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Guides Journal Kids

5 tips for traveling with kids…

Ruby and Coco / Oh Joy

Ruby and Coco / Oh Joy

When we first traveled with Ruby as a baby, we had (no joke) 6-8 pieces of luggage that included a mix of travel crib, car seat, multiple suitcases, and more. Bob looked like a crazy person carrying way too much luggage while I carried a diaper bag plus our baby. Now as a family of 4, we take one suitcase that gets checked, one diaper bag that I carry, one kids backpack that Ruby carries, and one adult backpack that Bob carries for a week's worth of travel and that's it.

I know everyone has their suggestions for how they travel and some go more into detail on various aspects of travel (since there are so many!), but these are my go-to "in general" 5 simple and easy tips for traveling with kids…

1. Pack everything in one suitcase. If you make a goal of fitting your whole family's clothing into one suitcase, you'll fit everything into one suitcase (unless of course you have a family of eight in which case you might need two suitcases). What that means is we limit clothing to: two pairs of shoes per person (one pair gets worn), mix and match clothing and/or wash clothes mid-way through the trip if that's an option, and don't bring anything you can get at your final destination (see #2).

2. Rent/borrow what you can there (car seats, strollers, travel crib). Unless you are going to a city or country that doesn't have these items, borrow whatever you can to cut down on having to bring them yourself. We went from bringing all of the above and carrying what felt like 86 pieces of baggage to now renting car seats at the car rental place and using a stroller or travel crib that is offered at a house rental or hotel. That cuts out four pieces of luggage!

3. Order/buy things when you get there (groceries, diapers, anything you need in bulk). If you're traveling to anywhere in the US or a major city abroad, chances are they have most of your necessities there. If I'm traveling in the US and we're staying at a house rental (which I highly prefer over hotels with kids), the night before we arrive, I usually order groceries and any basics we need through something like Instacart. I set the delivery for after the kids go to bed on our first night and then by the morning, we have all our pantry staples as well as diapers/wipes, etc. And it saved space in my suitcase from having to fill it with diapers.

4. Plan one thing everyday but let the rest of the day be decided as you go. I always get recommendations ahead of time for anything I think we'd be interested in. The night before each day on vacation, Bob and I chat about a couple things we want to do, see what else is nearby, and then we focus on one main activity. I keep a couple of other things in the back of my head that are nearby if we have extra time. But with kids, we've learned not to map out the whole day because sometimes there's extra wiggle room that's nice to have and freedom to let the day take you where it will.

5. Break your rules (a little). If you're on the more strict side with schedules like I am, this is the one time it's okay for bedtime to be a little later or to let the kids watch an iPad out at dinner because you just want to have a peaceful meal at a nice restaurant. Cut yourself some slack and let the kids get to break your normal rules a little, too! It's a vacation!

What are your go-to tips?

{Photo by Bob Cho}


  1. we went to south america with our two year old this summer, and the best thing we did was get a blow up toddler bed (Diggin Bear Hug My First Ready Bed). took up very little room and he loooved it! a great thing if traveling in the US is getting diapers/wipes/etc delivered to your destination. we’ve done with amazon when going to puerto rico.

  2. These are great tips! We just traveled for the first time with my 10 month old and pretty much used these as a guide. I was super proud we made it with only a roller carry on for both my husband and I and a diaper bag!

  3. I’m not usually a germaphobe but when it comes to renting car seats and strollers, I am! I just came back from la and had a stroller, car seat and travel crib for 1 lil 14 month old. I may cut out the travel crib next time but the stroller and car seat I can’t. ESP when you just can’t trust what happened to the car seat from the rental car place, like if they were ever in an accident. But all your other ideas I will try for my next trip to Hawaii in December!

  4. We’ve travelled quite a bit with our 5 and 8 year olds. One add for this list: when possible, rent a place with a washer and dryer. For a week away, we travel with three outfits per person, swimsuits and any other activity-specific clothing we need. We do laundry during the week when needed then wash everything the night before traveling back home. When we get home, we load all of the clean clothes right in to closets and drawers. No vacation laundry hang over makes re-entry so much easier.

  5. I couldn’t trust a car seat from a car rental place, plus we need them on the airplane anyway so we got a lightweight car seat from Wal-Mart just for traveling. And no stroller, baby wearing is just easier. But going shopping when we get there and borrowing a pack and play made life much easier.

  6. You’d be surprised the rental car seats are very clean. Most of the time we’ve rented, they look brand new! Maybe not a lot of people rent car seats!
    They’re cleaner then my own!

  7. great tips! we’re doing a road trip w/ my 2 year old in a few weeks. Any places for toddler to visit in PA since you’re from there? Thanks!

  8. Places close to penn state. Thats our first stop to visit my step kid.
    Sent from my iPhone
    On Sep 16, 2016, at 1:59 PM, Oh Joy [email protected] wrote:
    What part of PA will you be in? I’m from I can make some suggestions there but if you are in a different part of PA.

  9. Great blog post, thanks Joy! We don’t pack quite as light as you, but are able to pack our kids in one bag and the adults in one bag, makes it super easy. We love this suitcase from Eddie Bauer that has an inside divider, so it is easy for each person to have their own space.—medium/82302254/_/A-ebSku_0232254116__82302254_catalog10002_en__US?showProducts=&backToCat=Duffels%20_%20Luggage&previousPage=LNAV&tab=gear&color=800

  10. It should be on your travelling list, but having kids along means carrying a small first aid kit is all the more important and also write your phone number on your child’s arm in biro in case they get lost.

  11. Great piece of content, you know i found that the most important things to take with you while you travel with your kids is a laptop and even a tiny portable TV, you be surprised how you can easily manage noisy kids when you need to rest and it could be a cool family fun time.

  12. It’s helpful to remember we should probably keep our main plans for the day to one activity so we have the freedom to do what we like as we go. My wife and I are bringing our kids to where we grew up to show them around the city. We know there’s more there than they could possibly see in one trip, so we should remember to not overload our plans.

  13. We have already flown on holiday with children a few times. It is definitely better to rent a car with two children than to travel by public transport. Because it could be a big mess with them. We need such car rentals in Prague and they are certainly all over the world.


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