29 Tips and Tricks for Traveling the World with Kids

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Pulling off a great family vacation requires a lot of planning, patience, and effort. You get better at all this the more you do it. You stay more focused on what’s important — and less on what’s not. I’ve traveled a lot with my kids — and learned a lot of lessons — these are my top tips for having a great time while traveling with children.

Planning Your Trip

1. Check the validity of your passports. Be sure they’re good for 3 months after the day of your arrival home. Many people make the mistake of thinking that as long as they’re back home before their passports expire they’ll be fine. (It seems like common sense doesn’t it?) But not so. Authorities will often demand that your passport be good for several weeks — even several months for some countries — past the day of your arrival home. Some airlines will not let you board the plane if there is not enough extra time on your passport.

2. Scan your passports and email them to yourself, along with any other important documents — e.g. green card, birth certificate, the visa pages of your passport. If you ever lose your passports abroad, this will save you a ton of time and hassle when you have to replace them.

3. Notify your credit card companies before you leave. Banks are very careful about fraud nowadays — and run algorithms on your billing history to spot any irregularities. A charge from a country or city that you’ve never previously had a charge from could easily get your credit card frozen. And unfreezing your account from a foreign city in a different time zone, will be a lot harder than just calling your bank before departure.

4. Take more than one credit or debit card. Cards work differently in foreign countries, some will work at bank ATM but not at a corner store ATM, others will work in restaurants but not at an ATM. There are a number of complex rules and reasons but if you don’t work in the banking industry you’ll never know all of them. The best remedy is to take multiple cards.

5. Make an Out-The-Door list. Leaving for the airport — as your holiday starts — is one of the most stressful times of any trip. Have a list of things you need to grab as you’re leaving your home. I don’t mean a list of things you need to take (i.e. 2 pairs of pants, 3 t-shirts ). I mean a list of things you’ll need to physically grab. It should be a last minute checklist of all the little (and big) things you’ll need as you are going out the door. There will be the bags of course, the money belt, some water in the fridge for the airport, some snacks on the counter and sweaters for the plane. Plus all the indispensables you’ll want to double-check one last time before heading to the airport: passports, credit cards, cash. There’s a lot to remember — so have a list for it!

6. Put enough in your carry-on bags for the first day or 2 of your trip. This is good advice for anyone but especially when traveling with kids. If your bags are lost you don’t want to be hunting for diapers or a pair of shorts immediately after your arrival in a new city or country.

7. Count your suitcases, backpacks, handbags and keep the number in your head. This is simple and maybe painfully obvious, but it sure helps. You hop in a taxi, “bag count — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  — yep they’re all here”. Easy. (Bigger families may want to conduct a kid count as well.)

8.Use a small digital camera. The fantastic shots you think you’ll get of the Grand Canyon, or Taj Mahal or Great Wall of China will be left and forgotten. The really great photos that you’ll love and savor for years to come will be the up-close and intimate shots of your kids and your family. And the key to getting great family photos is to take a lot of them. A ton of them! And the way you do that is to take a small camera, have it with you all the time and take pictures as quickly and discreetly as possible. You might insist, I’ll do all that, but with a bigger better camera. But you probably won’t.

9. Book a hotel for your first nights of your trip — but then stay flexible. My advice for traveling singles (or couples) is always to book a hotel for their first night after arrival, then get your bearings, figure out where you want to go and just find hotels as you need them. I’ve upgraded this for traveling families — reserve the first 2 or 3 nights. I realize this advice won’t work for everyone. Some people need certainty and plans and dates. And having all your hotels reserved for the duration of your trip can make things easier. But you’ll also lose some flexibility. If something’s working — if you’ve found a great little beach resort or a really fun hotel with a friendly staff — you’ll have to say goodbye because you’ve already booked a room in the next town. On the other hand having the freedom to leave a place that isn’t living up to expectations is a great bonus and can make the difference between an average vacation and an unforgettable one.

Practicalities of Travel

10. Welcome — don’t fear — airport security. Security checkpoints force parents to be lean and efficient with their packing. Take what you need but don’t take what is unnecessary. Security can also be a good reason not to take stuff on the plane that you don’t want your kid to have (i.e. your kid’s new water gun). And insisting that you keep all your little bottles and creams in a Ziploc bag — what a great idea!

11. Don’t line up early for trains and airplanes or anything where you have a reserved seat. If you’re one of those people who like to maximize their time on the airplane, by all means, board early, get that seat warm, burn through all your snacks before anyone else has even boarded. How great!  You’ll have enough time on the plane without artificially extending it. As my son said on our return trip from Tokyo, “We have to go when they say final call right Papa?” Right!

12. One parent in charge. Don’t share the burden of any one duty while traveling. Packing for example. One person packs and knows where everything is. Two people pack and no one really knows where anything is. Same with hotels. One person plans them, arranges them, and books them. Do you have that confirmation email or do I? Na-Uh!

