Traveling with kids is the best, but it can also be very challenging. When I was a first-time mom, I remember my hubby and I planned a weekend trip to Captiva Island in Southwest Florida. My oldest, Grace, was just 4 months old, but I really wanted to get away. I had all these big ideas in my head about how magical this weekend would be… and let’s just say, we learned a LOT that weekend. I bought little Grace a beach chair, swimsuit, and sunglasses so we could hit the beach. It was windy that day, but I wanted that beautiful photo of Grace lounging on her new chair. Well, she couldn’t sit up, so she kept falling over. The sand was all over her and although she was a great sport, she wasn’t all that happy. My hubby watched as he let me do my thing. But then I had to give in to the fact that we weren’t going to enjoy a picture-perfect beach day after all. So it was on to Plan B.
That same weekend, we went out to dinner and Grace was in her stroller next to us. She started complaining so my hubby picked her up. She had pooped so I gathered all the stuff to change her. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say this turned into a really big mess and I realized that I had no change of clothes for her in the baby bag. Poor Grace was left with a diaper and a sweater until we got back to the hotel.
Did we learn our lesson? YES! As a new mom, I learned a lot very quickly and we adjusted our plans as needed. We still enjoyed traveling — road trips, cruises, airplanes, train rides — but we were better prepared — and I never left home without an extra outfit again!
Packing for Adventure
Now that my girls are 5 and 7 years old, I have found a system that works, and I wanted to share some of my tried-and-true tips with you.
First and foremost, I learned this packing hack a few years ago from a blogger and my life was forever changed. I’m serious! It works when you have a baby, toddler or young kids. Set aside all your kid’s outfits for your trip. Then place each outfit inside a gallon-size Ziploc storage bag (I prefer the slider bags, which are much easier to open and close). Inside each Ziploc, you’ll store a top, bottom (or dress), underwear, socks and even a coordinating bib for babies. If you really want to complete the outfit, add matching hair accessories, too. If you’re traveling for seven days, you’ll have seven outfits already picked out for each day and you won’t go crazy looking for that missing pair of shorts or a sock. Planning a beach vacation? Place all the swimsuits and accessories in a separate Ziploc. When my girls were babies, this was so helpful. My kids are older now, but I still use this method of packing. Now I let them help me put together their outfits!
I also like to surprise them with 3-4 little games or toys in their backpacks. Just before we leave, I place these goodies in their bag and they can’t open it until we’re at the airport ready to check in or on the airplane (depending how much time we have). Target’s Dollar Spot is a great place to find inexpensive surprises. I also like buying them an activity book with crayons, a book to read or a journal. And the little “blind bags” with small toys are a big hit, too! This way, they have something new to keep them entertained while traveling.
While on the plane, I pack their Lil Gadgets headphones so they can watch a show or play games on their iPad. The cool thing about these headphones is that they come in all different colors and they can attach to each other so both kids can be entertained at once. I’ve had two sets for a while and the quality is great. Now there’s also a wireless version available. This year, they received the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch for Christmas so they will be playing with those as well. My oldest loves taking photos and she can do that with this smartwatch. Although I prefer to keep the use of these tech gadgets to a minimum, it sure helps keep them busy on plane rides. What I like about these devices is that you can activate parental controls and limit the time they are allowed to spend on them.
If you prefer tech-free distractions, I’d recommend pretty much any of the Melissa & Doug activity sets. Some favorites include the Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Bingo Game and the License Plate Game. My girls really enjoy the Make-a-Face Sticker Pad. There are many other great games out there, too!
I’m so glad that we are past the bottle and diaper stage, as it makes traveling much easier. But if you have baby bottles (or even water bottles when they’re older), I really loved the OXO Tot On-the-Go Drying Rack with Bottle Brush. It’s such a handy little kit!
What are some of your favorite travel hacks or must-haves? One of my teammates recently shared about the luggage scooter, and I’d love to hear what works for you!
Well, I’m actually packing for a trip as I write this, so I better get back to it. We are very excited about our upcoming family adventure and I’m looking forward to sharing our travel story with you soon.
Happy and safe travels!