If you have traveled with your kids, you know it is almost like you are moving to the vacation destination because of the amount of things that you bring with you! This is unfortunately not an exaggeration and if you don’t pre-plan on what to bring, you will literally be bringing every single thing your child owns and every toy from their playroom. On the flip side, there is always something that you will forget and you just need to accept it. Most travel destinations you can find something similar to things that you have forgotten.
My family travels a lot. We visit the east coast from the west coast at least 2-3 times a year, which requires 4 planes round trip. We also go on road trips and here in Washington, all road trips are 5-7 hours. I usually remember everything when I pack, or so I think. I pack all the toys, the clothes, the medicine, the snacks, the jackets, the shoes – but somehow forget something important like diapers. Another thing that makes it difficult to pack is the unforeseen. One thing I did not foresee was my daughter having a stomach ache all night long and needing a thermometer in order to check her temperature. How would I have known to bring that when she had been fine just the day prior? That’s where my tips come in!
- Make a packing list and follow it. Every time you go away, even if it is just for the weekend, make a list. This way you can ensure that you are not forgetting the essential pieces. In that list, it is important that you write down things like thermometer, Tylenol, band aids, Neosporin, phone chargers, extra blanket, a change of clothes in your carry on bag, and lollipops (a mom can never go wrong with lollipops).
- Know your location and what is/will be there. Where can you bring the kids? Where can they nap? Are there parks to play in? Will you need a stroller? Will you need a car seat? Can you bring bags to the location or can you only bring small bags? What restaurants are family friendly? When can you check in/check out? Do you need to bring a pack and play or order one prior to arriving? Where is the nearest coffee shop? Where it the nearest hospital and urgent care? All these questions can help you when trying to pack and be ready for your vacation.
- Have toys for the plane. If you are traveling on the plane, you need to have be prepared. Make sure that you have something for your child to do, do not assume they will sleep the entire trip because you will be very disappointed to find out the reality – that you nor your child will most likely sleep on the plane. It’s important to have toys, iPads, movies, DVD players, dolls, books, coloring, etc. to help you have a pleasant trip on the plane.
- Buy your child a seat on the plane. If you child is one who does not like to sit still, I would highly suggest that you buy them a seat, unless you want to stand the whole time or sit on the floor. Even if they are under 2, but are super independent, I would not risk it. Just know your child and if you know that they like to sit on their own, don’t assume they will want to sit on your lap the entire plane ride.
- Have Snacks. Whether you are going on a plane or in a car, make sure you have snacks. The more the better because the less you need to buy on the road or from the airport.
- Don’t Overpack! As moms we like to be extremely sure that we have packed everything and we’re all set with everything. Rest assured that most places will have stores that you can go to and get whatever you need. You can most likely live without whatever it was that you did not pack.
- To Layover or Not to Layover? If you are a seasoned traveling family, layovers may not be the worst thing for you. However, if you are trying to cut costs by having multiple layovers, I would suggest going with the more expensive to have the shorter way with less layovers. Sometimes even the most seasoned travelers have a tough time with multiple layovers, so try to keep it to just one if you can – it can be a mom sanity saver!
- Plan Things to Do But Don’t Over Plan. It is always good to go to a destination and have a good idea of the things that you would like to do there. However, do know that things do not always go as planned and maybe a kiddo ends up sick the day you are supposed to go do something important or that was planned, so just know that things happen, no matter if you are on vacation or not.
- Keep Calm. As a mom, you know that not everything is going to be perfect, maybe the weather will prevent you from arriving at your destination when you wanted to get there, but if you can remain calm instead of freaking out, it will help everyone else, even your significant other, stay calm and together figure out another plan on how to tackle the obstacle put in front of you.
- Enjoy it and Don’t Back Out! I know this seems like a lot and you’re totally right, traveling with kids is a lot, however, don’t let it stop you from going. You need a trip as much as your kids do. If you don’t bring your kids on trips, they will never have that experience of going places with their family. Don’t back out because it is stressful – go because you want to have great experiences with your family.
[Jennifer is a freelance writer at Teach.Workout.Love, a military wife, motherhood + lifestyles blogger, a mom to a nutty 3-year-old, and a National Board-Certified Teacher. In her spare time, she loves traveling, yoga, fitness and everything organic.]