To say that we travel a lot is an understatement. With all our family outside of California, holidays and other times throughout the year you can find us on an airplane or buckled up for a long journey.
I wouldn’t say we are “experts” in this whole traveling with kids thing, but I would say we are pretty good at it by now (ask me in a few months if traveling with 3 makes me change my tune. ha).
Carson has been traveling back and forth to California since he was 7 weeks old ( I do NOT recommend traveling with a baby this small…or at least don’t expect to get much house hunting done with a baby this small. Their no-schedule phase is not a pretty one when trying to navigate a new area, with WAY more traffic than necessary, and “sight-see”). When it was just him and he was that young, I needed way less stuff than I do now. I could get by with the diaper bag, a carrier or wrap, a few changes of clothes (for him and I…just in case), snacks for me and a good book. Things have changed now that he is 18 months and Paisley accompanies us on all our flights!
In the past year visiting California and since moving here, we have flown at least 5 times with children. Typically with both children and a WHOLE bunch of luggage.
Our last trip, we met up with our family in Las Vegas and spent a few hours driving to Phoenix for Spring Training (which was a blast, check it out here). We finally had an ah-ha moment when packing for this trip. Previously, we used a shuttle service, lugging all our bags and 2 car-seats from our car to the shuttle, from the shuttle to the check-in counter – which is a nightmare when you only have 4 capable hands to really do all the work. It is a miracle if we travel with less than 5 checked items (3 suitcases and 2 car seats), add in two kids and we definitely look like a hot mess. Brian came up with the genius idea to drop myself and all of our junk at the airport prior to parking the car at the shuttle company. That way it would eliminate the biggest hassle of 2 unnecessary loading and unloading of junk – and the balancing act of getting all that cargo from the shuttle drop off to the check-in counter.
This little idea has saved us so much stress. You do have to account for an extra 30 minutes or so in your travel time, but it is well worth the headache. Paisley, Carson (that way we can get car-seats out, too) and I wait at the curb while Brian parks the car and hops on the shuttle. Once he meets up with us, we only have a short commute to the check-in.
We don’t typically bring our stroller, as it is one more thing to mess with, but on the Arizona trip, we had our BOB Double Stroller, which came in big time – carrying more than just Carson. We stacked both car-seats, clipped on our carry-on bags (using this handy Mommy Clip), and threw on a few other smaller bags, so we had more hands available for pulling the larger bags. Paisley is also a huge help and loves to pull luggage, so she gets a bag to take to the counter as well (always a helper!). Once bags are checked, the rest of the trip is easy-breezy.
For the actual plane ride, Paisley again is a champ. Just give her an iPad loaded with some fun games and she is set (not even embarrassed to admit that this is our go to!). Carson is fine flying as long as there are enough snacks to pass the time (seriously he might eat the entire time). My travel bag of choice is Stella & Dot’s Getaway Bag and here’s what inside (and yes it ALL fits in this bag!):
- Snacks – I can’t say this enough. We as adults get bored and want to munch, so it’s no surprise our kids are the same way. Go with the most loved and least messy. There is nothing worse than gunk all over your pants or your stuff. We love applesauce in these reusable pouches made by WeeSprout (click here for my more in depth review). Throw in extra fruit snacks, crackers and always have a water bottle for each kid. We love this Munchkin Snack Container and this these Munchkin no-spill cups!
- Books – Carson is in to textured books, flap books and interactive books. His favorites are First 100 Trucks and Things That Go, On the Farm , and Moo Baa La La La (really any book by Sandra Boynton, she’s amazing!)
- LeapFrog LeapPad – Paisley refers to this as her “green iPad”, but it is full of educational games, a note pad and music player. Her favorite is the camera feature!
- Color Wonder Markers and Books – These are super kid friendly and virtually mess free. They make a bunch of different character themed books and markers, so you can easily customize this to meet your kiddos loves!
- iPad – This is easily Paisley’s favorite accessory we bring on the trip (Carson is slowly realizing it’s amazing power! ha). But we load it with some fun games and shows that she gets to control. I am sure to download a few of her favorite movies (just be sure you have enough storage) from the Plex app. Her favorite games involve puzzles, matching, sorting and coloring (and it makes this momma feel less guilty knowing they are “educational”…right?!?)
- Pacifiers – I am admiting that our 18 month old still relies on his paci to self-soothe and relax. And I’m not ashamed of it. He is so much different than Paisley in that respect. Getting rid of the paci is just not a battle we are ready to fight yet…so we typically have 3 on us whenever we travel. It’s just a good rule of thumb!
- Blankets – Each kiddos gets to bring a blankie with them, and both typically opt for their aden + anais muslin blankets. Huge perk for momma is that they weigh practially nothing!
- Headphones – Nothing special for Paisley, just a set like this to help her hear her games and movies better (and it saves this momma plus the others around us from having to hear them!)
A rare sight with Carson asleep!
By the time we fly anywhere again, we will have 3 kids and Carson will have his own seat. This could be a game changer for us, so I’m anxious to see how that goes for the first time. All I know is I get my own row with the new baby and Brian gets to share the row with Paisley and Carson…what could go wrong?!? haha
I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for flying and/or traveling with kiddos. The more ideas we share the easier it will be for everyone!