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"My Parents Did This When We Were Kids, And Now It Makes So Much Sense": People Who Travel With Their Children Often Are Sharing Their Best Tips And Tricks

Before I had my first baby, my husband and I promised one another that we wouldn't let having kids stop us from traveling. But the reality is that traveling with kids is a lot. Like everything in life, however, practice makes perfect. Plus, there are plenty of tricks that make it easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful.

Two children playing in the sand on a beach, digging with plastic shovels
Yulia Grossman / Getty Images

So I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me their best advice for traveling with kids. Here's what they said, along with some of the parents of Reddit.

1."Limit screen time before traveling (or at least put it off as long as you can). While a tablet may immediately placate your child, you'll pay for it in the end. Your child may be calm at the beginning of your journey, but they're bound to become energetic/curious/frustrated later on. Save the screen time for when you really need it."

Child focused on a tablet while seated on an airplane
Jessica Peterson / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

2."Invest in a Slumberpod if you can afford it. it's relatively lightweight, blocks out all light in the hotel room, and it has pockets so you can put the baby monitor in if you're staying at a house and don't have a great place to mount it."

Toddler standing by a portable SlumberPod tent with a crib inside

3."Gate checking a stroller and car seat are free! Always do this. If you have a travel system (like a stroller that the car seat clicks into) definitely bring it. It's useful for porting all kinds of gear. Head to the desk at your gate and get gate check tags as soon as you can."

u/Lupicia

4."While your kids are still infants or toddlers, go places that you’ve been before. You won’t feel obligated to see every single sight and attraction you haven’t seen before. You can take it a little slower and hit just the highlights."

Three children with backpacks looking out over a busy city street from a high vantage point
Imgorthand / Getty Images

5."When my daughter was a toddler, I packed balloons in my purse when traveling by plane. I would find an empty area near our gate, blow up the balloon, and let my daughter run around and play with it. Sometimes, other children would join in on the fun. We would leave the balloon behind once we boarded. This was an easy way for her to get some energy out before a long flight. Plus, balloons take up zero space in my personal item."

A girl blowing a balloon
Jessica Peterson / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

6."This is the only piece of advice I give to parents (because I'm sure they get enough), and it is GOLD. Teach your kids the game 'Red Light, Green Light.' Have your small child walk in front of you and make a game of saying 'Red Light!' and they stop, and then 'Green Light!' and they start walking or running again. I know it sounds simple, but this saved me countless times when my kids were toddlers and would run off in a public place. Screaming 'Red Light' and letting them think it was a game made them stop in their tracks long enough to give me half a chance of grabbing them. It's a good trick!"

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7."I use dog wee-wee pads as a liner to change my baby on public changing tables. I find that the reusable diaper changing pad gets gross and full of germs. I prefer to use the disposable ones, so I pack a bunch and throw them away after use."

Adult hands support a baby's legs during a diaper change
Xiu Huo / Getty Images

8."Puffy stickers from the dollar store are great entertainment. They're especially great for toddlers and preschoolers because they can peel the stickers off the sheets on their own without your help."

—KHandcock

9."Always bring all of your baby’s very important belongings in a carry-on. These items are so expensive and hard to replace if they're lost or delayed. If something happens to derail your plans, it’s so much less stressful to know you don’t have to worry about your baby’s comfort."

Person placing a carry-on suitcase into an overhead bin on an airplane
Jchizhe / Getty Images/iStockphoto

10."Don’t apologize for your kid! You’ve heard of people who board the plane with their kids and pass out care packages, apologizing for their kids in advance and thinking this is 'cute.' But it’s not cute. Don’t feel bad that your kid might disturb other people. We’ve all been disturbed by plenty of grown-ups. Your kid is allowed to be in the world and take up space, cry, and be a kid. If other people don’t like it, too bad! Don’t let anyone’s negative looks or comments get to you. They are dealing with their own shit, which has nothing to do with your baby being a baby. For the most part, people will be kind and helpful. Just remember you are doing the best you can and that is good enough."

