Ideas To Ace Traveling As A Family & Travel Essentials For Kids

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Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by Travels with Kids

I’m glad you found us!  We have some great ideas for the best family friendly holidays and practical advice for travel essentials for kids.  The World Of Travels With Kids blog grew out of our passion for one thing: travel with kids!  We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but want to share what has worked for us.  In short, yes traveling as a family can be done successfully and joyfully!  As our kids have grown, we’ve documented the different ages and stages of traveling with babies, then toddlers and pre-schoolers, and now tween children.  We have traveled with not just one or two kids, but three kids at different ages and stages.  We not only have a great list of must have baby travel items but travel activities for kids, including 21 Awesome Screen Free Airplane Activities For Kids.

Wisdom tells us “to do what works”!  However, how do you know what works if you have never traveled?  I say: “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done (Lucille Ball)”.  Yep, I regret more than a few long-haul flights with toddlers!  On the other hand, like childbirth, the pain of a loooong road trip does go away.

So, you want to ace traveling with family?  Then buckle up, and join us for the ride.

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Ideas To Ace Traveling As A Family & Travel Essentials For Kids
A family photoshoot in Port Douglas, North Queensland. Credit: Tulieve Photography

A Caveat: We’re Not On The Road All The Time

That’s right; we are not a world travel family or a family that is on the road all the time.  With our first babe born in the mountains of Peru, it never occurred to us that we wouldn’t travel with kids.  It was a given.  That babe spent her first year on 3 continents and was an unsettled, anxious baby.  I still believed that she’d get used to it.  She didn’t – she desperately needed routine.  I still believed that as a bilingual multi-cultural child we could educate her in my adopted country of Peru, and then for the other half of the year in Australia.  It didn’t work for her.

So there are families traveling the world and their kids are thriving.  We are not that family.  We have a home, a huge vegetable garden, lawns to mow, chooks for eggs,  guinea pigs, goldfish, and the most adorable Beaglier dog!  The children don’t like to miss too much school, so we travel in the holiday periods.

After losing Papa, my partner and the kid’s dad to pancreatic cancer in 2019, we also became a single-income, solo parenting family.  We don’t have a trust fund.  Travel comes from hard work, but more about that in the section “how do we afford to travel”?

Ideas To Ace Traveling As A Family & Travel Essentials For Kids
Afternoon Exercise through the rice paddies in Munduk, Bali

Travels With Kids – Tips For Travel With Family

My most important tip for travel with family is quite simply: accept what happens, it is all part of the adventure.

That said, with good planning, and a great packing list – as well as some hacks – you can make the entire a lot smoother for yourself.  Of course, another of my major tips is – travel with family as they can really take the load off.  This is especially true if you are a single-parent family.

There are so many benefits of family travel and having grandparents along on a family vacation is beneficial in so many ways.  We explore the benefits of multigenerational travel and how to make a family holiday across the generations work better with our post Best Holiday With Grandparents – Tips For Multi Generational Travel.

Travels With Kids – Tips For Travel With Family
Travelling with our grandmother to Port Douglas. Credit: Tulieve Photography


What Is The Best Age To Travel / Best Age To Travel With Kids

People often ask me, “What is the best age to travel”?  My answer is:  each age has its’ challenges!

So far we’ve traveled with babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, primary schoolers, and a tween.  That’s been a whirlwind of wonder, discovery, and some tears.  We’ve yet to hit the teen years but I get the feeling that there will be some unique challenges, and not all of them are going to be easy.

In my experience, travel with a baby can be quite easy.   That is as long as the baby is a “sleeper”.  Those parents who have babies who wake a gazillion times a night will know that basic function is difficult, and so travel will be too.

Once babies become mobile and extremely opinionated, then things get tough.  Yes, the terrible twos and threes have a lot of challenges and are extremely formative years for the preschool years.  If you travel at this age, there is the risk of setting up some bad habits that are hard to get out of later on.  Believe me, I’ve done it.  Personally, when my third child reached toddlerhood, I also had the wisdom of two children before me.  If you are going to opt-out of travel due to kids, the toddler age is one that makes sense to me.

Travels With Kids – Tips For Travel With Family
About to board the plane with a 9 month old!

There seems to be a sweet spot from about 4 to 7 where kids aren’t yet in full-time schooling and can be reasoned with.  This is as long as they have enough to entertain them while traveling.  Regular meals, a good amount of sleep, and playgrounds keep these guys pretty happy – though don’t expect to escape without tantrums altogether.

So once you get to the tween years, say 8 to 12, you should have a pretty happy traveler on your hands.  I’m assuming if your kids love adventure and new things then you are on an upward trajectory.  If your kids prefer staying home with their friends, expect some battles, sulking, etc.

