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Brace Yourself (and your Suitcase) for Traveling with Kids

Bloggers Chelsea and Nate Day of Someday I’ll Learn know a thing or two… or three… about traveling with kids. Check out their preparation tips to make your holiday travel seamless.

For our family, keeping three boys under four entertained all day is no small feat. Pulling it off away from home requires an extra-careful curation of gadgets. We pack games, coloring books, multi-purpose toys and a slew of miniature replicas. Here’s how we gear up when we go on vacation – and even manage to squeeze in a little down time for mom and dad.

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First things first, a gigantic suitcase helps keep everything corralled. The kids each have backpacks for their clothes, but this wheelie bag is designated for quick access to things that the whole family needs: toiletries, snacks, toys and more. The outside pocket is dedicated to entertainment for the kids, with a large assortment of items that keep small hands busy.

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I avoid complicated games that have a bunch of pieces and steer clear of sharp-edged toys that will inevitably wind up getting stepped on in the middle of the night. The trick is to choose compact things that pack a BIG playtime punch, like this pop-up tent and tunnel. They flatten down to almost nothing, but can keep kids entertained for hours on end.

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Quiet time is important, too, as you’ll inevitably have plane rides and car trips to manage. We love these cardboard lace-up cutouts that are sturdy and travel well. They even help kids improve their hand-eye coordination!

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While they’re in learning mode, a felt map can help the kids learn about all the places in the world as they discover them in person. If they’re old enough, they can start journals about their experiences and send postcards to friends and family back home.

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After lots of hands-on play and active learning, games or drawing tablets can offer up a chance for kids to unwind independently. Familiar objects and routines like this can make the hotel room feel a little more like home.

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Finally, at the end of a long day, a rousing game of flashlight tag keeps the fun going into the evening! It doesn’t matter where you’re visiting. Precious moments like this help develop memories that they’ll cherish for years to come.

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If you take the kids to a relative’s house for the holidays, it’s a good idea to pack some little race cars or toy planes so that they aren’t tempted to take apart every trinket on Grandma’s bookshelves.

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You can even pack small, squishy balls so they can let some of their energy loose on a nearby patio. No matter where you’re traveling, there’s almost always a small space outside where kids can run around.

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As long as you’re all out there, bring along a toy telescope or binoculars to explore the wildlife in your travel region. Keep track of the birds, squirrels and bugs that you find! Even if you just drive a few hours away from home, things can look a whole lot different.

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While you’re exploring the unfamiliar territory of your relative’s backyard, try out a new occupation with some pretend play as well. We pack some dress-up items like a toy doctor kit and superhero capes.

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The baby even gets his own entertainment in the form of some teething rings and a first reader book before falling fast asleep in the travel crib.

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Speaking of sleep, there’s plenty for mom and dad to do after the kids conk out. We pack Tic-Tac-Toe, snacks and cozy items like a travel pillow, infinity scarves and booties. Don’t forget the tried-and-true travel essentials: a mini umbrella and passport holder can make airport transitions and weather issues easier to navigate.

Get more travel tips on the Holiday Travel Hacks pin board!

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2 Comments

  1. Reply Sharon

    I think your ideas and choice of toys for preschoolers was spot on. We’ve used quite a few ourselves. My grand children also like their kalidescopes. We always take along a game like Bingo where you spot items in the scenery to fill your squares. I think the most important thing to make the kids comfortable during a car trip is to have sunshades on their windows (we live in Arizona), their special animal or blanket, plenty of juice and water bottles, and non-messy snacks like soft granola bars. Also, make sure each child has his or her own special mini gift every couple of hours whether driving or flying to your destination.

  2. Reply Joyce

    I always thought another very well known store (via email) had the best prices. We compared a doll our grand daughter wanted and to our surprise they were exactly the same and we didn’t have to wait for delivery as we enjoy going to Tuesday Morning. They sure have come a l-o-n-g way from where they were and the presence of the store in the past years. Congratulations.