Traveling with a family: How to keep everyone happy

Heading out on a vacation adventure is packed with excitement, at least for the first 5 minutes. When traveling with a family you have many challenges to overcome. From what you will eat to where you will sleep. And the most important thing, what will we do when you get there? Here are some Travel Tips for Families to hopefully keep the headaches to a minimum.

Family drama can be brought on by many things you will quickly find out. Unpredictable schedules, long packing lists, and cranky kids are just a few of the challenges you may encounter along the way.

The key to a successful family vacation is PLANNING and more planning.

The drama at your destination is one thing, but just getting to your location can put you on overload.

Hopefully, we can get your game plan started the right way with a few helpful ideas and tips.

How to keep your kids entertained, no matter the age

Are we there yet?

As parents look forward to our yearly vacation to unwind and regroup. Just a couple of weeks then back to the GRIND of daily life. Your children also yearn for time away from school and their hometown. Kids love to try new things, see new places, and of course, have the time of their lives.

Navigating the roadways, keeping everyone safe and happy, and staying within a budget is a juggling act that takes planning.

There are a few different strategies you can use to help children have a good time on the road depending on how old they are. A baby has very different needs than a toddler or the teen you now barely know anymore. But however old your child is, be sure to do some pre-trip research on kid-friendly activities at your destination. Activities that you and your family can take advantage of for fun and relaxation. A little preparation will go a long way. 

Ideas per age group


Children in the newborn to age 2 range can be easiest to travel with in many respects. They take up little room, eat less than a teenager, and potty stops every 30 minutes are unnecessary when still in diapers.

Being comfortable and having the feeling of a safe environment can go a long way for the young traveler. Make sure to bring along your infant’s favorite toys, books and bottles while on your adventures, and don’t keep him or her strapped in a baby carrier or stroller all day — give your baby the opportunity to walk and get some exercise; if your infant isn’t walking yet, he or she can still stretch on a mat or roll around.

TIP: Traveling at night when your infants and toddlers are normally sleeping could provide some relief. This method should only be used if you are comfortable driving at night and it fits the time schedule for your destination arrival.

You do not want to show up at your destination early in the morning with no place to stay and then have to burn a few hours in the car. Plan wisely if you try this.


Toddlers are packed full of energy and giving them the ability to release it is crucial. Plan ahead and add a park or 2 into the itinerary as you build it. This gives them time to run and play for a bit while the rest of the family can stretch or get something to drink.

Bring them a couple of their favorite toys or books. Toddlers are interactive, so these will only keep them busy for so long.

Electronic devices (Ipad, phones, or Switch) are good for burning some time, but you should limit screen time and not let them play the whole trip. Screentime builds tension in their mental tank and eventually, it will need to be emptied.

TIP: A toddler also wants to feel grown up and part of the family so find them a couple of small tasks to perform along the trip.

Imaginary tasks can be made up that make them feel special and needed by the rest of the family.

  • After each stop walk around the car and let them do a quick inspection of the tires.
  • Have them be in charge of a head count after each stop. Leaving a child behind is frowned upon.
  • Find them a map to hold and ask for directions occasionally (I know we have GPS, but they don’t need to know)

School-Age Children

The key to keeping kids 5 and older engaged on a family trip is to get them involved in the planning, even in a small way. The more you empower kids this age to pick what they’re interested in doing, whether it’s seeing a cool site or trying surfing, the more engaged they will be.

TIP: Let your children choose between several activities instead of giving them no direction whatsoever. In a beach destination, for example, the options might be a half-day snorkeling trip or a fishing excursion. In an urban setting, share choices of interesting walking tours, and let them pick the one or two which appeal to them the most. 

When you’re researching tours and activities, read online reviews to learn about which guides have engaged well with kids in the past. A great guide can be the difference between “the best trip ever” or “this was boring”. This was boring is not what you want to hear and could put a damper on the rest of your day.


Ok, here we go!

This is really just a guess! Lol!

What works one day to keep them happy and fulfilled is the dumbest idea ever the next.

The best way to keep teenagers engaged is to have them take ownership in planning a part of your trip. Having them choose some attractions which they are interested in seeing and even letting them design one of two days of your itinerary really helps.

TIP: Parents may want to consider giving older teens the option to spend an hour or two exploring the destination on their own As scary as this sounds, they do need their alone time away from the rest of the family. “As long you and your teen both feel safe, he or she is going to be super excited about having some time alone.


Many of us travel with our furry babies and they need plenty of love and attention as well. Just like planning on ways to keep the kids happy, pets need just as much or more sometimes.

  • Pet supplies to eat and drink
  • Their favorite toys
  • A place to sleep that makes them comfortable
  • Don’t forget any medicines they may need
  • A treat here and there

If you are traveling in an RV, there are plenty of things to think about to keep pets happy and safe.


This article seems to be about everyone, but you the one paying for everything. Don’t forget to make time for yourself as well!

This can be really difficult while traveling because you don’t usually have a sitter unless you have an older child willing to give up a few hours of their time.

Find ways to unwind while the kids are entertaining themselves. Around the pool or beach when you can still keep an eye on them, but they are busy having fun.

Take in a show that is enjoyable for the whole family.

Peace and quiet are really all I ask for now and then.


As we have mentioned several times now, it is all about planning pre-trip.

  • Get to know your final stop and things there for your kids to do.
  • Research activities around the destination you are traveling to.
  • Find a couple of places to stop and let them unwind along the route.
  • Bring toys and in-vehicle activities to keep them entertained.
  • Let school-aged children give you ideas for places to go.
  • Make them feel involved in the trip-planning process.