13. Get online storage for photos. Besides losing the kids, my photos are what I’m most concerned with losing. Forget your bag on the train platform and there goes your camera — and your photos. You can get free online storage at SkyDrive (25GB). (You will need a laptop, of course, to upload your photos.) Upload your pictures every night or two and then when you take your camera out on that fishing trip you’re not worried about dropping your camera and losing the last 2 weeks of photos.

14. Hire a car and driver. If you’re traveling in an inexpensive or developing country consider getting a driver instead of driving yourself. Prices are usually reasonable and they’ll know the ways and customs of the road better than you will. (Tip: have the address of your destination for longer distance trips. When you start your trip the driver will inevitably say, “Oh yes, I know where that is”, which translates to “I’ll ask for directions when we get there”. An address, instead of just a name, will help speed the process.)

Being There

15. Beat jet lag: stay up late the first night. Get outside and do something active. Long walks are good. Parks and playgrounds are great. Kids are usually so excited by their new environment you can get away with doing a lot that at home might not work. One caveat: most people forget — or don’t realize — that meal times can be way off as well in a new time zone. If your child usually eats a big breakfast and lunch but a small dinner at home. This can translate into no appetite at breakfast or lunch and then ravenous hunger at 7pm and midnight. Have a good array of healthful snacks in your hotel room on the first night.

16. Have a plan for the day. It doesn’t need to be cast in stone – stay flexible and easy going — but you should walk out the hotel door in the morning with a plan of where you’re going, what subway or bus you’re taking, what attractions do you have planned for the day? Perhaps obvious and natural to some but for me it wasn’t and once I took the time to plan the day on the night before, everything became a lot easier.

16. Check the website of the attraction just before your visit. It’s amazing how often museums will have closed for renovations, changed their schedule, or have a visiting show in place of its usual exhibits. Sometimes these changes can be nothing more than a nuisance. Other times they can ruin your plans for the day. Checking the website in the days before your visit eliminates most of this uncertainty.

17. Ask your hotel concierge for suggestions. Another obvious one that you nonetheless might skip because it sounds so touristy and lame. But they often know little tips and tricks for getting around the city and visiting attractions that can make your life a lot easier. Depending on the style of hotel asking at the front desk will often get you the owner or management who might have a monetary interest in directing you towards a certain establishment or tour group. A concierge usually has no connections at all and just give good advice.

18. Don’t do too much BUT don’t do too little either. I think the biggest mistake parents traveling with kids make is doing too little not too much. Get out there. Enjoy. Experience. Wear the kids out and get them tired.

Things to Pack

This could be a long list. I’ve picked 6 essentials.

19. A swim shirt. These make applying sun lotion so much easier. The back, shoulders and face burn the easiest and this takes 2 of those 3 out of play. But they’re not useful just on hot sunny days. If you’re swimming slightly out of the summer season — or even at a temperate swimming pool — they help keep some heat in and delay those chattering teeth for a little longer.

20. A great baby carrier or backpack. These are life savers in airports, train stations, cobblestone streets and hotels without elevators. Strollers are something to consider but if you have a little baby with you, a good carrier is close to a necessity.

21. A fabric high chair. These wrap around pretty much any type or size of chair and hold the baby in place so they can sit at the table. (There are many on the market but Totseat is a good one if you’re looking for names.)

22. A flashlight and a nightlight. Street lighting might not be as consistent as in your hometown and you’ll probably have a few nights returning to your hotel down a quiet road or path. A torch or flashlight can come in very handy. And a nightlight for the bathroom: Hotel rooms are unfamiliar and finding a bathroom in the middle of the night can be tricky. If your child — or even you — have to turn on a light it makes it much more likely they’ll have trouble getting back to sleep. A stumble over an unfamiliar ledge in a dark bathroom could make for a midnight visit to the hospital — or at least a lot of tears. A nightlight (with plug adapter if necessary) can solve these problems.

23. First Aid Tape — aka surgical tape. This stuff is great. Adhesive tape that is so much easier to apply than a band aid and actually sticks to fingers, toes, and the places kids really get cuts.

Staying Safe

Most things you do won’t make any difference. The top 5 that might:

24. Know the fire escapes. A good practice at any time but especially in foreign countries where the exits and escape routes might not be as well marked.

25. Drill your kids on swimming pool safety. When staying in a hotel with a swimming pool remind your young kids that they don’t go in the pool without telling mom or dad. Make it the first thing you do after you put down your bags in the room.

26. Get the necessary vaccines and get them early. Check with the CDC or NHS and get the relevant vaccines and anti-malarial medicines well before departure — some vaccines can require multiple visits and can take a few months to get the entire series of shots. Many adults haven’t had their booster shots, so get those as well. There’s nothing worse than getting a deep cut in place far from a hospital and then having to worry about whether your Tetanus booster is up to date.

27. Fly longer distances and avoid the highways. Flying is the safest mode of transport. There can be many reasons to drive instead of fly but don’t ever not fly and choose car or bus for safety reasons alone. The attacks on 9/11 killed almost 3000 people. Unknown to many, it also resulted in the death of another 2100 in the months that followed because people stopped flying and chose the road instead — a much more dangerous mode of transport. And that’s in the U.S. — if you’re traveling in a developing country the disparity in road and flight safety rates will be even higher.

