10 tips for traveling with kids

posted in: Tips | 98

For quite sometime now, I have been answering a lot of questions like  “When did I first start traveling with kids?” .

What is the right age to take your baby with you?”

“How difficult is it to travel with your kid?

“Is it advisable to travel with a baby? Isn’t it better to just wait a while till the child grows up?”

My baby's first international trip - Thailand
My baby’s first international trip – Thailand

My baby is now 10 years old and since the time she was born, all my vacations have always included her. We never stopped traveling and if anything, we traveled more after she was born. Her first trip was on her first birthday and her first international one was when she was one and half years old. With our crazy corporate lives, we definitely felt the need to take a vacation every now and then. And a baby definitely was not going to stop us. So the madam trudged along with us on every long weekend and long holiday.

There are several advantages of getting your child to travel with you. Enumerating some from my own experience –

  • Your child is trained to adjust to any possible situation or place. Small hotel rooms, not-so-clean loos, waiting when traveling – no longer really become a task.
  • The learning that travel gives your child is something that a book cannot really impart. It is different when you have seen the Taj Mahal versus when you just read about it.
  • It opens up your child’s mind to new thoughts and beliefs. They learn to be more tolerant.
  • It definitely helps you bond with your child better. Together, you create memories for life.
Against the Eiffel tower, Paris
Against the Eiffel tower, Paris

It has been over 10 years of traveling with kids and with those experiences, I have a few tips that I share with all the mommies who have these questions. Here are my 10 tips for traveling with kids.

1) Picking your destination

Singapore a perfect destination for traveling with kids
At the Lory Loft, Jurong Bird Park .Singapore

The one thing that has always been a consideration since my princess came into our lives is our choice of destination. We try to pick destinations that can be fun for both of us. My belief is that every destination does have something for adults as well as kids, a little research is all it takes to uncover that. When she was a toddler, we deliberately went for some family destinations that had animal farms, theme parks or some fun activity centered around kids. Interestingly, these destinations also, brought out the child within us, making our journey even more colorful and fun.

My suggestion to parents who are just starting to travel out with their child is to start out slow. Pick a destination that is a little relaxing. Once you have done a few trips with your little one, you will be a lot more confident about picking up the pace and experimenting. If you are feeling restricted right now, trust me, it is not that bad. Besides, it is only a matter of time before they grow up and the choice of destination ceases to matter. I know as I have reached that phase. 🙂

2) Researching your journey

Carrying a stroller when traveling with kids
Carrying a stroller when traveling with kids

This is where I had the maximum questions when planning my travel with kids. Questions on what kind of food, accessibility to various places at my destination, availability of baby rooms, ease of use of prams etc were some common ones. Unfortunately for me, I did not have an easy time finding answers to these questions. However today, the young mommies have it much easier, thanks to forums and websites like BabyChakra. I happen to stumble upon this website and was amazed with the wealth of information available on traveling with kids – from what to carry to specific advice on travel to various destinations with kids. What made it even more useful was that it was not static but an interactive medium with programs like the MomStar where you could get your query answered by other mommies and experts.

I know that I would have definitely used it for researching my journey, specially if my daughter was still a toddler. It would have made life so much more easier. Nonetheless, a research about the destination will help you plan your trip with the children better – be it the things you pack, the food you would be eating to the climate you would be encountering.

3) Finalizing an itinerary

A little relaxing time for all when traveling with kids
A little relaxing time for all when traveling with kids

A fine balance between hopping to destinations and relaxing between them has to be achieved. Be cognizant of the fact that one cannot cover it all in a single day. Spread your plan to allow some rest time for the kids. Do not try to do it all by rushing them around as you will just end up with a cranky child and a tired self. If it means missing a few things, be it so. Remember, it is not the number of things that you do during your trip that counts, but how you have done it, that matters. At the end of it all, you really want pleasant memories for a lifetime.

4) Booking for the travel

When you have a toddler, you can afford to do some travel during off-peak seasons. However, with a school-going child, your family holidays get restricted to the holiday season. One of the ways I battle it is to figure out her holiday dates early on and book in advance. When you do so, you can avail of some good deals on flights and hotels. Last minute booking often means higher rates and sometimes, non-availability.

Bassinet seats in a flight when traveling with kids Image credit: Jim and Laura via Flickr, under CC 2.0
Bassinet seats in a flight when traveling with kids                                           Image credit: Jim and Laura via Flickr, under CC 2.0

When traveling with kids,, make sure you specify your special needs up-front. When flying with your baby, you can avail of some bassinet seats that can help your child sleep through comfortably. When booking hotels, remember to request for a baby bed or an additional bed. I have always opted for a separate bed for the simple reason that it is not just my daughter who needs her sleep after a long day of traveling, but us, adults too. Some hotels offer the same as a complimentary deal while a few charge you a minimal amount for it.

