Traveling with kids is no joke, friends. They require a lot of… stuff. Entertainment, food, drink, clothes, loveys, and more. Think you can pack your family into one suitcase? Think again. Think you can pack your family into two suitcases? Think again.
We took one GIANT suitcase – I’m talking L.L.Bean rolling duffel in the largest size that Hubby took skiing as a kid – and one regular large suitcase full of our stuff, two backpacks, and a regular diaper bag. Oh yeah, and an umbrella stroller. All of that didn’t include my mom, it was just Hubby, the kids, and me.
I posted on Facebook that I needed some travel tips from friends with kids… mostly about the airplane segment of the trip. You guys really came through with your tips! Everything from stroller vs. babywearing and how to keep their ears from popping to keeping EK occupied and myself sane (not to mention a few hilarious responses of valium and xanax!) Here are a few of things things you suggested that we found success with:
1. Flying out early in the morning. My kids were packed into their car seats at 6:00am, still in their pjs. This was the best ever, because EK ate a little breakfast on the way, J nursed right before we left, and no one was really awake until we were on the plane. That time frame suited us perfectly.
2. Starburst candy during take off/landing. Someone suggested to me that if EK couldn’t chew gum (We’ve never tried, but didn’t want to.) she should have Starburst in her mouth during take off and landing. Because it’s so chewy, it lasts a while, and it creates a lot of saliva and causes you to swallow often. And also, she loved it. Total win.
3. Dollar Store treasures. As I’m writing this, I realize most of this seems to be for EK, but she’s the one who needed the most entertainment. This ended up being Target $1 Spot treasures, but they worked the same. Her favorite ended up being mainly stickers. But kept her occupied waiting for dinners, on plane rides, etc.
4. Extra changes of clothes. This was obviously a necessity because I have a
drooly teething 7 month old and a messy mischievous toddler. They each wore more than one outfit a day, not counting pjs, and J went through about 17 bibs. Luckily someone had gifted a pack of 6 disposable bibs to me at some point, and I had never used them, so I took them along during the day (we used them all). They were great, because when they were drenched or covered in pear puree, I tossed them.
Here are a few things that we found out through trial and error:
1. Babywearing is the best and easiest way to lug babies/young kids around. We took a ring sling, a Boba, and an umbrella stroller as means of getting the babies around. J spent 85% of his time on the trip in the Boba, simply because he can’t yet sit in a restaurant high chair, we were on the go during his morning nap time, and he is “mommyfied” right now, at best. EK was usually either in the stroller or walking with us, but whenever she got restless, or J got hot, we just swapped them. Best plan ever, because neither had a chance to tire of their location too much, I didn’t have a bulky double stroller to deal with, and J could nap while I wore him, so he didn’t tire out too quickly.
One side note: Subways are tricky. Lots of stairs (elevators were present, but often farther away), and strollers don’t often fit through turnstiles. Just plan a few extra minutes if you’re traveling that way.
2. Never underestimate the power of cell phone games/videos. I have several educational games/videos on my phone that EK can play or watch, even without internet. That was super helpful all the way around, everywhere we were. I typically don’t let her indulge in too much screen time, but there were a few times that she was fussy (read: tired) or we needed her to stick in the stroller a bit longer (because we were almost to our destination) that the cell phone did the trick for a few minutes. Because she doesn’t play on there all the time, she didn’t get bored when we needed to occupy her for a few minutes. (Favorite apps: Grandma’s Garden, Pitch Painter, Peekaboo Barn, The Wheels on the Bus and ABCMouse.com A-Z Music Videos)
3. Make time for nap time. I know it seems like a pain when the kids get sleepy and you’re in the middle of something – believe me, that was pretty much our whole week. But I really do think our week was better because we stuck to a little bit of a routine with the naps. Every afternoon, we’d go back to the hotel for EK’s nap time. Sometimes it took extra effort to get her down, but it was always a nice respite for all of us. Some of you seasoned mamas are clucking at me, saying “Of course you should’ve known that!” and you’re right. But when EK didn’t seem tired, and she loved the boat ride, we needn’t have tarried, because the brick wall of exhaustion was hovering, waiting to crash down.
4. Snacks upon snacks upon snacks. This was the key to our happiness. Fruit purees for both kids, bottles of milk or juice, pretzels from the street carts, all were life savers. My kids get it from me… hangry is their worst mood.
5. Always bring the lovey, no matter what. My kids love swaddles. Neither of them were actually swaddled for that long, but they love having one while they sleep (mostly to stuff in their mouths. Weird, right?) We don’t let EK have hers unless it’s naptime or bedtime, because she would just walk around with it in her mouth and dragging behind her. We’re a little more lenient with J right now since he’s younger, but still he doesn’t get it all the time or EK would just take it. We always had one in the diaper bag when we left the hotel because if one got really upset, I knew that would be a way to help calm them down, or help them fall asleep while I was wearing them if they got really tired and we near the hotel.
Do you have some stellar travel tips I didn’t hear before my trip? I need to know them for the next one!