28. Play act out unusual or worrisome scenarios. If you’re concerned about your child being lost in a busy market, then act out the scene and what they should do. If you tell a kid what to do when they’re lost, they’ll probably forget it. If you act out what they should do they’re much more likely to remember it. (There’s a reason employers do fire evacuation drills — they work!)

Last Word

29. Stay Positive! Be Happy! This can mean many things. For starters, you need a keen eye for what’s important and what’s not. With the typical boundaries and rules turned up side down, it’s very easy to become a “No, No, No, No” parent. Focus on the important stuff. Things that make your day easier and keep everyone safe. Try to hear yourself talking — you should be saying far more positive things than negative things.

Like at home, praise effort not results. Praise the process not the outcome. Comment on how hard they worked or how patient they were, not how well they did a task or how good they are at something.

And finally it means, living in the moment and taking everything in that you can. Live it! Experience it! Try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Become a kid again — explore, investigate, ask questions — and your children will come right along with you.

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  1. Where To Go in July with 13 Year Old

    Hello David, I found your site last year when I intended to travel with my 12 year old daughter. Owing to other work commitments, we did not manage to get away and a year later I find myself fast approaching the summer holiday and no holiday booked. My job is to organise other people’s lives and travel and yet I feel completely overwhelmed in deciding where to take my nearly 13 year old daughter. I want to do something “special” albeit within a budget and this will be the first time we have traveled alone together. I desperately want some element of amazing beach and sea although with culture and notable places of interest. Ideally, I want to show my daughter a different way of life. I am not quite brave enough for India (although have always wanted to go) and therefore have considered a safer option, Thailand, I was last there some 15 years ago. However with the schools breaking up in just 5 weeks, and reading that July is the rainy season, it has cast doubt on whether this would work. I am therefore going around and around. If you had to choose a destination in Asia, to combine all of the above, in July, where would you choose, and that same question if it were in Europe. I hope that if I can pin my decision down to two countries at least it will give me something to work on. Any advice on direction would be GREATLY appreciated. With thanks, Gillian

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      If you go to the eastern coast of Thailand (Koh Samui) July will usually have pretty decent weather. But even better weather in July is Bali. Great culture, island, and beaches. In Europe, Greece is my favorite destination and absolutely wonderful for kids.

  2. Susan Watson

    Oh David I’ve getting so many great tips from you for when I have my girl that I am expecting in February. What a great mother, wife, and inspiration for all the new moms out there!

  3. Where To Go on 6 Week Vacation with Kids

    Help!! We have a 6 week sabbatical next July/August and wondering where to go with our then 5 1/2 and 8 year old. With the kids, we like safe countries with good medical facilties. We thought of Australia but unsure coming from Canada. Europe is a thought however, easily done from Canada over a few weeks vacation.

    Any advice/suggestions?


    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Europe is great and 6 weeks is just the right length for a great European tour. We just did a 6/7 week trip to Europe with our kids and loved it. We spent most of our time in Greece, a few days in Rome and Venice, and 2 weeks in Paris. Getting around in Europe is very easy: cheap flights and convenient trains.

    2. Gloria

      YES to Australia! :)

  4. Petra

    I had T-shirts made for our boy when he was a toddler. It said ‘Hi my name is Mille. If lost please call my mum and dad at this number ….’. Luckily nobody ever had to call us but for me it was just good to know than it case of, some one would be able to call us!

  5. Bianca

    Great list!! Another tip to add to the lost section would be lost kids and lost bags. When traveling with smaller kids under 10, especially in busy airports and crowded places, such as markets, museums, zoos etc., descretely put a sticky label inside their clothing that reads something like, ‘My name is …… I’m traveling with my parents so and so and so and so….. I’m from ….. Counrty/Home Address and am staying at ….hotel. Add parents cell phone number if possible.” or whatever contact information you want to include that they can show an adult that may try and help them find you. Every kid is different, but getting lost is frightening and lots of times they forget even the simplist personal details when scared, crying and are confused. Teaching them to show the person helping them the information label may speed up the process to find you. The same for suitcases, place a label/tag on both inside and outside of each bag with your contact details. If you’re only traveling to one destination you can include that. Otherwise put your home contact details for airlines and airports to contact in a case of lost baggage.

  6. John Ahern

    Couldn’t agree more with the overall message – travel with kids when they are young, and you are young. A family gift that will last the ages.
    John – On The Road…With Kids.

  7. Victor

    As a fairly well-heeled kid transporter, I must contest # 11- at least in a post 911 airport queuing…. Even with reserved seating, overhead bins are gone by final boarding. Waiting for the “final” call will surely mean squeezing bags, kids, and self into the fervently pre-packed plane in a hurried state while being urged to “take your seat”.