Toddler looking out an airplane window
Jodie Griggs / Getty Images

11."If you are flying, buy a seat for the baby and bring your car seat and strap them in before taking off. Leave them in the car seat just like you would if you were driving. If you have to take them out, put them back in as soon as you can. If they think they are just going for a drive, they most likely will not be screaming half the time, and everyone will be much happier around you."

Baby in car seat, close up.
Guido Mieth / Getty Images

12."Pack a first aid bag with a thermometer, infant Tylenol, snot sucker, washcloths, all the goods. You always need these things when you least expect it, usually in the middle of the night when everywhere is closed and you’re up shit's creek."

meanbeans

13."Pay the extra money to have internet on the iPad if your kid is used to watching TV or YouTube videos. This is not the time to limit screen time. Having lots of activities for a flight sounds great until you drop the crayons on the floor and can’t reach them from the tiny airplane seats."

Toddler in a seat playing with a tablet and a toy airplane
Encrier / Getty Images/iStockphoto

14.When I was a kid, my family took a lot of road trips. We would always drive late at night. My parents used to put us kids to bed and then transfer us to the car. I thought this was odd until I was an adult and realized it was strategic. The kids would fall back to sleep in the car and wake up at our usual time. Our awake time (read: bored and whiny time) would be cut in half. Plus, there would be less traffic."

Child asleep in a car seat
Catherine Delahaye / Getty Images

15."Feed babies and toddlers during takeoff and landing to help them clear their ears."

KHandcock

16."Pack a Mary Poppins bag filled with treats and toys that are perhaps not allowed at home. For example, on our upcoming road trip I’ll pack a lap desk, little jars of slime, silly putty, glitter pipe cleaners, fidget toys, squishy animals, candy, chips, etc. It will be a magical, wondrous trove of treasures that is usually forbidden to my children."

Child playing with toys on airplane tray table, seated in cabin
Tatyana_tomsickova / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17."We definitely were not people with a budget to travel with a babysitter (which some people chose to do), but we often hired a local sitter for an evening or two when the kids were toddlers so we could have a night off. We got recommendations from our home rental hosts and local friends, and we have used services provided by hotels. A sitter for the evening was well worth the money."

u/zealous_avocado

18."Pack a thermometer, pain meds, and a change of clothes for everyone in your carry-on. Our seven-month-old spiked a fever and vomited all over my husband on an overseas flight. We had changes of clothes for her, but not for us."

Mysa

19."Pack a minimum of two days worth of diapers/pull-ups in your carry-on if your child is still using them. Buying diapers at the airport when a flight is delayed is RIDICULOUSLY expensive."

Child with animal backpack pulling a suitcase in an airport waiting area
Tatyana_tomsickova / Getty Images/iStockphoto

20."Consider buying a bassinet that turns into a travel crib. We love ours from Guava so much. It's expensive but soooo worth it, especially given the multi-purpose use."

meanbeans

21."We prepare an individual backpack for each of our kids every time we fly. They'd include stickers, favorite snacks, a couple of drinks, a small new toy, and a book. Lots of novelty kept them entertained."

Child's hand clutching pretzel sticks while sitting in a car seat
Yevtony / Getty Images/iStockphoto

22."Try to stick to your baby's sleeping and eating schedule as closely as possible. Obviously, when you’re traveling, you can't follow it perfectly, but a child's mood snowballs fast if you let the schedule slip. Plus, it’ll be tough to get back into it when you get home."

Toddler drinking from a bottle
Onfokus / Getty Images

23."When flying with kids, if possible, have dad take the kids and mom do the luggage. Dads get more sympathy with kids. It's sad but true."

sarahm130

24."Wear your baby. Carriers are light, flexible, and totally hands-free in the airport. The cabin staff may tell you to take your lap child out of the carrier and hold her for takeoff. But for the rest of the flight, wearing her keeps her sleepy and comforted."

Baby sleeping in a carrier against a person's chest, showing close bonding
Oliver Rossi / Getty Images

Do you have a trick that makes traveling with kids a little less stressful and a bit more enjoyable? Tell us in the comments or drop it into this anonymous Google Form.