Although the main theme of my blog is health and fitness, so much of my life involves my family (husband Eric, 3 year old Landon and 9 month old Riley) and traveling. As a couple, Eric and I love traveling and find it extremely crucial to keeping our marriage healthy and our zest for life alive!
Funny story, when I first met Eric, he hated traveling. He would tell me how much of a homebody he was and that he was happier staying at home doing projects. Coming from a family who traveled often when I was growing up, I thought "I'm going to change his mind." So I bought us some Disneyland tickets and booked a hotel in Anaheim. We drove from Phoenix to Disneyland. He had to drive us there in the POURING RAIN, in the dark and in crazy California traffic. FAIL!! O.K., lets try this again...our next trip was to Vegas. (If any of you know us personally, you know how this turns out.) So we check into Caesars Palace and get upgraded to a suite, and I don't just mean get upgraded to a suite. I mean PENTHOUSE STYLE needs its own elevator and special key to get to the floor upgraded. Say what?! AND TO BOOT, we won money! Who actually wins money gambling in Vegas?! So needless to say, he LOVED Vegas. Like a kid in the candy store LOVED it. So fast forward 9 years and we have traveled a lot of super cool places.
So when we started having children, we talked about how it was important for us to keep traveling and make it a priority to take family vacations. Some of my fondest memories growing up were our family vacations and I wanted the same for our children. So we took Landon on his first plane ride at 6 months old and Riley at 8 months old. Landon has been to Wisconsin 2 times, San Diego 3 times, Disneyland 2 times and hotel stays at local staycations in Scottsdale and Flagstaff/Sedona. Riley stayed in a hotel in San Diego with us when she was 7 weeks old! I'm no expert by any means but feel like we are really getting the hang of it and traveling as a family keeps getting easier and easier! It makes me sad when I hear other people say that they don't travel with their kids because of the headache! It is so worth it!
So here are some of my tips and tricks for traveling with young children and babies:
For Travel with a baby:
1. Wear the baby through the airport
Ergo baby 360 or Solly Baby wrap to the rescue! Your hands are full enough trying to get through the airport. Wearing the baby will help a lot plus baby will get to look at all the new sights and stay happy and occupied! At security, they will more than likely make you take baby out but again, not too much of a headache.
2. Stroller advice
If you must bring a stroller with you, and I mean MUST, gate check it at the gate. You do not want to check it with your bags as it will not get handled with care. Our strollers are basically as pricey as a car payment (or more!), so we need to keep these suckers in good shape! It will be a pain to get it through security mainly just from the time stand point so be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to get through security.
If you think you may be able to go on your trip without a stroller, I recommend not flying with one. We have traveled a couple times where we didn't bring a stroller and just bought an inexpensive one at Target when we got to our destination. We have even borrowed ones from friends/family. Traveling without a stroller makes the aiport/travel day way less stressful.
Tip for driving with a stroller- most strollers' wheels come off making the amount of space it takes up in your trunk way less
3. Food, Bottles, Nursing, Milk, Etc
If it isn't stressful enough packing for a baby, now you have to worry about packing for a long day of travel for the baby. Keep in mind most airports do not have baby food, baby formula or diapers for sale. So pack heavy on those. How terrible would it be if your flight was delayed and you were all out of milk/food for baby? How stressful!
At security they may test your baby food/milk/formula, so be sure to have items that are well marked. One time we traveled with homemade frozen baby food. (oh because for baby 1, Landon, I was such an awesome mom who made organic baby food for my kid..how dare I buy prepackaged? Second kid, hahaha, not so much) Anyways, my containers didn't say "gerber" or brands on them since I had made the food and of course we had to deal with 50 million questions about it and then they tested it. It wasn't terrible but added more stress than necessary. So I say put aside your organic mom holier than thou attitude and just feed your kid prepackaged food/pouches for travel days.
If your baby is eating finger foods/purees/pouches, remember to bring a bib (plastic one that can be rinsed off). I always put inside a freezer bag, a bib and food pouches and finger foods so that when baby is done I can put the dirty bib and food wrappers back in the freezer bag and not get the diaper bag all dirty or deal with finding a trash can, etc. We are also obsessed with this pouch buddy holder too!
And if your babe is on formula, this formula dispenser is a MUST or some brands like Similac even make travel pouches...genius.
Also, this little brush and dryer rack is a must buy for cleaning bottles while traveling
4. Crib and/or Pack N Play
No need to travel with a pack n play, most hotels offer cribs and/or pack n plays. If you are staying at a friends or family, try to reach out to someone in advance and arrange a crib or pack n play, surely someone in the area has one. Worst case, buy a cheap one at walmart/target when you get to your destination. Walmart usually has inexpensive pack n plays for $35-70.