5) Packing for traveling with kids

Your luggage definitely increases when you are traveling with kids. I used to find myself being frenzied about the endless things that I felt I needed for the baby. Chalking out a list is what always helped.

Image Credit; Pixabay under CC0
Image Credit; Pixabay under CC0

This is another area where I missed out on forums like BabyChakra. Halfway through my packing, I would have doubts on things like “What if I ran out of diapers?” or “What if I needed that baby cream?”. The best way to settle those queries is to get advice from a mommy who has done it already. It quells all fears and with an app like BabyChakra, I could have done it on the go. Interaction on such forums always gives you some useful suggestions. For example – instead of carrying a bulky sterilization kit for the baby bottles, you can opt for sterilization tablets that dissolve in warm water and help do the same job.

6) Food essentials

Strawberries in Switzerland
Strawberries in Switzerland

It is important to stock up some nutritious snacks when traveling with kids. They do tend to get hungry every few hours and it is not always that you will find a restaurant or a local store at that point. I would recommend that you carry only short snacks and encourage the child, especially if he or she is a little older,  to  have a meal along with you during your travel. This is a great way to get them to sample the local food. It is an experience that makes them more adaptable to travel.

Encourage a heavy breakfast before you leave for the day. It will ensure that they are well energized for the day ahead. To be on a safer side, opt for bottled water for the kids. Encourage them to drink a lot of water during the trip.

7) Entertainment Unlimited

Keeping children engaged when traveling with kids
Keeping children engaged when traveling with kids. My little one at a restaurant in Thailand

Kids are restless and easily bored. Waiting is a game that they are not used to. Make it pleasant for them. Ensure you pack in their favorite toys and games. Download their favorite videos – they definitely work like a charm when they are distressed or upset. Engage in a few word games with the older kids. Believe me, this is not a task but an excellent way to bond with them.

8) Stocking up the medicines

Image Credits: Pixabay Under CC0
Image Credits: Pixabay Under CC0

With a child, I recommend that you carry all the important general medicines. I generally stock up for fever, cold, cough and gastric indigestion. Motion sickness too, is another possible ailment that you need to be prepared for. Along with these medicines, I also, recommend packing some band-aids, antiseptic lotion and some bandages. Insect repellents and sunscreen lotions are a must for kids when traveling.

Ensure that the child is vaccinated as per his/her schedule. If there are any additional vaccines specified for a travel to a country, make sure that those are given to the child a few days well before the trip. This will help them recover from the mild fever before you set out for that holiday.

9) Preparing a child for a trip

Traveling with kids - Car seat is a must for road trips
Traveling with kids – Car seat is a must for road trips

Getting your child ready for a trip is quite essential. If you are planning to fly out, you can get your baby’s sleep timing adjusted to that schedule a few days earlier. During a landing and take-off, if the child is awake, get them to drink or suck on something so that they can battle the difference in the air-pressure. If you are off on a road trip, getting the child strapped in and used to a car seat is a must.

Once a child is older – say around 5 years, start involving the child in your travel. Stories are a great way to get them engaged. With my daughter, I look for interesting stories from her text books and story books, related to the destination and encourage her to read those. It makes it so much more interesting for her when she visits these destinations as she is able to appreciate them much better.

Travel journals is another interesting way to get them to stay involved and create memories for life. I encouraged my daughter to collect and stick all her entrance tickets to various attractions in Europe in a scrap book. Take a look –

Travel Scrap Book for kids
Travel Scrap Book for kids

This way you are ensuring that it is not just you, but your child too, that develops an interest in traveling. That itself, is half your burden gone.

10) Letting go of the norms

My kiddo with the Pigeons in Thailand
My kiddo with the Pigeons in Thailand

Finally, let go of your norms and discipline during the trip. Do not insist on the same routine that you follow at home – such as – timings for their food or their bio break. Stop worrying and tackle their needs as they come along. After all, it is a holiday for both of you.

There may not be enough money that you could leave for your child but the best gift that you can give them is the experience of traveling around the world. I know that I would not have had half the fun that I did had I not traveled with my daughter. So go on and book your next holiday with your little ones. It sure is fun!

traveling with kids







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98 Responses

  1. SandeepaChetan

    Very informative post Ami. This is the most needed post for all Indian parents who stop travelling when they have kids. May be you can write more details to kill the fear of travelling with kids.

