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    "I Bought This For $3 And It Occupied My Kid For An Entire Flight": Parents Are Sharing Their Best Tips For Traveling With Young Kids, And Some Are Truly Genius

    Traveling with the family can be a lot...but these tips will make things go smoothly.

    Traveling with the whole family can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming, but with these smart tips and tricks — collected from BuzzFeed writers, travel experts, and frequent fliers from the BuzzFeed Community and Reddit — it can be way more enjoyable.

    1. Pack plenty of transitional clothes for your kids.

    A child trying their shoes

    2. Save space when packing by rolling your kid's outfits instead of folding them.

    Added bonus: You won't have to worry about picking out outfits for your kid each day.

    —Mike Spohr

    3. Avoid overplanning your vacation.

    "Be realistic about what your kids can do before tired meltdowns kick in. Choose what's best for the whole family and be content with those experiences. Don't forget to factor in some downtime, too!"

    —Robyn D., Hilton "Mom Voyage" travel blog contributor

    4. Let your kids help plan the trip.

    "Nothing kick-starts kids' passion for travel more than when you ask them to contribute. Invite kids to participate in your travel planning, and give them an active role during your travels. You can have them help with the research about the country, teach them a few phrases in the local language, help you navigate the streets, or find out the hours for certain attractions."

    Vera H.

    5. Create kid-friendly road maps to track your progress.

    "When they were younger, I printed a map of the trip, with our route outlined, and marked stars on each of the major stops or major cities, and laminated them. They could follow the GPS and road signs and see how far along we were and check off how far we had come."

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    6. Or, if you're flying, ease a kid's worries by letting them keep track of their journey in a junior flyer logbook.

    Mike Spohr

    7. Research ahead of time to find out if your airline considers diaper bags a carry-on item.

    A mom with her diaper bag

    8. Don't forget to bring a nightlight if your kid is used to one!

    —Mike Spohr

    9. Book attractions in advance to save money.

    A woman booking a reservation on her laptop

    10. Discuss with your family what activities everyone wants to do before your trip.

    A family having fun on a beach

    11. Keep your children hydrated in the heat with one simple trick.

    A young boy drinking water at the beach

    12. Easily and evenly apply sunscreen on your kids using a makeup brush.

    A mom applying sunscreen to her toddler

    13. Plus, consider stocking up on sun-protective clothing, like long-sleeve rashguards.

    "As a very fair-skinned person, I sure wish they had these when I was a kid. If you haven’t seen them, sun-protective clothes actually absorb UV radiation in the fabric."  

    —Stacey Marmolejo

    14. Keep kids with food allergies safe by bringing a travel medical kit — and taking other precautions.

    Visit Kids on a Plane to find terrific tips for traveling safely with kids who have food allergies.

    —Mike Spohr

    15. Carry snacks for hungry kids on the flight.

    A mom feeding her baby on an airplane

    16. Use flight tracker apps to get the best deals on flights.

    Screenshots of flight tracker Apps

    17. Pack fun surprises for the plane ride.

    A mom and toddler sitting together on an airplane

    18. Save money by booking a hotel that isn't located in a highly touristed area.

    A hotel room

    19. Make the most of car or airplane windows.

    20. If your destination offers a layaway plan, consider taking it.

    A credit card, cellphone, and hotel reservation pass

    21. Keep an eye out for hotel discounts.

    Plush hotel robes

    22. Be strategic about storing snacks for long car rides.

    "Use a baby wipe container for each kid with an ice pack in the bottom to store cut fruit and cheese in Ziploc bags that they can easily open. You can also use a plastic pencil case for each kid to store dry snacks in Ziploc bags all within reach."

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    23. Use a frisbee as a travel plate.

    24. Keep the kids occupied with aluminum foil. Seriously.

    "$3 at the dollar store and my kid was occupied from Chicago to Nashville. There was art, sculptures, lots of balls in various sizes, and the cardboard tube was used as a sword, and to point and poke at everything he could."

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    25. Wrap up surprise toys and snacks to open periodically.

    26. You can also write times on sticky notes to add some fun to the journey.

    When the clock reaches the time on the sticky note, pull it down and give your kid something fun, like an activity kit, trinket, or piece of gum. 

    —Mike Spohr

    27. Give kids something to look forward to with pit stop purchases.

    28. "TRIANGLE CRAYONS! They won’t roll."

    29. Layer hotel towels in the crib for a sick kid/baby.

    "If your kid is vomiting, put down layers of hotel towels in the crib. Peel up a layer after each episode."

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    30. Play a clever game that costs them quarters for misbehaving.

