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The Greatest Tips for Traveling with Kids

This post is sponsored by OshKosh B’Gosh; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

“Mom, are we there yet?”

Traveling with kids can be, well, a bit of a challenge. The boredom…the bathroom breaks…the hungry bellies…
We’re going on a trip! Okay, so am I the only one that starts singing the Little Einsteins theme song when I hear that? Sorry if it’s stuck in your head now.

Thankfully, my boys are usually great on road trips (which is wonderful, considering we live quite a ways away from all family.) One reason our trips tend to run fairly smoothly is because we have some great tricks we use. These tips are specifically directed towards having the kids prepared, but they can be useful to anyone.

Traveling with kids can be a challenge, so check out these awesome tips for packing, snacking, and entertaining! Includes a free printable.
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When I am getting ready for trips, I try to consider ……

  • Organization/Packing
  • Entertainment
  • Food

Organized Packing

How Much to Pack

Confession here: I tend to over-pack when it comes to clothes. The past few trips I have been working on some ways to reduce the amount of clothing I pack while still having everything I need.

We will be heading out on a mini vacation for our spring break, so I am already working on packing everything up. For this trip, I started by buying the kids each a new set of clothes from OshKosh B’gosh. The weather has been warm so they needed some new shorts and flip flops; I picked up matching ones for both boys and included a fun shirt to go with it.

The great thing about the shirts is that they are t-shirts that go with just about anything. This is a staple item for us.

OshKosh B'Gosh Boys Traveling Across the Street

How cute is this though? We purchased shirts that said “Feed me” (which totally fits our constantly-hungry boys) then found some shorts that coordinated well with it and had fish bones on them. It seemed quite fitting together. The flip flops were a great price, so we bought those in case we go swimming or need shower shoes.


What do you need to have packed?

  1. Basic bottoms–these are your jeans or a generic skirt or something your child can wear with anything. Something easy to put on and comfortable.
  2. Basic tops–these are your t-shirts or basic long-sleeve shirts, something good for indoors and out so you don’t need a bunch of outfit changes.
  3. Lightweight jacket–whether it’s summer or winter, take a lightweight jacket to wear over t-shirts or basic long-sleeve shirts without having to pack sweaters, which are bulky.
  4. Undies and socks–diapers for the little ones.
  5. Special clothing–this is winter gear if it will be chilly, rain coats if needed for soggy days, accessories for sunny days, or swim suits for the pool.
  6. Shoes–we always do tennis shoes, sandals (weather for warm weather, the pool, or the shower), and casual dress shoes if we have something special planned. We do NOT put these in the suitcase…p.u..
  7. Dress clothes–this is for special occasions…a nice dinner, pictures, etc..
  8. Pajamas

We found the perfect kid fashion clothing staples at OshKosh B’gosh–pants, shorts, t-shirts/polos, even shoes. Go check out their awesome deals and grab for 25% off your $30+ purchase (use the code SPRING16 online)! You can use the new outfits on your trip and for spring pictures! Find an OshKosh B’gosh location near you.

Want a more detailed list of things to pack besides clothes? Read also Summer Vacation Packing Tips.

OshKosh B'Gosh Boys on Bench

How much do you need to pack?

  1. Pants/shorts–check the weather. If it’s going to be average most of the trip, pack a couple pair of pants and a pair of shorts and vice versa if it’s supposed to be hot. Cool weather you can skip the shorts. Pants can be worn typically for 3 days before washing, but I would have an extra pair along in case one gets dirty too soon.
  2. Tops–this one we use new each day, so it depends on how long we are staying if we bring one per day (plus an extra) or enough for half the trip then a visit to the cleaners. Unless it’s winter weather, we just stick with t-shirts for this.
  3. Lightweight jackets–Typically we only pack one of these and it will be a spring jacket or fleece. If our kids have been especially messy, we might bring two in case one gets soaking wet or dirty, but will carry the extra along with us, outside of the suitcase.
  4. Undies and socks–We follow the same rules as with the tops, but I like to pack an extra to the extra on the underwear. Diapers are a different story–base this off of what your child typically uses each day then pack a few extra.
  5. Special clothing–this really depends on your situation. Pack what you need, but try to keep it to a minimum.
  6. Shoes–one everyday shoe, shoes for the pool/showers if needed (also special weather shoes if needed), and a pair of nicer shoes to wear when out and about at nicer places.
  7. Dress clothes–what are you doing special on your trip? If you only plan one night to dress up for dinner or something, you really only need one outfit. If you plan this for multiple days, you will want a pair of pants that goes with everything and a top for each occasion. Keep it at a minimum if possible.
  8. Pajamas–I do the same as for tops for this one.
OshKosh B'Gosh Travel Tips What to Pack

Here’s a fun tip! We love giving the kids a little spending money for trips. To keep better track of this and give the kids a little responsibility, we picked up some coin pouches from OshKosh B’gosh, tucked a few dollars inside and gave one to each boy. If you need to keep track of whose is whose, grab out a fabric marker (like these) and write names on them.

