Of all my post, this is the one that I’ll probably edit and add to as the years (heck, even days) go by, I’m constantly learning new things and just when I think I have it down to an art form, something will change, or I’ll have another baby and have to relearn it all over again.
-Pack light , from your suitcase, to your carryons, only pack what you need, for a baby this means …
-a carrier to wear through the airport, a boppy pillow for easy nursing, about 1 diaper for every hour of the flight, an extra change of clothes for baby and me, plus a ziplock bag in case you need to store any soiled clothes, a blanket, changing pad and a sarong.
Toddlers are probably (no, not probably,) the hardest age to travel with, they’re too young to watch a movie and old enough to want to be exploring the whole time, it sucks, but if you know this going into it, you’ll be fine.
-duct tape (sounds weird, but it’s to close the tray table in front of you, otherwise it’ll be their favorite toy,) lollipops, they’ll prevent an epic meltdown when all else fails, enough snacks for a small army, diapers, change of clothes for both of you, a spill free sippy cup (or bottle,) cozy little pillow and sarong.
Personally I don’t pack a lot of toys, my kids just drop them and end up ignoring them, and the more crap I bring on board, the more I have to clean.
I’ve learned the hard way that the kids (and myself,) can and will get sick when we’re traveling , so I always carry my medicine on board with me, Advil, Imitrex, antibiotics, ear drops, nausea meds, baby thermometers, you name it, I pack it!
Some parents try and plan trips around nap time, personally I’ve found this to be pretty hit or miss, and has led to some cranky, hot mess breakdowns.
If you can afford it, any kid over about 4 months should have a car seat, it keeps them contained and they’re more likely to sleep until they’re old enough to watch movies.
Preschoolers and up….
This is good, they grab their headphones, some packed snacks and pretty much watch movies and nap✌🏼 No toys needed.
We fly American almost always and they have hundreds of kids movies on demand (we have had the in flight movies not work, so we always bring a backup iPad and headphones.
Even though our kids are all well past the age of potty training, there have been a few times we’ve had to sit in our seats on an active runway, unable to get up, so I still pack a “just in case” diaper.
Strollers like the Yo-yo Zen are great, no need to gate check, and you can store them on board, if we know we’ll need something sturdier I love my Bugaboo, we use the Bee for cities, the Buffalo for snow and places where we will be doing a lot of hiking and the Donkey when the twins were little, they have been broken by the airlines though, so be warned!! Personally we have lightweight carseats just for travel, we put them in car seat bags with extra pillows and coats and check them at the counter, I also still bring my own spill free cups and a cozy blanket for naps.
Car seats are different in Europe, so check to make sure you have ones that will work on the other side.
Teens….my older kids need nothing besides their headphones and phones, when they take flights without me (especially a red eye) I always make them grab a pillow and sarong.
The Admirals lounge….aka, a parents best choice.
So there’s 2 options, a yearly fee or a day rate, for us the yearly fee is a better option, as soon as we get through security we know we have a nice, calm place to go, with good food, clean bathrooms, a kids play area and even a shower if we need it, its actually Curren’s favorite part of the day. If we’re in a city that doesn’t have the AA Admirals lounge, we find something comparable , almost all airports have something (unless the airport is on a tiny island.)
Once we land it’s all hands on deck, domestic flights are pretty easy, we load up the kids, grab our gate checked items and get a few carts for luggage, if we’re renting a car, Sean takes off with 1 little, while I stay behind to gather the suitcases and meet him outside (as far as suitcases goes, I never bring “fancy” luggage, the more beat up the better, because I’ve had way too much stolen out of mine, I also have learned to split stuff up, especially on ski trips, we’ve had our luggage not make it more times then I can count.)
I assign all rooms….period.
My kids have preferences about who and where they want to sleep, but ultimately it comes down to what I think is best.
Random stuff, duct tape, clothes pins, tape, scissors, tiny screw driver and most importantly our Roku comes everywhere.
When we unpack I look around and use what I can find for quick organization, a salad bowl to hold ski gloves, a decorative basket for shoes, I have no problem rearranging furniture to make it more conducive to us, and quickly put any breakables up high.
The time change….as a general rule I try to stick to a “go to bed when it’s dark, wake up when it’s light” routine, but this tends to take a few days (about 1 day for every hour,) the kids are partying till 10 or 11 at night the first few days in Miami, crashing at 5 in the afternoon in Kauai, and having 3am picnics on the floor in London. I do make us wake up when it’s morning though and sorta force us all to make it through that first brutal day, no matter how tired.
If we’re heading to the beach we tend to pack light, no heels or blow dryer required, for cities I pack in a mono chromatic color palette (aka black) to hide dirt and make everything interchangeable.
I might throw in a sun tent for little babies, but can also use a pack n play with a sarong over it, or shade from a tree in a pinch.
Hotels vs homes? They each have their perks, full service vs full kitchen, but for a family our size, we tend to rent a house…this means more cooking and cleaning for me, but with all our picky eaters and dietary restrictions makes for an easier trip, when we look at homes online I try and get ones that are family friendly, the beautiful homes that are impeccably decorated with white couches aren’t for us , luckily online reviews have made selecting the perfect home much easier ! Sean heads out to the grocery store right away while I unpack (if it’s domestic I’ll stick a few quick to makes packaged meals in my luggage to cook right away.)
Hotel, condo or home we always call ahead to make sure there’s no construction nearby, weddings, or conventions being held, if our dates are flexible we will also try and book for times when there’s lower occupancy….nothing can ruin a trip faster then a jack hammer or (as my post from last year) a drunk Texan.
Over the years we’ve mastered this, a give and take of who does what to get things done, knowing full well traveling with kids is a TRIP, NOT A VACATION. We keep going knowing some plane flights will go smooth, while others will take all you have not to burst into tears.
We’ve also accepted we can’t always do things as a family, one day he’ll go zip lining, while I stay home and another day I’ll take the kids out on the boat while he watches the “littles.”
There will also be whining, and a lot of it, sick kids, sleepless nights and trips to the E.R., we’ve given up on the “perfect” vacation and are content with a great experience.
Like I said, I’ll update this regularly:) Feel free to ask any questions!!!