If you’re like us you are traveling with younger kids in tow and sometimes our days feel like chaos. They start out great. We have great intentions but by the afternoon we’re all exhausted and ready to pack it up and never leave the house (or RV) again.
Truthfully, traveling with younger kids can be a lot of work. No one is denying that, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. It really comes down to how well you plan.
So if you aren’t a planner and you’re currently looking for tips on how to make traveling with your younger kids a reality then stick around.
After traveling with our young kids for nearly 8 years I have stored away a few goodies to share with you.
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Traveling with Younger Kids
Pack good snacks
Let’s just start with potentially Get the most important piece of advice ever. Snacks. You do not want to get caught out longer than you expected and not have something for your littles to snack on.
To this day even our nearly 9 year old daughter is happier with snacks. Their little bodies burn so many calories and their metabolism is something us adults only wish we had.
Hit a local grocery store and stock up on plenty of fruit, protein and carb options. These will come in particularly handy during those times when you are waiting on food.
I promise you won’t need all those extra things you think you might need because little Johnny might want them.
Whether you’re packing clothes, toys, accessories for the stroller… don’t overpack. I don’t know how many times I have brought stuff and lugged it around only to never touch it.
Take what you absolutely know you will need and if you need to run to the store and grab a new cup then so be it.
There was a day recently when we were in St. Augustine and we tried hitting all of the landmarks in one day. It was hot and we should have just gone slower and spaced out our activities more.
The kids get tired and if you don’t have a stroller (we don’t have one anymore) you are likely going to end up stressed out which will result in your kids feeling the same.
Go slow and space your activities out.
Straighten that mindset out
There have been days when I woke up on like day 2 in a city and just felt like the whole day was going to be garbage.
This is a terrible mindset to have. You choose how your day goes so stick to the positive mindset and you will be in a good place.
Buy a surprise gift
I like to hit the dollar rack at Target and store away a few little surprises for the kids. I usually save these for travel days or if we are having a meltdown and need something to calm us down.
It can be as simple as those cute little coloring books that come with the crayons. Your little ones are probably a lot like you and love a good surprise.
When we went to Disney we didn’t plan any downtime. We were in the parks for 4 straight days without any time to rest and recoup.
Don’t do this.
Take time to spend at your hotel or in your campground so you and the kids can have that opportunity to take naps and play.
Allow your kids to choose activities
When we go to a new place we always let our kids choose an activity. Even if means we have pre-determined list of things we are going to do. It makes them feel in charge and it helps to cut down on arguments later on.
Less is more
Hear me out here… we love to try and do all the things in a new city. Since we visit new places so often it’s hard for us to not want to see everything.
We try to choose the best and most interesting things to do and if we have time we have a backup list of other things we might try to fit in.
Most of our posts if you read the travel guides will have honorable mentions. Those are our backups.
For us the less is more generally looks something like this:
- 1 big activity
- 1 fun snack or meal stop
- 1 place to play
Take a family member
We don’t have this luxury but if you do you should totally capitalize on it. It’s so much easier traveling with younger kids when you have a third adult.
There comes a point during our travels when our kids will turn on us and won’t listen anymore. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. At that point is when we always wish we had a 3rd adult or at the very least a teenager to help out.
When we do meet family or friends on the road they always jump right in and help entertain the children.
Be present & enjoy
I’m not sure if you’re anything like me but when we used to go on vacation I was so busy running after everyone trying to please everybody that I would forget to enjoy my time off.
The whole point of a family trip is to enjoy it and make memories with them.
Take time to just let it all go and enjoy the journey.
That’s it! Those are our nearly 8 years of tips that we’ve figured out along the way. Now that we are traveling full-time these little things are really helping us out with making the most of our adventures.
What is your best tip for traveling with younger kids? We’d love to hear them!