Traveling with young children can be an intimidating prospect when you’re preparing to do so for the first time, but it doesn’t have to be. By doing some research in advance, you can ease your mind and ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for you and your little ones.
In this blog post, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about traveling with young kids.
Whether you’re a first-time parent or an experienced traveler, you’ll find useful tips and advice to make your next family trip stress-free.
1. Is it safe to travel with young children?
Yes, it is safe to travel with young children as long as you take the necessary precautions.
Before you book your trip, consult with your pediatrician to ensure your child is healthy enough for travel. Choose destinations that are kid-friendly and avoid areas with high crime or political instability.
2. What age is appropriate to start traveling with my child?
This varies from family to family, but most pediatricians recommend waiting until your child is at least 2 months old and has received their first round of vaccinations. After that, you can start planning trips based on your and your child’s comfort level and developmental stage.
3. How can I ensure the safety of my child during the journey?
Invest in a high-quality car seat or airline-approved child restraint system.
Make sure your child wears a seatbelt during the flight or car ride and keep them within arm’s reach at all times. Bring a first-aid kit and any necessary medications.
It’s also a good idea to have your child wear identification at all times in case they get separated from you.
We always carry a kids’ medicine bag with ‘just in case’ medications that we don’t want to hunt down during our travels.
We also label our children’s car seat with basic medical info in case of an accident.
4. How do I handle long flights or road trips with young children?
Pack plenty of snacks, drinks, and entertainment to keep your child occupied. Bring a change of clothes and diapers in case of accidents. Don’t forget a spare set of clothes for the parent(s) as well.
Take breaks frequently to stretch your legs and allow your child to get some movement. Flight attendants are generally accepting of letting a parent and child hang out at the back of the plane so they can stand/rock for a while, or pace up and down the aisle which always seemed to amuse my babies; all the new faces.
5. What documents or identification do I need for my child when traveling?
Make sure to bring your child’s passport if traveling internationally.
If traveling domestically, bring a birth certificate or government-issued photo identification – just in case. We’ve personally never been asked to prove our child’s age or identity, but it doesn’t hurt to bring it!
It’s also wise to have a notarized letter of consent from the other parent if they are not traveling with you.
6. How do I manage my child’s sleep schedule while traveling?
Try to maintain a routine as much as possible, even if it means adjusting schedules to fit the new time zone. Bring familiar items, such as a favorite toy or blanket, to help your child feel more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. On the plane, dress them super comfortably to help and repeat as much of the normal nap or bedtime routine as a flight allows for.
If your child is a light sleeper, consider investing in a white noise machine that is lightweight for travel. They also sell battery operated ones to clip onto strollers so they can sneak a nap while out and about.
7. How do I handle jet lag with my child?
Adjust your child’s schedule gradually before traveling to the new time zone.
Once there, expose your child to natural sunlight during the day and dim the lights at night to encourage sleep.
Offer plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Check out our reel on more jet lag tips:
8. Are there any specific health concerns I should be aware of when traveling with young children?
Consult with your pediatrician before traveling to ensure your child is up to date on vaccinations and to discuss any particular health concerns based on your destination.
Remember to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and sanitizing surfaces, to prevent the spread of illness.
We wipe down the entire area of our airplane seats. Your baby will inevitably find a spot to lick that you didn’t think to clean, click the seat back in front of you or the window.
Avoiding germs when traveling:
9. How can I keep my child entertained during the trip?
Pack books, toys, and games that are age-appropriate and interactive.
Consider bringing a tablet with kid-friendly movies and shows. Play games like I Spy or sing favorite songs.
10. What are the best travel destinations for families with young children?
Realistically, kid-friendly destinations are anywhere kids live! We’ve never struggled to find kid friendly activities.
The general opinion is that the best family destinations offer a variety of kid-friendly activities and amenities, such as theme parks, beaches, or nature reserves. Browse our favorite destinations for families.
Our personal preference is to favor countries with quality healthcare while our kids are really young.
11. What essential items should I pack for my child?
In summary, diapers and wipes, 1.5 outfits per day on average, a blanket, a stroller or baby carrier, any necessary medications or medical devices, and toys or entertainment.
For all the details, check out our Packing Essentials for Kids guide.
