10 Tips For Traveling With Preschoolers (Age 3-5)

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So you’re thinking about traveling with preschoolers? Welcome to psychotic travel. I thought toddler travel was the hardest and most draining because you are constantly chasing them and on hyper-vigilant alert.

That was until we reached preschool age with our girls, and we realized that travelling with preschool kids will drain you mentally and leave you feeling like you’ve just come off the Graviton straight after the upside down pirate ship ride.

But there are ways to make it easier for you.

savannah and kalyra playing in water near boat
Boracay Island

After traveling both domestically and internationally with both of our two girls when they were in that preschool age or 3-5, we are confident that with our tips and tricks will help you make travel more enjoyable.

After all, we make the mistakes so you don’t have to!

Is Travel With Preschoolers Worth It?

You know what it’s like with preschoolers, they can be a challenge even when not on the road.

“What do you mean you don’t like noodles, you just ate them last night.”

“I don’t understand what’s wrong. Can you please calm down and tell me?”

“I just stepped in a puddle and the soles of my shoes are dirty.”

“I don’t want you to look at me!”

This is the age when you mumble a lot of, “f^^k me’s” under your breath. It’s possibly a prelude to the teenage years for sure.

But, hell, it’s going to be hell, no matter where you are so you might as well up the adventure level and travel with your preschoolers.

Travelling with preschool kids may be challenging at times, but it’s actually a lot of fun.

young girl with cowgirl hat on

Their personality is starting to burst out of their craziness and in between are moments of sweet and innocent conversations that fill up your heart. They also still love to snuggle with their Mama still!

You also get to see their curiosity shrine through, and teach them about the world, different cultures, and the way people live, from a young age. They won’t know it at the time, but they will grow up with a new appreciation for their life back home.

We believe parenting is hard no matter the age, nor where you are, so you might as well unplug from the chaos, travel more, and fill up the moments in between with meaningful memories.

Essential Travel Tips for Parents with Preschool Kids

1. Talk to your child

girl looking at a globe of the world

Preschoolers are old enough to understand what’s happening. Have conversations with them about the travel you are about to embark on.

Where you’re going, staying, what you’re going to see etc. Encourage your preschooler to ask questions and express how they feel about the travel experience, as well as what they’d like to experience and why.

2. Encourage the kids to help you plan

We browse books, magazines and websites with our girls to get their input into the travel planning. We’ve been looking at RV’s together and they let us know which ones they like best and why they’d feel most comfortable in them.

Preschoolers don’t like surprises so prepare them in this way. Savannah now keeps asking us when were we going to get in the RV. For her, it’s way more exciting and comfortable than a house!

3. Give them travel responsibilities

Preschoolers love showing how grown up they are and asserting their independence. Give yourself a break as well by allowing them to take on small travel roles.

Start with letting them pack their own bags. Savannah takes care of hers (and will have meltdowns if you try to interfere) but I always do a sneaky check or throw some just in cases in my suitcase.

She takes charge of rolling her suitcase, loading it onto the plane and getting it back off the conveyor belts upon arrival.

She even races forward to grab my heavy one offf. She hands over all her tickets, finds her seats, and now will even order and purchase her own things. And she loves to take the map and direct us where to go!

Those are the most interesting journeys!

4. Don’t forget to pack the creature comforts

young girl with pilot and teddy bear with hat on

Security blankets and objects are still important for a preschooler. They use their teddies or special blankets to clutch when they feel frightened or unsure, plus they are still a real part of their world.

They love for them to experience the adventures with them. Savannah was delighted the other week when Archie was selected to visit the pilot on the plane and wear his hat!

5. Mix it up

Preschoolers have more energy, but they can still tire easily.

Mix up the activities with periods of rest and quiet and play. Sometimes they’ll be so tired (yet unwilling to sleep) that you may have to go for a drive to help them nod off and save you the pain of the tired monsters.

6. Pack fun activities

young girl playing archery

Preschoolers love to do things. Give them a bag full of colouring books, pencils, stickers, reading books, games, puzzles and activities. It will keep them entertained during transit and meal times if eating out.

You can buy ready made activity packs or just put them together yourself by grabbing bits and bobs from the $2 store.

