward when they behave well or as distractors when you’re looking for your next itinerary item.
As one reader says, “gelato is everywhere and it can be a great motivator.” Another adds, “we give our kids playground time and ice cream when the opportunities arise. Sometimes that means a treat right before dinner while we stroll around looking for a restaurant and sometimes it’s a playground stop when the local kids are long asleep.”
Stay in One Place Longer
Fast-paced travel isn’t doable with small children. Several readers recommend staying in one place for at least three days before moving to your next destination. One reader says, “the key is to take things slowly. You won’t be able to move to different cities as frequently so try for at least 3 nights in each location.”
Another adds, “we try to arrange a minimum of three nights per location, but even more is better. We try to do day trips from a base as much as possible rather than moving around.”
For day trips, bring a roomy but lightweight day pack so you can carry all of your essentials while enjoying the sites hands-free!
Make Site Seeing a Game
Just because you’re traveling with kids doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy “grown up” activities, like museum or church tours. When visiting sites that require quiet voices or lots of downtime, keep the children busy with activities.
One reader says, “make a game out of everything. We can easily get through a church or museum if we turn it into ‘eye spy’ game or make it a treasure hunt,” while another adds, “we kept traditional art museums to a minimum and when we did want to do one, we would give our daughter a sketchbook and she drew a picture in each room while we wandered.”
Along with making trips to the museum a game, bring along a few games or toys for the kids to enjoy. One reader says, “We tried to give our kids play time to balance out all the quiet museum, church, and sightseeing time each day. Embrace the electronics. They have a time and a place. For us that was the Sistine chapel, and they really didn’t care.”
Another says, “The key is to have plenty of things to keep them occupied on the plane (toys, books, movies that are new to them) and make your tourist stops kid friendly. And that doesn’t mean you have to only go to aquariums or playgrounds. We were able to find fabulous guides at Vatican City and Pompeii that kept all three kids interested the entire tour.”
Take Regular Breaks
Add in breaks to your daily itinerary, as small children will need time to recuperate. One reader says, “give yourself more time. Plan for a maximum of one big activity a day and add in lots of playtime.”
Another shares, “we build in breaks through the day. In the morning, we will go on a tour of some site or go to a museum, then we sit down for a snack and drink for a bit, then go somewhere else, then lunch, etc. The kids may need naps in the afternoon, even if they don’t normally nap at home. And have some downtime for them to play at a park or sit at the beach.”
While we recommend always packing light, it’s especially important when you’re traveling with children. They’ll have trouble carrying their own items, so that means you’ll be stuck with most of the load. Consider giving your children each a small backpack for them to carry that has their daily essentials, like toys and games and snacks. Add their clothing into your suitcase.
One reader says, “My advice is to pack smart. Pack the essentials but keep your bags as light as possible. I remember one awful trip through the Paris airport when I was traveling alone with a sleeping 2 year old. We had to change terminals with never ending walk, a heavy diaper bag and purse, no luggage cart in sight, and the stroller checked through to destination.”
Sample Carryon Baby Packing List for 12-Month Old
One reader took our advice and shared her baby’s packing list. She says:
Just wanted to say, a huge thank you to TFG! We went to New York for 11 days, with carry-on only! This is with a 12 month old baby! We managed to fit:
- Her baby travel bed
- Clothes for our daughter (27 outfits, because I always need backup, and baby clothes are just too cute!)
- Her accessories, including baby safe headphones, baby friendly cutlery, baby friendly bowl and plate, baby friendly bath stuff, baby medication and thermometer, swimwear, diapers, wipes, baby changing station, baby shoes, baby food and snacks, baby cellular blankets, sun hats, and more (as you can tell– the list goes on).
How on earth could we fit all of this in hand luggage? It wasn’t until a friend recommended packing cubes (Compass Rose in particular) that we pre-ordered them! Then I read loads of your packing tips and learned how to pack properly so that I could fit more in. Complete life saver! To the point that we still had space for more shopping! Thank you!
See more of her packing photos below!
Enjoy the Adventure!
While traveling with kids can be a handful, so many of our readers say it makes for an amazing experience. One says, “Go with the flow! We had a blast and I’m so proud of my little traveler!” Another shares, “We’ve been traveling all over with our kids since the youngest was seven months old. They love traveling and we love traveling with them.”
Perhaps one reader sums it up best: “Kids are great to travel with. You just do things a bit differently than you would without them.”
What are your tips on how to travel with children? Please share in the comments!
For more family packing tips, please read:
- 10 Pregnancy Travel Essentials
- Traveling with a Toddler Carry-on Only
- Surviving Family Travel with Teens
- Pint Size Packing List! Toddler & Baby Travel Gear
- Flying with a Baby: Long Haul Flight Hacks and Essentials
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