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Travel Tips with Kids

April 30, 2024

I used to be an elementary school teacher and ed-tech consultant; now I'm a mom of twins and aspiring children's book author.

This blog is a place for me to write about personal life experiences, gleanings from books I've recently read, past and current DIY projects, and reflective thoughts that need a home outside my heart. Here at HeartEyes, I am opening my heart and eyes to yet another new chapter of my life, and my hope is that by joining me here, your heart and eyes would be opened to a more thoughtful and intentional life.

Hi, i'm tiff!

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Have a big international trip coming up with your kids? Below are all my travel tips for you! We have been traveling with our 7-year old twins since they were 4 months old. Over the years, they’ve been all over the U.S. as well as to Canada, Ireland, London, and Taiwan so we’ve learned a thing or two traveling with our littles.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from a link I provided, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my creative endeavors!


I’m no minimalist but I do mostly travel with just a carry-on and a backpack wherever I go. With small children, however, that is much more challenging, but the day you don’t need to travel with a pack-n-play, carseats, and strollers is such a game-changer.

As a rule of thumb, we usually pack 3-5 outfits depending on the length of our stay. (We almost always stay somewhere with access to a laundry machine.) Our most recent trip to Taiwan was for 8 days with weather in the 60s and 70s, and this is what the twins packed:

  • 2 shorts
  • 2 pants
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts
  • 4 undies
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • These water shoes

On the plane, they wore socks with sneakers, pants, a t-shirt, a long-sleeve shirt, and had a fleece jacket on hand.

Our twins started packing their own luggages around age 4 with the help of this packing checklist. I purchased it from Etsy and laminated it so we’ve used the same one for years. We fill it out together, and their job is to gather all the items into one place. When they were younger, they would gather all the items and I would pack them myself. Now that they’re older, they’re able to pack everything into their individual packing cube, and I just double-check that everything is there.

Everyone in our family travels with one backpack and one carry-on. (My personal commuter backpack is this one, and my husband uses this waterproof one.) The twins have had these small backpacks for many years now, and we go everywhere with them, including to parks and museums on a regular basis.

Pro Tip:
se a small backpack with handles on top to clip together. So many times we have used this part to hold coats and sweaters, and even to clip onto a stroller or luggage cart. We also add a small carabiner to hook caps and neck pillows for longer travel.

When traveling, the twins use their backpacks for their snacks and water bottle. As far as luggages go, we’ve been using these Skip-Hop luggages for many years. For short trips, we fit activities and their one packing cube of clothes into their luggage. For longer trips, we put their packing cube in my carry-on and fill their luggages with books, stuffies, and activities.

The hubs and I have used It hardshell luggages for many years and purchased this second carry-on for our recent trip to Taiwan. We love how smoothly it swivels and glides, and the telescopic handle is sturdier than our old It luggage. The one we received did not have a built-in lock, however, but that wasn’t important to us.

For a Long Drive

We recently moved to Boston and there is no nonstop flight from Boston to Taiwan. (I try to avoid layovers as much as possible, especially when traveling with kids.) The next best solution was for us to drive 3-4 hours down to New York to fly out of JFK directly to Taiwan.

We are a 99% screen-free family, and we prioritize all types of conversations, games, outdoor play, activities, and time spent together. Our twins typically sing, chat, sleep, eat, and read on long trips. We recently discovered the world of read-alongs, so we checked out some read-along books from our local library and placed them in this car organizer between the twins’ carseats. Those books along with these kids’ headphones honestly made the long drive quite pleasant.

When the twins were younger, I would pack mess-free marker coloring books for them, sticker books, water wow activity books, wiki stix (we still pack these), magnetic games, etc. For a comprehensive list of travel items and activities we have packed in the past, click here.

For the Plane

Did you know that the flight from New York to Taiwan is 17 hours long? SEVENTEEN. It’s the longest flight we’ve ever been on and to say I was intimidated is an understatement. Plus I’ve developed a fear of flying during the past few years but that’s a blogpost for another time.

For long flights on the plane, we’ve always brought these inflatable foot rests for our kids. It takes a few seconds to blow up and deflate, and gives more space for little legs. Or if you have a crazy sleeper like we do, he/she might end up like this:

Pro Tip:
Use a lightweight blanket to cover all the distracting bright lights of the plane if your little one has a hard time sleeping. We tucked one side onto the headrest of each child’s seat, tucked the other side onto the headrest in front of them, and let the sides drape down. Now that they’re older, they just wear eye masks along with their neck pillows.

Before we got on the plane, we set clear expectations and told the twins their job on the plane was to sleep, eat, read, draw/color, play, and do their workbooks before they could have 1-2 hours of screen time at the end of the flight.

They’ve also been into doing math problems and wanted me to print a bunch of sheets from this website and put it in a folder for each of them. The requirement was to do the aforementioned things, 10-20 pages in their workbooks, and 200 math problems correctly to earn their screen time on the plane.

Because of all of our preparation and setting clear expectations, they really did so well on the 17-hour flight, considering they were only 6 years old.

Preparing for the Airport

If you’re in the US, get TSA-Precheck. It will make going through security with kids less stressful. It’s $78 for 5 years, $70 to renew, and takes 3-5 days for approval. If you fly twice a year for 5 years, that’s only $3.90 per walk through security. Not needing to remove shoes, belts, laptops, light jackets, and toiletries while wrangling kids and all your gear is so worth it.

Once the twins got their own luggages at age 4, their responsibility was to carry their own backpack and pull their own luggage through the airport. I did have a back-up plan during our recent travels to Taiwan, however, since our flight was at midnight and I knew they would be tired and jet-lagged upon arrival.

I clipped these luggage straps onto our adult carry-ons, and we ended up using them once or twice to easily pull their luggages along with ours.

Dealing with Jet Lag

Some people have strict regimens for mitigating jet lag, but I’m more in the camp of listening to your body. When my body is exhausted from travel, I get dizzy and nauseated and it’s impossible to function or keep myself awake. It took our whole family about 3 full days to adjust to jet lag, which I think is pretty good considering we had 24 hours of travel time altogether and Taiwan is a full 12 hours ahead of Boston.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is to just accept that sleep schedules will be messed up for a few days. I had such a hard time accepting this years ago, and would stress myself out about the twins’ nap/sleep schedules. Once I accepted it and just trusted our bodies that everything would level out and be okay, our travel experiences became so much less stressful.

Be Prepared, and then Let Go

Even if you read all the travel tips in the world and have everything planned to the nth degree, you will learn through experience what was actually needed vs what you could have done without. There will also be times where you forget something (like the time we loaded all our luggage into our car but forgot our stroller on the curb at the airport).

My point is, be prepared, but also let go of your need for control. (This is coming from your Type A control freak friend.) Your kids will be excited and tired. They will whine and there might even be a tantrum or two. Sometimes snacks will be all they eat for a whole day, but you know what?

It is such a privilege to be able to travel, and sometimes traveling with kids may not seem worth it. In my experience, however, you create priceless memories, your world view is expanded, you go through challenges together as a family, and learn to be flexible and adaptable when things don’t go as planned. Furthermore, if you don’t live where you grew up or if your family doesn’t live near you, it takes effort to build those relationships with relatives, and sometimes that effort means driving 3-4 hours to an airport and taking a 17-hour flight.

At the end of the day, some of the most important things in life are the people with whom you build relationships, and the memories you make with them. Wishing you happy travels with an abundance of priceless memories!

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