OshKosh B'Gosh Boys Money Pouch

Saving Space

I try to pack as much as possible into as few suitcases as possible. One way you can accomplish this is by being smart with what you pack and how you pack it.

The way you fold clothes can make a big difference on how much you can fit when packing. I like to fold outfits together so they are neat and easy to grab out. Pants, socks, undies…

I’ll even add a diaper to each set of clothing so it’s all set to start the day.

OshKosh B'Gosh How to Pack

Saving Time

Packing everything in the order of the day we plan to wear it makes everything easier, because you can quickly grab out your clothes in the morning without making a mess of your suitcase. You can print my free day, name, and temperature labels below. Tape them to the clothes for each day so your kids know which outfit to wear.

Traveling with Kids Packing Tips

Download Your Free Printable Packing Labels

Staying Entertained

When the whole family is stuck in the car for a long ride, the last thing you want is complaints of boredom. I like to bring along a few things to keep the kids (and myself) entertained on the trip.
You can find some of these ideas below (PS, schedule breaks and this will help too):

  • Play road trip games (print free ones here)
  • Bring along a movie or two (if you can–we try not to rely on this, but we do make it available on especially long trips)
  • Play songs everyone loves (sing along to a few of your favorite songs!)
  • Come up with a challenge…growing up, I had everyone count how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop
  • Have a busy basket/backpack for each kid (filled with soft things for the little ones, activities for the bigger ones–these can be things like story books/workbooks/busy books, coloring pages like this one toy cars, binoculars, disposable cameras)
  • Give the kids each a blanket, stuffed animal if they wish, and even a pillow to prop up their head to where it needs to be–eventually, they will fall asleep. Blankets are seriously magical for us.
  • Make snack time a big deal–pack fun treats and have everyone help out.

What are your favorite entertainment tips for trips? Let me know in the comments!

Tips for Traveling with Kids Cover

Here’s a bonus tip: keep everything needed on the ride within arms’ reach. You don’t want to put yourself or others in danger by unbuckling to get to the food. Kids should be where you can pass food, coolers should be facing a direction that lets you open it, toys should be nearby so you can hand new ones as desired (or if your kids are old enough, you can hang a basket or bag off the arm of their chair so they can reach in.) Make sure everything is secured and won’t go flying if something happens. It’s also great to have a little trash bin or trash bags to keep messes at bay.

Want to know our favorite travel foods? Continue reading for the list.

OshKosh B'Gosh Crossing with Daddy

Food for Traveling

Stopping for snacks is not always an option. It wastes time, can get pretty expensive, and it’s pretty difficult to find healthy treats on your trip. We always pack a small cooler and tote bag for the drive.

Here are some of our favorite travel foods to keep in arms reach in the van:

  • String cheese (Check out these fun wrapper decorations!)
  • Baby carrots, cucumbers, sweet peppers
  • Yogurt pouches
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Apple slices, watermelon, bananas
  • Crackers
  • Cereal
  • Beef sticks
  • Fruit snacks
  • Nuts
  • Water bottles and juice boxes too!

Read also: 10 Tips for a Less Stressful Vacation | Visiting Family and  How to Pack an Emergency Holiday Mess Kit

What are your favorite foods to bring along in the car for road trips? Share with me in the comments!

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  1. those outfits and photos are adorable! As usual 🙂 And the kids, but that you already know 😉

  2. you definitely hit the nail on the head with all of your tips!!! We ALWAYS have snacks with us, even if it’s just a short trip to the grocery store. Books are also a necessity for us. We have a toy and book bun we keep in our car. ?

  3. Paper towels are very useful. They work for spills, as napkins and have many other uses. And paper plates. When my kids were little I would take hot dogs in a large mouth thermos. We’d stop at a park or a rest stop and have a picnic.

  4. Very good tips! Easy snacks and books / coloring books we always take on trips.

  5. I don’t travel much but I know that bringing snacks and ways to keep them entertained is very important.

  6. The Best Comment for Traveling is plenty of trash bags and wipes!

    • For sure! We always have a stockpile of wipes and several trash bags for all the wrappers and mess clean-ups!

  7. allow your kids to stretch out some and take a few breaks so they do not get tired of being in the car

  8. My best tip is to always have wet ones in the car and a makeshift garbage bag.

  9. When my daughter was younger, I made sure that we took breaks. Not just for food or the bathroom but to spend 10-15 mins doing something fun. It made traveling a lot easier!

