Tips for Traveling with Kids

By Jennifer Hill, Macaroni Kid Fremont, CA November 3, 2022
Are you planning on any travel with the kids? If you will be one of those traveling families, read on for some great tips and ideas to help make your trip even more enjoyable for all.

Encourage Good Behavior! Print some "Travel Bucks" and "reward" kids for good behavior while traveling. Have a box of prizes they can "buy" stuff from. Prizes can be coupons for specific items (ie: ice cream treat, choose next DVD/song in car, etc.) as well as goodies picked up from the dollar store, Target dollar bins, clearance finds, etc.

Pre-download the media! Don't fret over slow streaming (and save some data) by pre-downloading your media. Shows, audio books, fun songs, games, etc. are great for all ages. If you have younger kids, you can find great headphones that are perfect for them.

Goodies for the Trip! Bag small items you have picked up for the trip, including easy-to-eat in-the-car snacks and label them by day. You can even break it down to parts of the day (ie: Day 1, Morning - especially great for the younger kids who aren't great about rationing out their day's goodies) and include a few treats for that day (or period of the day). Examples: Day 1, Morning - juice box, individual box of cheerios, small book. Day 1, After Lunch - snack bag of cookies, new hot wheel. Day 1, After Dinner - box of raisins, small puzzle or card game.

Bubbles! Pull these out for some quick and easy fun that gets the kids running around for a few minutes. The spill proof ones are great if you plan to hand them to the kids - just drop them into a Ziploc bag because while they are spill-proof, they do drip out over time.

Pack with purpose! Place a full outfit for each day, for each child inside its own Ziploc bag. No more rummaging around trying to match up outfits, etc. Label each child's bags with a sharpie. Pack a few bibs, too, even for your preschoolers! They help eliminate messes on their clothes and their car seat straps as well.

Don’t forget Macaroni Kid! Visit to see if there is a Macaroni Kid community where you will be visiting! Check it out and find some great things to do while there.

A few more tips if you will be traveling by car:
  • Hang on to a few cereal boxes as you finish them up and line with a small plastic bag to create a handy Trash Caddy for the car.
  • Pick up a small "Craft Caddie" for each child. I found some great ones at Walmart in multiple colors for about $7 each and the little pockets are great for tucking in some nice surprises for the trip. What you fill it with will depend on the age and interests of your child. For the older crowd, a disposable camera is always fun. Other options are stickers, glow sticks/bracelets, refillable bottle of water, markers (Crayola makes Color Wonder products that only mark on special paper or color books - perfect for the younger kids), book, notebook/color book/activity book, etc. 
  • Be sure and plan for those needed stops. Kids do much better when you let them out of the car to run around, even for just a few minutes. So stopping even when no one has said they need to use the restroom is always a great idea!
  • Bring small pillows (some stuffed animals make great pillows for kids!) and a blanket for each child. Being able to get comfy in the car goes a long way in keeping the peace. 
  • Pack a cooler with water, juice, fresh fruit and veggies and sandwich stuff. Eliminate stops for fast food and save money too! Then keep an eye out for a rest stop or park to picnic at for a refreshing stop.
  • Pack a first aid kit.
  • Double check that all car seats are in correctly and ready to go! 
A few more tips if you will be traveling by air:
  • Get your travel documents ready and together. Either screenshot them and keep them together in an easy-to find spot on your phone or print them out and place them in a handy packet. I found a travel one in the luggage section at Target and it's great to be able to pull out the zippered pouch and know that all our tickets, passports, car rental/hotel info, etc., are all in one easy to grab spot.
  • For kids, help them pack a backpack for their trip. Make sure it's not too full. They really don't need every toy they own. A new book or two, handheld video game - if appropriate, treats, markers/journal/notebook, LEGOS, refillable water bottle (empty till you pass through security). Make each child fully responsible for their own bag.
  • Pack an extra outfit for everyone in your carry-on bag, just in case your luggage doesn’t arrive when you do, or for those unexpected accidents. If traveling with a baby, be sure to pack extra diapers and wipe.
  • If your flight will be a long one, pack a meal and snacks. I freeze some “tube” yogurts and drop them into a quart size Ziploc and security has never had a problem since they are under the allowed ounces. I also drop in some string cheese, pack a sandwich, some fruit and a snack or two. Also, sugar free lollipops or gum, if the kids are old enough, are great during takeoff and landing.
  • Visit the Transportation Security Administration's site to confirm details on what’s allowable through airport security. Reading through their tips will make getting through security quick and painless for everyone.
A few more tips if you are going on a cruise:
  • Pack swimsuits for the kids in a carry-on. Your luggage usually takes a while to make it to your cabin, but the pools will typically be open!
  • Bring an inexpensive over-the-door shoe caddy and hang it on the inside of your closet and use it to stash sunscreen, sunglasses, etc. - all those little things that take up precious space. This puts them in an easy to find spot and really helps in the small cabins!
No matter how you are traveling or where you will be going, enjoy your trip and your time with your family! Create some awesome memories and be safe!

Do you have some travel tips to share with us? Email us at We love to hear from our readers!