While there’s no reason globe-trotting types have to stop traveling the world the moment a child enters the picture, traveling with young kids certainly does get a bit trickier to coordinate. But the key to traveling with a family is simple: Plan ahead, and use all available resources. Luckily, these days there are plenty of entrepreneurial services out there to help make traveling with kids less stressful, whether by delivering all the bulky baby gear straight to your hotel, or booking a custom family-friendly trip for you. Follow these hacks to make it all just a little simpler to show your kid the world—without the hassle (or at least less of it).
Rent Your Kid Gear
It’s an absolute truth of little kids: They need a lot of stuff, from high-chairs and portable cribs to strollers and car seats. And that can be a headache to try to lug through an airport. Turns out, there’s an easier way to deal with the need for kid gear—just rent it at your destination. BabyQuip is a rental service for baby and toddler must-haves like full-size cribs, strollers, car seats, toys, bouncers, high-chairs and more. They’ll meet you at the airport, or they can even set up your gear at your hotel or AirBnB before you even arrive.
Book with A Family-Focused Travel Agency
If you’d rather hand over the travel reins to a trusted expert, try booking a trip using a family travel agent like Ciao Bambino. For a fee, the pros do all the work of creating a custom itinerary of family-friendly hotels, activities and experiences that are perfect for your group’s ages and interests. They’re also available to lend their expert advice on everything from what hotel room configurations work best for families to which activities will lead to memorable bonding for the whole family.
Rent a Family Home
Booking a rental home with kids can be a guessing game on whether the place will be kid-proofed or will have the right gear for your baby. Enter Kid & Coe, a platform for finding hand-picked, family-friendly accommodations being rented by real families. All their rental properties are curated to be safe and appropriate for kids, in locations that work well for families, and they offer kid essentials like toys and gear. Destinations include cities worldwide, from London to Los Angeles.
Ship Your Luggage
It’s not just the gear that can be tough to transport. Checking bags can be pricey, and while limiting yourself to a carry-on bag can be less expensive, it also means you have to haul your bags yourself—and restrict what you pack to fit in an approved bag size. Lugless goes around both of these problems by shipping your bag through the mail for less than certain airline carriers charge to check (such as $30 to ship, instead of the $60 charged by some airlines). Bonus: Your suitcase is less likely to go missing on an airplane to another destination.
Choose Airlines That Go the Extra Mile for Little Kids
First, make it easier on yourself where you can: Spring for TSA Precheck for yourself, which automatically applies to your kids under 12, or a Clear membership, which applies to under-18 children. Book direct flights when you can, and earlier flights often tend to be less crowded and also may not interfere with your kid’s naptime.
Before you book, check if the flight you’re considering is with an airline that allows priority boarding for families traveling with young kids. United and Alaska Airlines both allow families with children under 2 years to get on earlier, which gives you extra time for wrangling kids and gear. Southwest offers a boarding group for families that have two adults traveling with kids under six. There are more airlines that offer similar benefits—just double-check your airline’s policy on family boarding using their website.
If flying with a baby, see if your airline carrier has a bassinet available. Some have bassinet options by reservation or request, depending on the flight. Most international carriers have them, and plenty of U.S. carriers offer them by request for longer flights. Check with your airline!