Tips for Traveling with Young Children

Early last month while at the dentist, I was engaging in the typical chit chat with the hygienist as she cleaned my teeth.  One statement she made struck me as a bit odd, she told me she assumed since my daughter was only 2 months old that we wouldn’t be going on a vacation this summer.  Well why wouldn’t we still go on vacation just because we had a baby?!

I shared with her we were leaving the following day for our family’s annual trip to Florida. And not only were we traveling with an infant…we were driving the 12 hours to get there.  The hygienist’s comment made me wonder if a lot of people just didn’t vacation altogether when they had young kids.

Since we’ve always traveled with our dogs (mostly because we hate being away from them but partially because they’re snub nosed and can’t fly), we’re accustomed to researching locations to suit the needs of our family’s unique situation.  Now, I’ll admit that traveling with children is a bit more challenging than traveling with pets but I assure you it can be done with proper planning.

 By following these tips, parents of young children can still enjoy a family vacation with minimal issues.

  1. Choose a location within driving distance.  Interpretations of driving distance may vary but if it’s too far for you to drive and you’re considering flying, do yourself a favor and wait until your children are older.  Controlling a child, especially more than one is increasingly more difficult and stressful when you’re in a confined space with strangers.
  2. Depending on the distance, begin driving to your destination at your child’s bedtime.  Infants and toddlers alike will be less cranky if their sleep isn’t disturbed and the added bonus is you’ll be gaining extra daylight (presumably) to spend at your final destination…provided you’re able to stay awake.
  3. Avoid hotels and instead choose a private vacation home rental.  I can’t stress enough how important having all of the comforts of home is when traveling with kids and pets.  Not only does having space to spread out and play help a child settle into a new routine but having a kitchen can help you save money by eating in.
  4. Don’t try to do too much.  Narrow down your must see/must do items and spread them out throughout your stay.  Attempting to squeeze too many activities into a day is only going to result in a frustrated parent and an unhappy child.
  5. Loosely follow your usual routine.  Kids crave structure and will behave better when they are on a schedule.  Of course be somewhat flexible while you’re on vacation but allowing a toddler to stay up until midnight and sleep until noon might be hard to reverse when you get back home.

What are your tips for traveling with small children?


  1. Kids definitely thrive on structure. I know it was way easier to keep them on a similar routine to home as much as possible!

  2. Agree with 4 especially! We traveled once with little man, and as long as we didn’t overwhelm him, and let him have breaks, he was up for doing lots.

  3. We always travel late in the evenings so the kids sleep. They rarely wake up and we like to stay close to home.

  4. Great tips.

  5. I find it easier to travel with infants than with a toddler!

  6. These are all great tips! I agree, driving is definitely easiest, even if it takes longer. We always drove to all of our vacation destinations when I was growing up! I’d love to rent a home or condo on our next vacation too.

  7. Don’t forget the snacks. Lots and lots of snacks!

  8. Great tips here! I echo the need for structure!

  9. April Decheine says:

    Great tips! We traveled a lot when the kids were little, wish we would of had some DVD’s players back then LOL!

  10. Those are really great tips, especially not trying to do too much.

  11. I think #2 is a great tip! I love traveling with children once they’re at the age where you can play I spy and alphabet games int h car! We always keep plenty of portable games, activities and snacks in the car for long drives!

  12. Great tips! My oldest is 8, and while I’ve been on a few trips since he’s been born, none have been what I would call pleasant. Going somewhere somewhat close by, however, definitely helps. The less time in a car, the better.

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