Traveling With Kids: Spring Break Edition
Spring break doesn't look like it used to, does it? Say adios to PCB or girls' getaways and say hello to playgrounds, family resorts, and lots (and lots) of luggages and extra bags.
This thing is, it doesn't have to be hard. Traveling with children just takes a little extra planning and prep work, but it totally pays off in the end.
I'm not an expert, and I haven't taken my kids on a plane (yet!), but we do multiple long road trips each year, which is arguably harder. Sitting in a car for 12+ hours is not easy with an almost 3-year-old - for goodness sake, a 2 hour car ride to Grandma's house isn't easy!
It may seem daunting to travel with kids, and the idea of packing a ton of bags is overwhelming. I've minimized the number of bags we have to pack by planning very carefully and packing wisely. These are some of my tricks that make traveling with a child much easier for both you and the kiddos.
This might sound like a total no-brainer, but it's important to think about the kind of snacks you want to pack in the car for a long trip. I make sure all our snacks fit into a gallon ziploc bag so any spills or crumbs stay relatively contained. This is a bag I can keep close by to reach easily. I don't typically buy pre-packaged snacks, but this is one occasion when it makes sense. Animal crackers, cheez-its, granola bars, and fruit like grapes or blueberries make excellent snacks because they don't tend to leave a lot of crumbs in their path. I did it once, and never again - juice boxes. They are messy, don't fit well in cup holders, and with toddler, you're asking for a disaster. Stick with a no-spill sippy cup.
2. Car Toys and Hotel Toys
It may seem redundant to pack 2 separate sets of toys, but if you're in the car for a long time, by the time you get to your destination, you child will be tired of those toys and want different ones. Sure, there is always going ot be some crossover, but options are good.
We don't love a lot of screen time, but it helps pass the time in the car. We have an Amazon Fire: Kids that allows us to pick and choose movies, games, and shows very carefully.
#MomHack download kid movies on Netflix on tablet so you can watch
some favorites without needing Wifi
Packing coloring books like these are easy, mess-free, and travel great. Other car toys likes magnet boards, reusable sticker books, and books work great for killing time while you're driving.
I pack a small bag of some favorite toys for while we are at the hotel, so whenever we have downtime or in the morning, the kids have something familiar to do while we all get ready. I pick a bag, and whatever toys fit are the ones we bring. This usually means a few Little People, a small toy set like a doctor's kit (something interactive), and a few small baby dolls like these. Then, there is a variety of things to do, including the toys she had in the car.
3. Pack outfits
When I pack for the girls, I make outfit bundles. This makes getting them dressed significantly easier while we are in a new space or unfamiliar hotel room. I take socks, pants, and a shirt and roll them together, then use small elastic hair ties to hold the bundles together. Not only does this make it super easy to find outfits on vacation, but it is the best way to pack and save space. Even if you don't have full outfits, rolling items is the best way to pack a suitcase... especially if you minimize the number of suitcases you bring!
4. Hotel Accommodations
When you travel with kids, make sure the hotel has some kid-friendly accommodations. It's probably not the best time to check out the swankiest or romantic hotel in town, but there are so many amazing hotels that are equipped for family fun. When we travel, we like to stay places that have laundry available in case of accidents, stains, spills, and goodness-knows-what-else. Most of the resorts we've stayed at since having a baby have laundry in the villa or free laundry on site, which is something we never used to think about. Another important thing to know about your resort or hotel is if they have cribs or pack 'n plays available for use during your stay. When a hotel has pack 'n plays available, we make sure to bring our own crib sheet/blankets to use so our little one isn't laying on a foreign mattress (YUCK!). It makes her bed more like home and more familiar. But not having to bring something for the baby to sleep in saves a lot of room (and hassle if you are flying!). However, if you are flying... my next tip is something to consider!
5. Use Baby Equipment Rentals
Game. Changer. If you are flying, this is a need to know. You can't always bring the stroller or carseat with you when you are traveling (be sure to check with airlines before getting to the airport!). But don't sweat it... use baby equipment rentals. Companies like BabyQuip are popping up all over and saving parents' lives. Simply search your destination, what you need (car seat, stroller, pack 'n play, etc.) and search results will pop up. Then you can select whether you pick it up or have it dropped off at the hotel. It's SO crazy easy and makes traveling a breeze.
6. Fit everything in ONE suitcase
This might seem counterintuitive, but if you pack everything for your child in one bigger suitcase, it will be much easier to manage and pack instead of having loads of small bags. Diapers, wipes, clothes, and extras like swim vests, blankets, and bathroom necessities can all go in the suitcase with clothes to cut down on extra bags that take up space in the car, and make it harder to carry things into the hotel.
7. Use Bags that Close
Yes, it's easy to grab a tote bag and toss things in as you are heading out the door, but you'll stay more organized (and sane) if you use bags that close. Zipper, snap, button - doesn't matter, as long as the contents stay put as you're traveling. It's 100% easier to carry bags than a ton of random little pieces when you get to your destination.
*This post was written in partnership with BabyQuip. All opinions expressed are my own*