Travel With Kids: Top Tips To Help Overwhelmed Parents!

It’s the last day before the weekend and you’ve got an incredible trip lined up, the first one as a family. You’ve got an action-packed itinerary, you’ve got a lovely hotel booked, and you know where you’re going to eat – but somethings eating away at you.

Could it be the anxiety of travel with kids?

Don’t worry, this is normal. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed about the idea of traveling with kids, it’s going to be different from before you had children, and I won’t lie, there will be challenges too.

But it will also be the best trip you’ve ever had. There is nothing like a family vacation with your own little family.

woman walking along a riverfront path holding girls hand
Waterfront stroll in Ipswich

Think about all those holidays you had as a child and how much you enjoyed it – now you can provide your own kids with that same level of enjoyment.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out about the idea of taking your kids on vacation, then here are some of our top tips for making family travel easier.

We’ve traveled with our two girls since they were babies, they are now tween and teen age, so we’ve experienced it all and made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to.

Why I’m Traveling With My Kids

caz and savannah posing inside love heart sculpture in front of VErona arena
Family travel in Verona

I get asked all the time by parents how I manage to travel with kids so frequently.

Don’t they drive you crazy? Isn’t family travel too hard? What about all the stuff you have to take? You must be so organised. I don’t think I can cope.

Yes, they drive me crazy and family travel is definitely harder than when I was traveling solo, or when Craig and I spent years traveling as a couple.

I can’t just storm off when the kids annoy me like I did to Craig down a dusty African road because the tyre on our run-down pickup fell off in mid-drive. I can’t let exhaustion and frustration get a destructive hold on me.

You need far less than you think when traveling with kids and I’m definitely not organized. As you can see by our attempts to hike to the top of Mount Kosciusko in this photo.

man and children walking up snowy path in mt kosciusko

Kalyra is dressed more for the catwalks of Paris than a walk to the roof of Australia – in snowy and windy conditions.

Traveling with kids is NOT always like you see on those happy snappy brochure pictures (just like those baby nappy ads).

However, I keep traveling with my kids because these are only small inconveniences that happen on the way to something far more valuable.

Why You Should Travel with Kids

people standing in a cave
Hiking in Binna Burra NP

Does traveling with your kids stress you out? Thoughts of being cramped up with the kids in a car, flying with a child, and traveling with them 24/7 make you feel ill?

Worried about all that family travel planning and preparation without even knowing if you’ll have a great time when you finally arrive in your destination.

Family travel is not as hard as your freaked-out fears tell you.

You’re possibly judging it from that of living a normal parenting life. It’s draining and hard and you DREAD the thought of that coming into a holiday, which is meant to be light, relaxing and fun.

woman and young girl reading sitting on couch in Binna Burra Lodge, Gold Coast Hinterland

When you travel with kids, all your pre-conceived notions of what a holiday means are smashed and that can be hard to handle.

Simply change your perspective. Think of the rewards, not the challenges that family travel brings.

I have a glaring newsflash for you: PARENTING IS HARD!! Period. No matter where you are!

It’s the most exhausting and emotionally draining thing I’ve ever encountered. But it’s also the most rewarding.

Here are some reasons why you should travel with kids:

