Jessica Alba’s Top Tips for Traveling With Kids
Ah, vacations—a time to relax and make happy memories. But when it comes to traveling with kids, the experience isn’t exactly stress-free. From figuring out what to pack (and how to carry it) to how to entertain your little ones in a confined space for the next several hours, embarking on a trip with kids can definitely bring on the headaches. Which is why we turned to Jessica Alba—actress, founder of The Honest Company and mom of three—to get her tried-and-true tricks for how to enjoy smooth travels with your little ones and make the most of your time together as a family. Here’s what she said.
I have three kids and have traveled all over the world with them. At this point, I feel like I’ve picked up a lot of tips and tricks over the years.
Always make sure to bring a few extra changes of clothes for the little ones. And don’t forget to pack at least two comfortable shirts to change into for yourself! You never know when your child is going to get sick or barf or spill on you so it’s better to be prepared—I know from experience.
Pack plenty of dry snacks, since you can usually easily bring these through airport security. My kids tend to get motion sickness a lot while traveling so I always bring a homemade mini first aid kit with me, including children and adult versions of Benadryl, Tylenol and Tums as well as bandages (I love these ones) and Neosporin. I also bring extra bags to use for dirty diapers or, worse case scenario, as a barf bag, as well as lollipops to give the kids in case they get sick to mask the bad taste in their mouth and help settle their tummies.
If your baby drinks formula, pre-fill at least one large bottle and one smaller bottle with just the formula inside. Also bring a container that has pre-measured amounts of the formula inside and label it so you know which is for which sized bottle. This way you don’t have to carry the entire container of formula.
To make sure your kids are comfortable, pack them a pillow and blanket and bring their favorite stuffed animal. If you have a younger one, be sure to bring plenty of burp cloths. ( Lewis makes great organic cotton muslin burp cloths and blankets.)
I like to use a backpack instead of a tote when I’m traveling, as I always want to have my hands as free as possible, and my favorite is from Honest. If your child is 3 or older, they can carry their own kid-sized backpack with their own entertainment, snacks and change of clothes. Additionally, I travel with a separate roller suitcase for the baby, which has extra clothes, extra diapers and a full pack of wipes, hand-sanitizer spray and extra blankets. Just make sure that the suitcase size is compliant as a carry-on, but you can’t fit everything in just one backpack, especially for three kids!
Honest Wipes! They’re plant-based, hypoallergenic and contain over 99 percent water, so they’re great for sensitive skin and can be used cheek to cheek. They’re also the perfect item to clean up any and all travel messes and spills.
We love to sing songs together, especially nursery songs like “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Old Macdonald” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” I also always bring two of their favorite books. We love anything from the Lil’ Libros series by Patty Rodriguez and also author Roda Ahmed’s ABC and Me and Good Night, Wiggly Toes.
I recognize that introducing kids to electronics is a personal choice and every family has their own philosophy on when the right time is. Personally, I think traveling is much easier with electronics when kids are forced to sit down on a plane, car or train for long periods of time. We don’t rely on electronics completely since my kids can have short attention spans, but it does help. My favorite apps and programs for the kids are Noggin, PBS Kids and OSMO.
As I mentioned, I bring both a backpack and a rolling suitcase. I’m a fan of the Honest City Backpack, which comes with a large insulated pocket for snacks and treats to keep them cool or hot. It also has easy access pockets, a computer compartment and lots of pockets to keep things separate. For suitcases I like Shay Mitchell’s brand beis. Their products have tons of different compartments and pockets to help keep things organized.
I also love using space saving bags and labels! Sometimes I find that labels don’t stick. Instead, I use packing tape and write on it with a Sharpie to label what’s in each bag so I’m not sifting through random bags to find one particular item. I also like to pack two to three empty safe savers to collect dirty clothes. Lastly, I pack complete day and complete night outfits so I don’t have to put them together on the road, which saves a ton of time.
Overall, I tend to gravitate toward warmer places. In the US, I love going to New York and Hawaii. Internationally I like Japan, France, Italy, Brazil and anywhere in the Mediterranean or Carribean regions.
It’s nice to visit places that are welcoming and kid-friendly. Before I visit a place, I’ll check to see if any parent content creators that I follow have travelled there. I’ve gotten a ton of great tips and recommendations this way. I also like to reference Gwyneth Paltrow’s travel app G. Spotting for shopping and restaurant recommendations.
Try and do as much prep and planning as you can before you travel so that once you get there you can relax and improvise, knowing you’ve already scheduled a few things. I like to plan every other night of my trips to give us something to look forward to but also leave room for more adventurous, spontaneous activities. Or, if I plan the night, I’ll leave the day open, and vice versa. If you overplan, vacations can be exhausting and feel like work, but if you plan nothing, it can be hard to make decisions in the moment with a big group, so it’s a delicate balance. At the end of the day, it’s all about spending quality time with your family and making new memories together.
Published December 2019
Plus, more from The Bump: