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Car with suitcase on top; travel tips and tricks for families

Adventures in Parenting—Travel Tips + Tricks for Families

never underestimate the importance of baggies

Spring break is so close, y’all. Still nervous about packing up the family and hitting the road? One of our mommy bloggers has some advice for you on travel tips and tricks for families. Check it out.

Are you counting the days until you can take a nice, relaxing vacay from the daily grind? Unfortunately, the reality of traveling with kids rarely lives up to the hype; and it can leave you feeling even more stressed and tired when you get back home.

If I haven’t completely crushed your desire to hit the open road or the friendly skies with the fam, I do have good news for you: Vacation travel doesn’t have to be terrible with a little preparation and a few mom-tested travel hacks.

As a mom of four boys, I’ve put together my own vacation survival process that helps me actually enjoy time away with my kids. Here are some real-life tips and tricks to help you travel with kids like a boss.


I used to think I could just pull up my confirmation emails or do a quick website check when needed—until I found myself driving on a deserted road with no phone service and was not able to contact our hotel.

Since then, I make sure to paste all flight info, payment confirmation and phone numbers for easy access on a note in my phone. I also include interesting places to stop or eat along the way with links, numbers and addresses for all scenarios.

It only takes a minute and it can prove to be a real lifesaver.

The Disaster Bag

Speaking of lifesavers, everyone needs a bag of must-have items in case of an emergency on the road—also known as the Worst Case Scenario bag. Think of the dreaded question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and then pack the remedies to those disasters in one bag.

Unfortunately, some items will only make the list after trial by fire. For example, my own bag has a fairly extensive bodily fluid management section after we drove three children under age 4 from Texas to Virginia. It was a disastrous romp now affectionately known as The Great Stomach Bug Trip of 2012.

Ever since, I keep a duffel filled with necessities including trash bags, anti-bacterial, Lysol, cleaning rags, a towel, wipes, first-aid kit, water and meds. And while we’re on the topic of bags …

Baggies Are Our Friends

On trips, I cannot stress enough how many baggies it takes to get the job done.

Whether you’re like me and have an endless supply of plastic bags stuffed in other plastic bags in every dark corner of the house, or if you’re the type with neat boxes of Ziploc baggies in every conceivable size on an organized shelf—either way, have some on hand.

These little gems of storage genius will surprise you with their usefulness along the way. Personally, I use baggies for cords, snacks, laundry, and to keep wet clothes away from dry clothes in the luggage.

I also use them to store toothbrushes, leak-prone toiletries and for trash in the car. My detail-oriented mama friends use bags to separate clothes per kiddo, per day in their shared luggage for easy access.

I’ll admit, by the time we get to the trip home, our luggage is a nightmarish free-for-all—but sandy shoes, or wet clothes from swimming, are tucked neatly away in our fabulous spring collection Walmart bags.

Potty Breaks

I hope it’s not too untoward to discuss sensitive bathroom topics but—as a mother of many boys—very little makes me blush.

That being said, potty breaks are a natural and oft-occurring event on a road trip with kids, and planning makes perfect.

My husband despises superfluous stopping on trips, so we keep our kid’s pee clocks on a well-timed schedule. Meaning every time the car has to stop, everyone has to use the restroom. No exceptions.

Don’t plan on a quick in-and-out to get gas or a snack—if the car is stopping, it’s potty time. Of course, this doesn’t always work out as nature demands.

That leads me to my next tip: Keep a couple of empty bottles with tight-fitting lids nearby (Gatorade is our brand of choice).

(Admittedly, this tip probably works better for boy moms …)

Keep it Clean

I know the last minutes spent in the house before a trip can be a whirlwind of chaos, but don’t let this get the better of you and make sure to at least tidy up the home before you leave.

This last tip might feel a bit unnecessary, but I promise you, it’s a vital step.

Think ahead to how your trip will end—tired, cranky, completely done with sleeping in foreign sheets, eating out and sitting on strange toilets. You will want to unwind, relax, and put your luggage somewhere out of the way where it can sit for a few days (weeks?) before you muster up the courage to unpack it out of sheer necessity.

If you walk into a cluttered or chaotic home, it will seriously kill your chill. Take a minute and plan for that very moment. Future you will thank you.

Hopefully, my travel tips and tricks will help you the next time you venture out on vacation with your loving family. Using these mom-tested reality checks, you too can worry less and make pleasant memories as you travel towards your next big family adventure.

Jenay Sherman is a Christian, wife, and mother to four boys in McKinney, Texas. She was selected as the 2017 Texas Mother of the Year, and loves writing about their family adventures. You can follow along on Scary Mommy, or on her personal site, 4 Amusing Muses.

Image courtesy of iStock.