Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Traveling with Kids Checklist
- Travel Planning List Tips and Timeline
- 1. What Kind of Trip Are You Planning?
- 2. Choose the Best Location
- 3. What Family Activities Are There?
- 4. Best Time of Year for Travel
- 5. Plan Overnight Accommodations
- 6. Family Travel Transportation Logistics
- 7. Buy Travel Insurance
- 8. Make Arrangements During the School Year
- 9. What to Bring on a Vacation with Kids
- Items to Pack for Every Trip
- Must-Know Tips for Traveling with a Baby
- Electronics for Entertainment
- Screen-Free Activities
- Packing for Kids
- TravelingMom Printable Packing Lists
- Get Your Traveling with Kids Checklist!
Make family vacation planning easier with a to-do list that will keep you on track through the entire process. This step-by-step traveling with kids checklist will take you from deciding where to go, choosing the best hotel, figuring out transportation and packing the essentials. These are must know travel tips for family travel – so you won’t forget a thing!
Traveling with Kids Checklist
Whether you’re planning a year out or at the last minute, traveling with kids requires important decision making. Where you go, what you do and the things you pack can truly make or break a trip! Following a travel planning checklist ensures that nothing slips through the cracks.
Keep reading to get your free TravelingMom traveling with kids checklist printable!
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Travel Planning List Tips and Timeline
Before any travel adventures can take place, the most important decisions are made at home. These are a few of the key points in the step-by-step vacation planning process.
1. What Kind of Trip Are You Planning?
Figure out the length of time you can get away as well as your vacation budget and plan accordingly. Naturally, you’ll need a longer vacation for travel that’s farther from home. (ex: Day trip, road trip, cross-country or international travel with kids)
2. Choose the Best Location
A crucial question to ask yourself before deciding on a destination, “Is this going to be the ideal location for my kids?” While an African safari may be on your bucket list, are your kids the right age and temperament to enjoy and appreciate that trip? Disney World has plenty of all-age activities – but is it too triggering for your special needs child? A relaxing spa vacation would be better as an adult-only or girlfriends trip. Take a hard look at the destination ideas before committing. (ex: Hawaii, family reunion, cruise).
3. What Family Activities Are There?
Will there be enough activities in that location for your children? Travel with a baby is certainly different than traveling with a teenager. Research vacation destinations for the available activities that are both age appropriate and of interest to your kids. Create a good balance that will entertain without boring kids or overstimulate. (ex: Theme parks like Disneyland and Disney World, children’s museums, national parks)
4. Best Time of Year for Travel
The best time of year to travel is relative to where you’re vacationing and with whom you’re traveling. Parents with school-aged children may only have the opportunity to travel during breaks. Know ahead of time that crowd levels and prices fluctuate, then research which is the optimum time to travel for your family.
Choose to take a family ski trip, but verify first that there will still be snow on the slopes! Got a great price on that trip to the Caribbean? Not such a great bargain if you booked during hurricane season. Know what kind of travel weather to expect by researching the calendar against your chosen destination before booking.
5. Plan Overnight Accommodations
Choosing the best hotel room that fits your budget, family size and needs can be a challenge. It’s important to know your personal family non-negotiables. This could mean only looking at available locations with a pool, full kitchen, or those within walking distance of activities. Know what you can (and can’t) live without during your trip before booking.
These are a few other considerations:
- Staying with relatives or friends can be budget saver. However nobody wants to overstay their welcome. Ensure that your visit won’t be a burden by limiting the length of your stay.
- Booking an Airbnb can be an excellent option for families who require all the comforts of a home, including a full kitchen and yard.
- For families with very young children that go to sleep early or take a daily nap, having a multi-room suite can be priceless.
- Renting an RV is a great option for larger families, people who want to cook all their own meals and those who like to travel with pets.
- Be aware of vacation hot spots and how early those reservations fill up. Accommodations for popular National parks camp grounds and Walt Disney World hotels will disappear fast. Make note on a calendar to book on the first available day.
6. Family Travel Transportation Logistics
Whether you’re taking an extended road trip or flying around the world, transportation is key. Once you know where you’re going, it’s time to schedule transportation to get there. These transportation details are listed on the traveling with kids checklist as well.
- Flights can fill up early, especially around popular holiday travel seasons. Book early.
- Taking a road trip with your own vehicle? Have the car fully serviced using this checklist before you hit the road.
- For those renting a car, ensure that you’ll have safe transport for babies, toddlers and kids. Don’t rely on securing an appropriate car seat from the ride-share service or rental company. Best to bring your own car seat with you.
7. Buy Travel Insurance
Stuff happens and sometimes trips need to be rescheduled or cancelled. This is never more true than when traveling with kids. What happens if your child’s team makes it to the playoffs, but you have a trip planned? Or someone breaks an arm right before a beach trip? And you definitely don’t want to take your dream vacation with a sick child. Always consider purchasing travel insurance that covers cancellations or rescheduled trips.
