20 Best Parenting Travel Hacks From TikTok

By Martha Sorren
mother and child on a planeHispanolistic/iStock

Spring break season is upon us, and whether we're seasoned travelers or taking our family out of town for the first time, we could all use some hacks to make trips easier. Life as a parent is tough enough even when in a regular routine at home, and vacations can throw things into total chaos before we know it. But because family trips are supposed to be fun bonding experiences, it would be nice to take some of the stress and worry out of the equation. Fortunately, many parents who have been there, done that have shared their travel tips on TikTok to help make every parent’s next trip go a little more smoothly.

This list of the 20 best ideas for traveling with kids will help with any vacation scenario. Whether the trip is to the beach, via an airplane, or includes a lengthy car ride, there's advice for every situation. After seeing these videos, parents will be able to comfort kiddos with flight anxiety, occupy toddlers on a road trip, and better keep everything (and everyone) organized.

Knowing these helpful hints will make relaxing during the next vacation that much easier.

More from CafeMom: 16 Funny Parenting TikToks That Are Making Us All LOL


Play Airport

This TikTok flight attendant suggested preparing kids for an upcoming plane ride by "playing airport." Kids love to play pretend, and by walking them through concepts like security, boarding, and sitting in their seats, they will be way more prepared when it's time to do the real thing. Plus, it'll seem like a game rather than anything stressful on the actual travel day.


Pack Smarter

This mom recommended packing kids' clothes in an over-the-door organizer. Simply place each day's clothing in one pocket, fold it up, and put it in the suitcase. Once everyone's arrived at the final destination, unroll the organizer and hang it up. Everything will be easily accessible.


Handy Suitcase

Usually parents have to carry their own bags around an airport — and their kids' bags as well. TikToker @chelleflife1 picked up this JetKids suitcase so her son could roll himself around the airport or be easily pulled along. It takes a lot of the work out of an already stressful day.

More from CafeMom: I Left My Baby in Coach While I Enjoyed 11-Hour Flight in Business Class & I'm Not Sorry


Simplify Security

Security can be one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of a travel day. To simplify things, TikToker @muddlethroughmummy recommended putting any potential problem items into one bag — think liquids, snacks, electronics, and anything else that might require an extra TSA search.

If two adults are traveling, send that bag through with one adult while the other goes with the simple bags and the kids. If an item gets flagged, it's easy to unpack that one bag instead of the whole family's luggage.


Board Last

This is another hack that works if two parents are traveling at the same time. Have one parent get on the plane during preboarding while the other parent lets the kids hang out in the gate area. Once everyone is on the plane, get on last. That way kids aren't sitting in their cramped seats during that whole lengthy boarding experience.


Airplane Bed

Sadly, there aren't a lot of ways to make tiny airplane seats more comfortable for adults, but they can be made better for little ones. TikToker joseefinds brought blow-up footrests to create makeshift beds, and mum_that_toks got the Flyaway bed featured in this video to keep her kiddos comfy. Erin Dittmer also pointed out on TikTok that some flights will allow parents to set up baby bassinets in certain bulkhead seats — just check with the airline ahead of time.


Understanding Turbulence

One of the scariest parts of flying (for children and adults) can be turbulence. Fortunately, this viral TikTok from Anna Paul put a lot of fears to rest. The bumps may seem scary, but that doesn't mean the plane is going to crash. She demonstrated the air pressure with a cup of gelatin. Anything suspended in the substance (like a plane) may wiggle a little, but it's not going anywhere. Showing kids this video may soothe any fears about falling.


Avoid Ear Pain

Speaking of air pressure, ascending or descending in a plane can wreak havoc on children's ears. Try giving them something to chew or suck on during takeoff and landing to help equalize the pressure. TikToker @ourtravelingtots recommended a pacifier, bottle, lollipop, or squeezable snack pouch.


Visit the Pilot

Flight attendant and TikToker @shannatravels said parents can make plane rides extra cool by bringing little ones up to see the pilot and cockpit. Although this can't be done during the flight, she said that during boarding or deplaning, just check with a flight attendant and they'll try to make it happen.


Instant Entertainment

For long trips in a car, occupy kiddos' attention with these easy over-the-seat screens. Simply place a cellphone or small tablet in a plastic baggie and secure it with the headrest. According to TikToker StylistJoey, there's a similar hack for airplanes: Thread a free barf bag through a phone case to create a makeshift holder. Because some planes don't have built-in TVs, this is a game-changer.


Kid Headphones

For parents who plan to let their children get some screen time during a trip, kid-friendly headphones are a must. That way, nobody has to hear cartoons on repeat except for the children. Parents can get a pair with noise cancellation and perhaps add a headphone cord-splitter so two kids can use the same TV or tablet at once.


Fun Activities

Distracting little ones on a trip is half the battle, but as TikToker Calla McKinley pointed out, "Anything brand new holds their attention so much longer." McKinley said she stops by a dollar store ahead of a big travel day to pick up inexpensive treats such as stickers, crayons, small toys, etc. Dole them out to children during the trip and they'll be occupied for hours.


Grazing Boxes

Airplane food can be expensive and just not very good. Pack kids' snacks at home in these cute craft boxes instead. The novelty of choosing from the different compartments will entertain the little ones, and parents can ensure that everyone is getting a mix of healthy and fun food.


Road Trip Tray

Stopping for food during a road trip? Athomewithshannon said on TikTok to ask a restaurant for a few extra drink carriers to use as trays. The little drink compartments perfectly hold snacks, toys, beverages, and more. They'll keep small items from getting lost in the vehicle's seats forever.


Cruise Storage

Planning to take a cruise with the little ones? Most cabins are on the smaller side and parents will be dealing with wet clothes from pool or ocean adventures. TikToker Lindsay Blanchard recommended getting some magnetic hooks. They stick right to the cabin wall and keep wet clothes from ending up in musty piles on the floor.


Travel Bingo

Help the time pass in the car by playing travel bingo with the kids. Amazon sells ready-made sheets with roadside landmarks to look out for or parents can make their own. We remember playing games like searching for the letters of the alphabet in street signs or on license plates, and it kept us busy the whole drive.


DIY Trash

TikToker Akiko Roman made a travel trash can by putting a grocery bag inside a cereal storage container. Perfect for road trip messes — especially for any kids who might get a little carsick. The snap-on lid will also keep everything contained inside.


Bubble Fun

An easy way to occupy little ones during a drive is to hold a bubble wand in front of the car air vents. Almost no energy will be expended on the parents' behalf, and the children will have so much fun trying to pop the bubbles from their seats.


Easy Bed Bumpers

An easy way to create DIY bed bumpers on vacation is by bringing an inflatable pool noodle. TikToker Kate Bast said to blow up the noodle and tuck it under the sheet to keep it in place. It's not necessarily as secure as something made specifically for this purpose, but it's a quick fix on a trip.


Restaurant Bag

Susie Lake said on TikTok that she doesn't like having to unpack a bunch of bags while on vacation to find what she needs. Instead, she keeps everything necessary to eat out with the family in one "restaurant bag." With items such as toys, wipes, cups, and more tucked inside, she's ready to go any time they need to make a pit stop.

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