I always bring our own crib sheets if staying at a hotel and bring wipes to wipe down the hotel crib but there can't be any more germs on a hotel crib then in an airplane. Right?
For Travel with young children:
1. If flying with a 1 year old or older Buy this- CARES- Kid Safety Harness
If your child is 22 lbs and 1 years old and up, this is awesome! The first time Landon was going to be flying and not be in a infant car seat, I was freaking out that he was not going to want to stay in the seat. This helped a lot with that! It has a similar buckle to a car seat, so it gives the illusion of "stay put"
2. Buy this too- Buckle Toy- $24.99
This toy literally kept Landon occupied for a long time, like 20 minutes! That is like 2 hours in toddler time LOL. We gave this to him on the airplane and during my sister-in-law wedding rehearsal and wedding for quiet play.
3. Have new toys that are for this special trip or plane ride only
This last trip to Disneyland, my mom had bought Landon a little Mickey Mouse backpack and packed it full of new fun stuff. Lots of stuff from the Target dollar spot and different stickers and toys. He loved it and felt so cool walking through the airport with his own bag!
I am not afraid of a little bribery and bring it out when I need to. "Ok, CHILD you want that brand new paw patrol toy? I will buy it for you but you need to be good the whole trip." Does it work every time? No. But hey, its worth a shot.
5. Limit iPad/iPhone/tablet time to the LAST HALF OF THE TRIP
We learned this the hard way our first drive to San Diego and now will never do it any other way. Whether you are driving or flying, if you allow your child to watch a tablet, wait until the last half of the trip. The first half of the trip they should be excited about the new sights, sounds, etc. especially if flying. The airport and plane are such new exciting places that you shouldn't need a tablet or even toys right away.
When you get into desperation mode, bust out the tablet.
6. If budget allows, just buy a damn seat for the child
Excuse my language but just trust me. I get it, the kid is under 2 so its free for him/her to be a lap child. But seriously think about it. Is your flight over 2.5 hours? If so, I'd think think long and hard if you want your child on your lap for that long. And I know, you're going to say next, well he can sit on my husbands lap or we can take turns. Think again. Kids smell our fear and anxiety and in these situations they just know how to stress us the F out and not nap, not stay still and cause a ruckus for the whole plane. Again, think long and hard and try to budget for a seat.
Even when they are little babies, I still recommend buying a seat. Most infant car seats fit in the seat. You will put the car seat by the window and buckle it in. And if your babies are like mine, the sweet sound of the airplane engine humming and the comfort of the car seats lulls them to sleep for the whole flight.
1. Use grocery delivery services
Depending on the length of your stay, where you are going, what you need, etc. it may be easier to get groceries delivered to you. We just did this with Vons for our Disneyland trip and it was awesome! We had milk, bananas, the baby's purees and mum mums, water and alcohol delivered straight to the hotel!
That meant so much less to pack in our bags! And since it was our first time, I found a promo code for free delivery!
2. Get a hotel room with a separate living room and bedroom
My kids go to bed at 7:30pm and are used to sleeping in rooms by themselves with no tvs on. I don't know about you, but I don't want to go to bed at 7:30pm. And I definitely don't want to sit in a dark room laying in a bed with my kids in a crib next to me fearing any little movement or breath will wake them up. No thank you. Vacation with kids can be relaxing but you have to do a little preplanning.
If it is a trip more than one or two nights in a hotel, try to find a room that has a bedroom separate from a living room. If budget doesn't allow for that, try to take a look at the hotel floorplans online and find one that appears that the bathroom area may be big enough for a crib or pack n play. Many times we have put Landon or Riley in a crib in the doorway to the bathroom so they are away from us and we can still lay in the bed and watch tv. We also like to get rooms that have patios, especially if we can't get a room with a separate space for the crib(s), then at bedtime for the kids we will get some adult bevs and sit out on the patio.
3. Forget about their schedule
Sure when we are at home, I am all about that routine. My kids are 'Babywise" kids (more on that at a later date) and daily we have a schedule and routine which creates happiness, predictability and organization in our daily life but on vacation, YOU HAVE TO GO WITH THE FLOW. I repeat, you have to go with the flow.
Car seat nap? No problem.
Missed a nap? That is ok.
Fell asleep an hour before bedtime? No worries.
Woke up at 5am? Order a coffee
4. Plan some mommy (or daddy) alone time
If our trip allows, I usually try to schedule some spa time for me and golf for my husband. We each take turns with the kids for a couple hours so we can enjoy our alone time. It is glorious. I also try to stay healthy and on track with my fitness on the trip and that is where Beachbody on Demand is a lifesaver!
Just remember, traveling as a family really is all about the memories! You won't remember what you forgot or the stressful travel day! You'll remember those moments you have together and your kids will too!
Hi! I'm Jess