    1. Ann

      Best of both , one of you go ahead with bags, the other parent /adult follows towards the end with child/children, works well for us, BUT single parents, children outnumbering the adults? How do u do it?

  8. isaacoomber

    Great Post!

    Travelling with children is always great. This is the best experince that your children can have. They can learn new things, customes, languages, culture, etc. Most of all a great time with family.

  9. Lori

    In reference to the car seat and travel. We take our car seats with us when we travel via plane. The kids (2 and 3 and still rear facing) use them in the plane, we have GoGo Kidz Travelmate Care Seat Holder that hooks to their car seats and we wheel them around the airport in their car seats. They are then comfortable while traveling, know that when in their car seats they are to stay in them and they are in the safest place they can be. We than have their car seats for rental vehicles or for this upcoming trip to Ireland with a work group, in the coach buses that have seatbelts. Some airlines do not allow rear facing car seats on their flights so check with each airline you may flying with.

    Also, if you are using a carrier, the child should not be included in the seat belt. The force generated by a person against a seat belt in a head on collision is about the same force as falling from a 3 story building. A small child would be crushed against the seatbelt and their parent’s body.

  10. Judy

    I’m writing a blog on traveling with children for the website http://thelussoreport.com/ and am adding your site to my list. I love your site and found you have sooo much good, practical information. I also like the fact you have the option to give to the need for clean water. Our site is dedicated to Travel, Fashion and Fighting Human Trafficking. I just wanted you to know we were going to feature your site as well as some others. Thanks for your dedication!

  11. Winks


    Considering two weeks in Thailand this November with a 21 month old- do you think it’s worth it or should we wait until he is older?

    Would love some input.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      It would be great. He’ll do fine. Go for it.

      Thais love kids so I just hope he likes lots of attention.

  12. Jo

    My husband and I are travelling to Turkey and Jordan in sept/oct with 2 kids aged 6 and 8. Do you have any advice for this region/ suggestions on things to do with the kids that they will love. Also it will be a long flight as we are travelling from Australia with a stop in Singapore for about 9 hrs, any tips. I’m really excited but also a little apprehensive.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Hi Jo. For Singapore I would think about getting an airport hotel – Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport takes just a few minutes to get to from the terminal. It’s an easy way to make a long trip much more manageable. It costs a bit of money obviously but I’ve never regretted doing it.

      For Turkey check out these websites and blogs:

      For Jordan these:

      Good luck.

    2. Abs

      For the departure and layover airports, do some research ahead of time on whether and where there might be kid play areas in the airport. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have an idea which gates you’ll be travelling between (this can change, but helps to know when you walk off the plane). Due to visa hiccups, my husband and I had to spend a ridiculous 13 hours in Heathrow for a layover. The airport hotels were outside, which you would need a visa to reach. But they did have a sweet little play area with great big couches for families inside the airport. We camped out there and my 11 month old started walking right there in Heathrow. :)

  13. Wisconsin Dells

    I really love to travel especially with my loved ones, we also would try special cuisine in every place that we visit.

    Glad to read through your nice and well written article. I enjoyed reading it and learned some helpful tips. Keep on sharing your brilliant thoughts. Love your article. Thanks! :-)

  14. Sheffy

    Great information My sister is planning to fly for the first time with her baby thats less than 2 yrs old. With Regards to the passport issue I visited Canada Last May/June 2011 for. My passport was about to expire in August 2011 when the immigration officer noticed this she told me that Canada requires 6 months on a passport. Luckily for me she placed a piece of paper in it and just gave me two extra days past the three weeks that I was there for (so scary). Seeing that I was travelling from the Caribbean.

  15. Fiona

    Hi David. My husband and I are trying to plan a trip for 3-4 weeks in June next year with our 3 year old twins. I’m so excited to have found your site, we’ve been doing a lot of searching online and yours is the first one I’ve found that’s been stacked with great info, thanks so much! Can you please help us with some advice? We live in Australia and have been toying with the idea of Fiji but are worried about being bored spending so long there, and we’re not really resort-type people. Ideally we would love to stay in a self-catering villa or something similar, in a pretty and relaxing kid-friendly destination (preferably beach) that will have enough to keep both the kids and us interested. We haven’t included Europe in the mix because of the travel distance but I’ve been reading your posts on the Greek Islands and you’ve changed our minds, it sounds perfect! If we go there would you recommend splitting our time between two islands and if so, which ones? Also do you know if there are any trustworthy babysitting facilities available if we wanted to take an occasional night off? If we decided to stick closer to home and go with South-East Asia, do you have one destination you would recommend to us over others? Thanks so much in advance! Fiona

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Hi Fiona. For Greece, I’m sure you could find babysitting for kids. I wouldn’t expect to find it immediately on short notice. But if you ask around upon arrival about finding someone to help out in a few days I’d imagine it could be arranged. Many hotels are run by extended family and will likely have someone – or know someone – who would do some babysitting.

