Traveling With Kids
We just got back from a longish trip to Virginia for Christmas and while it was so, so fun to see family and friends, I realized we are in dire need of some packing and traveling hacks and systems. Our plan is to take a flight or road trip each month in 2018, so this has suddenly become my top priority! Today's post is all about traveling smarter and tips for traveling with kids.
Good Packing Habits
We have always traveled "light" and usually people say, "that's all you have?" when we arrive. I have great habits: I roll EVERYTHING and get creative with stuffing socks and underwear in any crevice I can find.
But I loathe packing and I hate living out of a suitcase (I never transfer our things to hotel dressers and usually we end up with a suit case open that looks like it threw up in the hotel room). And don't get me started on packing toiletries and medications. (insert rolling eye emoji here) I also strongly dislike unpacking when we get home.
We are heading back out on the road (#roadschoolers) next week for a quick trip to Los Angeles (tagging along on one of Joe's work trips) and I am determined to have a less stressful travel experience. Because SRSLY:
This doesn't even show my carryon bag--this is just the kids stuff and my striped purse. Their bags weighed more than mine! I told the kids at this point that we were going to have to make some changes. We looked like HOBOS as we limped of the plane.
New Packing Strategy
Here's the new traveling with kids packing strategy:
1. LESS CRAP in the kids' carryon backpacks. It'll be snacks/treats, Kindle Fire's, and one personal item (stuffed animal or blanket). (Unbeknownst to me, Kate packed her actual pillow in her backpack on the way to Virginia. There was no room for it on the way home because she packed FIVE books in her backpack. It was so heavy! She carried it, but still.)
2. I bought five new things (whoot!) to help keep us organized during travel! Here's what I bought (images below are from Amazon):
People swear by packing with cubes and that it changed the way they pack and travel. The pouch helps keep you organized and it makes packing easier if you use the folding board and follow the instructions.
After reading reviews on different brands, I settled on the Eagle Creek line. They have great reviews and are pretty cheap compared to other companies. I have high hopes for this little number. Reviewers raved that it not only makes for more room in your bag, your clothes don't arrive a wrinkled mess!
The kids share a suitcase now that they're older (I used to share with the two of them). I've used good ol' ziploc bags before and packed whole outfits in them. That rarely works since Townes wears a lot of his clothes multiple times (BOYS) and Kate likes to mix and match when we get there. We'll see if this helps keep us organized and helps to take up less space!
Joe recently got a nice carryon from Tumi since he does so much traveling for work. It has these really cool tube like zippered pockets that he uses for socks and underwear. So smart! I thought these might do the trick for me and/or the kids.
Packing toiletries ranks almost as low as cleaning our toilets. I'm not as high-maintenance as some, but I use a lot of products! I HATE decanting. And I hate taking full-sized products. If only every brand I use would create travel products in containers that don't spill or leak. I would be in heaven :)
I've tried all kinds of toiletry bags and nothing has worked great. I spotted this little number on Amazon and it looks like it could really be a one and done type of product. The base has changeable sections so I can tailor it to my products. There's even a smart space for brushes to sit upright when the case is on the counter.
We will also be living out of our guest room and bathroom for a few weeks in January while our maseter bathroom gets an update. So this baby might just be a life saver :)
This one is going to be a GAME CHANGER. I already have the much less expensive AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Backpack and I love it. It protects my gear and my laptop with room for lots of extras.
But it doesn't have wheels. I bought a roller thingy from Bed Bath and Beyond and that worked pretty well. It was always a hassle on the plane because I had to remove it from the backpack before it would fit under my seat or in the overhead bin. Then Joe left it in the rental car on a trip where he left before we did. Dangit.
This rolling backpack has the wheels built in (plus a long handle!) and I'm hoping that I can just slide it right under my seat with ease. I would NEVER pack my camera or laptop to be checked and travel under the plane. That would seriously be like putting one of my kids under there. Okay, maybe not my kids. But like putting my dogs under the plane.
I can't wait to give all of these things a whirl next weekend! I will give them a thorough test on our trip to Los Angeles and will report back with my verdict.
3. Optimal Use of Screens
Did you know that you can download shows and movies from Netflix to your device and access them on go without being connected to wi-fi? This little nugget has been life changing! Remembering to do it is the hardest part LOL.
Obviously, buying fresh and new movies to watch is also a good idea. And games. There are tons of games that aren't half bad (Minecraft, Geometry Dash, etc). We put zero limits on screens. Traveling is not the time to enforce rules. It's survival time ;)
4. Buy Less Suiveniers
This one might be hard on the kids--they are good little shoppers. But the last thing anyone in this family needs is more STUFF. Especially the crap they seem to gravitate to while we are in a random gift shop. Usually they are using their own money, so it's hard to say 'no'.
We started a rule last year that for every new stuffed animal they bought, they had to say goodbye to TWO. We just don't have enough space for more stinking stuffed animals! And it's worked out great. They are bitter, but it is working! Maybe a similar rule for travel purchases would work, too.
5. Tips from Other Moms Around the Web
I'll be making the above changes ASAP to make traveling with our kids (and even just by myself!) easier. I also scoured Pinterest for some more inspiration and tips and I didn't come up empty. Here are the top posts on traveling with kids and general packing light tips.
The Best Tips and Blog Posts on Traveling With Kids--All Ages!
1. Tips for Packing with Kids from Love Taza
Taza travels quite a lot with her growing family--the family of five is expecting TWINS soon :) She has some great tips in her post Tips for Packing with Kids . She also just got a new follower/fan in me. She's living the dream in NYC and it'll be fun to follow along on their adventure.
2. 10 Simple Tips to Make Air Travel Easier With Kids from Mekali Lane
Meraki Lane is a destination for all things motherhood. This post on tips to make air travel easier with kids had some great tips! I loved the change of clothes idea--something I probably did when I traveled with infants, but hadn't thought to do it with my older kids.
3. 16 Ways to Travel with Kids (And Enjoy It) from A Cup of Jo
With input from moms around the world, these tips on traveling with kids are GOLD. I love the headlamps idea! Dark and unfamiliar hotel rooms feel more safe with a headlamp (or a flashlight could work!).
And this tip list from Joanna's son: A Seven-Year-Old's Guide to Holiday Travel is adorable. Funny and to the point.
4. A Minimalists Guide to Traveling With a Toddler from The Points Guy
I loved this article on traveling with a toddler--great tips. Most important is you gotta roll with things. Almost any packing disasters can be fixed with a credit card once you get to your destination.
5. Traveling With Toddlers: 10 Expert Tips From a Globetrotting Mom from Parents Magazine
There are a lot of things I wouldn't have thought of in this quick and dirty article from a Globetrotting Mom. I loved the 'divide and conquer' idea, especially if you have assigned seats!
6. 29 Tips for Traveling the World With Kids from My Little Nomads
Get expert tips from a family with a lot of international travel in this article. Solid advice and so many things I had never considered. What would you do in an emergency? It's good to talk these things out beforehand.
I am determined to become an expert in this area now that we're unschooling AKA roadschooling. I dread packing and I know I can make it easier on all of us with some good planning and systems. Stay tuned :)
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