Holidays are an important part of your child’s childhood for a number of reasons. Taking trips together as a family also creates memories that you and your children will treasure for a lifetime. Holidays are also a unique opportunity for your child to explore new destinations and to try new activities, expanding their horizons and enhancing their curiosity. These are all important aspects of your child’s early education and development.

There is no doubt that holidays are an important and exciting part of raising a family. However sometimes the process of planning a holiday, particularly when you have small children, can be daunting. Sometimes the stress of planning a holiday seems like it will overshadow the experience you are creating for your children.

Travelling with kids can be stressful, but there are lots of little things that you can do that will help to make traveling a little bit easier.  Try some of these 13 travel hacks for families with kids.

For your next road trip:

1. Pack road trip goodie bags

Decorate a few brown bags with messages like “High five!” and “Way to go!” Set milestones in advance with your children, and every time you reach a new milestone without complaining, fighting, or disruptions, reward each child with a goodie bag. The extra incentive will help to keep them focused on good behaviour, which will help to keep you focused on your holiday.

2. Make a lasso for your child’s sippy cup, binky, or toys

If your toddler is prone to throwing away whatever they can get their hands on, then you can save your own time and energy by creating little lassos to anchor a few of those items to their car seat. This way, when they throw away their favourite stuffed animal, you won’t have to pull over to scour the backseat for it. For best results, tie the lasso somewhere that you can easily reach from the front seat.

3. Make a “travel tray” for you child to use in the backseat

Many activities, like puzzles and colouring books, require some sort of flat surface. You can easily make a travel tray for your child that gives them a place to place a bowl of snacks, play with animal figures, draw, or whatever they desire. You could even make a tray with storage pockets so that your child has their toys, books, and snacks within easy reach.

For your next long flight:

4. Book an early flight

Flying with young children is already a challenge; flying with young children who are cranky from sitting in an airport all day is even worse. Booking an early flight increases the odds that your flight will leave on time, keeping your whole family – including you – relaxed and stress-free.

5. Seat your child next to the window

Seating your child next to the window provides several advantages. First, it keeps their little hands and feet out of the aisle where they might get caught on the food cart or other passengers passing by. The window also can help to distract them, keeping them entertained during the flight.

6. Check the price of your baby’s ticket

Always double check the ticket price for your toddler; while babies usually fly free of charge, you may have to pay for your young child even if they will be in your lap for the duration of the flight. Some airlines discount the ticket price for young children but the savings are not always substantial. If you will still pay the majority of the sticker price for the ticket, consider purchasing the ticket outright instead. The extra space can help to make the trip go more smoothly.

7. Double check everything that your child packs

Letting your child pack their own toys and games has its benefits; it gets your children involved in holiday prep and makes your to-do list shorter in the process. However be sure to inspect your child’s choices before leaving for the airport. If your children inadvertently pack something that is disallowed on the airline and is likely to be confiscated at security, such as a water pistol or a juice box, then you will have an upset child before the plane even takes off.

While you are packing:

8. Pack extra Band-Aids

Travelling with a first aid kit is, of course, a must. But you can also use Band-Aids to toddler-proof the electrical outlets wherever you are staying. They are less expensive than hard plastic covers and easier to bring with you. You also won’t have to worry about leaving your own in a beach house or hotel room.

9. Bring bracelets or temporary tattoos with your phone number

Travelling with children in highly congested cities or theme parks can be stressful, particularly if your child likes to wander and explore. Even if your child is able to memorise your phone number, they may not be able to remember it if they get separated from you. Equipping your child with a bead bracelet or temporary tattoo with your phone number on it so that you can be easily located in the event that you do get separated will help you all to stay calm throughout our trip. Temporary tattoos could also be used to communicate a serious allergy or medical condition.

10. Have all of your bags packed a day ahead of schedule

Packing can be one of the most stressful parts of preparing for your holiday when it is left until the last minute. Racing about making sure that everyone has everything that they need as you try to walk out the door will not be fun for any of you. Try making a packing list for each family member in advance, and have everything packed up and ready to go the night before you leave. Though you will inevitably still remember a few almost forgotten items on the day of your trip, most of your packing will already be complete.

Miscellaneous tips and tricks:

11. Consider booking a child-friendly room

Hotels frequently are not designed for family convenience. If you are travelling with several children you can occasionally find a hotel that offers adjoining rooms for a little extra space, but accommodations may still feel cramped and the space still won’t be designed with children in mind. Instead, you could use Airbnb or KidandCoe to find a child-friendly room near your destination. As an added bonus, these spaces may even have cribs or strollers that you can use so that you don’t have to worry about packing your own.

12. Store snacks in reusable containers

You could pack snacks away in your purse, but travelling with lots of loose snacks means that you’ll have to dig through everything else in your purse every time you want to find one. Granola bars and crackers are also likely to get crushed. Instead, pack snacks in a reusable container. Everything will be easy to find, and you can even add an ice pack to keep fruit cups and juice boxes cold.

13. Use baby powder to remove stubborn sand

It often seems like you find sand hiding throughout your car and hotel room after a trip to the beach. But did you know that you can sprinkle baby powder on everyone’s legs and feet to make the sand fall right off? Bring a bottle with you to make sure that the beach stays at the beach where it belongs.

No matter where you are going or how you are travelling, a few small travel hacks can go a long way towards helping you to stay prepared and relaxed throughout your entire holiday.