Top 10 Travel Tips for Parents

Colleen's son Leo, playing with one of his only-for-travel toys on an airplane

Win it! My Busy Kit is giving one Breezy Mama reader an Airport Busy Kit to keep your wee ones occupied while on the go. Find out how to enter at the end of this article!

Ohhhh… at Breezy Mama we LOVE summer! To ensure smooth sailing when traveling with wee ones during our favorite season,  we are always looking for more ideas. This year we turned to guru Colleen Lanin of for her top 10 travel tips.

From Colleen:

10. Print a packing list

I used to wrack my brain writing out every little thing I didn’t want to forget before each trip with the kids. It finally occurred to me to save the list and simply modify it for each trip. I have been perfecting that packing list ever since I became a mom five years ago. Save yourself some time and headaches, use mine! There are columns for every member of the family and extra rows so you can add those extra items specific to meet your family’s needs. Click here.

9. Keep a separate stash of toys and books for travel

Sure, a new diversion or two is always fun. But a hidden toy is a forgotten toy. Kids will be psyched to rediscover old favorites on the go, saving you money and effort.

8. Never, ever count on feeding your children food provided on an airplane.

A three-hour delay on the tarmac could easily thwart your plans. Instead, bring plenty of healthy snacks. A steady stream of sliced and dried fruits, whole grain crackers, and pretzels keep kids busy munching instead of fighting or whining. Throw in a few forbidden treats as a reward for good behavior too!

7. Be a hypochondriac.

I keep a zipper-lock bag of every sort of medicine and ointment our family just might need while away from home. This is especially handy when traveling to a foreign country or when embarking on a cruise, where getting familiar medications might be difficult. Even when traveling somewhere close-by where you could easily purchase some teething tablets or cough syrup, do you WANT to run out in the middle of the night in a strange town chasing down something you could have easily packed?

6. Hitting the road? Don’t forget the bucket!

You never know when car sickness will strike and if it does, you need to be prepared. Bring along a bucket (a sand pail will do) or snag an air sickness bag to stow in your car. I learned this one the hard way, people.

5. Break some rules.

You try to get little ones to take their regular naps while traveling. You do your best to get some fruits and veggies into your kids’ bodies while away from home. You wash hands or slather on the germ juice before meals to protect from germs. But try to let some things slide – that might mean a slightly later bedtime so the kids can see the fireworks, a few more cookies than you’d serve at home, or breaking out the travel DVD player so you can enjoy an entire meal in a restaurant. It is, after all, a vacation!

Colleen enjoys date night in Maui, Hawaii.

4. Don’t forget it’s your vacation too!

Whether you and your husband take turns watching the kids so you can get a spa treatment one day and he can golf another, or you hire a babysitter so the two of you can duck out for a night on the town, or you enjoy a glass of wine on the hotel room balcony after the kids are tucked in for the night…it’s important to make time for the grown-ups.

3. Eat breakfast in bed, or at least near the bed

Rather than making hungry kids wait…and wait until they are downright starving before they get to eat breakfast at a restaurant, eat in the hotel room. Try to book a room with a kitchen or at least a fridge and stock it with milk, juice, yogurt, cereals and other breakfast favorites. It will save you time, money, and sanity!

Colleen's daughter Karissa, exploring a park in La Spezia, Italy

2. Visit a playground

One of my favorite things to do with kids on vacation is to visit the local playground. Not only does climbing ladders, zipping down slides, and soaring on swings allow kids to get their wiggles out, but also playgrounds are a great place to escape tourist attractions and connect with locals. Kids make friends easily, no matter the location or the language barrier.

1. Slow down and savor the moment

Often we are so busy on the go, go, go while traveling that we forget the purpose of a vacation: to relax, have fun, and connect with those we love. Children live so much in the present moment that they simply will not rush. This can be an annoyance when trying to make it to the museum or aquarium before it closes. At least some of the time, instead of hurrying your kids along, go at their pace. Let them boogie to the street musicians’ music until their tootsies hurt; get down to their level and ponder the ants marching across the hiking path; linger over that last bite of ice cream. Seeing the world anew through your children’s eyes is the joy of the journey – don’t let it pass you by!

