Vacationing with children is just that.. vacationing with children lol It's essentially just living in a new space/different location for a brief amount of time while trying to adjust to new schedules and routines and still have fun and enjoy yourself! Whew.. ya feel? Yet, I find myself still wanting to do it because the excitement and joy in my children's eyes makes me sooooo sooo happy. Creating those memories together as a family and exploring a new city is just so fun, even if it's exhausting and overwhelming, stressful at times. Traveling as a family may not be for everyone, but you'll never know until you try. I'm already looking forward to our next family vacay and we just got home a few days ago!
Traveling with 3 kids FOUR and under is interesting, but we managed and I've learned a few helpful tricks along the way that I hope will be beneficial to you too!
30 TIPS for Traveling with Kids:
Pack minimally! Yea, this one is tough especially if you aren't really sure of what the weather will be like. Packing for three kids is tough as it is. A newborn who has blow outs often, a toddler who makes a mess the second you get him in his clothes, and just packing for three kids is not easy! I thought I packed light for the boys this past vacay, but I actually ended up not using over half of what I packed so I know next time I can do better.
For the boys I made them wear their sweaters to save space and weight in our luggage (glad I brought them as they wore them often as it was cooler some mornings and at night) I packed a couple suits for each, a couple pairs of jammies for each, and some outfits for each day. Everything I packed for them was in one suitcase!
For Jay and I, it's much harder to pack minimally for myself lol But I brought a couple work out clothes, swimsuits and cover ups, sun hats, 1 pair of heels, 1 pair of sneakers, and 1 pair of poolside sandals along with a few dresses for at night and a jean jacket in case I got cold! I always like to have the option to wear something warmer so I always pack a cardigan or wear one on the plane! Jays shoes and shorts are the heaviest items we have to pack lol so I just packed him a pair of sneakers, sandals and 1 nice pair of shoes. He didn't have many other items to pack!
Playing off "pack minimally" as a family it's especially nice to have laundry in your room or condo so that you can wash clothes while you're there and before you go home so that you can just unpack everything into their drawers instead of having mounds of laundry to do once you get home!
When traveling with a family, try to book a room or condo with a kitchenette and living area. This helps immensely with having more space to separate from one another as well as being able to get groceries for breakfast, lunch and snacks if you're like us and prefer to just go out for dinner!
Don't forget your sound machine! We sleep with ours every night and it's nice to have to muffle sound as we're all contained in a smaller space than usual.
Pack your Dock-A-tot (or snuggle me organic) in the bottom of your suitcase, packing everything else around and inside of it.
Try to pack your and your husbands items in one suitcase, and your children's items in another. We then had one medium sized suitcase to fill with other various things such as supplements for working out, the ergo baby carrier (which is the best carrier for hikes with a newborn) my wildbird sling, the collapsible highchair, and all of our toiletries! It just helps to have less suitcases to carry/wheel especially when your four year old is no help lol
Stack your sun hats and place socks or underwear inside of it, laying it on the bottom of your suitcase and then packing around it so you don't ruin your hats!
Pack small toys, trinkets, coloring books for activities to do in the room. I also packed balloons to blow up when we got there, and I've had others suggest bringing a beach ball to blow up!
Diapers! When traveling to a place where I can easily go get diapers once we arrive I pack enough to get me through the day of traveling. So then I go buy small packs of diapers and a pack of wipes for the week and whatever is left over I give to someone or leave in the room. It was also suggested to pack diapers in the car seat bag if you have one since car seats get checked for free! Either way, you don't want to waste space in your suitcase for loads of diapers and wipes!
Car seats with every airline are checked for FREE which is super nice so that you don't have to lug it around the airport with you! We had a fold up dolly that we strapped to one of our convertible car seats, and then placed the second convertible car seat inside that one so it was like wheeling an unsteady suitcase around but it worked and we only needed to do that for a short amount of time! Sonny's infant seat clicks into our stroller so we checked that at the gate! (many people also travel with their car seats on the flight, we have never done this but I've heard children do better during the flight?? However, we already have so much stuff as it is, lugging that through the airport is not worth it to us.)
Baby carrier! When traveling by myself with an infant I wore him most of the way and just checked my stroller because it was easier. You do have to still take the infant out of the carrier when going through security so just keep that in mind. Traveling with the three kids this past time, it was easier to pack the baby carrier and use the stroller (check it at the gate) to hold all of our stuff and all of the kids! Oliver doesn't like to use his legs lol so he rides on the skateboard attachment!
We have the UPPA baby vista and mesa carseat.. I would HIGHLY recommend this stroller to anyone having multiple kids or just any kids at all as it is sooooo incredibly nice. In fact, 4 of my mom friends also purchased this stroller and can say the exact same thing! What's so nice about it is it collapses down into a stroller bag for easy travel and gate check, the skateboard attachment makes it a three kid stroller essentially, and our car seat clicks right in as well as a toddler seat so all three kids have a place to ride as we stroll through the airport! We carried our car seat base and stroller bag to the gate and clicked the car seat into the base before checking it at the gate if that makes sense!
