The 4 Most Important Things When Traveling with Kids

When traveling it’s easy to focus on the adventures we will have and the things we will see. I dream about the glow worm caves in New Zealand, I envision long hikes up peaks with stunning 360 degree views. I picture the togetherness we will feel around late night campfires.

Also…in those dreams no one has a bad attitude or a headache and someone is playing  classical guitar in the background. NBD.

As I’ve travelled with kids I have found, that the adventure is great…but only if we take care of a few basic things first.

1. Sleep.

2. Food.

3. Self Care.

4. Coffee.

1. Not sleeping is a great way to hate everybody you know, especially your spouse.

When I don’t sleep for a couple consecutive nights I channel my inner Chef from Trolls. This has only happened once on our trip so far and I am happy to report that our friends, and a few random strangers know me so much better now.


Lucky them.

My husband enjoys talking to me when I am like this. Especially loudly in a park. I tell him I am tired and NOTHING WILL FIX IT. Especially not sleep or coffee or food or magic. NOTHING. I shoot down all helpful suggestions like an expert badminton player. Also I never want to camp or fly again as long as I live. So I guess we are moving to New Zealand and I guess we will have to purchase a small home (but only if the walls have excellent insulation because I am in NEED OF SOME ABSOLUTE QUIET). Also he has a tendency to breath REALLY LOUD in case he was wondering.

“I want to help you, but I cannot help you when you are…like this.” He gestures to all of me with his hand.

“I will go on a run.” I say, “And then I’ll probably drink a gallon of coffee.”


When I came back I like everyone again and also I have decided not to deport to New Zealand.


Last night I slept and guess what? Everything is my favorite. My husband, my kids, this smoothie that I’m drinking. It’s all my favorite.

When you plan a trip remember to think about having a good place to sleep, and if your kids nap, planning around that is often worth it (like driving during that time if they sleep in the car). Since we are currently caravanning across New Zealand we tried a few different sleeping arrangements before we found the sweet spot. Now everyone is snoozing like champs.

Kerosene Creek, a natural hot water river in New Zealand

The food. Nothing is cool when you’re hangry. Not the Sistine Chapel, not the site of the filming of Lord of the Rings, not baby animals cuddling other baby animals.


Eating well can make or break a trip. Sometimes when I’m ready to check myself and my spawn into a looney bin I remember to first try a ham sandwich.

Glory. We are actually reasonable people who like each other…who knew?

Also, for me the eating is 50% of the experience. I don’t just want to “eat”, I want to enjoy flavors and tastes. For me eating Pad Thai in Thailand is as revolutionary as swimming in a hot water creek in New Zealand.

I love food.

The coffee. Here is a list of things I am able to accomplish and thoughts I am able to think before caffeine:


No one wants to travel with me without coffee and by no-one I mean me. I do not want to travel with me without coffee. And if step #1 fails (as it inevitably will sometimes), coffee is the hero.

The third most important thing is to make sure there’s coffee, and if there isn’t…bring it with.

For all you tea-connoisseurs/non-coffee-drinkers/smoothie-with-vitamins-users…

We cannot be friends.

Just kidding…I salute you. Clearly you have tapped into some sort of voodoo trickery. I only wish to have such skills…but until then I will pack my own french press. Even if it weighed 80 pounds and I had to put it in my purse.

(BTW the coffee has been amazing in both the Cook Islands and New Zealand.)

Jess fence (1 of 1).jpg
Road tripping New Zealand


For me it’s going on runs when I can. If I wake up in a funk this resets me. For my friend it’s getting a hot shower. Whatever it is, don’t totally neglect yourself when traveling with your kids. You need all of yourself to deal with the ups and downs.


Sometimes when you’ve slept well, are fed, had a coffee, and took a shower…it really does seem like there’s classical guitar playing in the background on your family adventures.


Traveling with kids is smelly, and high energy, and exhausting, and perfect. Follow my family’s trip around the world here, on Facebook, and on Instagram. (To see our day-to-day on the road watch both mine and @grahamsjohnston insta-stories).

14 responses to “The 4 Most Important Things When Traveling with Kids”

  1. Having also travelled extensively with five children in tow, the youngest was actually born in New Zealand, I can tell you, you are absolutely right, if the children get enough sleep and food all is well, they only get cranky when they are hungry and tired, and let’s be honest, we adults are not the nicest specimens of the human race when we are hungry and tired either. So enjoying following your travels.

  2. Great post! I can totally relate to you with your husband not understanding that your tired and he wants to help! Haha I am always like “leave me be, I don’t want your help” 😂 xxx

  3. Great tips. Your comment section is glitchful. Dress accordingly, with my memory of getting out of the car at the summit of Pike’s Peak with my then four year old son. I put on my coat. He insisted on his jacket. We fell into a snow drift near the gift shop, blown there with 60 mile an hour wind. Frozen instantly I struggled to hold my son and slide into the building. My husband, 17 year old son and his two friends long gone of course. That trip could be the inspiration for a book. Aw!

    Janet Evans Webb 214 499 8482

  4. Marie Johnston Avatar
    Marie Johnston

    Thank you for being so you and so honest! I laughed so hard! I could just hear Graham’s voice and how he’d say that to you.

  5. I love ❤️ this post!! So much truth and I can seriously relate. I feel like I owe my hubby a big hug for having to deal with the tired, uncaffienated me from time to time. Bless his heart and his continual recommendations! Wish me the best…I’m going to Alaska 22 weeks pregnant and with my two toddlers this week.

  6. Yes! Wishing you all
    The best!! 💕

  7. Wow..This article answered questions, that concerned me for a long time,in my head about being able to travel with children. I am new to marriage and new to blogging but long-time traveler.. Hope I can manage to travel with children in future and can give advices about it like you do to people around me. Unfortunately, it is not very common to travel with children for people around me, they give theiir children to grandparents and travel :/
    Your blog seems wonderful, I’ll waiting for your posts 🙂

  8. I’m so glad to hear that!

  9. I’m sure it’ll make for great stories later!

  10. I searched ‘traveling with kids’ to inspire my trip with my own kids 12 and 9 next week. We’ve been on one very short one some months ago, but it’ll be me and them alone in New York City next week. I’m so giddy with excitement as they’ve never been there and I love NYC. Reading about your adventures is assuring me that mine will be great. Lots of snacks and coffee for me. The kids can figure out their own situation. 🙂 Just kidding.

  11. Haha, I love it! And I’m so glad you found me 😀

  12. Yes! Without a doubt ☺️

  13. I am planning a trip with my sister and young daughter (she is 5) across the country (USA). We will be gone about 4-5 months. We leave beginning of march. I’m pretty nervous about traveling so long with my daughter being so young but I’m also very excited for yhe experience with her. Any mom’s out there want to give me some tips? Advice?

  14. Awe, so excited for you!! We do lots of audio books and download the occasional movies. Box Car Children are fantastic – I get them off of audible, but you can often find them downloadable from a local library. I’ll let you know if I think of anything else!

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