Tips for Parents to Stay Sane While Traveling with Kids

Parents: Let's Learn How to Stay Sane While Traveling

Traveling in the near future for the first time with your kids? Have you been researching all the tips and tricks there are in order to keep your kids happy and most importantly YOU happy during your travels? Look no further my friends. I’ve got the best tips for parents to stay sane while traveling with kids!

There are so many tips out there, and in my own research, all of the tips seem to be the same. “Pack snacks”, “bring activities”, “plan around nap times”… I mean, how does any parent NOT know to make sure to bring food to feed their little people before they leave the house? That’s just common sense in my opinion, nobody wants hangry children during travel! Let’s get down to the real useful tips on traveling with kids!

tips on traveling with kids

Sane Tip 1: Packing Tips for Traveling

Pack light and pack simple. How many times have you packed for a vacation and end up bringing too many clothes? I know you’re guilty, your secret is safe with me! You do not need a different sweater every night you go out to dinner, bring two. Your kids do not need a clean pair of socks every day they are in Florida, at the beach. Bring the pair they wear on the plane, they will survive. A great tip to save your sanity rummaging through all of the clothes, pack enough clothes for half of your trip.

The greatest investment you can give yourself is to purchase packing cubes and learn how to roll clothes like a boss. My husband and I each get two cubes, and each of my kids gets one. I pack a separate one for bathing suits and goggles. The best ones to get are the clear ones or ones with mesh zip up tops like these ones, these ones, or even these. That way, no one is scrambling around in a suitcase trying to figure out who’s cube is who’s. Honestly, packing cubes are amazing. Our last trip to Florida was a seven day trip. We took one suitcase for my family of four. Yes, ONE. It can be done my friend! It’s worth it to master bringing less will make you one happy traveling momma. Another great tip for parents to stay sane while traveling with kids.

best packing gear for traveling with kids

Sane Tip 2: Devices with Useful Downloads while Traveling

It’s 2020, it’s normal for kids to have iPads or any other sort of device. Embrace it friends. Don’t try to be one of those super moms who wants their kids to be engaged in every part of the traveling experience, it’s exhausting for them, and for you. Kids have the attention span of fish, they can only look out the airplane window for so long before they are bored (or can’t even see anything). The night before traveling, charge all of the devices fully and download movies and shows from Netflix. If you are new to Netflix, you can download movies and shows onto the device, which means you do not need internet to watch them. Another great thing to have on devices are books. Kids can break up their movie time with reading. Saves space in the backpacks. Devices are a wonderful thing, get on the device train. School aged kids can be entertained by them on long trips, which means you can take an airplane snooze or even read a book yourself! Pure sanity. That is to say, sanity is definitely one thing you want to master in my tips for parents to stay sane while traveling with kids.

Sane Tip 3: Pack the Kids their Own Backpack for every Travel

Another awesome tips for parents to stay sane while traveling with kids is to teach your kids about responsibility and simple living. Get them a great backpack and make them carry their own stuff. The best kid’s backpack on the market is REI’s Co-Op Tarn Backpack. Kids as small as four can use them. I can’t tell you enough how much I love these backpacks! The best thing about this backpack is that it has a waist belt. Remember the days of wearing your kids on your front? The best baby carriers always has a waist belt so that all of the weight can sit on the hips. The belt allows the weight of the kid’s backpack supplies to sit on their hips too! My kids love these backpacks. It also teaches kids to live simple. They can only bring what they can carry. My kids learned very quickly what they use when they travel and what they don’t since having these. And let’s be honest, no school aged kids are playing with their 923846 LOL Dolls or their 89456 Matchbox Cars on vacation. They are outside on adventures, or inside recovering from their outside adventures with some couch chill time.

best kids travel backpack

Sane Tip 4: Kid’s Backpack Supplies

Let’s talk again about the kids backpack and what supplies to put in them. Our travel essentials: a fully charged device with Netflix downloads and new books to read, two coloring books and crayons/markers to keep hands busy, a kid’s travel journal for quiet time actvities (have them journal what they do each day on vacation!), smaller games such as a deck of cards and Left/Center/Right, snacks, and an empty water bottle of some sort. Depending on our type of trip we pack either an empty stainless steel water bottle (empty if plane traveling), or one of REI’s rollable water bottles. Yup, that’s it. That’s all that we pack in our kid’s backpacks. Above all, just don’t waste the time or space in a backpack bringing anything else, trust me. Bringing a bunch of toys that will never be used on vacation is just a waste of space and backpack weight. Instead, bring these suggested items that will really keep the kids engaged and entertained when you need down time. In other words, just pack these things to stay sane while traveling with kids!

things to pack for kids during travel
kid's backpack supplies water bottles

Sane Tip 5: Car Rentals during Travel

If you are in need of a car on your destination don’t always go with the cheapest. In my experience Budget is the cheapest, but let me tell you about those lines to get those cars after you spend hours on an airplane. Long, long, long. We waited in Miami for over an hour in line just to sign paperwork, ugh. Nobody wants to spend the time on that. Since our Miami trip, I take the time to look around at the different company’s lines when we need to rent a car, Budget is hands-down always the longest. Just choose a different company. Enterprise is quick and easy for American travel.

Another great tip, do NOT purchase the full tank of gas from the rental place. When returning a car rental, the gas tank needs to be full. Don’t pay for the rental company to fill the gas tank for you. It’s too stressful to map out how much you are going to drive so that you return the car rental with an empty tank so that they can fill it. When we head to Florida every year, we rent a car to basically drive to our destination and get to the grocery store. We can use just a quarter tank of gas in a ten day span of time. Just be mindful that a situation like this can have you wasting money on an unused purchased tank of gas from a car rental company.

