Planning a family getaway? Booking flights can be stressful—add packing and vacationing with the whole family on top of that to make the trip absolutely overwhelming. Don’t sweat it. We’ve got you covered so you can actually enjoy your trips with your family—without the stress!
So we rounded up these smart travel tips and tricks — collected from BuzzFeed writers, travel experts, and frequent fliers from the BuzzFeed Community and Reddit. From staying hydrated to avoiding booking hotels in touristy areas, these trips will make your vacays way more enjoyable. Scroll for stress-free travel advice!
1. Make the flight as easy as possible by lightening your load and keeping the kids occupied.
"Gate-check the stroller (you keep it with you until you board the plane and leave in the jetway then they bring it back there after landing). Pack snacks, headphones, or screens. We only fly Delta and they have individual TVs on pretty much every flight we’ve taken with kids and we are ok with them just in plugging in and watching."
2. Pack plenty of transitional clothes for your kids.
3. 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.
4. 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
5. 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."
6. 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."
7. Or, if you're flying, ease a kid's worries by letting them keep track of their journey in a junior flyer logbook.
8. Research ahead of time to find out if your airline considers diaper bags a carry-on item.
9. Don't forget to bring a nightlight if your kid is used to one!
10. Book attractions in advance to save money.
11. Discuss with your family what activities everyone wants to do before your trip.
12. Keep your children hydrated in the heat with one simple trick.
13. Easily and evenly apply sunscreen on your kids using a makeup brush.
14. 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."
15. 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.
16. Carry snacks for hungry kids on the flight.
17. Use flight tracker apps to get the best deals on flights.
18. Pack fun surprises for the plane ride.
19. Save money by booking a hotel that isn't located in a highly touristed area.
20. Make the most of car or airplane windows.
21. If your destination offers a layaway plan, consider taking it.
22. Keep an eye out for hotel discounts.
23. 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."
24. Use a frisbee as a travel plate.
25. 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."
26. Wrap up surprise toys and snacks to open periodically.
27. 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.
28. Give kids something to look forward to with pit stop purchases.
29. "TRIANGLE CRAYONS! They won’t roll."
30. 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."
31. Play a clever game that costs them quarters for misbehaving.
32. 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."
33. Make laminated travel bingo cards.
34. 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.'"
35. Send postcards to family as a way to memorialize your trips.
36. 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."
37. Read the fine print so you can potentially take advantage of free family-friendly perks.
38. 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
39. "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!"
40. Save money by not purchasing a separate plane ticket for children under the age of 2.
41. 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."
42. 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!"
43. "Arm your kids with a phone, iPad, or old-fashioned point-and-shoot camera and challenge them to an ongoing vacation photo contest."
44. Just...stay at the airport.
45. 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.
46. Reward the kids by letting them choose the trip music.
47. Use clothespins to keep your kid's toothbrush from touching dirty counters while on the road.
48. Book a hotel that includes free breakfast in your stay.
49. 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.
50. Pack less by ordering and shipping items to your destination.
51. Keep an eye out for kid-friendly perks wherever you're visiting.
52. 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.
53. Compare theme park ticket prices from different vendors.
54. 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.
55. If you can, avoid traveling during peak season.
56. 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.
57. To find the best deals on flights, clear your browser's cookies.
58. 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.