  10. I always carry Dramamine and a bowl on our road trips because we found out our daughter randomly gets hits with motion-sickness sometimes as we drive for long trips. I also tend to over-pack as well and try and pair our outfits up together as we would wear them so we save time and space. I always pack our toiletries in resealable baggies to prevent leaks and I always keep a couple larger garbage bags for dirty clothes (to keep them separate from any clean ones we bring home) plus some plastic grocery bags for any dirty shoes, wet clothing, etc.

    • Great thing to have! I have trouble with that some, but am usually okay up front. Definitely a great idea to put items that could leak into baggies and garbage bags for dirty/wet clothes!

  11. My best tip for traveling with kids is to travel during their nap time. If they are known to not sleep well during travel then I suggest the opposite. I think the parents will know best. Also bring plenty of snacks and extra clothes. If driving, take multiple bathroom breaks and invest in a DVD player.

    • Yes, for sure! We like to travel through night if possible, too, so the kids are asleep and it goes by more quickly!

  12. Just keep the kids busy with games, video games, music, etc.. time will go by much faster.

  13. Bring lots of snacks and games.

  14. I always bring snacks and some toys or games to keep the kids occupied.

  15. I keep my son busy with music and snacks. Plus we stop to let him stretch and be active.

  16. I like packing snacks like grapes and goldfish because they are easy to eat without causing stains or messes. Pack an extra top or two that can be switched out if little hands make little messes without needing to change to a completely different outfit.

  17. Make sure you leave time for breaks – the kids will determine the schedule. You’ll want to pack snacks and special items for them. We always take a ‘special’ toy that he only has in the car

    • Definitely! Our boys usually get one special new toy for the trip and I think that’s what keeps them busiest! Great tip!

  18. I love this post and all of the ideas you gave. In our house traveling is always a headache. We recently found out that our kiddo gets car sick, so I will never make the mistake to leave home without my essential oils.. they have been a blessing. We are able to get about 2 hours in before having to stop and taking him out of the car to just get some fresh air and breathe. We now have a large roll of paper towel extra bags( just in case he gets sick) his bunny we can’t leave without him… ever. Snacks are a given and small finger sandwiches he loves those to snack on. In a little cleaning caddy we keep books and his favorite DINOSAURS to make the trip more enjoyable.

    • Oh no! Glad the essential oils can help! Ooh, finger sandwiches are great! Not too messy, and can be served for lunch so you don’t have to stop! Funny you mention dinosaurs–my toddler is super into those right now too and picked them out as his special trip toy!

  19. i love all your tips!!

  20. My fave tip for traveling with kids is: take a portable potty. No matter the age, kids always need to use the bathroom at the most inopportune times. With a portable potty, that is no longer an issue. Line it with grocery sacks that you can tie up when they are done, then dispose at the next stop!

    • Portable potty is always a good idea! Sometimes those stops are few and far between, and once you find one they don’t have a public bathroom! Great tip!

  21. Blankets! Why have I not thought of that before?! We will definitely be bringing some on our next road trip. Clipboards for coloring and movies usually get us through long road trips 🙂

    • Blankets are huge for us! Movies help us too. Just found out crayons aren’t good with the younger one–everything looks beautiful now 😉

  22. I definitely like to bring a roll of paper towels, trash bags, and a bunch of snacks for both the adults and kids. We must also include blankets and stuffed animals. Always try to bring a bottle of hand sanitizer for all of us since even hubby likes some after he pumps gas ☺️. And of course we love to have the movies for the iPad and DVD player to pass the time…

    • All of those are great! Blankets are key for our boys–they won’t relax until they have the blankets on them.

  23. These are awesome tips! My main “tip” I use is to travel at night so my son sleeps through most of the drive lol

  24. I have learned to carry extra bags or a bucket in case someone gets sick. Stopping to clean up puke is no fun!

  25. PLay road trip games like the abc game

  26. We always have antibacterial or baby wipes handy for wiping hands before and after meals. Or snacks. Always carry an extra toilet roll, and disposable toilet seat sheets – for just incase.

    We used to travel all the time throughout the year and when we lived in ak, we were constantly on the road, pretty much every day throughout the spring/summer/fall. I spy games, and the alphabet game was always a huge hit for everyone.

  27. Super cute and great tips! Thanks!! 😀

  28. Pingback: What to Pack for a Trip to the Water Park | Free Printable Water Park Packing List

  29. Why have I not thought of that before?! We will definitely be bringing some on our next road trip. Clipboards for coloring and movies usually get us through long road trips.

  30. We recently found out that our kiddo gets car sick, so I will never make the mistake to leave home without my essential oils.. they have been a blessing.

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