  • You live life on your terms.
  • You can choose to rest when you see the kids are tired.
  • You can work around everyone’s likes and moods.
  • There’s no box of should, musts, have to, and needs suffocating you.
  • You spend quality time with your kids.
  • There’s no freakin toys and accumulation of useless junk piling up around you (I’m banning the plastic bits along with budgie smugglers).
  • There are fewer demands on your time like social events, kid’s parties, swimming lessons, drama etc.
  • Speaking of drama, there are no endless playground social dramas.
  • Conversations are no longer about the school friendship dramas.
  • There’s more laughter and ease.
  • You have exhilarating adventures together – like today we’re doing a 165m flying fox over the rainforest canopy together.
  • There’s no TV withitss sneaky manipulative ads and depressing news flashes. (Although we do love X-Factor).
  • There’s more fun and adventure.
  • You experience life rather than trying to learn about it through text books and irrelevant exercises. Travel gives you a deep knowing.
  • You have freedom.
  • You’re learning to adapt – to go with the flow, to throw out rules and routines, which only build up walls that tell us we can only be happy and manage if everything is structured in a certain way. What happens when it doesn’t? It won’t because life is a constantly flowing source of energy, it cannot be contained or controlled. So when it wants to tear down the walls it will and then what?
  • You get to know and fall in love with your children. They’re not just little beings that you have to somehow manage and work a life around without needing to swill a vodka every hour.
  • Everyone gets to express their personalities without judgement. We see that with our daughter’s drama classes she was enrolled in. Kalyra is a hilarious actress. She puts on her own performances and vlogs and hosts her own show. It’s delightful to watch her do it around the campfire and completely express her personality. When she took the classes it was gone. She was frightened of saying the wrong thing, not being cool enough, and not doing it how the teacher said because that was the right way.
  • You’re out of the freaking controlling box. Like the school demanding to know why Kalyra was missing school today. My text reply: family commitments. They always come first.

Travel Tips for Traveling with Kids

Family of four having dinner in a restaurant on a cruise ship
river cruising in Europe

Now you know why you should be traveling with kids, it’s time to share our top tips for making your vacation stress free and enjoyable.

Before you hit the road with your infants, take note of these words of advice:

1. Know the Right Age to Travel

Hiking down the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park
Savannah and Kalyra enjoying the Bright Angel Trail

We have been traveling with our kids since they were babies, but we can honestly tell you that toddler age is the worst age to travel.

They have so many needs, both physically and emotionally, that it will cause you a lot of stress trying to keep them happy – and that can take away from the experience.

That’s not to say don’t travel with your toddler, but we recommend those with younger kids take road trips from home rather than international travel.

When you fly, you need to pack so many things it’s impossible to travel lightweight. You need diapers, wipes, travel strollers, snacks, possibly a car seat, and toys – and that’s just in your carry-on backpack!

Once your child hits school age, international travel becomes much easier.

2. Give Your Child Independence & Responsibility

kalyra and savannah making tiramasu
Cooking class in Tuscany

You can easily stress yourself out by spending every waking moment of your trip worrying about your kids and doing everything for them.

Give them a little freedom to be independent, such as carry their own luggage or pack their own suitcase.

Buy them their own pair of headphones and a tablet so they can entertain themselves on the airplane by watching movies or TV shows they selected.

If you have older kids, such as teenagers, give them their own room in a hotel and plan for some downtime where everyone can be alone.

The thing that makes family travel the hardest, is living in each others pockets.

3. Get Away From Theme Parks

people playing in the ocean
Fun on Moreton Island

Disneyland is great because it’s fun for all the family, but it’s hardly an enriching experience. There’s only so many zoos, playgrounds and parks that one person can take.

You might think your kids are not interested in temples in Thailand or food tours in Europe, but you’d be surprised.

Plan some cultural activities as well as kid-friendly attractions and you may find your child has a new interest.

After all, it’s your vacation too.

4. Plan Ahead

Movenpick Resort is one of the best places to stay for families on Boracay Island. Click to read our top things to do in Boracay and review post
Movenpick Resort Boracay

“Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail” is one of the most poignant quotes when it comes to travel with kids.

Be sure to research your destination and create an itinerary that includes a variety of attractions, but also suggestions for places to eat.

Be sure to look for accommodations that offer family-friendly amenities for children, such as play areas or swimming pools, and that the rooms are child-friendly (no balconies). Check our travel booking resources page with our favorite providers.

Plan ahead with these travel tips:

5. Pack strategically

woman walking on trail with two young children in the mountains

Make a list of essential items for your kids, including diapers, wipes, extra clothes, snacks, toys, and any medication they may need.

Use packing cubes to separate things and make them easier to find.

Pack a variety of healthy snacks and drinks to keep your kids energized and hydrated. This will help avoid meltdowns and keep hunger at bay.

