Do you travel? Are you a road trip kind of person or an airplane traveler?
We love to travel and think it surprises people when we say we not only travel, but fly with our entire family.
By no means is traveling stress free, but it is worth it in the end for us to have quality family time, new experiences, explore different cultures together and especially fun to expose our kids to all of this and see travel through their eyes. Mental health, rest and recharging is just as important to your overall health and wellness as physical health and we get to accomplish this on vacation. We are grateful we get to do this!
Road trips are for some people and that is actually how I grew up traveling, but it is not for our family. Being in a car for an extended amount of time would cause our family more stress and be less enjoyable, no doubt. Of course cost comes with flying, but we almost always use air flyer points for tickets!
Since we just got back from vacation, I thought I would share some tips we have acquired over the years of doing this because I do think we have it down to a science now! And for the record I am not a light packer and we have kids who wear cloth diapers, so we bring those as well. We have somehow managed to get a pretty good system even though we bring A LOT OF STUFF!
Before We Leave:
- Start a travel packing list. I keep one in google docs, so each trip I don’t need to rethink about items to bring. I have one section at the end of the list that is for trip specific items that I can jot things down as I think of them, the weeks leading up to the trip.
- Locate a grocery store near where you are staying and start a list of items to get so you are prepared when you land. We often hit a grocery store on our way to where we are staying.
- Plan some meals ahead of time. I make sure to have options for breakfast every day at the place we are staying and a few lunch / dinner options plus lots of snacks. Here is an article I did on some food we usually have with us when we travel.
- Consider an Amazon delivery to the place you are staying with any items you may need. We actually haven’t done this but almost did on our last trip. I evaluate the need each time.
- Go to the library to rent some movies to bring with you – for the plane, car or hotel / condo you are staying at.
- Consider getting a few cheap new toys for the plane that your kids haven’t used before so they will be entertained longer than they might if it was something they just brought from home and have played with a hundred times. Books are always a great idea, but here are a few more age specific ideas. And honestly, snacks usually keep them just as entertained so don’t go overboard here!
- Pacifier if they take one and hopefully you will get lucky and they just sleep.
- Melissa and Doug Play Wallet (skip the coins). Fun taking stuff in and out.
- Old food container with a slit cut out and poker chips or connect four pieces they can put into the hole.
- Melissa and Doug Shape Sorter
- Green Toys Keys
- Green Toys Stacking Cups
- Travel Size Magna Doodle
- Melissa and Doug On The Go Coloring Kits
- Melissa and Doug Scratch Art
- Melissa and Doug Water Wow
- Imagine Ink Coloring
- Crayola Mess Free
- Magnetic Fun
- Boogie Board
- Target dollar bin goodies
- Addition cards
- New coloring books / pages and new coloring utensils. I got my boys this new case of gel pens that they loved this trip. They also brought it to any restaurant we went to. My oldest is loving the adult coloring books and fine tune drawings to go with his pens.
- Word search – tons of free websites
- Flash cards
- Games: Match, Go Fish, Uno
- Target dollar bin goodies
More travel tips….
Day of Travel
- Buy a car seat bag from the airline. Or consider renting car seats at your destination. We haven’t rented yet, but have considered it the last two times we traveled.
- Do curbside check in, if available. It is expected you tip the workers, but TOTALLY worth it. You can pull up to the curb and drop off your luggage and get car seats out right there. Then I wait with the kids while my husband goes and parks the car.
- Use a strap to attach all your suitcases together. Then you can just pull them along at the airport. (This was a tip from some friends years ago that also travel with their family of 5)
- Check your stroller at the gate. Our older two kids are 4 and 5 but they still sometimes get tired, so it is nice to have the stroller. They can technically still fit in the seats even though they are a little big but we also have a pull out tray in the back they can stand and ride on. If no one wants to sit, you can use it to hold bags.
- Have snacks, FILLED water bottles (it is okay for kids to have liquids in their bottles through security), and extra clothes in a bag for the plane.
- Stick some napkins or paper towels in your bag. I use this to clean off the airplane tray with my homemade sanitizer and also to lay down on the tray when they have snacks.
One last tip – we have done nonstop flights and trips where we have a layover. While layover flights can make for a longer travel day in general, we tend to gravitate towards them because the changing of scenery, the airport people watching plus two takeoffs and two landings provide more entertainment and the flights themselves tend to be shorter than one longer nonstop flight so less entertainment time needed by us.
Organized chaos – yes. People look at us like we are crazy – yes. But again worth it for us and these strategies help us feel more in control of the situation and help the process go as smooth as it possibly can. Hope you found them helpful! Do you have any tips for me?
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