So what is the best age to travel?  That depends on your family, it depends on the personality of your kids, it depends how you have raised your children.  There are always challenges in parenting.  I tend to think that those challenges are always exaggerated or exacerbated by traveling, changed routine, and the like.  On the other hand, when you travel, kids often get your 24/7 undivided attention, which is something that they thrive on!  We have some wonderful bonding moments when traveling.

What Is The Secret To Having Awesome Travels With Kids

There is no secret!

The most important thing is to take action, pack your bags and go.  All the rest follows.  However, if you want to ease some of the headaches, read on for our best family travel tips.

Ideas To Ace Traveling As A Family & Travel Essentials For Kids
Lighting the lanterns each night in Fiji


Family Travel Tips & Tips For Traveling With Kids

I’ll repeat here my number 1 tip!  My most important tip for travel with family is quite simply: accept what happens, it is all part of the adventure.

I’ve seen people say “accept things will go wrong when traveling with kids” but I prefer not to label it as “wrong”.  By labeling things right/wrong and good/bad we are placing a judgment on what is happening instead of accepting what is happening at that point in time.  It is what it is, we can’t change it.

In essence, if you imagine lying by a pool on a sunbed drinking cocktails on your holiday with kids – I’m here to say that probably isn’t going to happen.  You are travelling with kids!  Like most things parenting we are in a new phase of our lives where we spend our time parenting.  It won’t be a long time – by the time the kids are teens you can probably get a fair bit of relaxing time by the pool.

All the challenges, difficulties, joys, and rewards of parenting follow you on holidays.  If anything they are exacerbated because the kids are out of routine.  Though some of the joys I’ve had with my kids while on vacation are quite simply priceless.

We have explored more of our best family travel tips at

Family Travel Tips & Tips For Traveling With Kids

Family Travel Hacks That Make Life Easier

If you have done solo travel you will have all sorts of travel hacks for packing your suitcases and getting to the right place and the right time.  It is the same when traveling as a family.  There are plenty of travel hacks for kids.

Headphone Splitters

For many years we had one iPad for the whole family.  In an effort to reduce the negative effects of screen time, we considered that if we were all watching the device at the same time then it was better for the kids.  A headphone splitter means that the kids can share a device or parents can watch something together in the hotel room late at night.

 

Pack Heavy Duty Tape

Each country might call a heavy-duty cloth tape something differently.  In Australia, we have Duct Tape which is solid plastic tape, or Gaffer’s Tape which is heavy cloth tape.  Regardless this tape can mend broken toys, join together curtains which are letting in the light, keep the toilet closed, or cover electrical sockets.

 

Mark Your Passports With A Sticker

Identify passports using a different sticker on the back of each one.  This way you can locate them more easily or pass them out when going through airport gates.  Alternatively, you could also have a different passport cover for each member of the family.

A Small Crossbody Purse

This is a must-have item when traveling with kids.  Choose a crossbody purse that is just large enough to hold all the essentials like money, id’s, and your phone.  Also, keep your camera around your body as well.

This serves two purposes, not only convenience but safety as well.  Having a small purse in front helps you easily access money to buy a quick snack or drink.  It also reduces your having to dig through your backpack to find your wallet all while trying to keep a hold on the kids.  You don’t want to be distracted and an easy target for thieves.

 

Family Travel Tips & Tips For Traveling With Kids
Family connection in Port Douglas. Credit: Tulieve Photography


How Can We Afford That Family Holiday This Year Traveling As A Family

It’s true that we often head off on family holidays or travels with kids, and some of my friends say, ‘how do you afford it”?

There are several things that I do that are relatively easy and simple.  This, in turn, means that we can travel more.  The good news is, you can likely take these cost-saving measures too.

There are five super simple and easy tips on how to afford to travel with kids!  We have put these tips into place in our family.  This is essentially how we afford to travel as a family.  Since becoming a single-parent household, these tips are even more important.  So what exactly are these tips I am talking about you ask?  Read our post How To Afford To Travel Frequently With Kids and find out.

traveling with family
How To Be An Awesome Family Vacation Planner

One way to plan awesome family-friendly holidays is to look for a specialist family travel planner!  Or, the other way is to do it yourself!

In How To Plan A Family Holiday we outline 5 simple steps to plan an awesome family holiday.  We outline 5 easy steps to narrowing down the choices for a family holiday of a lifetime and making sure that it is going to work for your family!  Save yourself lots of time – and money – by reading how to plan a family vacation step by step

If you have followed our guide on how to plan a family holiday you are now poised for the next step in being an awesome family holiday planner.  Here we get to the nitty-gritty of Flights – How To Search For Flights And Score The Best Deal and  Booking The Accommodation – Family Holiday Trip Planner tips.  Then finally How To Plan Activities For A Family Holiday.   All these elements add up to making your family holiday memorable, affordable, and very special for everyone!