      As for the best islands, I’d recommend Naxos, Paros, Anti-Paros, and Crete. Though all the islands are great, and each have their unique reasons for being special. With the exceptions of the busiest islands in the high season (Santorini or Mykonos) you almost never hear of someone being disappointed with the islands they visited. Which ever islands people choose those are the ones they tell everyone are the best.

      In Southeast Asia, Bali, Railay, Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and coastal Vietnam are all great.

      I hope that helps.

      1. Fiona

        Thanks David :)

  16. Karen

    As a new traveler with children who can’t go everywhere………where are the best 5 places in the world?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Hi Karen. If I had to pick 5 places to take kids on a trip they would be Mexico, Thailand, India, Greece, and France.

      1. Teresa

        Wow your 5 picks really surprised me (all except Thailand) wouldn’t have expected these places to be kids friendly if at all! Thanks for broadening my horizon

  17. Suzi

    What a fab list! We’re travelling in Europe at the moment, but heading off in January for a long-term trip and I’ve just added a couple of things to my to do list from reading this article – thanks!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Sounds great Suzi. Feel free to stop back and leave comments about your trip (on the Europe with Kids post, maybe) about your travels. I’d love to hear about them.

  18. Misha

    Loved the blog before we arrived in Hanoi for the month. Love it even more now that we’re here. I had posted a question about what types of gifts to bring for kids we meet along the way (can’t remember where I posted it), but just thought I’d share one thing that has been a real hit here in Vietnam. We had one of those little fisher price magnetic drawing boards, where you draw with a magnetic pen and then can erase. They make them in super mini sizes. It was a real hit with our 20-month-old for the airplane. But, even better, kids here have loved it. It allows them to draw and erase without wasting paper. On our next trip, I’ll pack 5 or more of the mini-sized ones to give to families that host us or that we make a special connection with along the way. All ages have loved it so far.

  19. Terri

    This is a great list whether you have kids or not. Great post!

  20. Alexandra

    I don’t have any kids, yet. But kids or no kids, this list is great! So many excellent ideas!! Thanks for posting!

  21. Paige from DC

    This is a fantastic list, David. I’ve been doing a lot of research and writing on the topic of traveling with kids, but I’ve never seen a list as thorough as this. You taught me a few new tricks!

  22. Elizabeth - Letters from a Small State

    David, we LOVE traveling with our kids (6,5,5,3)! We definitely understand “Bigger families should count their kids!” For air travel, let the kids each have their own carry on backpack. My twin four-year-olds were responsible for their packs– small school packs with everything they were allowed to carry on. They CAN carry their own stuff! Of course Mom and Dad carried the DVD player & little one’s stuff.

    Also, try to remember: your kids’ mood and anxiety level will be a direct reflection of yours! If you love to travel and feel relaxed in the airport, so will they! AND vice versa. So remember to bring your mood ring take it easy!

  23. Susydirania Jkt

    Dear David, I just found your blog/web re travelling with kids. You and us (me & my husband) have the same things in common of taking kids to travel. Aorund the world if possible. We have spent travelling with our kids to some big cities in Indonesia (we are Indonesian and live in Jakarta). We also have taken our kids to travle around some asean contries. We still keep our dreams to take the kids along to travel accross continent. Me & my husband have each experience to travel to US and australia before we got married, but haven’t got a chance to travel with kids to those countries. We also have a dream to travle to UK because my brother and his families lives there. However, travelling acrross continet needs alot of fund, energy, time and plan. Could you give us more tips and tricks to find the budget airplane if we are going to UK sometimes in 2012 and during summer time. we would probably have 2 – 3 weeks to spend in UK or if possible to the nearest contries we can visit. Tks.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I would definitely search AirAsia.com for flights. I think they’ll be your best bet. A quick flight search just pulled up a $340 flight from Jakarta to London Stansted. With some luck you might get this under $300. If Air Asia doesn’t work out I would look for flights through Bangkok as that is the discount hub for SE Asia. Good luck.

  24. traveler

    Great tips. Just what I needed to prepare for my next trip with our 11 month old!

  25. Rachelle from Sydney

    Sorry.. forgot to add, baby will be six months old

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Hi Rachelle. I think I would try to go without. Most taxis will not have working seat belts in the backseat — and I don’t recommend putting a car seat in the front passenger seat (though I’ve done it myself). I’ve used the Bjorn with a seatbelt around both of us. I have no idea how safe this is. I assume it’s safer than a child being completely unsecured — but that’s just a guess.

      1. Rachelle from Sydney

        Thanks for replying. When we were last there with just the other two kids who are 4 and 6 I would drive my husband crazy by flagging a taxi, checking for back seatbelts and then sending it on it’s way if it didn’t have them. Often I had to dig out the bottom section from behind the back seat, but we got there mostly. I think the bjorn with a seatbelt around me has to be better than nothing, might add a towel around the babie’s head to prevent it from a head butt from me! Car safety is just a sore point for me but I don’t want my worries to stop us from seeing the world with our kids. thanks!