8. Make Arrangements During the School Year
Distance learning made it easier for school-aged children to travel year-round. Of course, not as many families were ready to travel during that time! It’s understandable with the cost benefits of off-season vacations and work schedules, that you might need to plan a trip during the school year.
Before you take your kids out of school, find out the district’s policy in regards to “unexcused absences”. Read more about the tips for taking kids out of school.
9. What to Bring on a Vacation with Kids
For certain, what you bring on a trip will vary dependent upon your destination and the age/interests of your children. A packing list for a beach vacation will be dramatically different than if you were taking the kids skiing! However there are going to be things that all parents will need to pack in the travel bag on a vacation with children.
Keep reading the following sections for additional items that are specific to vacation types and age categories.
Items to Pack for Every Trip
- Facial coverings, masks and hand sanitizer are the new travel must-haves.
- Updated passports for international travel.
- Kid’s prescriptions, medications, health insurance medical cards.
- Comfortable, broken-in walking shoes.
- A well-stocked first aid kit with plenty of band-aids.
- Favorite travel snacks including beverages and sippy cups/spill-proof cups.
- Appropriate clothing for the weather. Check both day and evening temps for your chosen destinations.
- Keep kids safe on vacation with these safe travel essentials, including a lock box for medications, outlet plugs and temporary tattoos with your phone number.
Must-Know Tips for Traveling with a Baby
First vacation with a little one in tow? You might think you need to bring ALL the things! Having a few baby essentials is ideal but over-packing can be a problem. Consider only what you’ll really need to bring from home.
These are a few other baby travel tips.
- A baby carrier is a must-have, especially when traveling where strollers can’t go (like hiking).
- Schedule long drives during nap times, so that babies and toddlers can sleep on the road.
- Consider bringing along grandparents or a trusted baby sitter to help with little ones on a trip.
- For potty training toddlers, make lots of bathroom breaks and pack plenty of extra outfits.
- Pack new toys and books to pull out when baby gets bored.
- Rental companies are popular at kid-friendly destinations including crib and stroller rentals for Disney World vacations.
Electronics for Entertainment
Keep kids busy on the road with their favorite electronic entertainment. Download kid-friendly travel apps for the destinations you’re heading. Remember to bring all necessary chargers and cords for powering up. An external powerbank can be helpful when away from an outlet.
If your kids tend to get absorbed in too much screen time, create appropriate travel guidelines beforehand. We want kids to remember the trip, not what game they were playing! Establish travel rules around electronics – for instance, electronics can only be used when the vehicle is in motion. Otherwise they should be put away.
Having a go-to bag of fun activities on the journey can be a lifesaver when traveling with kids. Keep a collection of new and exciting items at the ready, especially for preschoolers, who tend to get easily bored. Crayons and coloring books, travel games and mess-free crafts (like Wiki Stix or plastic animal figures) go a long way. Items like these can entertain kids during travel, while waiting in restaurants or before bed in the hotel room.
Packing for Kids
Make traveling with kids easier by compartmentalizing their suitcase. Use packing cubes to create sections and eliminate clutter. Another option is using a gallon-sized plastic bag to contain each individual outfit. These grab & go bags make travel easier when kids have a top, bottom, socks, underpants and hair accessory all coordinated in a single bag.
While older kids may pack their own luggage, it’s still important to double-check and ensure they’ve included appropriate toiletries, including their toothbrush and toothpaste! Forgot something back at home? Thank goodness for Amazon! Order and deliver missing items to your hotel.
TravelingMom Printable Packing Lists
Before you start throwing things into a suitcase, have a packing list printable for each specific scenario. These examples will help ensure you have everything you need without over (or under) packing.
Thankfully Traveling Mom has you covered with a ton of complimentary packing lists for every vacation on Earth!
- Road Trip – Eliminate boredom on a long car ride with a well stocked bag of travel games, books, audio stories, electronics and snacks.
- Carry-On – For air travel, consider packing each child their own backpack to keep under the seat with in-flight essentials. For babies, a TSA approved car seat, bottles, formula and snacks. For big kids, gum to chew during take off. Don’t forget a personal set of headphones or ear buds for each child! This complete carry on list will help guide you.
- Diaper Bag – A well-stocked diaper bag will include diapers and wipes, a changing pad and multiple clothing changes. Bring baby’s favorite foods, utensils and disposable bibs for travel. Don’t forget a pacifier and several toys for entertainment. Find out more tips from parents who travel with babies.
- Beach Travel – Sunscreen and swimsuits are a given. Get the TravelingMom beach checklist and ensure you have everything you need for a day on the sand.
- Camping – From sleeping bags to bug spray, print out the ultimate family camping packing list and never forget anything necessary for an adventure in the great outdoors!
- Day Trip – Even a single day of fun requires a few necessities. Get the free day trip packing list which includes bottled water, guide maps and a jacket for when the sun sets.
Get Your Traveling with Kids Checklist!
Travel planning can be made easier even with children. Print out this free printable TRAVELING WITH KIDS CHECKLIST. It includes empty spaces for customization and your own planning notes.