Here is how to know if your carseat is approved for use on an airplane:
12. What should I do if my child gets sick while traveling?
Pack a first-aid kit and any necessary medications. Consult with a doctor if your child develops a fever or shows signs of illness. If traveling internationally, make sure you have appropriate medical insurance.
13. How do I handle mealtime and dietary restrictions while traveling?
Research restaurants and grocery stores ahead of time to ensure there are options that suit your child’s dietary needs.
If there are staples in my child’s daily diet, I research in advance to find out the translation in local language of the product I want to buy. For example, for whole milk, it was helpful to know in Denmark I should look for the carton that said, “Sødmælk.”
Bring some snacks and meals from home if necessary. Don’t forget to stay hydrated (and know if tap water is safe!) and avoid foods that may cause upset stomachs.
If I have a data connection on my phone while traveling, I use the app Google Lens to translate product labels / store signage into English.
14. Are there any specific safety precautions I should take at hotels or accommodations?
Ask for a room that is free of hazards, such as uncovered electrical outlets or sharp corners. Some hotels even offer “child proofing kits.”
Always check for bed bugs and other pests.
15. What are the best ways to childproof hotel rooms or vacation rentals?
Request a pack and play to be set up in your room. Call again the day before to confirm they plan to set it up for you. Consider packing your own pack and play sized sheet as hotel fabrics are typically cleaned with harsh detergents that may bother an infant’s skin.
To create your own makeshift “guard rail” once your child can escape pack and plays or cribs, I roll towels into a long strip and tuck them under the fitted sheet to create “bumpers.”
Remove any breakable or dangerous items from your child’s reach.
We’ve found that most Airbnbs do not offer plastic dishware so we typically pack our own.
16. What are the best strategies for managing tantrums or meltdowns while traveling?
Stay calm and patient yourself as children feed off our energy.
My favorite way to mitigate meltdowns while traveling is to make sure I’m mindfully keeping their power and attention buckets full.
Take breaks and allow your child to burn some energy. Understand that tantrums are a natural part of development and not a reflection on your parenting.
17. How can I ensure my child stays hydrated during the trip?
Bring plenty of water and other fluids, especially if you’re traveling to a hot or humid destination. If you have a young child who still drinks quite a bit of milk, consider purchasing Horizon milk boxes which do not need to be refrigerated.
I have brought four of these plus six puree pouches through TSA Security Checkpoints and haven’t had an issue. Disclose that you’re carrying them and keep them in their own gallon ziploc bag for expedited screening.
Avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks that may cause dehydration.
18. Are there any particular travel insurance options for families with young children?
Many travel insurance policies offer coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost baggage. Consider purchasing a policy that includes coverage for children.
I am a big proponent of using credit cards that offer inherent trip coverage benefits. Learn more here.
19. How do I maintain a routine for my child while traveling?
Stick to a schedule as closely as possible, but allow for flexibility. If your child is 2+, it helps to over communicate what they can expect for the day so they don’t feel like the entire day is unpredictable and packed with uncertainties.
Bring familiar items, snacks, and toys to make your child feel more comfortable.
20. Are there any cultural differences or customs I should be aware of when traveling with young children?
When traveling with young children, it’s always important to be respectful of cultural differences and customs.
Research customs or traditions that you should be aware of, such as dress codes or behavior expectations. You can also bring along culturally appropriate gifts or items to show respect or goodwill.
Remember to also be patient and understanding if your child behaves differently than expected, and communicate openly with locals if you have any questions or concerns.
21. How do I handle diaper changes or potty training while traveling?
Diaper changes and potty training can be tricky while traveling, but it’s not impossible. Depending on your mode of transportation, you may need to bring extra diapers or pull-ups, as well as wipes, diaper cream, and a changing pad.
If you’re flying, it is good etiquette to use the changing table in the airplane bathroom versus change diapers on the floor or an empty seat. Typically at least one of the bathrooms per airplane has the changing table.
If your child is in the midst of potty training, bring a small portable potty or toilet seat attachment and extra underwear in case of accidents. Pullups are advised during air travel; just in case. In general, be prepared for unexpected situations.
22. Are there any travel restrictions or guidelines for infants or toddlers?
Guidelines vary slightly between airlines and transportation companies when it comes to traveling with infants and young children.