Breezy Tip: Need travel toy ideas for all ages? Get those and more tips from Breezy Mama’s How to Make Traveling with Babies and Kids Of All Ages a Success — click here.

Breezy Tip 2: Breezy Mama Jenny Bower told us about the awesome My Busy Kits that are bound to buy you some tantrum free time. Check them out by clicking here! Plus! My Busy Kits is offering Breezy Mamas 20% off! Enter code: breezymama at checkout.

Breezy Tip 3: I’m currently obsessed with — check out their travel packs for babies and toddlers — click here. Then venture on over for packing essentials for you and the hubby — click here.

Win it! My Busy Kit is giving one Breezy Mama reader an Airport Busy Kit to keep your wee ones occupied while traveling. The set includes linking shapes, washable markers, tape measure, laceboard, and more! To enter to win, tell us your favorite vacation spot in the comments!

(psst… double your chances by leaving a comment on Breezy Mama’s facebook page, too — click here)

And get the perfect diaper bag! Petunia Pickle Bottom is giving one lucky Breezy Mama subscriber a LIMITED EDITION diaper bag! To enter, subscribe to Breezy Mama — it’s free! Enter your email here:

About Colleen
Colleen Lanin is the creator and editor of, a site for parents who want to travel with children…and stay sane! The website offers printable packing lists, travel tips, giveaways, and stories for parenting on the go. Colleen is a freelance writer and author of the upcoming book, The Travel Mamas’ Guide. She has lived in Arizona, Minnesota, and Southern France. Now she makes her home in San Diego with her husband and two children.

Let's Get Social!


  1. Jennifer B says

    I love going down to Laguna beach. the water is beautiful and calm. There is lots to do. My son loves to play in the sand and go into the water. It’s always a great trip when we go down.

  2. Our favorite place is Oahu, Hawaii- tropical paradise, but still in the U.S., so English is the language and dollars are the currency! So many beaches and lots to do and see!

  3. I love the packing lists, these will be great! I have created some of my own for specific trips (Hawaii) but these are great and can be used everytime.

  4. Its a toss up between taking the kids to Disneyland or taking them to Hawaii where their grandparents live!

  5. Our favorite vacation spot with the children is Carlsbad, CA. You can choose to just go to the beach and enjoy the sun and waves or you can spend a day at one of the nearby themeparks (Legoland, Sea World, or Disney). Everyone always has a great time.

  6. HAWAII!! And a must for the plane is dum dum lollipops to help with ears!!

  7. Abby McNulty says

    We love going to Cape Cod with our 2 year old. It’s kid friendly, easy-going, the waters are calm. It’s also where the grandparents live so its a fun vacation for everyone!

  8. Thanks for the great tips!

    We enjoy visiting local parks & playgrounds when we are on vacation (as you suggested). It’s a fun and free way to spend a morning/afternoon…and our girls absolutely love it!

    We also enjoy finding local hiking trails and exploring the landscape wherever we are.

    P.S. That “My Busy Kit” would be awesome for our upcoming trip to the Pacific NW.

  9. The last trip we took was to take my son to see his grandmother (my mother) in South Carolina. I think it is so hard for children who don’t get to see their grandparents regularly. We try and make it as special as we can for our son, my mother, and us. Our favorite stop once we are down there… Myrtle Beach and Charleston.

  10. We haven’t been on a vacation since we had our son in Feb 09. But we will be traveling to California in August to visit his grandmother and meet his great-grandfather for the first time. We are very excited!

