It can be extremely overwhelming taking a family vacation when you have small children in tow, especially if it’s your first time. You may be wondering what to do, what to bring, how to survive, etc. Well, just know that traveling with small children is possible. It will be challenging, your patience will be tested, and nothing will go as planned, but does it ever? Even though it’s tough, there are certain things that you can do in order to make traveling with small ones a little bit easier, and here are several tips for just that.

Don’t Overpack

You may be tempted to pack everything and the kitchen sink, but whatever you do, don’t! Only pack the necessities. You want to get away with packing as little bags as possible because you’re going to have your little ones in tow. Remember that whatever you forget, you can always pick up at a convenience store. What makes things a bit easier and also pleases the little ones at the same time is allowing each one to carry their own mini backpack. Allow them to pack and wear their own backpacks filled with toys, snacks, and just simple things for them to do while on the flight.

Arrive Early

It always takes a long time to get through airport security but try it with young kids with you. It takes even longer. They’ve always got to use the restroom, they get tired of standing or sitting for too long, and they ask tons of questions along the way. That is why it is best to arrive at the airport super early. Allow them to use the bathroom and take all the time needed. See if you’re able to do TSA precheck, so that standing in line for an hour is eliminated. Once you’re through, grab a seat and relax until it’s time to board your flight. The extra time you save will come in handy in case a child needs a nap, is hungry, or if nothing else, you all just want to do some people watching.

Have Proper Gear

Traveling with children always calls for extra gear. If you have a stroller and/or car seat, the airlines allow you to check one stroller and one car seat per child for free. Take advantage of this because you’re going to need it. Check your car seat in at check-in and then use your stroller to navigate through the airport and once you’re ready to board, you can check it in at the gate. Having your stroller and/or car seat once you’ve arrived at your destination is crucial for safe transport back and forth.

Bring Electronics

This is the one time that you won’t mind your kids on those electronic devices for too long. Keeping your child entertained throughout the entire flight is critical. A meltdown 40,000 feet in the air can really ruin a trip. A personal electronic device, whether a phone, tablet, or video game, is a lifesaver. Make sure you’ve got it all charged up and preloaded with kid-appropriate content with earphones and you’re good to go. Many planes, trains, and buses have tablets and/or TV’s built into their seats, which makes it more comfortable for kids, however, others don’t. That is why bringing your own electronics from home can keep the kids happy and occupied for hours at a time. Who knows? If the kids are really well-behaved, you may be able to use your own electronic device to get lost in a good game, a funny quiz or watch popular Netflix series.

Pack All Identification

Whenever you’re on a family vacation, especially out of the country, it’s wise to travel with your important identification documents. Sometimes, countries may require additional paperwork to allow your children to cross borders. Most of the time, a passport is all that’s required to cross over, however, that isn’t always the case. Some countries want you to carry a birth certificate with your name on it for each and every child you’re traveling with to prove that you are indeed the child’s parent and have the right to leave and enter the country with them.

Book a Kid-Friendly Hotel

When you’re traveling with family, it’s best to try to find hotels that are as kid-friendly as possible. Make sure breakfast is included and that you have a suite with at least an extra bed with a pull-out sofa bed. Also, it’s always nice if there is a pool and some sort of outside patio area to break up the monotony of being in the room all the time. If you can, book a room with a kitchenette, that way, you can do a little grocery shopping and cook meals instead of eating out the whole time you’re away.

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