Buyables

Tips and Tricks for Traveling With Kids, From the Parents of VICE

How to snack, gate-check, and iPad your way to a blissful vacation for the whole family.
December 17, 2019, 7:22pm
Child with luggage
Collage by Lia Kantrowitz | Images via Shutterstock

Each week, VICE parents (yes, they exist) share their unfiltered approach to all things child-rearing.

There aren’t enough hacks in the world to make traveling with children a breeze, and it doesn’t help that this year in the U.S., more than 115 million people are expected to travel between Dec. 21 and Jan. 1—the most in 20 years, according to AAA.

If you’re one of those people planning on taking kids on a plane ride or a road trip this holiday season, the parents of VICE have some tips for how to make it slightly easier.

Leslie Horn, Editorial Director, Culture

Every time we fly we have a system. We usually go through security with our Babyzen Yoyo stroller, which folds up small enough to fit into the overhead compartment (Pro Tip: you can gate-check strollers and carseats for free).

When we board the plane we stick him in the Ergobaby carrier. He is about to be too big for the Ergo, and now he's walking, but this has worked for the last 16 months. The other thing I always suggest is, give your baby a bottle or something to drink on takeoff and landing because it helps with ears equalizing. I also always always take a muslin blanket with me on a plane, because I try to get him to sleep in the Ergo and cover his head to block light.

Babyzen stroller

Babyzen 2018 / 2019 Yoyo+

Ergobaby Carrier

Ergobaby™ Four-Position 360 Cool Air Baby Carrier

Katie Drummond, SVP, Digital

I recently flew alone with my 2-year-old on a five-hour flight that meant waking her up at 4AM to get to the airport. A several-hour timezone change was also involved. Nightmare scenario? Not when you have an iPad or other tablet device. I downloaded several episodes of Sesame Street (available on Hulu) and Super Wings (Amazon Prime Video), put on her kid-friendly headphones, and she spent about seven hours immobile other than to reach her grubby paws into a bag of animal crackers. Whatever brain rot she incurred on that flight was totally worth the remarkably peaceful journey.

My other suggestion, whatever mode of travel you're embarking on, is to bring a shit-ton of kid food. Cookies? Crackers? Fruit leather? Raisins? Cheerios? Juice boxes? Check to all. Just bring a bunch of food and don't worry about meal-time or nutrition. Just let them eat. I'm a bad mom.

Puro kid-safe headphones

BT2200 Volume Limited Kids' Bluetooth Headphones (on sale)

iPad case

Child-proof iPad case

Timothy Marchman, Editorial Director, Features

The hardest thing about traveling with kids is that they're kids. Adults are lethargic, weary, and have lost the sensation of being alive, since their children have drained it from them; children are exuberant and need to move or else be distracted.

The latter is a lot easier, so when traveling I find it's an excellent time to throw out any prohibitions on screen time and just let them zombie out absolutely as hard as they want on absolutely whatever they want. We have two tablets and a video game system for precisely these purposes and they work great, the biggest issue being keeping them charged on very long drives from the East Coast to the Midwest.

Used iPad

Used iPad (if you need a few!)

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

Kate Lowenstein, Editorial Director, News and Issues

Before your kid turns two, you're faced with the question of whether to treat them like the "lap child" that airlines say they are. That is, you can get away with not paying for a ticket for them, at the expense of your sanity and all the feeling in your legs and feet. (This is true for those of us whose children are very large and very eager to move, at least. Sadly for me, I am not, nor have I ever been, the parent of a true "lap child," which I imagine to be some kind of prim little creature that perches daintily on your knees when you say so.)

I wasn't going to actually pay for a cross-country ticket for my 20-month-old, but when he got a stomach bug right before we boarded the plane I warned Delta that their passengers might be better off if we could sit as far away from other people as possible. They gave us a row to ourselves, the kid slept, and I watched a movie for the first time in two years. A dream! Except for the stomach flu part!