    • Ami

      Thank you Sandeepa and Chetan. It just takes one a little push to start but once they realise that it is not so difficult with kids, they tend to continue. One small trip is all it takes 😀

  2. Arti

    That is truckloads of information, Ami! Much needed to dispel the myths that surround travelling with kids especially in the Indian context. Your princess is an inspiration to many. 🙂

    • Ami

      Thanks Arti. I do hope that it inspires more parents to take their kids along rather than leave them behind.

  3. Jatin Chhaba

    Great post Ami and salute to as you as you still have that travel junkie inside you, even with kids. My pal who got married and had a kid in an year is now just sitting at home, as he feels the responsibility, which I somehow agree but the fact is that he can explore new horizons even with a 7 year old. I am sure that that post will be useful for me in 2-3 years 🙂

  4. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden)

    I think each set of parents (and child) has their own comfort zone as far as travel. I only had one child, but he was quite hyperactive and any travel had to involve physical activities to help him blow off steam. (The one time we had to fly coast to coast – 3000 miles – with him, was an adventure in itself). And then there are the parents of children with special needs (my brother in law is developmentally disabled) which is a whole other story in itself.

    • Ami

      Thanks Alana. I hear you about the hyperactive child. It is a task to keep them busy but quite rewarding to see them so too. As far as parents of kids with special needs, I agree it is a bit of a challenge. As you said, each parent will have to adapt their style of travel as per their needs.

  5. Patricia Steffy (@PLSteffy)

    These are great tips! I always traveled with my parents when I was kid, and I think it instilled a life-long love of travel and an appreciation for other cultures. I’m so glad that you kept roaming!

    • Ami

      Thanks Patricia. My parents too, helped me appreciate travel better and I am happy that I can do the same with my daughter.

  6. Claire

    Its nice to know my dreams of travelling won’t come to an end if I decide to have children! Some great tips here for first-time travelling parents too 🙂

  7. Doreen Pendgracs

    Such lovely photos of you and your children! I don’t have any children, but travelling with my husband is almost like travelling with kids as I have to do much of the same preparatory work and thought that you elude to in travelling with kids. Thanks for the great post!

  8. Cori Carl

    Great tips! My parents took me all over when my sister and I were little. I’m sure it was extra work for them, but it was an amazing experience for all of us.

    • Ami

      Thanks Cori. I want my daughter to have the same memories that you do of your travel with your parents. 🙂

  9. The Soul of Seoul

    Great post. I’m forever getting questions on traveling with a child and so many people STILL think we just need to wait until she’s older. She’s two.. she can walk and talk.. let’s get this party on the road! haha Love the tips.

  10. Thuymi @ AdventureFaktory.com

    When I have kids, I will travel the most I can for sure – but between me and you, sometimes it depends also how are your kids. When I have my kids, I am sure I will start by travelling when they are toddlers! Met awesome parents trekking with their tiny toddlers sapa in vietnam on their backpack and I got really inspired!

    • Ami

      Me too, my first inspiration came from a lot of couples visiting India with their toddlers. It made me think that if they can get their kids to withstand such tough temperatures and enjoy life, why should we not.

  11. Me Otherwise

    Oh yeah ! Ami I have come a long way to in planning my travel with kids. I did my first international travel when my daughter was 8 months old. Was totally unprepared then and I remember my daughter puked on the flight… you could imagine the situation… Over the years, we learnt it the hard way and mnagaed to pack accordingly. THe point is we never stopped travelling despite the difficulties that would arise. We just learnt to handle them better the next time 😉

    • Ami

      ooh Man, you sure have come a long way from your first travel. And I am glad you did not stop traveling either. A few set-backs are great learning experiences. 🙂 thanks for stopping by.

  12. RamyaRao

    Ami, this us a great post for parents. I loved the way you gave the tips and shared your experience. 🙂

  13. Shweta

    Awesome post Ami…i have seen couples shut their lives after having a baby, you are an inspiration for them:)

    • Ami

      Thanks Shweta. I had to have a break after the kid as well as with a busy life. Guess that is what made a lot of things happen 😀

  14. Miriam Ernst

    Personally I don’t have any kids, but I come from a family where we are 4 sibling, I can only remember all the planning and the effort it took my mom to coordinate everything and not to mention pack for everybody, having 4 kids with different personalities and likes and dislikes. These tips are definitely useful for this kind of situation, Thank you!

    • Ami

      Thanks Miriam. I am sure that as a kid you really had fun and kudos to your mother for having taken the pains to give you that experience. 🙂

  15. shobha42016

    I think what you have detailed very clearly is that there is a lot of planning involved when you bring kids along. That’s the real secret to travelling with kids and having a good time for everyone – research, take snacks, pick a sensible destination etc. The freewheeling days of just jumping on the plane with a carry-on and seeing where you wind up are just not possible with kids in tow.

