Tips for Traveling With Kids From 12 Family Travel Experts

Volunteer vacation with grandkids
Traveling with kids can be like a Charles Dickens novel: It can be the best of times or the worst of times. But a lot of the variance between these two extremes can be mitigated with proper planning and preparation. 


With summer travel season officially underway, we thought it would be a great idea to check in with some of the world’s most respected Family Travel Bloggers to get their tips on how to make traveling with kids a better experience for everyone.


Check out their expert advice!

Traveling With Kids: Family Adventure Project
“Don’t underestimate the ability of kids to travel, experience and make sense of the world, or their ability to help you do the same. It’s usually not kids that limit family travel but people’s assumptions about their capabilities or interests. When we bike, hike or paddle with our kids we are routinely surprised by what they’ll attempt and how far they’ll go. Together we have tackled many classic routes, including end-to-end New Zealand, the Camino de Santiago, and the Pyrenees. When we challenge them, let them challenge us and take on new things, we enjoy richer travel experiences and grow as a family.
Stuart Wickes, The Family Adventure Project

Traveling With Kids: Vacation Gals


“Volunteer vacations take on added meaning when the nature of the good acts is close to our children’s hearts. My oldest daughter is very nature-oriented, so rainforest reforestation and keeping guard over sea turtle nests in Costa Rica were her highlights of that trip. My younger daughter is highly social and empathic. With this in mind, we made sure to take some time to visit some extremely rural families in Cambodia as we helped provide them with permanent water wells. For her, the act of having made a concrete positive difference in the lives of her fellow humans was the most meaningful vacation she’s yet to experience.” –Jen Miner, The Vacation Gals


Traveling With Kids: Globetotting

“We learned the hard way that a jam-packed schedule when traveling with kids will only end in tears. An ill-planned trip to Udaipur, India at the wrong time of year, staying in the wrong hotel, with a never-ending list of sights that I simply had to see left us all hot, tired and incredibly grumpy. As temping as it might be to travel as you did pre-kids, everyone will have a much better holiday if you include some down time. These days we keep the itinerary simple and stick to sightseeing in the morning, pool time in the afternoon.” –Katja Gaskell, Globetotting

Traveling With Kids: Tips for Family Trips

“Get kids involved in planning the itinerary for the family trip. Letting kids choose activities will help younger children feel important, and help older kids and teens to get more excited and engaged in the family vacation. On our recent road trip through Southern Utah, I gave my 11-year-old a list of activities we had all discussed, then asked her to prioritize them and propose an itinerary. She enthusiastically accepted. With a few adaptations for changing circumstances, we followed her plan and the whole family had a fun and memorable trip.” –Allison Laypath, Tips for Family Trips

Traveling With Kids Tips: Wandering Educators

“Travel is the best form of education there is! Utilize travel to deepen your kids’ education in many ways– geography, history, language, archaeology, the list is endless! Include your kids’ passions in your travel planning (dinosaurs, art, legos, games, trains, architecture, movie locations, etc.) and pursue those interests in your travels. In Toronto, we spent several hours in the Pompeii exhibit at ROM. Our daughter loves ancient history, and this made it real. After seeing the casts of the people and learning what archaeologists have uncovered, she’s now intent on a trip to Italy, and can’t stop researching to learn more about Pompeii.” –Jessie Voigts, Wandering Educators


Traveling With Kids: Traveling Mom

“Before you travel, you can get your kids interested in exploring the place by watching movies set there, reading picture books or stories set in the location, and looking at art or photographs of the place. Watching a biopic of Nelson Mandela and a movie about a South African sports team helped my son get a lot more out of a visit to South Africa. Watching movies helped my son appreciate the political struggle to overthrow apartheid and Nelson Mandela’s historical significance. So when we visited the tiny prison cell where Mandela spent 17 years, it was an emotional experience my son still talks about.” –Sarah Ricks, Traveling Mom


Traveling with Kids: All Over the Map

“If something goes wrong– and something almost always goes a little bit wrong– be an example for your kids of how to make lemonade from lemons. Our strongest memories are formed when things don’t go according to plan, so resolve in advance to have a happy ending to your travel stories. If you miss your connection, play a game while you wait. If your hotel room isn’t ready, go get ice cream. Make a game of who can come up with the best ‘Plan B.’ What you want your kids to remember is the fun you had together.”  –Paige Conner Totaro, All Over the Map