      2. Leanne

        I would never put a seatbelt around yourself and a child as well. In an accident, all your weight, moving at high speed, will press your child between you & the seatbelt. Seatbelts do an amazing job, but when worn incorrectly, they can be more dangerous than wearing none! I would suggest the baby carrier attached to yourself, while you ate belted in would be safer, but it would need to be a sturdy baby carrier!

        1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

          Hey Leanne. When you’re in an accident, all the weight of the car is going against you (and your child) – that’s just the nature of a seatbelt. Having another 200 pounds isn’t going to make a big difference. Agree that it’s far from ideal though. But getting thrown from the car is far and away the most dangerous part of an accident. Stopping that should be your number one concern. Cheers.

        2. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

          I thought about this a little more while lying in bed last night and I think I was wrong about the force of the car. It wouldn’t be directed at the person in the seatbelt and your description is essentially right: the weight of the parent would be pressed against the child.

          Not an expert on this but I would still take that over having the child flung through (or out of the car). Baby carrier probably better. And car seat best (obviously).


  26. Rachelle from Sydney

    Hi David,

    What would you do in situations where you know that most taxis and cars won’t have anchor points for a car seat. I’d rather not take the car seat anyway due to the bulk, but we will need to take an occasional car around Koh Samui.. from the airport.. to the hotel.. to the ferry etc. Do you just use the Baby Bjorn and hold on tight or is there some other option I haven’t thought of? Thanks for a great site, I just found it!

  27. Will from Baltimore

    Wow, David … thanks for all you are sharing with us in this site.
    Tremendous stuff.

    We are planning a first-big long trip to Italy and France in June, my wife and 10 year old son.

    Finding your counsel has been very encouraging, specific and useful. You’ve already made it a better journey.

    We appreciate the time you are taking to craft these articles.
    Be well!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Thanks Will. Italy and France — wow, does it get any better than that? June is a great time to go to Europe too. The big crowds haven’t arrived yet but the weather is still nice. Have fun!

  28. Leigh, Germany

    Your positive outlook about traveling with kids, even in third world countries, has helped me get more comfortable with our upcoming adventure. My husband has started a 2-3 year work assignment in India. My 19-month old son and I will be somewhat of part-time residents of India, while keeping homebase in Germany. Our first visit is in less than 2 weeks.
    Keeping an open mind, being flexible when things are different (ex. car seats), and in general positive attitude seems to be the key to an enjoyable and fun adventure.
    I find that most people are very unfamiliar with India, but still manage to grown as if they feel sorry for me. Now, I am counting down the days…can’t wait! Any specific advice for India? (Must-sees, Do’s & Don’ts, etc. We will be in Pune, but plan to travel on future trips.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Awesome. You’ll have a blast. You’ll be fairly close to the Ajanta and Ellora caves which I think are worth a visit. I’m sure you’ll go through Mumbai and it’s a great city worth 3 or 4 days at least. Goa, of course, is fun and a bit of an escape from the “real India”. It’s another world in Goa and it’s a good place to relax if the rest of the country is just “too much”.

      Palolem is my favorite beach town in Goa.

      Farther south, Kerala is wonderful. I’d also try to get to a hill station at some point over the next 2 or 3 years, though they’re usually at their best during the hot summer months.

      Car seats are always a tough one. I’d take one the first time and see how much you use it. Many cars don’t have working seat belts which can make them pretty pointless.

      Hope that helps a little.

  29. Merav | AllWays Car Rental NZ

    Excellent tips! To #9 I would add – if you travel far have a stop over or even two. A good sleep does wonders and will also help the challenge of kids on board of airplanes.
    I couldn’t agree more about the camera. We recently bought a pocket one and now that the kids are older they take turns in taking photos (though it does make me wonder how many photos of my son’s teeth I should have…).

  30. Linda

    I traveled often with my (now grown) children. I always believed that every traveler should be responsible for his own stuff. We started that by having each child carry a backpack with a snack, a book or favorite toy (at around age 4 or 5). As they got older, they still carried their own day packs and were responsible for packing and carrying them. They learned quickly to travel light and to take care of their own stuff. Mom and Dad are not pack mules!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I agree Linda. We did a month in Vietnam last year and our 6 year old carried all his own stuff — and a bit of his brother’s too — and it wasn’t a problem for him at all. If you’re going to do this I do recommend that you get a good quality backpack for your kids. Hauling stuff around with just a book bag/backpack is no fun for anyone — and probably not great for their back.

  31. christy

    excellent tips. we traveled with our toddler to france two years ago. it was an amazing experience as i highly recommend the baby carrier. we used the ERGO for convenience. flexibility and a happy-fantabulous attitude got us a long way! i am book marking this websited. love, Love, LOVE it!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Thanks Christy. Ya, Ergos are great.

