Six Tips for Travelling with Small Children

Our family has not had a travelling vacation since my son was three, four years ago.  So, when we found out I was going to the Savvy Blogging Summit in Colorado Springs, we decided to take a family vacation.  Unlike our previous vacations when we travelled with one child, we were now travelling with three children, two of who are still in diapers and under age three. 

The trip was not totally smooth, and we certainly had our moments of suffering from lack of planning, but overall we had an enjoyable family vacation and I learned quite a bit at the Savvy Blogging Summit.

If you are planning to travel with small children, here are some tips that might help make your vacation smoother and save you money:

Clothing

If you are going to be gone for a week or more, try only packing four outfits per child.  Many hotels offer laundry services.   We only brought four outfits for each child, and it saved on the bulk of extra luggage.  Before the trip I bought a few travel size packages of Tide to bring with us (because buying detergent at the hotel is expensive).  I used half of the Tide travel size pack for each load of laundry.  Plus, it is nice to return home with most of the laundry done instead of facing a week’s worth of dirty laundry.

Pack an outfit for each child in a Ziplock baggie.  Then when you get to the hotel instead of bringing in several suitcases, you just bring in the Ziplock bag.  (I got this tip from Money Saving Mom.)

Travel

When travelling with small children, don’t expect to go as quickly as you normally would, and expect the unexpected.

Keep kids entertained with music, books on tape, and television.  We don’t have a T.V. in our mini-van, and I don’t really want the kids watching T.V., but on a 1000+ mile trip, we did use it for about four hours there and back to keep the kids entertained when they were absolutely fed up with travelling.  With our son, who is 7, we also challenged him to find as many different license plates as he could.  He really got into this game, and it kept him entertained for several hours.

Pack food for the road and stop at parks.  We packed food for picnics and tried to stop at rest areas with playgrounds or went through a town to find a park the kids could play in.  They released some steam and were much more likely to willingly get back in the car.  After travelling several hours, the last thing they wanted to do was sit in a restaurant, so this worked perfectly.

Sight Seeing

Do your activity for the day in the morning.  When we were in Colorado we planned all of our outings for the morning.  The kids were refreshed and energized, the temperatures were still cool, and we avoided the busy time at local attractions.  Later in the day they were tired and whiney, so it was a good time to cool off in the hotel pool.

Stay near the attractions you plan to visit.  Once we settled in a hotel, we didn’t want to move to another one that was closer to the site we wanted to see.  That was a mistake.  The attraction we wanted to see was 1.25 hours away.  We got caught in construction and missed getting on the scenic train at the scheduled time and could not ride it.  Plus, the kids were tired from the ride there and back.  In hindsight, we should have moved to a hotel near the train so we simply had to wake up and go to the train station.

Travelling with three small children did present its challenges, but we enjoyed our time together, and it was nice to finally have a family vacation.

I shared this post at Works for Me Wednesday.

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Comments

  1. what great ideas! we did a great deal of these when we travelled with our daughter to the outer banks when she was 2. we haven’t gone on a long trip since then, but these tips, especially the laundry one, worked wonderfully for us. we’re taking her to disney world next year and we’re flying. that should present a whole new set of challenges!

    • Yes, none of our kids have flown yet. We need to get to Japan, but it is a 15 hour flight, so we will be waiting a few more years for that. I’d love to hear how your Disney trip goes.

  2. These are great tips. The zip lock baggie idea is terrific. I hate hauling unnecessary suitcases up to the hotel room. It sounds like you had a wonderful vacation.

  3. We are going to be doing a week stay at a place about four hours away later in the summer, so this set of to-dos will be very much in handy. We don’t have a TV built-in but we have a portable DVD player that should keep my son entertained. Our daughter will be two months old so we just have to hope luck is on our side with her :)

    • Yes, ours was like a portable DVD. Grandma bought it and plans to use it at her house. We never would have bought it, but it was handy to have. Good luck with your trip! Hopefully the baby likes to sleep in the car.

  4. Great tips. Our little guy is still too young to go anywhere. We’ll take more day trips next summer.

  5. Great tips! The longest road trip for us was 8 hrs, but we drove at night so we were just happy to get there. We try to stay close to the attraction too. And sometimes, this is good for the hotel cost as well. We usually stay in a rented house so that we could have a kitchen. And if there is just one day left in between two longer stays, we get really cheap rates as long as we leave the place like we got it. Even for bidding in priceline one day works well, because if we get a crappy hotel, we have to stay only one day. If we have kids we might not want to move everyday, but for now for the 2 of us that works well.

  6. I went on this fantastic road trip when I was around 11 years old. It was my Uncle, my pop-pop, and my brother (7) and sister (13). We went from PA out to Arizona (stayed with our Uncle and his family for a few days). On the way we made a few stops, as well as on the way back. Some of the things I remember was the panhandle of Texas, the Colorado Rockies, and the trolls in Wisconsin. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!

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