There’s always something new to explore when you travel with kids, and even if it’s a place you’ve gone together before, it’s fun to look back and see how they’ve grown since your last trip. That’s the beauty of family travel – each age and stage is full of new discoveries.
If you’re ready to travel with your kids but you don’t quite know where to start, I’d recommend picking up a good set of luggage and choosing a few of these must-have items for the 5 stages of family travel.
Travel with your baby
Out of all the stages of family travel, taking a baby along for the ride is the most challenging. For the experience of showing your baby the world, the extra prep and packing is worth it.
Preparation is the key to traveling at this stage, and there are quite a few different things you can bring along that are compact, versatile, and completely worth packing.
I always divided my baby packing up into three major areas—clothing/diapers, sight seeing, and sleeping.
Packing enough clothing and diapers can be a challenge. A good tip is to always make sure to only pack enough diapers for the trip and an extra day, just in case you aren’t able to get to a store quickly. As for clothing, I recommend about 6 outfits per day, one to wear and one to carry along as a back up in case of spills or blowouts.
You can put everything you need for every day you’re away from the hotel in a big diaper bag. That way you don’t stress about missing something because you’re prepared with diapers, clothes, and all of baby’s necessities.
For sight seeing, you need a great stroller. The stroller should be able to recline so baby could have a good nap while you are out, and should have enough storage underneath to carry around extra clothes and baby gear.
A familiar place to sleep is important when you’re taking your baby on the go, so having a play yard along when you travel and bringing along blankets from home is a great idea. Babies always sleep better when they can cuddle up in a bed that’s familiar and with the scent of home snuggled around them.
Travel with your toddler
The toddler stage brings new travel adventures and challenges, but kids at this age are so much fun you’re guaranteed to have a good trip.
Just like when you travel with a baby, traveling with a toddler means being prepared for anything. You will still rely on a diaper bag, stroller, and sets of clothing, but now you’ll also need to entertain your toddler while waiting in airports, flying, or sitting in a car for a long time.
That’s why you should pick up a piece of kid’s luggage for each of your kids once they hit the toddler stage, and in that luggage put things like headphones, colouring books, stuffies, and games to take with them.
Having their own bag makes them feel like a big kid, and you can choose a character bag, from Paw Patrol to Disney characters, to match whatever they were into. Having it beside the bed before you travel mentally prepares them for the trip and can be a huge source of excitement.
Traveling with older kids
Older kids are great travel companions. They really get into trips, and often will remind you to pack things you might forget.
For travel with older kids, I can’t recommend enough giving them their own piece of spinner luggage for easy sprints through the airport or just to store their own personal items. By giving them their own luggage, you’re also teaching them how to pack for a trip. That lesson can be invaluable as they grow older and travel on their own.
One other great tip I can share for traveling with older kids—take along a pair of sound filtering earbuds. Older kids are still kids, and they can get cranky if they want to sleep and it’s too loud. With a pair of sound filtering earpbuds, they’ll be able to pop them, play some white noise, and relax.
Traveling with teens
Traveling with a teen is a new experience. I tend to travel light and only take the necessities, but my teen daughter wants to bring everything she might need along and that amounts to a heavy, disorganized bag.
For teens, a packing cube is a must-have travel accessory. They can put all of their toiletries and other needed travel items in the cubes and organize them in their luggage. I find the cubes to be handy when unpacking in a hotel too, because teens generally have no patience when it comes to getting out there and having fun.
Traveling beyond the family years
Just because your kids are grown up and moved out doesn’t mean they won’t still travel with you. Even when your kids are grown up, you can still get together and go on family trips. They will just bring along their plus ones and friends if they want to.
You might think you can just relax at this stage of family travel, but your kids are still your kids and I guarantee they’ll still ask you for travel accessories or things they’ve forgotten. You can be mom or dad of the year by packing extra phone or tablet chargers, extra sunscreen, or a pair of noise cancelling headphones if someone needs some peace and quiet.
One of the great things about traveling with your grown up kids? They could get married and have a family of their own, so you’ll get to start the 5 stages of family travel all over again.
While you’re planning your next family vacation, check out the selection of baby travel and family travel gear in Bestbuy.ca’s travel and luggage section.
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