Family Vacation Planner
In Phuket airport, Thailand

What Should I Take On My Family Holiday

Another thing that first-time family travelers can find overwhelming is what to take on holiday without spending a fortune.

If you will be traveling with a baby this can be tricky.  There can be so much to pack and consider for your baby that it can all seem very overwhelming.  Never fear, we have outlined it all here for you in A Guide To Baby Travel Essentials.  As a Mumma who has traveled with three babies, I have done all the “research” for you.  By research, I mean trial and error.  This is definitely a must-read guide if you will be traveling with a baby.

Another thing that can be overwhelming is the organization leading up to your holiday.  With so many different things to juggle it can be easy to forget something.  Our Family Travel Checklist – 1 Month To Departure is a great resource when you are about a month out.  This will outline all the things you need to be thinking about as well as some must-have items to buy and pack.

Speaking of packing, that can be a nightmare in itself.  When traveling as a family figuring out how to pack everything can be tough.  Our family loves using packing cubes for travel!  We consider them a must-have travel item.  After all our years of packing suitcases, these are essential.  Think packing cubes might be for you (we highly recommend them)?  Check out our 5 Pro Tips For Using Packing Cubes For Family Travel.  You will learn not only why they are amazing but also how to utilize them in the best way.

If packing cubes are your jam, you can also consider using Ziploc-type bags.  We have definitely used them in the past for packing clothes.  Maybe packing cubes are just an added expense you don’t want to splurge on for your holiday.  We totally get it.  Read our How To Use Ziploc Packing Bags For Clothes as an alternative to packing cubes.

When you are travelling with kids you need to decide whether you will get the kids to carry their own carry bag or not.  The size and ease of the bag to carry are important considerations and we have covered all this and more at Sharing The Load: The Best Kids’ Travel Backpacks.

Once you have decided on what the best kids travel backpack is for your family, we have also covered what to put in a kids’ carry bag.

What Should I Take On My Family Holiday

Some Things We Dread About Travelling With Kids

Not everything about travel with kids is adventure and sunshine.  In fact, there are many things that are challenging about traveling with kids.  We’ve covered a lot of tips here about how to structure your holiday to avoid stressing the kids out too much and having meltdowns or tantrums

  • Immunizations

During the family travel planning process, you should definitely check if there are any extra immunizations required for the countries you are planning to visit.

How do you feel about getting your kids immunized for “extra” diseases that might not be in your home country?  I don’t love getting my kids immunized (hello… it’s not fun watching your kids get needles).  However, I also have seen the effects of things like typhoid on friends and would prefer to protect my children.

  • Malaria

Even though this isn’t a consideration in all countries, it is something to take note of.  The risk of Malaria is very real in certain parts of the world.  It is found in over 100 countries, usually with more tropical climates.  Make sure you research your destination to see if there is a risk of malaria where you are going.  If so, don’t be overly alarmed.  We have experience traveling in Malaria countries with kids.  Read our Traveling And The Risk Of Malaria In Kids for information and tips.

 

  • Acclimatization When Travelling To Altitude

Like Malaria, this might not be something that applies to all your family vacation destinations.  However, as I mentioned earlier, our first babe was born in the mountains of Peru.  We have been traveling as a family ever since and have a great deal of experience traveling to destinations of high altitude.  There are many considerations and planning that need to be done in order to do this safely.  Tips For Acclimating To Altitude With Kids is a great resource for parents of kiddos wondering how this is best accomplished.

 

  • Jet Lag

Ah, dreaded jet lag.  When traveling vast distances across multiple time zones, jet lag can be hard to avoid.  After traveling so much around the world with the kids we have developed some really good tips for how to do deal with it.  Check out our Jet Lag With Toddlers: How To Deal With It.

Travelling With Kids
Exploring Singapore

Looking For More Inspiration For Travel

We know that traveling as a family can be tough.  There is a lot to take into consideration and it often requires more planning than say, solo travel.  While we don’t think anyone really NEEDS more inspiration for travel, we are going to give you some!

Here are some Fun Travel Facts… including that Travelling is Fun!

Inspiration For Travel

The Verdict – Ideas To Ace Traveling As A Family & Travel Essentials For Kids

So there you have it, years of traveling experience neatly summarised!  It is true, there is no way to replace experience and wisdom by simply reading a post.  But we hope that we have at least given you some ideas to ACE traveling as a family and also to know what travel essentials for kids –are really essential.  So – good luck, have fun, make connections.  Also, remember that they could be having a tantrum at home as well!

 

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About Us

Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.