Monday, February 26, 2018

My 10 Tips for Traveling with Kids.

Every year, we choose one vacation destination that is the kid's choice.  We give them some options and let them decide where we will travel. This year, it was Disney. As I am packing up the kids for our upcoming vacation in a day or two,  I thought I would share some of the things that work for us and keep things going smoothly when we travel.

1. Bring an activity or adventure bag/backpack with some new items in it. A new gadget or toy can keep them entertained for quite some time. If you don't want to buy new, take a couple of their old toys and hide them for a month or two. Then pack it to go. It will be like a new toy when they get it again! 

2. Snacks. I can't t express to you the power of snacks! I bring a bag of snacks for them on the plane and I'm never sorry I did. We also bring empty water bottles and then buy a bottle of water to fill them once we are past security. Easy peasy. 

3. Timing. Try to book flights around times that work for the kids. For us, that's when the littlest ones will nap. This might not work for everyone but for us, when we book around nap time, Maxwell falls asleep on the plane ride 9 out of 10 times. 

4. Movies on iPad or laptop. When we fly Jetblue, they love the tv's but when we fly Southwest, there are no tv's so we end up bringing the ipads to let them watch a movie. When we are taking long drives, we always bring the portable dvd players. 

5. Be prepared. extra clothes, meds, pacifier, tissues, SNACKS again. One time we forgot to pack Maxwell a change of clothes so he was literally pant-less for the last half of the trip! Don't let this be you. Ha ha. Also prepare for the weather where you are going. Layers are a good idea. I hate when I forget sweatshirts for the kids we end up buying more because they are cold. Also, get to the airport EARLY! Even if you have to wait, we let the kids run around and play while we enjoy a preflight cocktail. Relaxes us and lets them get their energy out. 

6. Prevent Sickness. Clean the seats & trays with antibacterial wipes. Last thing you need is sick kids on vaca. I look like a hypochondriac wiping down the entire area near us but I really do not care. The kids even help me to wipe everything down. It never fails every time we go on vaca Maxwell gets sick (not even exaggerating) so I will take all precautions to try to prevent as much as I can. If they would keep them on, I'd probably make them wear masks. ha!

7. Realize and accept that kids are kids and will get cranky and tired and be emotional. Sometimes I put this picture in my head that we will have a glorious, amazing vacation with not one tear shed and smiles from ear to ear....And I'm not sure why because that is never the case. Ha.  That is only going to happen if you leave the kids, and maybe not even then! lol. So expect the tears and a tantrum or two. When I set the reality before I go, I feel less stressed about the inevitable. And sometimes it doesn't turn out as bad as I anticipate.

8. I can't say enough about PLANNING. I know some people like to be able to fly by the seat of their pants and be spontaneous on vacation but in my experience and opinion (I know this one might not be for all and that's ok), the most enjoyable trips we have been on were the ones that were well thought out and planned. Disney World being one of them, surprisingly. When we go to Disney, we have every single thing planned out. Why? Because that is how you do a stress-free Disney in 2018. You make restaurant reservations, you make fast-passes, you plan out how long it takes to get from resort to each park etc etc....Then you get to enjoy what would otherwise be long lines, chaos, crying kids while you wait years to eat....etc.
The same can be said for any vaca. I'm not saying that you can't do a few things spontaneous here and there but when you have kids, it is best to have a plan. The plan can always change but at least you have an outline to go by.

9. Bring a babysitter or go places that have Kid's Clubs. Most of the time we want to spend time with our kids while on vacation but often I find myself wishing for a night or 2 where we can enjoy a dinner by ourselves or sit in the jacuzzi without our little crazies. If you can afford to hire a sitter for the trip, this is great!! But if not, pick destinations that have babysitting options or Kid's Clubs. You would be surprised how many places offer this. I've found that most of the Kid's Clubs are for kids 4 years old or older but once in awhile you can find one that does all ages.

10. Gate Check strollers. I do not know why anyone with small kids would not gate check a stroller. This is our saving grace for tired kids. And it's free on most flights. We usually bring a double stroller for both kids. Scarlett is 6 and can still fit in the double Baby Jogger stroller. (check weight requirements). We bought ours used for cheap just to bring to Disney. When they get tired of walking, they can get in and relax or nap in the stroller. I've also seen many people using car seats on the plane for littler ones. I thought about doing this with Maxwell in upcoming trips. I will let you know my experience on that.

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