    31. Use bungee cords to hang toys in the car.

    "My husband and I have three kids. We drive instead of flying. I take a bungee cord and attach them to the handles in back. That way I can hang toys, or whatever off it. Window clings are fun too. Baking trays are great for magnets and as a great backing for coloring pages."

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    32. Make laminated travel bingo cards.

    33. Use your kids' outfits to your advantage.

    "Cute hats on the kids, especially if the hats match. Increases the likelihood that staff will soften their hearts and help — even in a busy airport when your flight has been canceled for 'maintenance issues.'" 

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    34. Send postcards to family as a way to memorialize your trips.

    35. Pack smarter so you can sail through security.

    "In the airport, when you pack a diaper bag, put all the liquid, food, and medications in a plastic bag and pack it at the top. When you go through security all you have to do is pull out the plastic bag for them to check instead of digging around for it. Last time I did this a TSA lady thanked me for making it easy."

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    36. Read the fine print so you can potentially take advantage of free family-friendly perks.

    A woman reading important papers

    37. Always pack some resealable zipper storage bags.

    "They are light, compact, and easy to store... The freezer-strength press-to-seal ones are the best because they're thicker; just don't go with the slider top kind because they leak. These bags can hold snacks, toys, loose crayons, phones, soiled clothes, and various electronic accessories, and they can catch an unbelievable amount of vomit from an unexpectedly sick child."

    —Amy G., mother and travel writer for Hilton Mom Voyage

    38. "Give your kids a blank journal and a fresh box of colored pencils so they can document your family trip from their very own perspective."

    "This keeps kids busy on the road while also making for a wonderful souvenir you'll treasure for years to come. It's also fun to see the vacation highlights from your kid's eyes — you'll be surprised as to what memories they cherish the most!"

    Amy Bizzarri

    39. Save money by not purchasing a separate plane ticket for children under the age of 2.

    A child looking out an airplane window

    40. Make trying new dishes a family affair.

    "Trying out local and unfamiliar foods is a big part of the travel experience... Order a local dish for everyone to try since kids are more open to trying it if they see parents or siblings eating and enjoying it. You can also order something familiar but with local twists such as pasta with a local sauce. Compromise by letting kids pick desserts on the menu."

    Mary Solio

    41. Bring an emergency kit.

    "Pack a medical kit. We keep bandages; mini tubes of aloe vera and sunscreen; hand sanitizer; stomach and diarrhea relief; ibuprofen; acetaminophen; motion-sickness remedy; and allergy medicine. I tell the girls I can fix everything except stitches!"

    Heather Carnes

    42. "Arm your kids with a phone, iPad, or old-fashioned point-and-shoot camera and challenge them to an ongoing vacation photo contest."

    43. Just...stay at the airport.

    44. Before you leave, research roadside attractions along your journey — then plan to stop at a few.

    This will not only break up the monotony of a long drive but also give your kids something fun to look forward to — like seeing California's Cabazon Dinosaurs.

    —Mike Spohr

    45. Reward the kids by letting them choose the trip music.

    46. Use clothespins to keep your kid's toothbrush from touching dirty counters while on the road.

    —Mike Spohr

    47. Book a hotel that includes free breakfast in your stay.

    A continental breakfast bar at a hotel

    48. Bring a checklist of your kid's prized possessions to check off before you leave the hotel.

    This way you won't have to turn around and drive 64 miles back to the hotel because you forgot a stuffed animal in your rush to make checkout.

    —Mike Spohr

    49. Pack less by ordering and shipping items to your destination.

    A woman ordering something on her cellphone

    50. Keep an eye out for kid-friendly perks wherever you're visiting.

    The entrance to Yellowstone National Park

    51. DIY a Lego kit that keeps kids entertained with only a handful of bricks.

    Find the tutorial — plus 24 free printable activity cards — at Fun at Home With Kids.

    —Mike Spohr

    52. Compare theme park ticket prices from different vendors.

    A roller coaster at a theme park

    53. Bring a change of clothes for both your baby and yourself on a flight.

    This way if your baby spits up on your shirt you don't have to wear it the rest of the flight.

    —Mike Spohr

    54. If you can, avoid traveling during peak season.

    A family at Disneyland

    55. DIY a shape sorter to keep your toddler busy on the plane.

    These are more portable than normal shape sorters, and can be left behind if you run out of luggage space at the end of your trip. Learn how to make one here.

    —Mike Spohr

    56. To find the best deals on flights, clear your browser's cookies.

    A laptop's keyboard

    57. Use a pool noodle to separate kids in a hotel bed.

    This article contains content written by Ali Velez, Mike Spohr, and Krista Torres. It was compiled by Laura Frustaci.