6 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (and Kids too!)

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (and Kids too!) by

We are now in this busy season of travel ……traveling to see friends and family or even just to take a fun trip (to avoid friends and family hehehe) Well, we have 3 kiddos and wherever we go we are expected to take them along for the ride… we want to or not. So, I wanted to share a post about how to ease the stress of traveling with the little ones. These tips are good for traveling by car, plane, boat, train, teleportation (just kidding, but how AWESOME would that be!?)….

Here’s a list of all the tips we could think of that work well for our little family…..even for our youngest who has special needs:

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (and Kids too!) by

1. Let each kiddo have their own bag or backpack~ They can it pack with activities, snacks, books, stuffed friends, pillows, etc. Giving kids reign over what they bring can go a long way towards making them feel ownership over their own boredom later. My older 2 do a really good job with this and it makes them feel more grown up when they have this responsibility. They even tend to whine less later when I remind them that it was their job to make sure they had all the things they wanted to bring. Our littlest even gets to pick some of the things that go in hers and enjoys when she gets to dig around and get them out once it comes time to play.

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (and Kids too!) by

2. Hit the Dollar store~ Got a super restless kiddo? Well, I do…and recently, while I was fretting about our upcoming plane trip, my friend Lori gave me an awesome suggestion for her. She said I should hit our local Dollar Tree and load up on some “new” toys for her. Then, I had my older kiddos wrap each one up in tissue paper to surprise her with once she gets bored of her “old” toys (but not if she’s doing anything naughty). Wrapping them gives her the thrill of surprise and makes that cheap toy seem 100% more awesome! Then, she has a brand new toy to play with… least for the next 20 minutes, till she gets bored again. Alternate between “old” toys, snacks, and the “new” toys to keep your kiddo guessing and keep the boredom at bay.

I even snagged some cheap things for the older 2 and they were thrilled and happily played while their usually wiggly sister sat very still and enjoyed her new things. A word of advice though, steer clear of noisemakers, messy things, and things with lots of parts….your fellow travelers will thank you.

3. Electronic devices work wonders~ Yes, I know that we should encourage creative thinking and not get our offspring hooked on electronics. But,…..traveling is where I need to be flexible with this. Bringing books and card games to play is great, but there always comes a point during every.single.trip when they are tired of all that stuff and just need movie or handheld to play for awhile.

One time, when me and my sibs were younger, my older sister bought one of those small TVs (not small by today’s standards, but a miracle back then) and every time we went through a city or town we got to watch 2 whole minutes of quality, fuzzy programming and then spent the next hour trying to pick up another channel. This kept us all busy and super quiet for our parents as we rolled the dial from side to side patiently trying to get a good watchable picture for 2 more minutes.

I would suggest to make sure each kiddo has a pair of headphones for anything you bring, this will save your sanity after the 3rd viewing of Tangled or 5nd straight hour of Angry Birds.

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (and Kids too!) by

4. Snacks, are life savers!~ If you don’t use any of the other tips….at least do THIS one! Always bring snacks for the kiddos to munch on! Even if you are planning on stopping the car for all your meals, you will still need snacks. I cannot stress this enough…..snacks help calm down your little ones, in almost every situation no matter what their age.

I remember my parents having a box that they would fill with snacks for everyone and we were excited to see what was in the little baggies that we were handed back…….and that’s even what me and hubby do now when we travel by car. If we are on a plane, they get to pack the snacks in their backpacks and it’s fun for them to get to choose what they munch. Get some big bags of fun cereal or pretzels and divide them up into small bags. Just keep away from gooey, crumbly, or drippy things….that’s not fun to clean up later.

Something that also works wonders is having gum and tic tacs on hand (or other hard candies they can suck on). They keep their little mouths busy for longer as long as these are things they are old enough to have.

5. Don’t forget the good ‘ol games~ Having travel games to play was always fun for me when I was a kid and trapped in a car for eternity without the luxury of portable movie players or gaming devices. Don’t underestimate the fun of having a deck of cards and teaching them a few games to play with it. There are also tons of travel versions of various games that are awesome.

When hubby and I went traveling through Europe (years ago, before our awesome kids came along and made traveling way more exciting), we had a deck of cards and a travel chess game that kept us busy all the times we were stuck on a train or plane going to a new city. Sometimes our fellow travelers would join us and were thankful for the distraction. And, if you look online at other blogs, you can often find cool printables for things like “I Spy” and the license plate games (and many others!)

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (and Kids too!) by

Check out Kiki & Company here for some sweet ones

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (and Kids too!) by

 and here to get some cute ones from Prepared Not Scared

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (and Kids too!) by

or here for a cool set from the Dating Divas.

6. The wee ones…..babies~ These littlest ones need all the same things as the older kiddos need, so don’t forget them too. They need distractions, and snacks, and games too (and clean diapers, and cuddles, and binkies)…..just at a different age level as your other kids.

But…..sometimes none of that works and they will just be fussy. Trust me, I know how much that stinks. When Aislyn, our middle one, was new to our family she would cry a lot in her car seat. There was one time that it took me 3 hours to get home from dropping my brother at the airport because she kept screaming in the backseat. I kept stopping to feed/change/hold her…..but without fail, each time I buckled her back in, and started driving she would started screaming again. Nothing.helped. So….I finally just hunkered down and focused on the music (in the background to her screams) and kept saying “just get home”, over and over till we got home safely and I could pass that sweet baby off to daddy for a break. Sometimes all you can do is “just get home” so don’t beat yourself up if your trip isn’t perfect every time. It happens.

Hopefully this will help your family get through those long trips this season without too much fuss and even a little bit of added fun. Where will you be going for the holidays this year? What helps you get through when traveling with kids?

Have fun!

About Emily Mcdonald

Emily McDonald is the owner of Not So Idle Hands and lives in Colorado with her hot hubby and 3 cute daughters. When she's not battling ADHD, Fibro, or Migraines she loves to be downstairs playing with all her pretty crafty things making fun stuff. She also runs an awesome Etsy Shop by the same name where she gets to sell shiny supplies to make pretty stuff {check it out!}.


  1. Great ideas and snacks are a must!! I always loved car ride games!! I would love for you to stop by and link up at my party

    • Thanks so much! Yeah, car games are the best when you’re bored. I’ll definitely come check out your link party, sounds fun!

  2. Thanks for sharing these helpful ideas :)

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