The Pros & Cons of traveling with kids (ages 5-8)

At a couple of months shy of 9, I adore the age Kalyra’s at now. She still has a little sweet innocence, and I’m still important to her, yet there’s a growing maturity and independence I love to see and be around.

I do feel I’ll be a mum well suited to the older years.

This is the last age group I can offer family travel tips for at the moment. I’ll definitely be able to share more about the tweens in the coming years though as Kalyra ticks over into them in two months time!

The good news is Savannah will be slipping into school aged travel next year! Yay – goodbye emotional preschooler stage.

tips for travel with school aged children

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.

Check out the posts on

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.

PROS AND CONS OF TRAVELING WITH KIDS

whale wtching hervey bay school age children and travel

Travel Tips for school-aged children

Record their memories

Kalyra has started producing content for our site – it’s a fabulous way for her to record her memories, but also to learn very important communication and creativity skills AND to learn to be comfortable expressing herself.

She’s contributed to this post on our site and published a post on our trip to Singapore, one on our visit to Universal Orlando Resort and a guide to Disneyland, LA.

She created her own vlog (she does these all the time, yet rarely publishes) and sometimes takes over our Snapchat to snap her view on life (Savannah does too), she takes photos and videos and often directs the video production, and has appeared in various commercials.

I love that she can be more involved with what we do.

She also loves to journal her day when we travel.

Pack the puzzles and books

School-aged children love doing puzzles.

Sudoku’s are great for car travel and passing time in restaurants and long queues. Kalyra and I love to play Boxes in the car. Kalyra also loves the Lonely Planet for Kids series and the Usborne Travel Activity books

Do audio tours

Your school aged child will love walking around a tourist site with the audio tour guiding them. They’ll be fascinated by the stories and will learn a lot. Many of these tours have kid’s versions. Savannah even likes to listen to them. They’re also much better at listening to tour guides as well.

Put them in charge of the maps and tours

Kalyra loves to take that map and tell us where to go. She also loves to take control of the self-guided tours, telling us where to go and what to see and why. You can see her taking charge of some of that at the Chinese Gardens on our trip to Sydney in this video.

Involve them in the planning and research

I say involve the kids in the planning much earlier than when they hit school age, but at school age, they’re much more independent and able to make logical decisions.

Give them time (and help) researching where they are going so they can immerse themselves in the experience. They can read books, watch movies, search websites and play games.

Both Kalyra and I are now dying to go to Harry Potter World together. She just finished reading the first book and we watched the movie together. How great to have a shared passion with your children.

Don’t forget to involve their interests as well. Kalyra took up surfing living here in Burleigh (and she’s pretty good), so on our America Unplugged trip, we’ll be finding space for a surfboard and a skateboard.

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

Buying souvenirs

They’ll be at that age where they might want to buy a souvenir for themselves or others. It’s a great learning opportunity for them about the laws of exchange.

Give them a set amount and encourage purchasing from local markets and artisans. Avoid the kitschy plastic souvenirs made in China.

Talk to them about how this supports the local economy as well. My favourite souvenir ever is a $1 bright blue beaded bracelet and $5 red warrior blanket I brought from a Masai village in Kenya. I’ve still got it and it has a precious memory and story attached.

Bring the scooters or bikes

They’re still at an age where protesting about walking can happen after a few steps. Bring a scooter or bike (depending on how you are traveling)

You will appreciate the freedom this will give you to explore and little deeper and the fun they’ll have doing it. You can always rent one if necessary.

Give them a little more time

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

School aged kids can become engrossed in an activity quite easily. Give them extra time to enjoy the moment.

Kalyra will never get tired of going for one more zip line turn, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef one more time, listening to one more campfire story, or doing just one more line of cartwheels through the park.

Give them as much time as you can. They’re living in and loving the moment.

Cover the meltdown moments

As with every age, we recommend a bag of tricks to cover you for the four things that will always cause a meltdown – no matter your child’s age Psst – they’ll also cause a meltdown for you

  1. Bored – pack an entertainment pack. Let your school aged child pack it and carry it.
  2. Hungry – plenty of snacks and water. Your school-aged child can even help you make the snacks
  3. Tired – plenty of rest planned through the day. travel slow.
  4. Hot – plan your activities around the heat of the day. Find ways to cool down.

Have special date moments

The older your child gets the more having one-on-one time is important for them.

Kalyra loves to go on special dates alone with myself or Craig. She and I did a Mother Daughter weekend getaway to Chicago.

It might be a little harder if you’re all traveling together and for a short time, but even if it’s just a quick five-minute walk you can steal together they’ll appreciate this time to connect just with you uninterrupted so they can share a little deeper travel experience with you.

THE PROS of traveling with kids

Customs House during Vivid Sydney
Kalyra in front of Customs House
  • It won’t matter too much if they miss some school (depending on the child though)
  • They can entertain themselves much easier and are loads of fun to be around
  • They don’t need you as much, so it’s not as exhausting
  • They’re much more independent, curious, eager to learn and participate in the travel experience
  • They’re excited about many of the travel experiences
  • They have their own travel interests to pursue.
  • Making friends is easier. Not long after you arrive in the campsite they’ll be off playing spotlight with their new friends.
  • They’re easier to reason with

THE CONS of traveling with kidsThe Kangaroo Sanctuary, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

  • They’re still learning to manage their emotions so can often meltdown. This does start to settle down at the later end of the school aged kids bracket.
  • They’re now at school so there is more to consider when traveling as a family
  • They like to stay at home and spend time with their friends
  • Extra-curricular activities become important to them – again the desire to travel less
  • If you stick to travel in the school holidays, it’s busier and more expensive
  • Their growing independence often means growing stubbornness

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school age travel tips

What are your tips for traveling with school aged children?

10 thoughts on “The Pros & Cons of traveling with kids (ages 5-8)”

  1. Great list, and thanks for including my thoughts. Ah, these are the golden years… trust me, I have teenagers… whom I wish I had taken on a lot more adventures….

  2. Well, my 2 are 12 and 10 now and we’ve been on the road with them ( full time) since they were 6 and 8. We haven’t been back home to Oz even once. I see a lot of pros and really haven’t hit any cons at all. Most of your cons seem to be about school, my 2 are homeschooled so it’s never been an issue. We’ve also found them some amazing activities around the world, way better than anything on offer back home, so it’s been win win for us all.

  3. That’s an excellent article. I am a traveller and I have been postpone to have babies for the last couples years as I can’t image how it’s going to be when I have kids. I don’t really want to stop traveling also because I would love to show them a little bit of the world. This article made me realise it is still possible.

  4. So much of this rang a bell with what I’ve experienced with the kids – I have a 9yo who always grabs the directions or maps wherever – tour-guide in waiting I think! Thanks for a great article!

  5. I thought opening the link was going to be a prank, good article I don’t have kids but very good to know. (Her middle finger is out. That’s why I thought it was a prank)

  6. Ah, my oldest is 7, and I feel like a lot of this is starting to ring true. Anything to get him involved in planning, packing, snack making, gives him a sense of ownership and keeps him excited in what we are doing. He is truly extroverted, and will just go non-stop; I have to wrangle him for some down time to keep the meltdowns to a minimum. 🙂

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