AAA Travel Tips / The Best Quick and Dirty Tips for Traveling with Kids

The Best Quick and Dirty Tips for Traveling with Kids
By Samantha Brown , Host of “Samantha Brown's Places to Love”
April 16, 2019
If you have kids, you don’t have a lot of time to read. My pet peeve is a long-winded blog about family travel that’s light on tips, but just FULL of funny anecdotes. You just need the tips. So here they are, quick and dirty.
Kid and her father with balloons

Bring Balloons to Inflate

You can work off a lot of kid’s-been-in-a-car-all-day energy at the hotel. Yet an inflated balloon doesn’t travel far and won’t break anything.
Girl blowing soap bubble outdoors

And While We're at It...Bubbles

Blowing bubbles helps with the same thing especially at airports, and it's totally worth taking precious ounces of what the TSA allows you to bring in liquids.
Traveling with a child on an airplane

How to Fly with Young Children

Parent one uses pre-board to load in gear and sets up shop. Parent two waits with children and boards absolutely last. This way you wear them out, don’t expose them to the most stressful part of the trip—the boarding process—and they are not constrained an extra 45 minutes (or longer) for the flight to leave.
Family with two children eating fast food

Never Feel Bad about Going to McDonald's

Or any fast food restaurant for that matter. Being a quick and stress-free meal is EXACTLY what these restaurants were made for.
Family at a restuarant

For Mom's Sake, No Buffets

Moms are required to do all the getting up and down, assembling, pouring, cutting, spreading and STILL leave a tip.
Child coloring in a coloring book with crayons

Use the Ironing Board in Your Room

No, not to iron, but use it for more counter space or a TV dinner table. Lower it to make an activity table.
Roll of duct tape

Two Words: Duct Tape

Use it to childproof outlets, tape drawers and toilet lids shut and wrangle dangling cords.
Family standing on a cruise ship balcony Source

Safety First

When you walk into any new space (like a hotel room or cruise cabin), drop everything and check windows are locked, balcony doors shut and anything else that could be potentially dangerous for a wandering child.
Diner booth seating

Seek Out Restaurants with Booths

Children relax more in them and even fall asleep. This old-fashioned seating can be found at Denny’s and Perkins. Yep, the food may not be fancy, but at least I get to eat that food.
Flip flops

Long Day Sightseeing?

Throw a pair of thin flip-flops into your handbag and some baby powder. At lunch or on a break, take off your comfy shoes (they won’t be after 6 to 10 hours on your feet), slip on the flip-flops and sprinkle your feet with BP. Instant feel-good.
Restroom sign

Never Leave a Location without Using its Bathroom

Your children will say they don’t have to go. They lie.
Hand sanitizer Source

Dress for Battle

For those of us still helping children onto the potty, let’s be honest: You are going to be spending more time than you want crouched on a bathroom floor. A PUBLIC. BATHROOM. FLOOR. I like wearing a nylon hiking pant from Columbia, which I can easily wash off with a paper towel drenched in Purell. They have articulated knees for easy bending AND a high waistline, so I’m not flashing everybody every time I bend down to help my kids.
Mom packing suitcase with daughter for travel

Pack Your Real Life, Not Your Imaginary One

Just leave the book, fashion magazine or a crossword puzzle at home. You won’t get a chance. Trust me.
Family walking in the park

Ditch the Wheels, ASAP

I once asked a father of two sets of twins (TWO!) for his best advice. He told me to get them out of the stroller and used to walking. It was a painful process, but I stopped pushing a stroller when they were three and now at five they can go anywhere and keep up with me.
Family napping

Build in a Siesta

No matter your age, we all get tired and cranky from around 2 to 4 p.m. Build in a break, nap or low-key time for kids to color…okay, maybe you can bring that fashion magazine after all.
For more on how to travel with kids, check out AAA's seven best travel tips for families.
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About AAA Travel and Samantha Brown

New places, different perspectives and heartwarming people around the world sharing their day … what’s not to love? That’s why AAA Travel is sponsoring Season 2 of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love—offering you added insight that brings our trusted travel information to life.