10 Tech-free Tips for Surviving Travel with Kids


Travel with Kids

Showing my children the world – near and far – is a parental aspiration I hold dear to my heart. However, traveling with young kids can make a family, even a small one, look and feel like a traveling circus. And it can make this mama sometimes overwhelmed and stressed out. In recent years, we’ve made a 9-hour drive to visit family up north more times than I’d like to count and have flown to Europe and a few domestic destinations. Thankfully we survived them all, although some more graciously than others.

So, while I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to traveling with kids, I have some tips that will hopefully keep you and the kiddos sane during long drives and even longer plane rides. I’ve also gathered flying-specific suggestions from a friend who has a lot of experience with long-haul flights, having taken her nearly 3-year old daughter on five international journeys (three to Australia and two to Europe) and over two dozen domestic flights.

10 {Tech-free} Tips for Surviving Long Road Trips and Flights with Young Kids

1. Talk about where you’re going, who you’re going to see, and what you’ll be doing. Kids are curious and they love to talk about the family, friends, and other excitement that awaits them at the end of the journey.

2. Have easy access to the things you’ll need most. Diapers, wipes, change of clothes, {for both you and baby, ‘cause you know that diaper will explode just as your plane has taken off}, snacks, favorite toys, etc.

3. Preemptively accept that everyone {both adults and kids} will get cranky, winey, and fussy after being strapped into a seat for a long time. Be kind and patient not just to the kids, but to yourself too.

4. Pack snacks – lots of them. I like to bring a mix of veggies, crackers, fruit, nuts, and for when the desperate moments hit, cookies. You won’t want them hopped up on sugar as they sit, and sit, and sit, but you may also need to appease them somehow. Food works well for us!

5. Mid-way through your journey, get out of the car and stretch your legs. Kids of all ages need to run around and release pent-up energy. If you’re on plane, make sure to do a couple of laps around the aisles. I know it’s not an exciting walk, but even the slightest change in scenery can be a useful distraction for you all {and your cramped legs will thank you!}.

6. Don’t be afraid to be goofy. My kids love it when I sing along to their favorite songs, make silly faces, and dance around a bit. Let’s face it – we’re stuck in the car/plane too and need to release energy as well!

7. Read books. Sitting for hours affords you lot of time to read to your kids. They will love the quality time spent with your full attention and you’ll love that books are occupying all of their attention.

8. Bring some new toys along. Make a quick stop at your local dollar store and stock up on inexpensive coloring books and crayons, lap-sized puzzles, stickers, and silly toys.

9. Close your eyes when they nap {if you’re not the driver, of course}. Allowing yourself a moment to decompress, even if you don’t sleep, will go a long way in providing you the necessary break to tackle the rest of the trip.

10. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moments of silence. It’s sometimes easy to feel like you need to fill every travel moment with some sort of activity. There will undoubtedly be some quiet time – enjoy it!

Is a chat with the TSA in your future? Here are airport-specific tips from Kirsty, the mom of the well-traveled toddler I mentioned above:

1. Wear easily removable shoes – juggling a baby, grabbing a toddler and trying to undo shoelaces does not work.

2. Anticipate what items need to be removed from your bag (liquids, squeezable food packs, empty drink containers, etc.) and have these ready in a separate ziplock bag before you leave home.

3. Remove infants from strollers (which need to go through the scanners), slings and carriers as you’re in the TSA line.

4. Smile, smile, smile…you are guaranteed to be taken aside for “random” bomb testing and to have your bag thoroughly searched. Complaining will make it worse!

What tips do you have for traveling with kids? We’d love to hear about how you survive long travel days with your little ones!


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In March 2011 my life changed in the most dramatic and wonderful way possible: I became a mom to my vivacious, inquisitive, sweet, fun-loving, exuberant little man. A week after my son’s birth, my husband received a job offer we could not refuse from the University of Tennessee. And so, in July 2011, we said goodbye to the life we’d created in the coastal paradise of Santa Barbara, California, and began carving out a new bit of paradise for ourselves in Knoxville. In March 2013, just over two years after the birth of our son, we welcomed our beautiful and equally amazing daughter. Together with my loving and supportive husband, my children have taught me to slow down and enjoy the moments life gives us. It is with them and thanks to them, that I feel truly happy and at peace.


  1. TSA is why I stay home!

    I agree with the trip to the dollar store and McKay for cheap little doodads and books the kids have never seen before. Never underestimate the entertainment value of a novel object!

  2. Really helpful, thanks! One thing: I was allowed to keep my son in a carrier through security in both O’Hare and Minneapolis with no issues last week. They swabbed my hands on the other end, but that’s it. Sooooo nice to have my hands free in the scramble to grab shoes/bags/liquids on the other side!

  3. Hands-free is essential, especially when trying to navigate airport security! Glad it worked out so well for you Shannon!


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