    • Ami

      Thanks Shobha. Yes, the style of traveling is different – more coordinated and planned but the fun is still there 😀

  16. PaigeBrown

    I love these tips! I am always so inspired to hear about people traveling with children successfully because my husband and I are starting to talk about having kids and I don’t want to be completely stationary! I cannot wait to see more and hear more about your adventures with kiddos! Cheers!

  17. Voyager

    Traveling with kids is a challenge but at the same time adds that extra zing to the whole experience. It does wonders for the kids too as they grow up with a totally different perspective and develop into adults with a broader vision of the world and its people, as they say travel is the best education. Your tips are all practical and sensible and would ensure that the travel experience is enhanced while with kids.

  18. 100cobbledroads

    Very useful article, specially for new parents. Usually, people have very fixed ideas about children travelling. You may succeed in breaking some stereotypes.

  19. wanderingwagarschristina

    All great tips! We definitely haven’t slowed down in our travels as well since having children. It is so helpful to ask around in forums like you suggest. So many of our fears / doubts were lifted once we talked to other families.

    • Ami

      Thanks Christina. Forums like BabyChakra do help a lot. Something that I missed in my early days of travel.

  20. verushka

    Travelling should not stop because kids arrive.Thanks for this great post filled with tips and ideas for the future.I love the Travel Journal idea.

  21. Indrani

    This post reminded me of my traveling days with my toddlers. Choice of destination matters a lot and then of course whole lot of stuffs to take along. 🙂

  22. Subhadrika Sen

    These are great tips for those who have kids. And for the future me. I like the travel journal idea. Earlier i used to maintain a dairy for my travels and now i do the same on my blog.

    • Ami

      Thanks Subhadrika. Yes, the journal is quite similar to our blog and am hoping that my daughter remembers her travels through it.

  23. Gypsycouple

    Very informative post especially in the context of Indian parents. The travel scrapbook is the idea which resounds best because that’s exactly what I used to do as a kid!Thanks for sharing

    • Ami

      Thanks Rishabh. Glad you liked it. I hope the Indian parents who are hesitant to travel, are now inspired to do so. 😀

  24. Tom

    Though I don’t have kids, I think #9 and #10 seem the most important. People, kids or not, love stories, and getting someone involved in the story of the destination is a great way to prepare for travel. To enjoy a destination, you have to buy in to it.

    • Ami

      Thanks Tom. I agree, to enjoy a destination you need to understand it and stories really do the trick.

  25. melody pittman

    Great post! Made me remember back when my girls were young. Love the little scrapbook you made. How cute. Funny that you mention going to theme parks and animal attractions as things they would like. Those are my top picks. LOL My girls went to so many museums and zoos when they were young that they absolutely detest them still today. Ironically, I still adore those vacations. 😉

    • Ami

      Oh Theme Parks and Animal attractions appeal to me too, but I guess, they were more fun for the kids. Now that she has grown up, she too is subject to all museums and heritage destinations. She is slowly developing a taste for it .:)

    • Ami

      🙂 I think as along as the kids are busy, they do not really bother people. And Travel really teaches them to be more tolerant and better behaved.

  26. siniciliya

    I admire those superheroes (read parents) who travel the world with kids. And I think that those kids who experienced other cultures are more open to the world.
    Great tips!

    • Ami

      Thanks Siniciliya. I think as parents it really is our job to ensure that the kids get as much exposure as possible. For me travel is one such means.

  27. Lisa (Klipdrifters)

    We recently took our nephew to Cape Town for 2 days and it went really well. Certainly a lot different traveling with kids than on your own. Great tips, thank you for sharing.

    • Ami

      Thanks Lisa. Glad your trip with your nephew went off well. It sure gives you a different perspective when you travel with kids.

  28. Rashmi and Chalukya

    We completely relate to your post. We have been travelling with our darling daughter since she was 6 months old and she has accompanied us to 19 countries in last 1.5 years 🙂 Travelling with a kid may seem like a challenge but we believe with little patience and planning every parent is competent enough to take good care of their kid on all the travels.

    • Ami

      Thanks Rashmi and Chalukya. Glad you concur and am even more glad that your journeys have not stopped with the little one. Here is to more travels with her.

  29. Stella the Travelerette

    I agree that it’s important to travel with children. They should learn to expand their minds as young as possible. Of course a little extra planning is required. These tips seem like they would be helpful for people will children.