Traveling with your family, especially when it includes young children, makes planning essential. Whether you’re driving a few hours or flying internationally, these tips for traveling with kids will make your trip as stress-free as possible.

Packing

Traveling with young children means packing purposefully. Organize outfits in individual bags for each family member to save space and make getting dressed in the morning simple. Remember to prioritize comfort rather than cute or matching looks. Pack items that coordinate with other outfits (not just the one it’s a part of) so you can mix and match if something gets dirty. If you’re checking your luggage, make sure to keep a spare outfit for every family member in your carry on.

Ask yourself whether you’ll need your kids’ stroller while traveling. It will be very helpful on smooth sidewalks or while waiting in lines. However, a beach resort or cobblestone street make your stroller almost unusable. Eliminating the need to pack diapers for your entire trip can also make your luggage lighter. Pack enough for your first few days. Order what you need for the rest of your trip online and ship them to your hotel ahead of time.

Losing your own luggage is a setback; losing your family’s luggage is a small crisis. Mark your luggage with eye-catching tags that your kids will be able to help you spot.

Your carry on-sized bag is the most important. It is what will be within reach while traveling, whether on an airplane or in a car. Use a bag with lots of compartments to organize entertainment and plenty of snacks. Make sure your snacks include chewy items (gummy bears, granola bars, etc.) for kids who are too young to chew gum during altitude changes.

Entertaining

Keeping kids busy while on the road or in the air is a tall task. Planning entertainment ahead of time will keep your family happier during travel. Download favorite movies, shows and educational games to your tablet. To stretch the entertaining power of one tablet, bring a headphone splitter. Be sure to pack a power strip so you can charge your entertainment devices in your hotel room for the return trip.

For screen-free entertainment, surprise your kids with a new book and special (quiet) toy. Window clings, magnetic puzzles, reusable stickers and more are easy to play with within the confines of a plane row or backseat.

Enjoying

After you arrive in your destination, the fun really begins! If vaccinations are required to travel to your country of choice, make sure you get them well ahead of time. This way, kids will have time to recover from potential side effects. In your hotel room or vacation rental, do simple childproofing with painter’s tape. Cover outlets, sharp corners and low doorknobs with the tape, which comes right off at the end of your trip.

Enjoy your trip while sticking to a schedule. Keeping kids as close to their regular schedule as possible will make vacation more enjoyable for everyone. Don’t miss nap time, eat meals and snacks when you normally would, and take advantage of the times of day when your kids are most well behaved.

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