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10 Travel Hacks Every Parent Should Know (and use)

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It’s no secret that traveling with kids can be hard (and expensive) but having a few travel hacks up your sleeve can save you from the dreaded iPad melt-downs, dead batteries and constant nagging of, “I’m thirsty,”  not to mention save you some money.  With two kids, four passports and countless miles later I’ve learned a few travel hacks every parent should know – and use. These are just a few of the travel hacks for parents I have up my sleeve. We’d love to hear any hacks you have tucked away in the comments. (More travel hacks for parents.)

10 Travel Hacks for Parents

Sharing Devices

Have one iPad but two kids who want to watch something on the airplane or on a road trip? Put your tablet or smartphone in a clear plastic bag and hook it to the back of the tray table on the plane. If you’re in the car, clip it to the back of the headrest.

Forget Taking All Your Gear

I no longer lug around booster seats and car seats when we travel. When I discovered the RideSafer, my travel days were changed forever. It’s a travel vest that buckles your child (age three and up) securely into the seat. It’s perfect for taxies, car rentals, airplanes, and trains. The best part, it fits in your purse or front pocket of your carry-on. (My full review of the RideSafer and quick video.) There are also baby gear rental agencies throughout the country that can line you up with cribs, pack-n-plays, strollers, and everything else you may need for your little one. Travels With Baby has an excellent round-up of companies around the world that can conduct baby gear rentals.

ridesafer

Buffet + Zip-locks = Easy Snacks

Staying at a hotel offering a breakfast buffet? Grab a few extra grapes, bananas, apples or muffins to put into a zip-lock for little ones to snack on later. Or, fill one of the bags up with dry cereal for a quick snack.

Earn Miles by Shopping Online

Most major airlines have established relationships with retail partners as a way to offer customers another way to earn travel rewards when they’re not traveling. You can snag double, triple or more travel rewards when you shop online via an airlines Mileage Shopping Program (more on how to do this here). For example, if you know you need to place an order on Target.com, you can log into your United Mileage Plus account, visit its Mileage Plus Shopping page, search for Target, then click through to the site from that page. You make your purchase as you normally would but earn miles for each dollar you spend. (If you have a credit card that earns airline miles, make sure to use it for the purchase!)

 mileageplus

Forget the Charger?

If you forget the wall plug-in for your phone charger, check the back of your hotel TV, most newer models have a USB port you can connect to for power.

Vacuum Seal Bags

Ever tried packing for three people in one carry-on for four days? Some would say it’s impossible, others enlist the help of a vacuum seal bag. When clothing is placed in these plastic bags, the air is removed via your everyday vacuum cleaner, essentially shrink wrapping your items into a flat pancake. You do have to have a vacuum to recreate this upon your return home. If you’re staying at a hotel asking housekeeping to borrow a vacuum is easy. (More on using vacuum seal bags for packing travel hacks.)

Power for All

Pack a power strip to plug all the devices you and your kids are traveling with into for easy charging. This is great when you’re traveling internationally and you have a limited number of adapters.

Electrical Outlets – Band-Aid Style

Have little people with fingers that like to explore everything? Forget bringing all the plastic covers for electrical outlets. Pack some Band-Aids and you’re covered. Literally.

I’m Thirsty

Bring along a few EMPTY water bottles that can be filled once you go through airport security. Not only will this save you money on drinks BUT kids who always request a drink AFTER the drink carts are put away on the plane can now be accommodated.

ID bracelets, Travel Cards and Tattoos?

When traveling knowing your address isn’t always helpful for children. Being armed with a parents cell phone number, hotel information or other emergency contact information is essential if you become separated. Placing a travel card in a child’s a pocket can help with this. However, cards can be torn and lost by little ones who think they’re fun to eat and tear up. A medical ID bracelet or temporary tattoo can ensure the information isn’t lost. (More tips on teaching kids travel safety.)

What travel hacks have you learned along the way that have become helpful when you’re traveling with your kids? Let us know in the comments.

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Elaine N. Schoch is a recovering corporate climber. She began writing CarpeTravel.com after leaving the corporate world to try to gain a better work life balance. Her writings at CarpeTravel focus on balancing life and work with her passions – traveling (with kids) and exploring new wines from around the world. You can find Elaine’s travel tales, musings and tips on CarpeTravel.com. Or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson September 23, 2015

    Great tips! We’re all about dividing up all our snacks into separate ziploc bags for road-trips; cuts down on the fighting! Also, I’m a big fan of using Google Maps offline for areas I don’t have service. Type in OK Maps and the area showing up on your screen will save (you have to pre-plan for this one. 🙂

  • comment avatar Candace September 23, 2015

    I bring plastic bags. A LOT OF THEM. They don’t take any space and are so convenient. I use big, black garbage bags on the windows of our hotel room if it’s too light at night (painter’s tape to tape it up). Grocery bags are awesome for garage, snacks, dirty shoes.

  • comment avatar Lynne September 23, 2015

    Every kid has their own backpack. This will include airplane activities, snacks & their empty water bottle, along with whatever is the heaviest item they are bringing (usually shoes). It is small enough to fit under the seat in front of them & therefore does NOT constitute a carry-on item. As far as booster seats, we use the BubbleBum for rental cars. An inflatable car seat (for those who qualify for a backless booster), it packs easily in the suitcase. We always gate check our stroller & purchased a large, plain, heavy duty duffel bag for it. We are a family of 6 and can take a week-long vacay in 2 suitcases (assuming we have a W/D in the condo). Always carry ziplocs of ALL sizes & plastic grocery bags for wet swimsuits (which we never get dried before we return home).

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