Minimalist Travel With Kids

This post was created in partnership with Hotels4Teams, as part of a long term ambassador program, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

It's no surprise to anyone by now that I struggled with depression and anxiety after having Em. One of the biggest ways that I've been able to deal with that is minimizing the clutter in my home and making sure that everything has an organized spot. I feel so much peace and calm in my life when my home is not filled and cluttered with things we don't need, and is clean, organized, and tidy. 

When traveling with kids I feel like there are thousands of things you think you need to bring from snacks, toys, movies, clothes, strollers, the list goes on and on. However, I've noticed that bringing all the things, while traveling is sometimes not necessary, it clutters and junks up the car, and your kids are going to be unhappy and scream at least once during the trip no matter what, so instead of trying to bring your entire home with you to try and avoid it, just embrace it and know the meltdown won't last forever. 

Minimal Essentials For Traveling With Kids

  1.  Bring less clothing: I used to plan completely different outfits for each person in the family for each day that we were going to be gone. This meant that for a weekend trip anywhere, we were bringing at least two suit cases of just clothes. We now try and just stick to one pair of pants for each person, and then just bring a few shirts to switch it up with. If we have access to a washer and dryer, we'll wash clothes one night so everything is fresh, and if not, we can just spot clean things with soap and a washcloth so that they're ready to go again the next time we need them. 

  2. Technology: Our most frequent trip that we take is three hours north to Idaho to see Derek's family. We used to load our car with all the phones, tablets, DVDs, etc... it was too much. I hated traveling because it meant that I was shuffling devices and movies a thousand times within three hours. We recently stopped giving them any media the entire drive, and it's been such a treat to use that time talking and connecting with one another, and I swear there have been less meltdowns because of it. 

    That being said, if you need to bring media, instead of bringing all your DVDs in their cases, consolidate them into one of these little CD case binders so you don't have a thousand cases floating around your car. 

  3. Toys: As a parent, I've found that toys are really an invaluable tool for our family and keeping our kids happy. They don't need a ton, but having 1-2 things that your kids really love can make the downtime at grandma's house, or in the hotel a lot more enjoyable. If we're going on a trip, I'll likely buy my kids a new small toy of something they love, and then that toy will keep them insanely happy for hours on end when we need it. 

    Next week Derek and I are going on an all day hiking trip in Idaho while his brother watches Jay and Em. We plan on giving Em these Daniel Tiger Toys (found mine clearanced at Target!), and some fresh Playdoh, and we're confident that there won't be any major meltdowns while we're gone. 

    In addition to the 1-2 small toys that we'll bring, we also allow the kids to each bring one stuffed animal for bedtime. Having something their familiar with makes bedtime so much easier when their pillows, blankets and everything else might be different to them. 

  4. Don't Over Plan Your Days: We're going down to St George at the end of the summer for a last hurrah before school starts. We have a long list of the things we would love to do, but we try to keep it to just 1-2 activities per day. I've tried to plan trips where we did 3-5 things per day and it just led to hurt expectations on my end, and cranky children at the end of the day. Intentionally picking 1-2 things that everyone will enjoy ensures that your children aren't having massive meltdowns at the end of the day, and there won't (hopefully) be negative feelings associated with your trip! 

  5. Snacks: When we're road tripping and traveling with kids, this is the one time when I do not care what my kids eat. I usually pack a reusable grocery bag full of all the treats I know my kids will eat, like cookies, fruit pouches, Goldfish, raisins, granola bars, etc... and let the kids have what they want when they want it to keep spirits high while we're on the road, and on the town. 

  6. Pack Light: With Em and her disability, our car is basically packet to the rim no matter what, but I try to keep things under control as best as possible. We fit all our clothes into one carry on size suit case, one snack bag, a portable booster seat for restaurants, this blow up mattress for Em, our stroller, the kids stuffed animals, and Em's sensory blanket, and that's about it. 

    We try to not bring Em's wheelchair or walker with us when we travel, and just stick to the stroller, or my Ergo carrier because her mobility equipment takes up so much room in the car that we wouldn't have room for anything else. 
For more tips on packing for travel and the best travel accessories, check out this post from Hotels4Teams for tips and tricks for the best travel accessories in 2018!


  1. The eternal struggle... fighting the urge to pack everything “just in case”! It’s tough enough for me as a single woman, I can’t imagine what it’s like once you have kids...

    1. I feel like we're doing good if the car isn't packed to the ceiling haha!