Traveling With Kids: Fairfax Family fun

“Have the kids (or the whole family!) learn to say some basic things in the language of the country you’re visiting. Even if it’s just simple phrases like “hello,” “please,” “excuse me,” and “thank you,” it’s great if they can communicate a bit with locals in their native tongue. Most people won’t care about your limited language skills or any accent you have. They’ll just be glad you made an effort! Even in Puerto Rico, where many people speak English, they still liked to hear my son use the little Spanish he knew. Talking with your family about a country’s language also can lead to conversations about its culture and history.” –Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun

Traveling With Kids: Have Baby Will Travel

“As my kids get older, school has become more intense and their sports and activities require more commitment. No longer are we able to run away on a whim, or take advantage of last-minute deals or off-peak pricing. So we’ve started using their schoolwork and activities as springboards for future vacation ideas. A family tree assignment has become future plans to visit England, Scotland, Ireland, Slovakia, and Ukraine—although likely not all on the same trip! And thanks to science and social studies homework, Bali, Costa Rica, Peru, and a safari in South Africa are now all on our family travel bucket list.” –Corinne McDermott, Have Baby Will Travel

Traveling With Kids: Hilton Mom Voyage


“Whether your child likes to write in an old-fashioned diary or uses an iPhone’s ‘Notes’ section, encouraging your child to record his account of your vacation is one of the most valuable souvenirs he will ever have. This is a picture of my daughters writing about our Italian adventure’s unbelievable sights, delicious feasts, and interesting people they met.  Younger kids can use a glue stick to attach attraction tickets and markers to decorate the pages with pictures of what they see.  Who knows, you might be inspiring the next generation’s Rick Steves!” –Lisa Grabelle, Hilton Mom Voyage

Traveling With Kids: Kids Are a Trip

“When traveling as a family it is important to make time for active learning experiences. Our children have made candles at a Christmas market, participated in a Viking chainmail demonstration, and learned about falconry at a French castle. Each of these was an opportunity for our children to learn more about the country we were visiting, its history, and culture. We also seek out opportunities to use basic words in the native tongue. Numbers, please, and thank you are fairly easy to learn and locals always appreciate the effort. Activities that inspire children to learn about other cultures is a win for everyone involved.” –Kirsten Maxwell, Kids Are A Trip


Traveling With Kids: Bohemian Travelers


“Before you leave on your trip it’s important to get your kids involved. Let them pick a destination, or at a minimum a few outings in each destination.  As kids get older it can be hard to pull them away from their norms of school, friends, jobs, etc. But we have found over the last decade of travel that giving each of them some control helps to get them excited.  It helps them to feel more invested in the trip and more in control of putting their personal dreams into action.” –Mary Hickcox, Bohemian Travelers


Learn more about Family Volunteer Vacations


BIO: Bret Love is a journalist/editor with 23 years of print and online experience, whose clients have ranged from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and American Airlines to National Geographic and Yahoo Travel. Along with his wife, photographer/videographer Mary Gabbett, he is the co-founder of ecotourism website Green Global Travel and Green Travel Media.

16 responses to “Tips for Traveling With Kids From 12 Family Travel Experts

  1. Wow, this is a great post! So many awesome tips. We have a toddler and a baby, and I really want to be able to travel with them when they’re a little bit older, but we are worried about the cost of everything. You have some excellent ideas here that we can try. I am bookmarking this post for future reference!

  2. Kids are wonderful definitely, and can always help others in the group see things from a different perspective! Thank you for reading!

  3. Awesome! Have you requested a catalog on our website yet? If you wanted to do that, we will send you an email and you can reply letting us know when you may be ready to travel, and we will be sure to call you when the time is right 🙂 Just one less thing off your plate!

  4. I like what Allison said about how letting our kids choose some activities can help our kids feel important and excited about the trip. My husband and I want to start planning the activities for our family vacation next month so we can figure out the details of our transportation while we’re there. Following your tips should help the vacation go smoothly and be enjoyable for everyone involved!

  5. Absolutely! If you need any tips at all just let us know! Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  6. I really related to what Jessie said about how traveling is the ultimate form of education for our kids. My husband and I are currently looking for lodging so we can take our kids on a road trip this spring. Thanks for teaching me some tips to keep in mind to help the experience be enjoyable and beneficial for everyone!

  7. Thanks for your tips about how useful break times and not doing anything can do for kids because it can help them relax in a stressful environment. My wife and I have been thinking about getting a vacation so that they can relax and we want to make sure that we can keep the kids safer and they can have a lot of fun too. Getting some help from a professional could be really useful and help us choose a place that everyone would really like to go.

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