We're off on vacation tomorrow and I'm extremely excited. The thought of travelling cross country with 3 little ones can be a little daunting, but we've learned some things along the way that will help our journey immensely.
When we first travelled with our first child almost 6 years ago we knew nothing about traveling with a baby. So we brought it all...to England. We thought it was an easy connection to get the train from the airport, we were wrong. And we had to carry everything up a stairwell, across the street and down a block. My husband was this close to leaving half of it in London while the rest of us traveled up north to his grandparents. He didn't, but we've never forgotten that trip. Since then we've used the rule, "do we really need it?" when packing.
Things we know we need:
- car seats for the kids, but not necessarily their own. Tomorrow we are bring our daughter's infant seat and our eldest's booster seat, but my middle child is borrowing one from his cousin who has two.
- clothing, but only enough for a week. We can do laundry while we are there.
- toiletries, but just the stuff we use every day, no extras
- identification, health cards etc, carried with us
Things that we can get away without:
-pack of diapers, I just bring enough for a day, you can buy diapers everywhere, they take up a lot of unnecessary room.
-lots of toys. I pack a few of my kids favorite small toys in the carry on, plus one colouring book and crayons, a few activity books (Where's Waldo is great for travel), and a set of headphones for each.
-play pen for the baby. This is something that can usually be borrowed where you are going. Most hotels have them to at no additional charge.
-stroller for the baby. I do bring a sling (they are fabulously portable and small to pack). I've also usually been able to borrow strollers from someone at the other end.
We've learned to pack at least one full change of clothing in our carry on. Our luggage has been delayed by the airline more than once. We also don't pack big, bulky suitcases. Everyone has one small suitcase. You can fit more clothes when you roll everything up inside. My kids have all the clothing they need plus a raincoat and a pair of sandals inside, it all fits.
I make sure to pack my kids favorite potable snacks in my carry on bag too (granola bars, fruit to go strips, goldfish crackers...) you know your kids. You know that when they are hungry they want to eat now, and it doesn't necessarily equal when the fight attendant is coming around.
We let our kids run around as much as possible before the flight and during any layovers. Most airports have play spaces in them which is very helpful.
Also, we make our kids go to the bathroom when we are on the ground (even if they say they don't need to go). There is often a wait between when you board and when it is safe to use the airplane washroom. This is not a time you want to be cleaning up any accidents.
Whatever your travel plans this summer, I hope you enjoy it, traveling can be wearing on the best of us, but if you plan well, it can go well and be an experience you kids will remember (for the right reasons!)