Make sure to check with your credit card company to see if they cover car rental insurance. Every car rental company will try to sell you their daily car insurance plan, when your credit card company already covers it. We use American Express for a lot of our traveling expenses and they cover accidents with car rentals. No need to pay twice. In other words, save the cash and then spend the saved money for your margaritas!

car rental tips for vacations

Sane Tip 6: Car Seats and Strollers

A small but useful tip for parents to stay sane while traveling with kids deals with car seats and strollers. A necessity right? Almost all airlines let you check car seats and strollers for free, but just make sure to call ahead beforehand to make sure. However, if you are traveling as a single parent with kids sometimes the extra things are just too hard to bring along. It can leave a parent stressed trying to keep track of their kids in an airport, carrying their own backpack of stuff, dragging a suitcase, trying to find all of the identifications, all the while sweating like they’re on a treadmill. Can you imagine having two or three car seats too?! No thank you. If you don’t want the extra things, rent them. Hop on google and search around for car seat or stroller rentals in the city that you are visiting. There are companies out there that rent car seats, pack and plays, camping style cots, strollers, beach gear, etc and can be cheaper than say, renting car seats from car rental companies or pack and plays from the hotel. And the most amazing thing, most of them will deliver to you-strait to the airport! This route will save you stress and let you have a bit more sanity and relaxation while traveling with kids. Sign a momma up!

Sane Tip 7: Your Vacation Stay

No matter where you stay, I’ve got some great tips for parents to stay sane while traveling with kids in regards to what you should look for in your vacation stay! Location. Obviously you will probably already know what city you want to stay in. But, take into consideration where you are staying in relation to if you are renting a car or if there is public transportation (and the reliability of the transportation) in the area to get you to where you need to go. For example. We stay on Fort Myers Beach every year, but we make sure to book our vacation stay somewhere close to restaurants and a grocery store. Yes, there is a public trolley that runs up and down the beach, but it’s always behind and it can leave us waiting for a ride in the 90 degree weather with hungry children for 40 minutes. Talk about loosing your sanity and wishing for a margarita in hand! Do your research with what’s around you, what you want to do on vacation, and the reliability of how you will get there.

Type of stay. Do you want the amenities of a hotel or a vacation rental like AirB&B? Hotels can offer included breakfast, pools, and are easier to find on a beachfront or with a great mountain view, and more then likely have more restaurants close by or even in the hotel itself. Or, do you want a full kitchen, with separate bedrooms, and maybe a big backyard for the kids to run around in? It all depends on you, your family size, and what you want out of your vacation stay. Whichever route you decide to go with your vacation stay, be sure to call and confirm that there is a fridge of some sort and a microwave in the room/place.

The number one thing I look for when booking our vacation stay is this my friends. Where will my husband and I have wine or margaritas after the kids go to bed? Yep, gotta keep the romance alive people! It’s important to try and spend quality time with your significant other while on vacation. There’s a lot of togetherness on vacation. In other words, a LOT of kid time and less time alone with your hubby. When I am researching vacation stays, I am always on the lookout for where can we sit outside and chill when the kids are either watching a movie, reading a book for some downtime, or sleeping. We love to be outside at night, whether around a campfire in our snow suits with a glass of red wine, or looking out into some water with our flip flops on and a margarita in hand (can you tell my love for margaritas yet?). Consider the space, it’s important. That, and this alone time with your significant other will keep you sane sane while traveling with kids!

vacation stays with kids

Sane Tip 8: Eating Out

We love eating out when we are traveling. It forces my kids to try new fun foods, and it gives me a break from cooking. We have a pretty awesome routine when we are eating out that seems to work for everyone, and it allows my hubby and I to relax and take our time eating out. A small snack before we head to dinner. This simple task allows for no whining or crying that someone is starving as we are waiting for our name to be called to sit, or glancing over the menu. Always order an appetizer (with your first margarita). Kids can snack and again, avoid the crying and whining of pure starvation. Split meals and order healthy. With the ordering of an appetizer, smaller school aged kids do not need their own whole meal, it can just be too much food most of the time. Also, splitting the kids meals will allow their bellies to still be okay to split a dessert after dinner while you sip on another margarita. Do whatever you can to keep your kids entertained so you can be out to dinner as long as you can! For great tips on ordering healthy while out to dinner, check out my post on How to Stay Healthy While Traveling. Another great tip for parents to stay sane while traveling with kids!

tips to eating out with kids
best restaurants key largo the keys

Sane Tip 9: Hit up a Grocery Store

Do not, ever under any circumstance, head to your vacation stay without first hitting up a grocery store. Get breakfast foods, snacks, drinks, and a three gallon jug of drinking water. While you’re there, grab a bagged cooler to use for your day trips out. You can always use it out and about. It will save you money, and it will keep you sane when you need a snack at the drop of a hat for your hangry kid!

mental health awareness

Sane Tip 10: Stay Healthy While Traveling

There is nothing like either heading on vacation and someone gets sick the day before the scheduled flight, or landing and arriving to the hotel to find out your oldest had to run to the bathroom with an unfortunate stomach ache. There are things that you can do to keep the whole family healthy before, during, and after your travels. Be sure to check out my post on How to Stay Healthy While Traveling, lots of great tips and tricks to keep any parent sane while traveling!

friendly wanderlust family travel blogger
traveling with kids, tips to traveling with kids
traveling with kids tips