Best travel gear for kids – 30 items to keep them happy and safe 

6. Stick to routines

little girls lying in bed reading

It can be overwhelming for kids to travel, with so many new senses and experiences coming at them.

Try to maintain some sense of routine so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Keep your children’s regular sleep and meal schedules as much as possible.

By sticking to familiar routines, kids will feel more comfortable and less cranky during the trip.

7. Take breaks

Bright Playground
Playground break

Plan regular breaks during long days so your child can take time out to just play, stretch their legs, or take a nap.

This is especially true for those long road trip journeys when kids need to stretch their legs, use the restroom, and burn off some energy.

Look for parks or playgrounds where they can run around and play.

8. Be flexible

girl on bike looking at harbour views
Kalyra in Wollongong harbour

Understand that traveling with kids may not always go according to plan. Be prepared to adapt and make changes if needed.

Embrace unexpected detours and enjoy the journey together.

9. Safety first

girl sitting in a car seat

Ensure your kids are properly secured in car seats or booster seats while traveling by car. You may need to take your own car seat with you if you’re traveling to places like Southeast Asia.

Teach them basic safety rules, such as staying close to you in crowded areas or holding hands while crossing the street.

Have a meeting point at attractions incase you get separated, and make sure they know the name of your resort so they can ask someone for help should they need it.

10. Stay positive and patient

family standing on rock looking at sedona landscape

Remember that traveling with kids can be challenging at times, but if you let yourself get overwhelmed and stressed, your child will too.

Kids tend to feed off of their parent’s emotions, so if you maintain a positive attitude and be patient, it will go a long way to help keep your kids calm and peaceful.

11. Remember The WOW and LOVE Moments

woman and young girl on a rocky path through a mountain

The reason why I overcome the pain and challenges of traveling with kids, is because I remember the moments when it was all amazing.

Travel with kids has way more WOW and LOVE moments in between the parenting challenges. There’s more connectedness to each other and to life. We feel our bonds grow stronger with every step into the forest.

Yes, the tantrums are still there, there are many cons as well as pros to family travel.

Sometimes I want to scream “this sucks!” and then in the afternoon I’m filling up of awe as I watched Savannah’s fearlessness riding the flying fox with me and Kalyra’s enthusiastic determination, or see her try to hit bullseye on her first game of playing archery.

This is who my children are. That crazy meltdown in the forest earlier was sandwiched between sooooo much goodness.

Flying fox Binna Burra

It didn’t stress me out or make me feel like a failure as a mother, which is how I feel most of the time when I’m trying to cope as a parent in a normal-life setting.

Final Thoughts

woman and two daughters posing in thermal baths
Thermal Baths in Budapest

I’m not saying it’s a good idea to pack up your entire life and hit the travel road full-time. That does bring an extra layer of parenting challenges like home-schooling and living together full-time.

It might not be the path you want to walk. And that’s ok. Whatever that path is for you, find time to fit in more travel with your kids. Weekend getaways and longer short-term adventures. Even just travel in your own backyard.

Start off slow. Go to the edges of your comfort zone. Give up the worry of getting it right and the fear that you won’t cope. Go with the flow and just enjoy doing something different and fun with your kids.

Yes, routine and structure kind of slips away when you travel, but that’s the beauty of it and it’s where you’ll find a lot of ease and fun. It’s actually easier than trying to fit into the rules.

If you plan and prepare for it correctly, it won’t be hard at all.

We have a free six-part email series designed to help you plan a family holiday everyone will love and overcome potential challenges before you even leave.

Click here now to join the Family Travel Tribe community (including private Facebook group) and uncover the fun of family travel and take control of the challenges.

This is what I believe and what my advice is to any parent that expresses their concern to me that travelling with their kids is too hard:

family travel benefits

Do thoughts of travelling with your kids being too hard stop you from doing it? Why do you choose to do it regardless?

4 Powerful Ways to Travel More & Create Better Memories
Want to know how we've made a lifetime of travel for 25 years? In
This is what gives us incredible memories to share around the campfire. Join our community for insider tips and updates!
Scroll to Top