  32. Ashley

    I recently found your website and absolutely love it! I’ve written once already (thanks for the quick reply!) and have another question. I notice there isn’t anything about Africa on your site. My husband and I are planning an around the world trip with our two year old daughter in May/June, as we are moving from New York to Australia. We’d love to visit Tanzania, the Serengeti, but I don’t know about Africa with a two year old. A lot of advice says to wait until they’re at least 10 to appreciate it, plus there’s the whole vaccination/disease thing, and I’ve heard May/June is the wet season and some areas are impassable. But we may not get another chance to do this. Is Tanzania safe? Is there a better place in Africa to go that’s family friendly? Or should we just scrap Africa and go somewhere else? Our around the world ticket will include 5-6 stops over a period of about 6 weeks, tentatively New York to Rekyvick (sp?),Rome, Greek Islands, Cairo, Africa, Melbourne.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Hi Ashley. I’ve only been to Egypt in Africa, and not with the kids, hence my relative silence on the continent. I really can’t say what Tanzania would be like. I imagine it might be similar to India — which is pretty intense and does require you to pay a good deal of attention to your health and vaccinations — but that is just a guess. Other than that it sounds like you’ve got a great RTW route planned. South East Asia is a great region to travel through with kids, if you were looking for an alternative to Africa. But I’m sure you’ll be fine. I say go for it!

  33. Laura from Austin

    Outstanding list, David! Agree with you across the board – we are a have-kids-will-travel family, but you have some tips on here I had not thought of and will certainly implement on our next adventure. But I especially love #11. I have always wondered why on earth parents take advantage of pre-boarding?! It is completely counterproductive.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Thanks Laura. Ya, I sit there and watch those people lining up — with or without kids — and try to comprehend what they’re thinking … And never arrive at a satisfying answer.

      1. Ashley

        The only thing that I can think of (this happened to us on a NY to LA flight) is now that airlines charge for checked bags, people bring HUGE suitcases as carry-on and if you wait to board you won’t get space in the overhead bin for your diaper bag. The only available space was 15 rows up! Not cool.

      2. Nicole

        I have traveled with my daughter to Europe 3 times, and we always take advantage of pre-boarding. She is now 7 and I also have a 3 year old son, and we will be doing the same on our upcoming trip to Germany. I have found that it does give us a few minutes to get organized before we are squishing through gobs of less-than-patient people, and ensuring that we have the access to the overhead bins closest to us, before they become filled. But another advantage I have found for us, is that my kids have a few extra moments to “get used to” the novelty of the plane/seats, etc. before everyone else boards, and by then are settled and calmer. I understand that this may not be the case for everyone, but I just don’t want to see pre-boarding families classified as crazy -we think things through, too! Otherwise, great blog!

        1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

          Great comment! Thanks.

      3. Lori

        I travel with the kid’s car seats (ages 3 and 4) so getting in during the pre-boarding phase really helps to make sure the seats are correctly installed. I tell the gate attendant and they usually assign us one flight attendant whose only job is to help get the kids settled. I can then buckle them in a pull out the first prize from the “treasure chest” that I bring filled with goodies for good or cooperative behavior. BTW – I put the car seats on wheels (Go Go Babyz) and use them as strollers through the airport so we do not have to lug them around.

  34. Dee Andrews

    Great list, David! Hiring a driver really worked for our family in Morocco and Turkey. While our family usually goes it alone, these were both countries where my husband and I didn’t want to deal with language barriers and navigating unknown roads. In both cases, our drivers were wonderful guides who really brought the countries to life for us.

    I wrote some tips on kid-friendly city hotels about a year ago, http://travelandtravails.com/where-to-stay/kid-friendly-city-hotel/ but I really recommend apartments when traveling with kids of any ages. More space and usually less cost and a kitchen is invaluable for early breakfasts and coffee!

    We’ve traveled with our two daughters since they were babies and recently spent a year living in Spain and traveling. There are always ups and downs, travels and travails, but we find it always worth it. Now at 8 and 11, our daughters are so easy to travel with.

    I look forward to digging into your website for more information!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Hi Dee. You’ve got a great website yourself. Thanks for the comment (and the link). Good luck.

  35. Marilyn from California

    Hi David, I found you from “Simple Mom”‘s weekend links. This is a good article, and I’m going to forward it to my grown daughter who’s living in a foreign country, even though she doesn’t have kids. It’s got some great advice.

    Re. Roymond’s comment, I agree! We went to Europe when my youngest son was two. When we got back, he wandered by a television displaying a picture of the Eiffel Tower. He looked at it for a moment and said, “I’ve been on one of those!”

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Thanks Marilyn, Simple Mom is a great site.

  36. priest's wife

    …spent the summer with the in-laws like we do every other year- 2 very random tips- I like to keep passports and ticket stuff in a gallon zip bag and then that bag in my purse (with strap across chest, so it’s pretty secure)Also- as you have said BE HAPPY even when you have a baby sleeping on your chest in coach class and the person in front of you will not put their seat up even during meal service. Tons of fun- and about 6 inches of room….:)

  37. Peta

    We (from Australia) travelled with an 8 and 10 year old through Europe in 2001. The museums (especially in UK) had excellent and fun work books for the kids – just have to ask for them and they are free. This helped keep a little school-like structure during the 8 weeks.

