Summer is well on its way in Texas – Thank you, Jesus. Which means all of those fun family vacations are here AND, for us, making all of our work travels a family affair! In these past few years we have gotten the opportunity to travel quite a bit, both just Matt and I, and also with our kids. I love absolutely love getting to travel with our kids, but lets be honest… it definitely is not always easy! Those 3AM wake up calls for an early morning flight, racing through the airport to make a connection, figuring how to pack ALLL the things while still keeping your bag under 50lbs to avoid having to spend your life savings on baggage fees – all of these things get a lot harder when you add 3 little people to the mix. Over the years we have discovered a few tricks to help make things run a little smoother, so I thought I’d share them with you guys!
Let’s start with PACKING. No matter how hard I try, my suitcase is always a disaster… I’m terrible at planning what to wear ahead of time, so I basically just pack everything I own. My husband loves it. BUT, on the flip side, I am suppperrr OCD when it comes to packing for my kids. We pick and organize outfits for each day for them. My girls still love matching each other, which works out in my favor BIG TIME! After we have decided on each outfit, I fold each one up and slip it into a gallon sized ziplock with a pair of socks and underwear. I press all the air out and line them up in their suitcases (standing up so that the kids can see all of them at once)! This is such an easy way to keep everything super organized, saves space AND keeps them from destroying their suitcases as soon as we get to our destination. This iFly suitcase from WalMart is my FAV. Comes in several sizes and lots of colors. They are a steal pricewise and have held up so well for us!
Having 5 people (and 5 suitcases) in a hotel room can sometimes be a little tight and I am not a fan of clutter and HATE stuff just being thrown on the floor to be walked on. I throw pop-up laundry hamper and trashbag into one of the suitcases to be used while we are away. When the kids take off their dirty clothes, they go into the hamper (instead of into a suitcase full of clean clothes). At the end of the trip, I consolidate all of their clean stuff into one suitcase and put the dirty clothes into the trashbag and shove into one of the empty suitcases. That way, clean clothes and dirty clothes are separated, the dirty suitcase can go straight to the laundry room when we get home and the kids know what is clean and can be put back into their closets!
Next up is ENTERTAINMENT. The task of keeping kids still and quiet-ish on a plane for a long period of time can be tough! In my opinion, planning is key. When I know we are going to be on a longer flight, I head right on over to the dollar section at Target or the Dollar store and pick up a few cheap games, puzzles and coloring books that they haven’t seen yet. I sneak these into their backpacks so that when we get on the plane they have a couple of new things to do or play with. On early morning flights Matt and I stick to a rule that they can’t take anything out of their backpacks except for blankets and stuffed animals for the first 30/45 minutes of the flight. I’d say about 80% of the time, they end up falling asleep during that time, which helps in passing the time AND helps get through the rest of the day after getting up really early. And lastly – We do try to limit the amount of screen time that they have, but I won’t try to pretend that we don’t do electronics. This past Christmas we got them the Kid’s Kindle Fire from Amazon and they are AWESOME, especially for the price! We are talking less than $100/ea if you buy a 2 pack. They can play games, watch movies, and we have even been able to download some of the apps that they use at school. I can control what is on it/what they can see – for instance, they aren’t able to just surf the internet or download any app. All of that is blocked out and they are only able to see/use apps that I download and share with them. One of the coolest things is that I am able to set time limits so that they automatically lock at certain times (ours are locked between 8pm and 8am) and after they have spent a certain amount of time on it each day – so I don’t have to be the bad guy everyday telling them its time to turn it off.
I could go on and on with “tips and tricks” i have picked up over the years, but I definitely don’t have all of the answers! Honestly, I think I just kind of got lucky with some pretty awesome kids that make traveling pretty fun and easy, and for that I am SO thankful! What are some of yalls favorite traveling with kids hacks?!