  11. Recently went to Boston. Was able to take the train there so kids could run around (they are city kids, really hate the car, and get car sick). The snack car was a big hit and they made friends with other passengers. Boston had great playgrounds, kids museums, and our family was there. The “T” was also great for avoiding the car. We ended up coming back feeling relaxed and rejuvenated instead of typically exhausted – that “we need a vacation from our vacation feeling.”

  12. We enjoy taking family trips to Pismo Beach every year as much as possible and always around the New Year. If we can head up North we like to visit friends and family in San Francisco. When my husband and I take trips minus our 3 kiddos, we plan them around the wine! We like Temecula, Carmel, Monterey, etc…

  13. Lena Kubota says

    I love me some Hawaii!

  14. Well, my favourite vacation spot happens to be in the country we’re moving to…next week (see, I could use the busy kit soon!). My fave spot is Noosa in Queensland, Australia. We’re moving to either Sydney or Perth, but I dream of one day moving to our fave holiday spot – nothing like feeling you’re on vacation every day! 🙂

  15. I can vouch for Colleen’s packing lists. I’ve used them for two trips with my family of five and it’s so simple with the five columns. Such a first world “problem”, I know:)

    There are so many places I love, and so many left on my list, but in the summer, the north shore right here in Minnesota is spectacular.

    I have no wee ones, so if I win, I will be donating mine:)

  16. Maui is my favorite vacation. Whether I’m with or without my two children. I’m sitting in Maui as we speak children free for my 10yr anniversary!

  17. Amelia Hurst says

    can’t go wrong in cape cod! great for naughty fun, family fun, relaxation, hype, or the finer tastes! glad to see i’m not the first to think so, either!

  18. Megan H. says

    Cruises! to just about anywhere are the best 🙂

  19. My favorite vacay spot is Hawaii. We don’t have the luxury of going very often, but when we do, it is pure paradise!

  20. our best family vacation so far, was Fiji

  21. Love these tips, need all the advice i can get since we are going on our very first family vacation in 3 weeks with our 15 month old daughter…a six hour drive to Cape Porpoise Maine (it was our favorite spot before the little one came along)…Wish us luck! 😉

  22. We made our own busy kit last month for our trip to our favorite place, Ireland, with our 1 year old daughter. We used the packing lists and they were great!

  23. My favorite place to visit is Disney – love the smiles when a favorite character appears. Going to try out that packing list.

  24. I love St. Simons, Georgia for our family vacations but my favorite is St. Barts! We went on our honeymoon and 5-year anniversary down there and loved every minute!

  25. Europe is my favorite! But my next vacation is a week-long trip from Texas to Wisconsin (by plane and car) with a 9 month old and a 2 1/2 year old. I could definitely use this kit!

  26. My husband and I are travel enthusiasts! We’re always looking for ways to make travel easier with our 3 daughters, ages 5, 2, and 3 mos. Our favorite destination so far has been Maui. Despite lots of airport time and a looooong flight, there is no place as restful for my husband and I, while still being entertaining for the babies.

  27. Thank you for the great tips. Our daughter is almost 2 and we flog with her already 4 times from San Francisco to London. We always brought lots of toys and food on the flight for her. Most airlines on international flights offer bassinets for children under 2 and our daughter always slept on the plane in these little bassinets.

  28. Christina says

    I love love love vacationing in Greece. My parents were born there so most of our cousins live there. Thus year we are taking our son for the first time. Could really use the busy kit as he is a very active boy and it’s a very long flight!!


  1. […] swing by to check out my round-up of travel tips! I was asked to share my Top 10 Travel Tips for Parents by  While you’re there, be sure to enter to win a My Busy Kit to keep your […]

  2. […] in iatraveler Everyone has tips for what works for them. These 10 tips are good to add to your list. To ensure smooth sailing when traveling with wee ones during our favorite season,  we are always looking for more ideas. This year we turned to guru Colleen Lanin of for her top 10 travel tips. via […]

  3. […] Top 10 Travel Tips for Parents […]

  4. […] Top 10 Travel Tips for Parents […]

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