7 Best Travel Tips for Families
Updated: October 25, 2023
Planning efficiently is hard to do even on your own — much less with multiple family members. Here are some things to do to make traveling to a destination easier for the entire family.
Keep documents such as passports accessible but where they won’t fall out, and use tags for luggage and objects that might be easily lost. Plastic bags can be repurposed for not only trash but also shoes or wet clothing. Family members flying together should adhere to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) liquids rule, if applicable, and store items in a quart-size zip-top bag. Label medications appropriately. Baby food including breastmilk of more than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) is allowed. Separate these from your baggage, and notify a TSA agent prior to the security screening.
Incorporate a few redundancies because no one wants to run out of clothes, diapers or wipes at an inconvenient time. Babies and younger children will need additional clothing changes and products. (Go ahead and put some extras in for yourself as well.) In order to maximize space for clothing, consider neutrals and items that mix-and-match well together. If a child is big enough, themed backpacks or suitcases let them feel involved in the process and give everyone more space. Remember to put a change of clothes for each person in a carry-on in case of lost luggage.
Seek advice from a AAA Travel Agent. You’ll get some extra planning help, including any relevant AAA TourBook® and TripTik® Travel Planner. Single parents or guardians traveling with children should ask what documentation, such as a letter of permission or medical proxy, are needed. Many AAA offices also provide notary services, International Driving Permits (IDPs) and attraction tickets. Members who are renting a car through Hertz should request a complimentary infant car seat or toddler booster seat.
Prevent a “hangry” mood by bringing several kinds of snacks as well as a bottle or sippy cup to fill with water, milk or juice. (Microwave steaming bags to sterilize bottles and accessories also are good to bring.) If you are flying with little ones, takeoff offers the perfect opportunity to feed them to prevent the inevitable popping sensation when the air pressure changes — a major reason for crying. Be advised some airlines require mothers to use a forward-facing seatbelt attachment for infants, which makes breastfeeding impossible during those takeoffs and landings.
In addition to bringing your child’s stuffed animal or lovey, think about adding a surprise. One great option is a coloring book with mess-free markers that won’t appear on surfaces other than the specialty paper. (You can find these at most bookstores and online retailers.) Think twice about bringing something with all the bells-and-whistles unless it doesn’t make noise; your fellow travelers will thank you.
Does your child shine with each sunny morning, or are you hoping he or she sleeps? Work with that schedule if you can afford it. Those planning overnight or red-eye flights with an infant should request a bulkhead seat and bassinet — mostly available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Plan bathroom breaks when you can, especially prior to boarding. Drivers should allot extra time for stops on road trips. If a child’s small enough, bring along training pants even if the child is potty trained, in case of anxiety-related accidents.
Would you plan differently if you knew you’d encounter a delay or cancellation? Consider withdrawing a little extra money from the ATM, and then relax, knowing that you can grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant, find fun things to do or stay at a hotel if necessary. Responding in a calm way makes it easier on you and your family. (People also may be more likely to help.) Ask a AAA Travel professional for advice on travel policies, reservation changes and even travel insurance to ensure a relaxing experience.
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Sherry is an experienced #AAAEditor and former journalist who enjoys writing informative travel articles and reviews. Her commitment to making meaningful connections with people and places fuels her work for AAA. Sherry's favorite activities range from skiing to backpacking abroad and taking ghost tours.