Tips & Tricks for Traveling with Kids

Sarah Boyd

April 28, 2021
kids Oregon

We’ve all experienced that moment when an exhausted, frazzled parent steps onto the plane holding a baby (along with an insane amount of required gear). With at least half of the occupants secretly wishing the empty seat beside them isn’t the baby’s destination and the other half just hoping for a quiet ride, the hardest people hit are the parents themselves. I know, because I’ve been there—with twins. There should be literal awards for parents and caregivers traveling with babies, toddlers, and any kid under the age of 12. If you’re apprehensive or intimidated about going on vacation with your little ones, worry no more. These tried-and-true tips have you covered. Read on and you’ll feel ready to set off toward your destination and let the amazing adventures and lifelong memories begin.


Timing is everything

airport toddler

This tip is most important for babies and younger kids still napping. The best thing you can do is book a night flight (I know, not ideal for you… but trust me on this). Keeping with your child’s regular sleep schedule will mean more hours of peace for you on the plane. If evening flights don’t work, try to book so that the departure is approximately 30 minutes to an hour before nap time—and pray the flight isn’t delayed. This means that after takeoff, you can do a quick bottle or snack, a short story, and then hopefully the sounds and movement of the plane will help your little one drift off for a majority of the flight. Unless you’re going long distance with flights over six hours. You’ll need a bigger game plan for that.


Know the rules

airport waiting

Knowing the airline's carry-on policies for baby gear before you go is a travel essential (your Liberty Travel consultant can help navigate these too!). This will save you time and stress at the airport. While airlines have individual rules, you can be sure that an infant carrier and booster seat will be allowed on board for safety reasons. Strollers can be checked with your luggage (consider a protective bag for peace of mind), but you can also push them right up to the gate for tagging. Airport staff will unload them directly at your arrival gate, ready for your next adventure.

Genius Travel Gadgets

Here's a fantastic tip for breezing through the airport: the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate. This clever device has an extendable handle and wheels, transforming your car seat into a carry-on suitcase. Your little one gets a comfy ride through the airport, and you're free from the hassle of carrying the car seat.

Packing for Little Ones

While there may be restrictions on liquids for adults going through security, the TSA allows formula, breast milk, and juice for infants and toddlers in reasonable amounts. Simply separate these items from your other carry-on belongings and let the TSA officer know what you have upon inspection.

Additional Tips

  • Familiarize yourself with the airline's specific policies for checking car seats and strollers.
  • Pack a change of clothes and essentials in your carry-on bag for easy access during the flight.
  • Consider bringing along entertainment for your little one, like books or small toys.

By planning ahead and packing smart, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience for you and your little adventurer!


Give them tasks

Castaway Cay

This tip is for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and school-aged kids. Little kids love to be helpful. Even if what they’re doing is the exact opposite of truly helping out. Many retailers sell kid-sized rolling carry-ons. Let your child pack their favorite small toys, stuffies, etc. and then give them the responsibility of wheeling around their own luggage. Sure, they may run over an unsuspecting adult. But, usually all you’ll get is a chuckle. And your child gets to feel like a big kid. Other tasks include asking them what they want to wear on vacation and letting them “help” pack. When you’re through security, ask your child who knows numbers to help you find the gate. Do the same thing when on the plane looking for your seats.


Be prepared

Grand Canyon

If you’re already laughing, you aren’t alone. Every parent knows preparation is key, but the unexpected inevitably occurs. Still, there are steps you can do to prepare for a few different scenarios. Always pack an extra set of clothes for babies and toddlers, as well as more diapers than you think you’ll need. A big pack of wipes will help clean up faces, hands, tray tables, and anything else. When departing and landing, make sure your baby has a bottle or is being breast fed (if possible). Toddlers and older kids should have a snack. This allows kids to naturally swallow, which will help alleviate any uncomfortable pressure in the ears. If your child has a stuffy nose already, especially from allergies, a dose of your usual medication taken an hour before takeoff will also help. That brings me to the food…

Snacks are king. Choose a variety of (age appropriate) snacks to keep your kids distracted. I tend to use travel as an excuse to bust out the fun stuff not allowed on an everyday basis. The more delicious the better. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t bribed my twins with a single M&M for every 10 minutes they behaved on a flight. Just like with adults, vacations are memory-making experiences for kids and the little, fun extras just add to the excitement. Just stay away from anything sticky. Seriously, you don’t want to go there.


In-flight entertainment

Disney World

There are so many ways to amuse little kids when traveling. And something new is always the winner. I love magnetic playsets, with a board and magnetic pieces that let kids create their own robot creatures or princess fairies. Coloring and activity books are also great distracters. And if someone tells you showing your kid a movie on your iPad is wrong, well then you don’t want to be right. Another fun idea is bringing new surprises on board, hidden in your own carry-on. I would usually do three—all of them wrapped for extra enjoyment. A small activity in the beginning to do on the plane, maybe followed by a small stuffed animal, and then a final prize once the flight has landed to open while waiting for everyone else to slowly get off. (This can be the hardest part for a little kid, who wants to get off right away and can’t handle the orderly front-to-back sloth crawl. Admit it, even most adults are impatient at this part.)

Everyone always worries about bringing a baby on a flight. But, truly it’s the toddlers that are the biggest challenge. Babies are happy to stay seated. But once your kid can walk, that’s all they want to do. Being snapped into a small seat for hours is their version of torture. If you have a super restless kid on your hands and nothing else works, walk down the aisle with your toddler or preschooler, with them in front of you and you holding on to both of their hands. You’ll not only distract your own kid, you’ll provide some amusement to the bored stiff passengers as well.


Destination do's

Bar Harbor Hotel

Being someplace new can be hard for kids. Even when you want to make this family vacation the best ever, full of Instagram-worthy memories with snapshots that will adorn your walls for years, kids are still kids. Some handle travel like they’re born into it, while others have a hard time just sleeping in a new bed. Try to be patient and make sure you’ve packed a few comforting things to help like their blanket, favorite stuffed animal, and even a noise machine if you use one at home. Speaking of sleep, try to stick to a normal nap schedule. This can be tricky if you’ve changed time zones, but if your trip is only a few days I suggest keeping their nap schedule on a similar time as it would be at home.

Remember when I said to pack snacks? It’s not just for the carry-on. Bring boxes of their favorite cereal, some granola bars, crackers, and anything that’s easily portable and you know will be gobbled up. And a handful of reusable containers or baggies too. Some kids love trying new foods and most resorts (especially all-inclusive resorts) have plenty of kid-friendly options. But for times when a cranky child needs calories immediately, you can whip out a baggie from your beach bag and be an instant hero.


It's so worth it


And finally, many experienced parents will tell you that traveling with kids isn’t a vacation, it’s a trip. But I promise it’s all worth it. The memories that are made are some of the best your kids will ever experience in their childhoods. In fact, my twins don’t even remember the massive fight over goggles that resulted in three hours of tears, two terrified resort employees, and a complete parental breakdown. They honestly just remembered the fun parts. And so will your own kids… just as long as you let them buy a terribly tacky souvenir they’ll forget about in three months.


Now that you know all the tricks, if you’re ready to take on a family vacation to remember, contact one of our expert consultants.


Connect with a Consultant


Sarah Boyd, Liberty Travel Copy Manager

Sarah has 20 years of experience writing professionally and 13 years as a not-so-professional parent. She’s a passionate traveler who’s passed on her love of exploring new places to her twins. Together, they’ve been on more than 30 flights and 15 road trips, and often discuss next destinations at the dinner table.