5 Helpful Tips for Traveling with Children: advice from a world traveling mama - Major Hoff Takes A Wife

5 Helpful Tips for Traveling with Children: advice from a world traveling mama

I'm so excited to be participating in The Joys of Boys "Summer Surivival For Moms of Boys". I've got 4 of them, and need all the help I can get most days. I'm so thrilled to share some of my tried and true travel tips.
easy way to carry a car seat

So here are my 5 Essential tips for traveling with the little rascals:

We have 4 boys. We have our packing down to a science. The two older boys share a suitcase and the 2 younger boys share a suitcase. You can see them in the above photo. They are not full size. No one in our family takes a full size suitcase. We all use a carryon that will fit in the overhead bin. I get one to myself, as does my husband. Then we each carry a backpack. 
How in the world does that fit? Let me show you.

You can just barely see the suitcase under that mountain of clothes, huh?
Hard to believe it all fit in there, with room to spare!

Please remember--2 kids to every carryon!
As you can tell from the picture above, I roll their clothes. I like to do this because each day's outfit is ready to go. I do keep socks and underwear in separate bags with easy access. We sometimes never know our entire itinerary so I tend to pack a lot of layers. The boys always take at least 1 pair of jeans with them, which they usually wear since they are bulky. I know some people swear by other methods, but since we don't "unpack" we need to be able to grab an outfit (shorts & shirt) easily. PJ's and swim trunks always hang out on the sides. 
By sharing and limiting the # of rolling cases, we allow for me free hands to carry other items. 

easy way to carry a car seat

Ugh. What a pain these can be. I have a few tips from experience. NEVER EVER under any circumstances check your car seat in a bag in the belly of the plane. Murphy's law says it will not make the connection. As was our 1st flying experience with one. Right after a red eye flight. We may have had to wait 5 hours for it to arrive. 
We try to utilize the little booster seats when we travel. It is so easy to slap it on the suitcase and go. MAJOR TIP----use fold over elastic to attach it to the suitcase. Why do I love this more than a bungee cord? FOE can fit in tiny spaces. It is not as bulky as a bungee cord, and can be handy for other things. If you are really in a bind with limited hands and don't want the stress, by all means, rent a carseat from the car rental agency. 

I mentioned before that each kiddo has a backpack.
Apologizes for the crummy iPhone photo!
You can see some of the items in the backpack being used here. For the most part, every child has the same general items packed. My go to standard list of items are:
*1-2 books
*a hat & a pair of sunglasses
*a jacket or hoodie
*a journal with pens and pencils
*one small stuffed animal
*an electronic game such as an iPod touch or Nintendo DS
*a small quiet toy

I always leave an extra small quiet toy in my bag for later on in the trip, when things might be spiraling downward.
For Food & Snacks--- we don't usually let the boys carry them. Instead we have another rolling carryon that is known as "the food caddy". Yes, a separate bag for food. And it is a lifesaver!

My boys love to be outside. And most of the time, that is free! We sometimes just go on scenic drives and will pull over at a good spot. Another option is to look up day hikes via google. We did that on our last trip to Alaska and discovered so many fun places. 
Free Hike In Alaska
Another way to save money is to buy a membership to your local museum or zoo. Before joining ask about their reciprocal program. We have a pass that includes zoo's and museums. Most in the program are free or at least half off with the membership. Sometimes the membership costs almost as much as 1 trip for a family of 6! 

Some other simple money saving hints---we buy a lot of lunchmeat, PB&J, bread and water at grocery stores for a quick lunch. We also will grab a pack of sodas. We typically won't let the kiddos drink sodas at a restaurant. In Alaska they were $3 a pop. Seriously. That would be $18 in soda for our family. They are just as happy to get a can as a treat in the middle of the afternoon. You can usually pick up a disposable cooler and a pack of ice for under $5. That can really come in handy!
By saving money doing things like this, I don't feel so bad if we "Splurge" on some pricey tourist activity. 

Our last vacation photo

Be prepared. I can't say that enough. #1 rule--Be prepared that NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING will go right. Our greatest vacation issues have turned out to be some memories that we can laugh about now. The last one? The kidney stone that made us not take the trip 10 minutes before boarding.  Or the time we "almost went to Hawaii". They cancelled passengers at the last minute. My kids were bummed. We stopped at IHOP for pancakes on the 3 hr trip home and the boys were thrilled. They still talk about the time we went to IHOP. You never know what will stick in there mind. Enjoy it, embrace it, and know that you are making memories that will last a lifetime. 

Want to see our adventures on SPACE A travel through the military? CLICK HERE

or check out the games my kiddos will be playing on our next trip:

25 free apps for kids recommended by moms

or follow me via social media:

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Be sure to check out all the other summer survival tips! I hope mine were helpful to you, please leave a comment telling me if they were!

Linking up to these great parties:


  1. I love when blogs have actually helpful posts! I think a lot of times a tip is "have fun!" That's not helpful. But "have a suitcase of food" is actually helpful! What a great post :)

  2. Thanks Cori. The suitcase of food--the "food caddy" has changed the way we travel as a family. Seriously. The last time we checked in, the guy scanning our luggage told us how awesome it was. He said he sees families taking long trips to Ireland and Germany and they will bring 1 granola bar along. Since military flights (unless chartered) do not serve food, this is essential for us!

  3. These are some great tips! That food caddy does look amazing

  4. so many great ideas! We used to keep the food away from our kids in the car and dole it out as we went. Now we give them each all their food at the beginning of the trip and let them decide when they want it. When it's gone, it's gone!

  5. Great post! You look organized. :)

  6. Love your attitude! Anything can happen no matter what is planned, gotta be prepared for changes. Love your $$ saving tips too!! Great post!

  7. Great tips! We've never flown with all our kids, but I'll have to remember all these ideas!

  8. This is fantastic! We haven't flown as a family since we added Matilda, but will soon. It's funny--we've travelled a ton and with the three girls, but something about adding the fourth frazzled me and I haven't attempted it. Your post has calmed me down!

  9. These are such good ideas! We've done the whole "check 2 carseats and drag them through the airport" thing--not fun but at least we had them.

  10. Great ideas! I also send food ahead as we have a child with food aversions and that just makes life easier.

    I will share this post on my website www.theeducationaltourist.com where I write about packing light and traveling with the kids. I would love a shout out from you!

    Besides lots of FREE tips and activities, you will also find $3 downloads for visiting countries like Spain and France and world class museums like the Prado and the Louvre.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist


Thanks so much for commenting! I appreciate it and love communicating with you!

Back to Top