In just a few days, my husband, myself and our 6 kiddos will embark on a transatlantic trip to Europe for Christmas. Some would say we need our heads examined, I would agree! I heard it once said that if you are traveling sans kids you are on “vacation” but if you are traveling with kids, you are on a “trip.” Traveling with kids can be stressful, but there are things you can do to simplify it. I’ve lived and learned a lot having traveled with our 6 kids (ages 18 down to 3) who all have a severe peanut/tree nut allergy.
When my oldest was born, a trip to the grocery store seemed overwhelming. I really had to plan and give myself pep talks to get motivated to do it. Our kids’ severe peanut allergy also paralyzed us with fear in terms of being 30,000 feet in the air and the thought of anaphylaxis. But somewhere along the way, I got comfortable with the idea of flying by the seat of our pants and going on often impromptu trips with our kids. I had FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) so I adopted the mantra YOLO (You Only Live Once). We’ve traveled everywhere from Disneyland to Disney World, New York City for the Macy’s Parade, Boston for a historical tour, California, Arizona, Hawaii, Turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands, Europe and everything in between with our kids. They have been absolute troopers and we’ve made some amazing memories! I want to share with you things I’ve learned over the years that makes traveling with kids a little easier.
To take on such a huge endeavour, we have to employ the help of the kids. When we travel, each kid takes a carry on size suitcase and a backpack. I give each kid a checklist of items they need to pack in their bags (I of course double check them before they are zipped). Some of this is dependent on the climate we are traveling to. For example, when we travel from cold to warm climates, I have the kids wear clothes they can layer. That way when we arrive in the warmer destination, they can take off sweatshirts/fleeces, leggings and tennis shoes. I usually pack one or two big suitcases with overflow items for everyone. That way the majority of their necessities stay with them and have less chance of getting lost. We actually took 17 pieces of luggage with us to Hawaii last summer and had to rent a minivan just to get our luggage from the airport to our hotel
Some of the items in the kids’ backpacks are: snacks, device chargers, AirPods, neck pillow wipes, socks, a blanket for the plane, underwear, toothbrush/paste and any important medication. If changing climates, we throw in flip flops and shorts as the kids usually travel in tennis shoes and leggings since airports and planes are typically cold. Other items include books, a deck of cards, and Uno. I also have them pack a swim suit, along with travel size sunscreen and goggles (cause those things are mega expensive at resorts) Plus, the kids usually want to dive right into the pool upon arrival and this saves us time digging through the big suitcase to find those items. I have the kids lay out their outfits and pack them in gallon size bags. It makes it easier for them to see how many outfits they have and not overpack. It also streamlines getting ready in the morning by allowing them to grab a ready made outfit. Finally, it ensures that if shampoo or something spills in the bag, it doesn’t get all over the clothing.
Speaking of dirty laundry, I found this portable washing machine on Amazon that is a lifesaver at soccer tournaments and in a pinch when traveling.
Amazon.com: Portable Washing Machine, Mini Washing Machine Ultrasonic Turbine Wash, Mini Portable Washer for Underwear, Sock, Baby Clothes, Travel, Camping, Dorm, RV, Home Foldable Small Portable Laundry Machine : Appliances
I also never travel without a Resolve stain stick. If the kids stain something and I stain stick it immediately with that, I could literally let the clothing sit for weeks and the stain comes out immediately upon washing it. A tide pen is also essential to keep in my purse or the diaper bag. This drying rack is also so nice to have if you are traveling with young children who have bottles or sippy cups.
Oxo Tot On-the-go Drying Rack With Bottle Brush – Gray : Target
When we travel abroad, we order these handy dandy cards in different languages for food allergies. https://www.selectwisely.com/
I also never leave home without our travel nebulizer. Several of my kids have asthma and as Murphy’s Law would have it, someone ALWAYS gets sick while we are on a “trip.” I bought this cute little ducky one that is small enough for the diaper bag and runs on batteries so you don’t even need to charge it.
Keep your diaper bag stocked with essentials such as diapers, wipes, change of clothes, Tylenol, kids dramamine and Benadryl. I also always throw rain ponchos in the kids’ backpacks along with hand sanitizing wipes. I clipped this rumpl junior blanket to my diaper bag. It’s perfect for always having a blanket on hand for an impromptu picnic or beach day, or just if your little one is cold.
This clique chair is also amazing as it’s small enough to fit in a carry on suitcase.
CLIQ Portable Camping Chair – Select Price & Color
Anything you can do to set dinner and lunch reservations ahead of time will make your life a thousand times easier once you get there. If you have kids with food allergies like us, it helps to do your research ahead of time either online or by calling ahead to speak with a manager. I keep a pack of crayons in the diaper bag to help pass the time while waiting on food. This little gadget has also been a lifesaver and I never leave home without it. It turns any phone into an instant TV for your toddler.
Amazon.com: Portable Cell Phone Stand for Desk, Foldable Pocket Travel Mobile Phone Holder, Upgrade Universal V Smartphone Kickstand Mount Compatible with iPhone IPads Tablet Kindle Android, Pack of 3 : Cell Phones & Accessories
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do something spectacular every day. Kids often remember the small moments when you are most engaged with them. Once when we took our kids to the famous Greenbrier resort, our middle daughter Ava said her favorite thing about the whole trip was catching fireflies in the front yard of the resort. Something we could’ve just as easily done at home, but instead made a core memory for all of us.
If nothing else, don’t forget to pack a sense of humour. If you can look back and laugh about it, you might as well laugh about it while it’s happening. All I know is this mama is going to need a vacation after this “trip!”