Families with three or more kids can travel! Being outnumbered doesn’t mean you need to stay home. To quell the anxiety that may rise when leaving the safety of home, large families need to prepare themselves and their kids for their travel. Check out these 13 travel essentials for big families.

Travel Essentials

travel essentials

Photo credit: Maria Smith/ TravelingMom of Many

The good news is that big families can travel. The bad news is that it’s just infinitely more difficult. My family of six travels extensively throughout the country and we have gotten this travel thing down (for the most part). I have learned that organization and a routine is the key so kids know what to expect on the road. No matter if we are flying across the country or driving 200 miles to a neighboring state, we always need these 13 travel essentials for big families.

While en Route

Technology to keep everyone entertained is a travel essential for big families.

Technology to keep everyone entertained is a travel essential for big families. Photo credit: Maria Smith/ TravelingMom of Many

1. Patience. It is number one for a reason. Traveling with kids is just plain hard but the memories that are made, the lessons learned, and the experiences gained make it worth it. Just have a patient mindset from the beginning and you will save yourself (and the rest of the family) from a mommy meltdown.


2. Technology. Say what you want about technology, but it sure helps to keep kids entertained and engaged for hours! Download some new movies or apps. Add some age-appropriate books to your iPad bookshelf. And Bring. The. Chargers. All of them. You will be glad you did.

3. Snacks. I don’t leave the house to go to the park without snacks. And I certainly wouldn’t go on a trip without any! There few things that causes more drama when traveling than hungry kids. Do not let the kids get hungry! Individual bags of chips, fruit snacks, cookies, and cheese and crackers work well as travel snacks and aren’t too messy.

4. Trash bags. I always include several plastic grocery store bags in my carry on or purse when traveling. I use them for stinky diapers (especially on a plane), soiled clothing, and to collect the random things kids want to carry around. In a pinch, they also work as air sickness bags. Oh and they can actually collect trash, too.

5. Change of clothes. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a full change of clothes for every person in your family. Sure, little kids can have accidents, but big kids can spill chocolate milk in their laps, dads can get thrown up on, and moms can realize that the diaper-clad baby they’re holding is leaking. Act like a Boy Scout and always be prepared.

At the Hotel

Sleeping in a hotel room can be a challenge for big families.

Sleeping in a hotel room can be a challenge for big families.

6. Additional bedding. Many hotels can accommodate 5 or more people in a room or suite, however that is often contingent on them having a cot or pack-n-play available when you check in. Don’t want to get caught with more kids than bed space? Bring your own air mattress or portable crib.

7. Extra white t-shirts. Simple white t-shirts can be used as pajamas when the one pair you bring for a child gets soiled. They can go under a shirt for warmth. They are also great for when you let the kids jump in mud puddles, eat spaghetti, or roll around in the dirt. These shirts can often work for multiple sizes which is great for big families.

8. Personal bag for each child. I am a big proponent of giving each child the responsibility of one personal bag. I like to use backpacks so they can wear them and be hands-free. In each bag should be a change of clothes, baggie of wipes, snacks, and special toys, games, and things to do.


Yes. Lollipops are a travel essential.

Yes. Lollipops are a travel essential. Photo credit: Maria Smith/ TravelingMom of Many

9. Lollipops. You can never be too rich or too thin or have too many lollipops for your kids. I love lollipops! They take a while to suck on so they keep the kids quiet and occupied for a pretty good period of time. As a bonus, the sucking motion can help kids deal with air pressure issues when in flight. And they make excellent bargaining chips.

10. Water bottles. Save money and the Earth by going green and bringing your own water bottles. If each child has his or her own bottle it can keep them from getting dehydrated or complaining about how thirsty they are. Bringing packets of Crystal Light or another mix-in can help kids who say they don’t want to drink plain water.

11. Cash. I know some people like to believe we are living in a cash-less society, but we’re not. Cash is still king, especially in service industries. Save yourself the hassle and use cash to get a sky cab at the airport or to pay for curbside check in. Having cash also means you can have a porter at the hotel help you with your bags so you can concentrate on the kids.

12. Baby wipes. I don’t care if you haven’t had a kid in diapers since before the iPad came out, you still need a package of baby wipes. They help sanitize, clean spills, and stop sticky fingers from messing up everything they touch. Wipes also work well when dealing with sand at the beach and if necessary they can be a quick substitute for hand washing if a sink and soap aren’t available.

13. First aid kit. You know you need one. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A plastic bag with Band-Aids, some individual packets of children’s Tylenol, allergy tablets, and ibuprofen (for you) can go a long way.

Big families might need to spend a little more time in preparation for a trip, but that doesn’t mean they should stay home. Look at each trip as an adventure and hit the road (after putting these 13 things in your trunk, that is). Want some more packing advice? Megy Karydes, Foodie TravelingMom, can teach you how to pack like a minimalist, even for international travel!

This post was written by Maria Smith. She’s a wife and on-the-go stay at home mom to four children ages 8 to 3. Maria lives in Atlanta and blogs at MamaliciousMaria.com. She is a freelance writer for several other websites and is a former television producer. When not writing, Maria can be found on the tennis courts, reading a book, or traveling the world with her family.