We love to travel. Between work trips, visiting family, and going on vacation, we seem to travel somewhere with our kids at least once a month.
Our friends frequently ask us if we have any travel tips to offer. While I certainly don’t think we’re the world’s leading experts, we have learned a few things about what works for us.
1) Pack light
Guess what? They probably sell diapers where you’re going. They sell wipes too. And food.
We try to pack as light as possible, which makes getting around much easier. Unless we’re traveling for more than a week, we bring one suitcase for our entire family. Josh and I bring a couple shorts/pants each, and about as many tops as we’ll be spending days at our destination (sometimes less, tbh).
For a baby/toddler that doesn’t make blowouts, one outfit a day should do. For a baby that does make blowouts, bring two outfits a day. I fully coordinate and count the kids’ outfits before we leave, so I know exactly what to bring.
We also bring a few Tide Travel Size Packs with us for when we need to do sink laundry.
My rule of thumb when I travel: if you can’t carry it, don’t bring it.
2) Bring a compact stroller and a baby carrier (or two)
Strollers are free to check at that gate, and we always bring ours with us. If you’re worried about the airline damaging your stroller, do some research to find out if they will cover stroller damage. We were reimbursed for the full cost of our Bugaboo Bee 3 when American Airlines damaged it. If your airline won’t cover damage, bring a cheap umbrella stroller or risk it. We risk it because I like to have my nice stroller with me.
We put our stroller in a transport bag when we check it. The bag keeps it from getting dirty and helps prevent bumps and bruises.
You should also bring baby carriers with you. We usually bring two Ergos – one for each child. I put Ella in the Ergo when we go through security. It’s plastic and fabric, not metal, so I don’t usually have to take her out. I put her back in when we board so that I have my hands free.
A lot of international airports will send your stroller straight to the baggage carousel, so it’s good to have a baby carrier or two for long customs lines, etc.
3) Have entertainment options on hand
Winston has a backpack that we stock with fun things to entertain him when we travel. He helps us pack the backpack, and he looks forward with great anticipation to playing with his special “travel toys.”
Here are a few of his favorites:
- Reusable stickers
- Squirmles (ours was nicknamed “Jacob” by Winston)
- Magnetic Drawing Board
- Small notebook and a bag of crayons
- Books (these are nice and lightweight, or you can use small board books)
- Age appropriate BrainQuest booklet
- A tin box filled with Legos
- A few Matchbox cars or trains to drive on the tray table
- Window stickers
- Paint-with-water booklets
- Toddler headphones and a few downloaded movies.
Winston rarely gets to watch TV (we don’t own one… #crunchy), so he is completely enraptured by the “special shows” he watches when we fly. His favorite movie is Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle, which we purchased and downloaded onto my iPad from Amazon. He has watched it during at least 30 flights. Definitely the best $13 purchase I’ve ever made!
We also stick a few snacks in his bag: Cereal Bars, Grapes, Carrots, Chips, etc, and bring his pillow-pet with us for overnight flights.
4) Nurse or offer water during takeoff and landing
On well over 60 flights (we’ve lost count…), neither of our kids have ever had ear trouble. PTL!
I credit this partially to always nursing or offering them water during takeoff and landing. Winston brings his CamelBak Eddy Kids bottle, which requires a sucking motion. Nursing does the same thing. The sucking motion helps clear their ears.
5) Stuff extra paraphernalia in your car seat bags
NEVER COUNT ON CAR RENTAL PLACES TO HAVE CAR SEATS! Even if you reserve one online, there’s a 50/50 chance it won’t be there when you arrive to pick up your car.
Instead, bring your car seats with you if you’re planning to drive at your destination. Checking car seats is free.
There’s always a bit of extra room in the bag, so we stuff random paraphernalia in there… like baby floaties, beach tents, or these sleep tents (These tents are amazing by the way. If you’re traveling and staying somewhere that won’t have baby cots, use these instead of lugging a heavy pack-n-play with you!).
Even if everything goes wrong… even if your baby cries and has a blowout as the plane is taking off… even if your toddler’s water explodes all over your neighbors after it gets pressurized in-flight… even if you’re running late to board and you don’t get to pick up lunch… at the end of the day, you’ll still make it to your destination, and you’ll still have an awesome trip.
Kids are like horses. They can sense when you’re nervous or stressed out. Just relax, and they will too.
Some people might make grumpy faces when they see you traveling with kiddos, but we’ve also encountered a lot of positivity when we travel. Don’t let the possibility that some rando might be grumpy stop you from making memories as a family.