    Also, using a shared dropbox folder or Evernote folder is a great way to ensure that all adults have access to scanned copies of passports, reservation confirmations etc.

    Tripit is also wonderful for sharing an itinerary. I’d rather have shared access to these sorts of details in case one adult gets sick.

    We also made laminated ID cards for our kids with our contact details. Hung these on lanyards – when we were in very crowded cities and places this put our minds at rest – but we didn’t need to use them.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Thanks for the great travel tips Peta. Museums have a reputation for being just for adults but many — not all mind you — have great kid friendly exhibits and tours that can really engage young minds.

  38. Dennis

    I’m sure I will get lambasted for this, but for the love give infants/toddler you’re flying with some benedryl. Helps with motion sickness which their tiny inner ears are prone to and will help them rest.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      You’re right Dennis, I can’t really agree with that. I think the difficulties of flying with kids — and infants in particular — are vastly overstated. Unless you’re dealing with very specific and unique circumstances I can’t recommend anyone drug their kids for a flight. Feeding or give a soother during take-off and landing can work but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to offer either (e.g. waking a baby just for the sake of getting them to feed).

  39. Josh from Brooklyn

    Thanks for the post. There are a lot of great tips in there. I especially like #12, 16 and 19. Might have to get myself a swim shirt!

    Not sure about #11 however, because sometimes planes are packed full and lots of folks are running late, which ends up delaying the flight. Waiting for the last minute only makes it worse on everyone else.

    While I can get behind the idea that children should be aboard aircraft for as little time as possible, if everyone followed this advice the whole boarding process is invalidated. The whole point is to be orderly and get it done quickly.

    You’re talking about flying through the air; that alone is absolutely amazing. It follows that there are some logistics involved. Teach your children that shortcuts can benefit the individual but detract from the rest of us, and why respecting other people is important. (Hint: you’ll want other people to respect you.)

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I get what you’re saying Josh. Civic responsibility is something I’m very big on. I don’t work from a “what’s best for me” type of outlook. However, there are usually more than enough “volunteers” to board early. I’m always amazed at how many people — with or without kids — line up to board the plane, well before general boarding has commenced.

      The bolded key part of the idea was “don’t line up for planes” and that I’ll stick behind. Perhaps I exaggerated a bit for comic effect.

      You make a great general point however — that what is best for us shouldn’t trump what is required of us as a members of a community. In this case a community of travelers.

      Thanks for pointing that out.

      1. Melissa

        Actually, one thing I read elsewhere and we will be doing on this trip is to send one parent on the plane early boarding with the stuff. That parent can get organized and all the stuff tucked away. Meanwhile the other parent stays at the gate with the little people and keep them busy.

  40. Robin from Toronto

    This is a great post! Another excellent piece of advice I’ve learned is to mix clothes among suitcases – which is to say, don’t have one suitcase for Mom, one for Dad, one for big brother, one for little brother…instead, put some clothes for each person in each bag. Split it up into complete outfits if you can, so that if a bag goes missing, you still have some clothes for everyone among your remaining bags.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Absolutely! Good addition Robin. Let’s call that #30.

  41. roymond

    This is great. Along with “Live it” and “Be in the moment” I’d add “Don’t wait until they’re old enough to appreciate it”. Go now, take your kids, no matter their age. They will love to travel, they’ll get used to the routines, the excitement of getting on a plane and then stepping off in a new world. We started both our boys when they were about 8 months, to hike in Switzerland. Now they’re 9 and 10 years old and still LOVE to travel.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Thanks roymond. My thoughts exactly. I’m sure I’ve said this somewhere else on my blog, but if we let “do it when they’ll remember it/appreciate it” govern everything we exposed them to, well then, you sure wouldn’t be doing very much interacting with them in their early years. Would you stop reading them books or taking them to the playground because they wouldn’t remember it? Do it when you can, do it when they’re young — and you’re young — and you’ll encourage and stimulate an interest in the world that I hope won’t easily be extinguished.

  42. sherman douglas from korea

    Dave, this is very well written with great ideas. Ive shown this to a few young families who are apprehensive about traveling. Keep up the awesome work..your former point guard

  43. RoadCEO

    What a great post. Never thought about the problem of more then one person making reservations, or even packing but that makes a lot of sense. I have heard many also recommend you carry scanned copies of important docs with you on cd or a thumbdrive, that way if you don’t have internet some where you still have the docs.

  44. Jeff

    So if your passport is still good for a few months but you want to renew it, how does that work. Can you have 2 valid passports at the same time?


    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Every country is different. In Canada they generally want your passport back and keep it — which can be a bit of a drag if you have a whole bunch of stamps in it and want to hold onto it for a keepsake. In the U.S. you’ll need to send it in and they’ll return it with a hole punch in it. But, in answer to your general question, it’s not a problem if you still have time remaining on your passport, you send your old passport in and Passport Services decides what to do with it.

      1. Marie

        Actually you now have the option to keep your Canadian passport when you renew it. It comes back with the corners cut off. :)

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