13 Keep Calm and Carry-on Travel Hacks for the Whole Family

Enjoy your vacation with less hassle!

13 Keep Calm and Carry-on Travel Hacks for the Whole Family

Travel Hacks for Vacationing with Kids

With holidays and school breaks approaching, many families will load up the car, catch the train or board a flight. The excitement of the time away is tempered only by the actual journey which can be long, involve a lot of togetherness and can make everyone a little stir crazy. I recently moved back to Canada after living in the Caribbean for the last seven years. We were back and forth regularly with our children and I learned a few tricks along the way. There are so many great hacks out there and every little bit helps. I did a little research, asked around and compiled a list of multipurpose travel hacks that aren't heavy, bulky or too big for a purse or carry-on. Now unless you are sporting a tote with the power of a Mary Poppins carpet bag you might not want to pack all of these, however, these items do double duty on a myriad of day to day and travel related problems.

Purse Sized Travel Hacks:


Conditioner: You are taking it anyway and a little travel size container of conditioner is a gift that can keep on giving. It can work on your hair obviously, but it seems it can also works as a shoe polish, shaving cream, foot moisturizer and an eye makeup remover.

Coconut Oil: Put a couple scoops in a small container and use it for pretty much everything. This is, in my opinion and that of our plant based recipe guru Nicole MacPherson, an even better eye make up remover than the conditioner. You can also use it for dry lips, smooth fly-aways, put it on your face, hands, and inside your nose as a moisturizer to help with the dry plane air, or put a scoop on your crappy in transit meal as a healthy fat that will keep you feeling fuller. At the hotel you can also add a restaurant sugar packet for a body scrub for a little skin rejuvenation before the beach and use it on sunburns for that miscalculated sun time.

Cotton Balls: Throw one into your powder compact (news I could have used before I lost the powder puff and shattered so many of them), pair with a bandage for that blister pain for the longer than planned walking tours, soak a ball in the mini bar whisky if experiencing an unexpected and unwelcome toothache, or drop some essential oils onto a pad and throw in your purse for a little aromatherapy when the stale plane air becomes too much.

aromatherapy necklace

Aromatherapy Necklace: This necklace by Horn Rim Harriet is my new favourite travel accessory that also works for the smelly plane or when feeling a little anxious or overwhelmed when travelling. You simply add a few drops to the removable felt ball in the center. It looks great and I keep calm by breathing in the essential oil goodness whenever I travel.

Bandaids: You are probably going to bring them anyway for the cuts and scrapes but you can also use it as a safety cover on hotel outlets says Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids. Check out her chapter on travel!

Lint Rollers: Embarrassed of all the seat rubble your child has produced during the flight that gets exposed when you disembark? Just rub the lint roller over the area and your seat will look like those of the nice calm adults travelling alone.

Masking Tape: This can also remove crumbs and chaos. My friend Brittany of the family blog Windtraveller lives on a sailboat with her husband and three small children, and has mad hack knowledge. She says pieces of tape seem to entertain her toddlers for hours, and it is such a simple pack. This hack recently got a thumbs up from an airline attendant who has no doubt seen a hack or two.

Travel Hacks

Baking Soda: Label it and throw it in something that doesn't resemble a dime bag for better security clearing. Baking soda can be used as a toothpaste in a pinch, a gentle face scrub and I have been told that it can be a very helpful thing to take mixed in water if an unexpected bladder infection comes up during the trip. Research the last one for yourself, as I am not a doctor. Apparently it is also awesome in tomato sauce, but hopefully you won't be cooking too much while away.

Baby Wipes: It is toilet paper for all in a jam (don't flush), takes stains off clothes, can clean off dirty airplane trays, shines shoes, cleans off the fingerprints on your tablet, removes pen and crayons from the hotel walls, and if there is a cancelled flight or timing mix up and no hope for a shower, you can use it for a quick wash up. Our YMC tech and fashion writers Cat Coode and Ashley MacInnis have children beyond the diaper years and still carry them everywhere.

Baby Powder: I have known it to have a great dry shampoo effect when needing a wash, coating your body helps ward off chafing before a hot beach run, it is miraculous as a sand remover, can be used as a deodorant and is a great odour help when slipping into shoes without socks.

Toothpaste: This is another one that you will be packing anyway but did you know you can use it to remove crayon on the painted wall or remove water rings at that AirBnB? If the bugs are driving you nuts on your get away it can soothe itching, clean your goggles before snorkelling, and can be a quick stain remover (but beware of the bleaching brands).

travel hacks for kids

Elastics: Obviously they are for my hair, her hair, and also closes up those half eaten snack bags my kids have generously dumped back into my purse. Use them also to keep cords from tangling and pack one less bra by making it a racer-back with the simple use of a hair elastic.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Is a great gargle for sore throats and helpful for sunburns and I know whereof I speak., after years of sunny island life, there was often those missed spots. Oddly enough, one of the worst sunburns I happened to get was at the Ilderton Fall Fair a few years ago when I was back visiting. It was not that warm (famous last words) but definitely sunny and none of us Moms were packing the sunscreen that day, and believe me I asked. I then returned back to the islands from my autumn trip with a sunburnt face!

I also provide free parenting and relationship tips and articles on my Facebook page and on my website. You can also follow me on Twitter and join the conversation about healthy living and healthy relationships.

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