Travel Tips for preschool kids – Pros and cons

Oh welcome to psychotic travel.

I thought toddler travel was the hardest and most draining. It possibly is because you are doing all that chasing and on hyper-vigilant alert.

But 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.

“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, “fuck me’s” under your breath. Or “Holy hell, who can figure them out?” 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 is actually a lot of fun.

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!

travel with a preschooler (2)

We’ve been sharing posts on the pros and cons of traveling with kids at various ages.

I’ve called on some family travel experts to offer some extra insights and tips to fill in the gaps. Here are the others:

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

Kalyra

Talk to your child

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.

Encourage 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!

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!

Don’t forget to pack the creature comforts

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!

travel with a preschooler

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.

Pack fun activities

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.

Let them take the 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.

The Pros and Cons of travelling with Preschool Kids

Savannah focused on bullseye

THE PROS

  • 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!
Savannah rockin out at the musical fence in Winton, Outback Queensland
Savannah rockin out at the musical fence in Winton

Travel with kids

THE CONS

  • 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.
Burleigh Farmers Market - Gold Coast, Australia

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preschooler travel tips

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

More Family Travel Tips

8 thoughts on “Travel Tips for preschool kids – Pros and cons”

  1. Don’t be surprised. I love your blog – keep up the fab work ?
    Nice list of bloggers. Inspirational. Hoping to make your list at some point:)

  2. I love reading all of this feedback on traveling with preschoolers. I’ve found that plane travel is actually easier than the car because the airport/take-off/etc are still new and rare enough that they warrant more patience than driving down the road. I think the most important thing is not trying to cram full days back to back to back. If we have two busy days then we always do a room/pool/movies day. While babies will nap on the go, most often my preschoolers will not, so they need that day to kind of recharge their batteries and then we can resume with traveling. If you can’t plan a full day off, then we try to sightsee in the morning and go back to the room/rental for a rest or playtime and then go back out for dinner. What a fun post!

    1. Great idea of having the rest day in between. So worth it for everyone. Our girls love a day of rest so they can just watch movies and play. They request it most weekends now after a week of school, but we’re stuck in the house all week working so are itching to get out and explore!! It’s challenging to find that happy medium. Better to get out on the road so we’re all on the same schedule!! lol

  3. Oh my gosh! So funny and painfully true. We’re currently on a 2-week family vacation with a moody 11-year old and a hyperactive preschooler. At different times, the experience runs from the crazy fun, hysterical crying and even utter madness such as her vomiting into a plastic cup while we’re touring the Rainbow Row in Charleston…

  4. Your blog is really excellent. It inspires the readers who have that great desire to lead a better and happier life. Thanks for sharing this information and hope to read more from you. Great information…

  5. Our boys are 12 and 14 now but we traveled with them since they were toddlers and as preschoolers as well. I think you brought some excellent points here. The the one about giving them your camera made me wince, though, thinking about our very expensive new camera that my son dropped on the very first week of our 5 months long road trip…

    For me, the best thing about traveling with younger kids is that you get to see the world through their eyes, and their eyes can be pretty amazing filters sometimes.

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