One thing I learned this past time was that kids 12 and under don't need to take their shoes off! I also found that it was easiest to place the car seat or stroller seat through security first so that once you're through security yourself you can set your baby down and have 2 hands to gather all your items!
We also learned that you can not have 2 lap infants in the same row! We tried to switch seats with someone so that we could all be in the same row as a family, but it was brought to our attention that there are only 4 oxygen masks so that didn't work! (We flew Jay, Oliver, and I as paid seats. Attikus and Sonny were lap infants so we were separated on the flight! Jay with the two older boys and myself with Sonny) Just keep that in mind when packing your bags of goodies, diapers, and snacks.. knowing that you'll most likely be in different rows unless you can pick your seats!
Pack snacks for the plane ride and treats your kids may not usually get so that they're excited on the flight.
Pack head phones for each kid (over the ear kind) so that they can either watch a movie on the plane or watch a movie on your ipad or kindle or whatever! Don't forget their chargers!
If you're going somewhere warm and your kids need a life jacket or puddle jumper or arm floaties, it's nice to pack in that extra suitcase full of random stuff!
Bring a suitcase scale.. helps a ton on saving you time and embarrassment having to rearrange and dig through your bags to even them out! You can weigh them prior to even going to the airport and checking your bags will be a breeze.
It's pretty well known, but nurse your baby on the way up and on the descend to help pop their little ears. I held Sonny off so he would be hungry on the flight and he did sooo well. It also helps to have them suck on a pacifier if they take one, or help your toddler drink some water or eat some snacks!
Don't forget your child's lovey or blanky or comfort item to help soothe them on the flight.. it's often a new experience for them and this will help them "maybe" stay a little more calm.
Go to the dollar store or dollar section and get some cheap toys/entertainment for the flight. Then upwrap the toys and re-wrap them in tinfoil to help save space in your personal bag/carry on. It's not only fun for the kids to unwrap a few new toys but it takes them a little bit longer to open them and it's just something new that they don't get to do every day.
Having boys, I especially like to buy those mini Thomas the train sets that link together, or putty because it doesn't make a huge a mess like slime or play dough does. My kids also love those little water pen coloring books, and fidget spinners, match box cars, flash cards, or anything else that is new and exciting!
Amber filler up also has a blog post titled 40 toy ideas for the airplane that has some super awesome ideas!
Traveling with breastmilk is pretty easy. If you have a cooler to place it in, I wouldn't worry about being able to get it through security as it's milk to feed your baby.
If you're only pumping 1x day like I am right now, then you can save space in your suitcase by packing your manual pump. I just used this each morning to get my pump session in and didn't have to worry about bringing my larger heavier pump.
Check if your hotel/condo/resort can provide you with a crib. Most usually can but it's nice to plan ahead of time. We brought our pack and play for Attikus to sleep in, and then had a crib provided for us for sonny to sleep in.
Baby monitor. If your kids are cool napping by the pool or in the stroller than that works great but if they don't then bring your baby monitor. We had my MIL bring her nest camera that synced right to our phones so that if any of the kids were napping in our room, we didn't have to sit in there and could still go to the pool with our other kiddos. (The pool was not far from our room, like a 2 minute walk so I felt comfortable doing this). This may not be for everyone and I understand that, but we felt comfortable doing it the few times our kids napped in the room knowing that they couldn't get out of the crib or play pen and that we were literally watching or would get notifications when any sound was made, and were only steps away!)
Water bottles. I wish I would have brought my kids water bottles, they usually have one at home each day and are constantly drinking water through out the day so it was a bit more challenging trying to get them to drink water or even remember. Some places you can buy a cup there and just toss before you go which would also be helpful!
Plan ahead. Know an idea of how much you want to get done and see, but know that some things may not work out as planned because well... kids!
Don't forget your sunscreen and a lightweight fold up bag to help carry everything to the pool or beach! Or items you may need on your vacation that you can't easily go buy once you arrive.
Be sure to arrive with enough time to get your entire family through. When traveling with lap infants you cannot check in ahead of time, you still have to check in with an agent so that they can get the infant on your ticket. You never know how long security will take and it usually takes longer with children, especially traveling internationally.
Pack Tylenol and Benadryl for the kiddos, you never know when they'll need it! Don't forget the syringes.
Have fun, Don't get too stressed out, and try to enjoy the experience... Most people flying have been there done that, so who cares what they think!
Thank so much for stopping by! I hope you found some of these tips helpful and are now eager to travel with your own children! Leave any tips you have or questions below. Now go book that next trip!