Need tips for travelling with kids?
With my in-laws living in Toronto and us having done the dreaded drive down the 401 more times than I’d like to even count, I’d consider myself to be pretty skilled at travelling with kids in the car. I also recently came back from Mexico on my second-ever family vacation with my two boys, who are almost 4 and 7. The last time we travelled by plane was two years ago and we’ve managed to survive both times! I’ve learned a lot by making SO many mistakes along the way. I want you to avoid living through the same hell I have when you decide to travel with kids.
1) Plan the timing of your departure based on your children’s schedule
It was not a wise idea to plan a flight to Vancouver that left at 7am in mid-February when I had an 8 month old. Why? Well, I was so paranoid about waking my baby up in the middle of the night that we left too late, the car took forever to de-ice, parking and lugging in our suitcases, play pen, car seat, and of course, the baby! took so long that by the time we checked in our gate was closing in less than 15 minutes. Cue me: collapsing on the floor in a puddle of tears. Luckily, an agent took pity on me and helped us get through security in record time so we could run through the airport like the scene in Home Alone, stunned baby in umbrella stroller and me wearing no shoes. All so we could avoid waking a baby at 4 am.
Now that my children are a bit older and I’ve given up on ever sleeping again, I don’t mind my flight time. When it comes to driving, we always leave for Toronto at breakfast time so that we have made it mid-way for lunch and hopefully there is a nap worked in for the younger one.
2) Pack age appropriate distractions/toys/tablets/etc
People are often shocked to know that when we drive to Toronto we don’t pack any type of device for our children to watch shows or movies or to play games. This just happens to work for us because we’re technologically behind the times and we also prefer to keep TV time for when we need to get actual stuff done (like checking Facebook and eating chocolate behind their backs). Instead, we let them pack small bags of toys, and play music to keep them entertained. Some people prefer to pack dollar store toys that they can surprise the kids with on hour 647 or they download shows or have fancy TVs. Whatever works. If the batteries die I recommend “I Spy”.
3) Snacks, snacks and more snacks
What is it with kids always being hungry and constantly needing food as soon as you leave the house? Whatever the reason- pack snacks when travelling with kids. Small ziplocks of easy to eat treats work best: cereal, fruits, veggies, cheese. If they’ll eat it, you should pack it.
What about when you’re travelling to a resort? Most places will have bland stuff like bread, fruits, or drinkable yogurts that your kids can enjoy if they’re not the adventurous type. Also, ASK if there’s anything special that they might be able to do to “kidify” a more elaborate meal. As for bottled water and milk, there is always lots of that for mixing formula or for kids who drink tons.
4)What to Pack?
Where could you possibly be going where there’s either a)no laundry or b)you need to wear a different outfit every day? So, unlike me- don’t pack an outfit per day plus 5 extra for each person. You won’t need it! Put that wool sweater back, they won’t wear it in Punta Cana. Also, check with your hotel for what they would provide for kids. When we went to Cuba we brought the pack and play and never used it because they saw we were travelling with kids and provided a crib and rollaway bed.
Make sure to pack plenty of diapers if headed down south- they are very pricey to buy there! Also, bring a reusable swim diaper (of course we are partial to Applecheeks). Saves space AND looks way cuter.
As for the type of luggage to bring, make sure everything is on wheels and that you have an adult with their hands free while traveling through the airport so they can wrangle the kiddies.
5) Just Breathe
When I asked a group of moms for their tips when travelling with kids, the most common answer? Just don’t. After that? Alcohol. I’m going to take that as a sign that I’m not the only one who finds it a bit stressful. Luckily, most of the time there is a good reason for it. whether it’s a beach, family you haven’t seen in forever, or a new destination. So, as usual, take a deep breath and know that you can do it. Cause you can (and you have to!)
Got any tips for travelling with kids? Share below!