7. Let them take the camera

cheaper gopro alternative akaso action camera

Both my girls love taking the camera to record their interpretation of the world and it started once they became preschoolers.

Allow them the space to be creative and enjoy their creation. We recently shared their photographic interpretation of their trip to Dreamworld with Nan and Pop using ther polaroid cameras. 

They love to help us shoot videos now as well and often input great suggestions. At this age, they’re so spontaneous and don’t understand limitation or fear. Let them go for it and allow for their silliness. We have to make room for many boobies and bum words randomly thrown out in our videos!

Want help with planning a travel experience the whole family will love? Click here for immediate and free access to the toolkit.

8. Embrace Routines

Where possible, Stick to their regular sleep and mealtime routines as much as possible to provide a sense of familiarity and stability.

Try to book flights that land around their bed time and make sure they eat when they usually eat. This will help them settle in to their new environment easier.

9. Plan Ahead

Don’t leave anything to chance and research child-friendly destinations and activities before you travel. This will ensure there are plenty of options for things to do that are suitable for their age group.

Involve your kids with the planning stage. Let them choose activities or meals, and give them a sense of ownership and excitement about the trip.

10. Be Flexible

Understand that schedules may need to be adjusted to accommodate your child’s needs. Allow for breaks on long drives and take time outs in the middle of the day to have rest time. This will help to avoid meltdowns.

Take it slow. Avoid overpacking your itinerary as young children can get overwhelmed easily, so plan for one main activity and keep everything else loose. Allow for plenty of time to explore and enjoy each activity or destination.

The Pros and Cons of Travelling with Preschool Kids

The Pros of Traveling With Preschoolers

Savannah rockin out at the musical fence in Winton, Outback Queensland
Savannah rocking out at the musical fence in Winton
  • They’re more interested in trying new things and will embrace lots of different activities
  • Their personalities are quite spunky as they push boundaries and get to know themselves more.
  • Their insights on the world are entertaining and pure.
  • They ask a lot of questions – I love to soak up that curiosity
  • They remember a lot of your travel experiences and love to share the memories of them later.
  • They’re more social and so connect with strangers and new friends easily.
  • They’re more independent and can take on more roles.
  • You have far less things to pack for them – no more nappies, strollers, and possibly car seats.
  • They can do a lot more activities and tours as they have less age and height restrictions
  • They can sit still and concentrate for longer.
  • There’s no school to worry about!

The Cons of Traveling With Preschoolers

woman and child waljking on boardwalk above river
  • Endless energy. Maybe it’s just Savannah, but she doesn’t stop moving or jumping. She was jumping and crawling all over me the other day and I had flashbacks to her being in my tummy – the same constant movement.
  • They’re so freakin fussy. Virgos on acid. Hang on – both my girls are Virgos, no wonder preschool age kills me.
  • They ask a lot of questions and are rarely satisfied with your answer.
  • They don’t take naps, yet they get tired quite easily = many meltdowns.
  • They’re getting too big for strollers and hiking backpacks, but often still too little to walk long distances (keep training them though)
  • They’ll often nod off when in the car, which may disturb their night-time routine. Hello Midnight bouncing off walls games!
  • They get bored easily. Australian road trips can be slightly hideous. It’s usually about 15 minutes into your standard 6-hour road trip that they start wailing, “Are we there yet? I’m bored.”
  • Their desire to explore their creative side may lead them to draw all over the walls of your rented accommodation with black marker. Stay vigilant and pack sugar soap.

Final Thoughts

young girl with sound bowl

Traveling with preschool aged kids can be a challenge but also an incredibly rewarding experience for both the children and parents.

Not only does travel create an opportunity for family bonding, but it also exposes young minds to new cultures, languages, and environments.

We believe that immersing children in different settings can help them develop a sense of curiosity, teach them to adapt to change, and appreciate diversity from an early age.

Exploring new places also stimulates their imagination and provides endless opportunities for laughter, play and memory-making.

We hope this guide helped ease your mind and gave you some tips for traveling with preschool aged children.

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preschooler travel tips

More Family Travel Tips

Need more inspiration for traveling as a family, here are some other helpful guides!

What are your tips for traveling with preschoolers? Please share in the comments below!

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