Planning a family trip, but not so thrilled about having to clean up the non-stop mess that is travelling with kids? We feel you.
You may have the clean-up routine down to a science at home—or at least have learned to gracefully let the mess go—but most of those thoughtful strategies and systems to deal with the disarray are somewhat beyond your control when you travel.
So don’t let a little mess deter you from travelling with your kids. In fact, with a little creative planning and organization, you’ll discover some smarter, tidier ways to travel. (You can thank us later.)
1. Crayola Mess-Free Color Wonder kits
A colouring set for your kiddo is a must-have activity on any trip. But the mess? No thanks. Enter Crayola Mess-Free Color Wonder. The uniquely designed markers and paints included in these sets come out clear on everything except the matching Crayola Mess-Free Color Wonder paper provided. Your budding artist can go wild on colouring their favourite cartoon characters like Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol, and you won’t have to worry about scrubbing marker stains from tiny fingers and favourite outfits.
2. Anti-static strap for carsickness
Looking for a carsickness solution? Many parents swear by this strange yet simple miracle—an anti-static strap with a reflective strip that you attach to the rear bumper of your vehicle. Seriously, that’s all you do. Here’s how it works: The strip dangles from back of the car and touches the road, grounding the static charges that happen when a moving car creates friction with the road and air. The theory is that these strips are supposed to prevent electricity from building up inside the vehicle and reduce radio interference, electric shocks when opening and closing the doors, and magically, even motion sickness. If your kid (or even your pet) gets queasy easily, it’s a fascinating and cheap trick that’s worth a shot.
3. Baby wipes galore
Whether it’s for a baby, a big kid or for yourself, you’re going to want to stock up on these. Staying fresh and germ-free—especially in airports and on planes where proper hand washing is hard to come by with children in tow—is made so much easier with the convenience of wet wipes. If you’re going to use them for your kid’s hands or face, these bamboo wipes by Aleva Naturals are perfume-free and extra soft. Moisturized with organic aloe vera and chamomile oil, they’re much gentler on delicate skin than regular wipes.
4. Laundry detergent bar
Soap bars like this Sunlight one are super portable and travel-friendly for emergency laundry, making it easy to hand-wash clothes in hotel room sinks. It’s fine if you don’t want to wash your own stuff till you get back home, but you do not want to let stained and funky-smelling kids’ laundry sit around, unless you’re willing to chuck it!
5. Training pants
If your toddler is more or less potty trained, you probably know that you’re not really supposed to give them mixed messages about their brand-new skill. But lots of parents have asked their little kids to put on training pants during the day “just this one time” when travelling. If you’re seriously worried about an accident on a long car ride or flight (and maybe you should be), go for it. Changing a wet or soiled kiddo while travelling isn’t fun for anyone and you sure don’t want to be the reason the drink cart is delayed, because of the cleanup in Aisle 12.
6. Clear zip-top and reusable bags
Ziplocs are a practical way to separate and organize all your packing on a trip. And if you want to reduce waste, reuse them as much as possible. (They can even be washed with cold water and dish soap and air-dried.) If you want to get really green, invest in some good cloth wet bags for dirty clothes and diapers. These brilliant packing cubes that both compress and organize clothing for travel are great, too.
7. Modeling clay
Pack a small tub of Crayola Modeling Clay and stick it to your kid’s tray. Teach them to stick their Crayola markers and crayons in it so that they don’t fall on the floor. There’s nothing quite like trying to find a lost “treasure” in the depths of the airplane seat pockets or the mysterious void under the seat in front of you. You can even use it to make a “coaster” for drinks so they don’t spill so easily.
8. Travel trays
A kids’ travel tray like this Jolly Jumper one can be used in a car seat, airplane seat or stroller. It simply buckles around your child to provide a flat surface for drawing, reading, eating and playing. Plus, the rim prevents things from sliding off. (For road trips, don’t forget those backseat organizers for storing travel necessities as well.)