You may need to purchase an extra seat for your child or bring appropriate car seats or restraints for certain modes of transportation.
In general, it’s always best to check with your specific airline or transportation provider to ensure that you are following all required guidelines and restrictions.
23. How can I manage the logistics of bringing a stroller or car seat during the trip?
Bringing a stroller or car seat can be a hassle, but in most cases, it’s a necessity.
If you’re flying, you can check your stroller or car seat with your luggage or gate-check it at no charge, depending on the airline’s policies.
Alternatively, you can rent a stroller or car seat at your destination, if it’s available. If you’re driving, make sure your car seat is properly installed and meets all safety requirements for the country in which you’re visiting.
To make things easier while your hands are full already, consider using a lightweight and compact stroller or car seat.
24. What are the best ways to keep my child safe at crowded tourist attractions?
Crowded tourist attractions can be overwhelming and stressful, especially with young children.
To keep your walking child safe, consider using a child harness to better keep track of them in a crowd.
You can also bring a stroller or a carrier so that you can carry your child in case they get tired or overwhelmed.
Make sure to also discuss safety procedures and rules with your child beforehand, such as never wandering off or talking to strangers. If they’re old enough to understand, discuss what to do in case you get separated. I tell my 3 year old to look for another mommy with kids and tell her you need help.
25. Are there any language barriers that might affect communication with my child?
Language barriers seem to widen with age. While communication is difficult for me at times when I don’t speak the language, young children can play and interact near seamlessly with little to no verbal communication.
If you’re visiting a foreign country, consider learning some basic phrases in the local language, such as “hello,” “thank you,” “please,” and “help” alongside your child. I started doing this with YouTube videos when my oldest was four.
You can also find picture books to help your child understand differences in the way a certain culture lives.
26. How can I handle separation anxiety or homesickness while traveling?
Separation anxiety or homesickness can be common for young children, especially if they’re in an unfamiliar environment.
To help your child feel more comfortable, consider bringing along their favorite blanket, toy, or book. To help them feel more connected to home, arrange for videos calls with friends and family.
Involve your child in the trip itinerary and let them help plan activities and outings.
27. What are the best strategies for keeping my child calm and comfortable during travel delays?
Travel delays can be frustrating and stressful traveling with young kids who may be energetic, hungry, overtired, overstimulated, or maybe all of the above.
To keep your child calm and comfortable, bring along low-sugar snacks, games, and activities to keep them entertained.
You can also bring a tablet with their favorite movies or shows.
Make sure to also stay calm and patient yourself, and communicate with your child about the situation and what to expect.
28. How do I find reliable and trustworthy childcare options at my destination?
If you need childcare services during your trip, make sure to do your research beforehand.
Check online resources such as babysitting services or nanny agencies, and make sure to read reviews from previous customers.
You can also contact your hotel or resort to see if they offer any childcare services or recommendations. Airbnb’s “Family” amenities section has started calling out if they offer babysitting arrangements.
Make sure to also thoroughly screen any potential caregivers, and check references and certifications as necessary. I’ve found that joining Facebook groups to ask other moms for recommendations results in a lot of useful input from locals.
Closing thoughts on traveling with young kids:
Traveling with young children can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By being prepared and planning ahead, you can ensure that your trip is stress-free and enjoyable for the whole family. From managing diaper changes to finding child-friendly activities, this FAQ guide has covered some of the most commonly asked questions about traveling with kids.
For more tips, money saving hacks, and product recommendations for traveling with your family, check us out on Instagram.
Remember to also be flexible and patient, and to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. With the right approach and mindset, traveling with young children can lead to lifelong memories and experiences.
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Catherine – Savvy Family Travel
My favorite pastime is finding fun, interesting experiences to share with family and friends.
I’m a mom of two energetic and curious boys who have endless patience with my tendency to over plan activities on our family vacations. My tireless husband, Troy, provides comic relief, is our favorite photographer, and expert navigator.
I’m a firm believer that travel with kids doesn’t have to be intimidating or expensive. It can be affordable, epic, and, dare I say, even relaxing!
Are you a travel loving parent too? I’d love to meet you, please reach out via Messenger and say “hi!”