Update: if you’re planning travel for 2019 – check out this list of the best places for a family vacation in 2019. Tons of good info: Best Family Vacations for 2019
Many times, before a trip, I have gone back and read Jordan’s tips. She always has the best travel gear and is always so prepared for traveling with babies & young children. If you don’t know Jordan, follow along with her on Instagram @jordan.and.co and check out her blog, Jordan & Co. Not only does she have great travel tips, she’s funny, an amazing photographer and her book nook & book lists are the BEST. Today I am thrilled that she is guest posting with some of her best travel tips & gear recommendations. Enjoy!
Traveling with Babies & Young Children
These are all things I’ve been called after telling people that we are headed to Virgin Gorda next week with our three children- yes, newborn included. I guess they’re all probably pretty true, but here’s the thing: This isn’t our first rodeo! Ryan and I have always loved traveling and after having Q, we took the 8 hour flight over to Hawaii when she was only two months old. She racked up more frequent flyer miles in her first year of life than I did in my first 10! We figured out the best and worst ways to travel with a baby (some major bumps and “learning experiences” along the way) and we never looked back. Fast forward a few years to Cubby being born and we were cruising around the Caribbean with another 2 month old in tow. So yeah, we’re doing it again. Because we feel like we kind of have this “traveling with kids” thing down pat by now, but mostly because mama needs to have her toes in the water, ass in the sand….and a cold rum punch in her hand! 😉
Anyways, I’ve been sharing some of my packing over on my Instagram stories and I’ve gotten lots of requests for more info so I figured I’d share a little bit about how we travel with the kiddos, and the products that make it a little bit easier!
Travel Tips and What to Pack
- Lists and Schedule: I’m an OCD nut so when we plan a trip the first thing Ryan and I do is sit down and write out a loose day-by-day itinerary. Sure, plans change once we are there, but knowing vaguely what we’ll be doing each day helps me with packing. Then I make a list, and then a list of my list and then a master list of all my lists. 😉 (Lists are your friend.) I make a page for each family member, Ryan excluded (cause he’s a big boy and can pack for himself) and I write down everything I need to pack for that person- even the most obvious things like “underwear” and “toothbrush” make the list, because you KNOW those are the things that always get forgotten!
- Pack in advance: Life is pretty damn crazy with three kids, I’m not going to lie. I get little pockets of “free” time each day when I can actually get things done before getting interrupted. So I start shopping/packing weeks in advance. I take out each family member’s suitcase and lay it in the hallway with their list on top. As I do laundry or shop or see an item I know we won’t be needing to use before the trip, I lay it in the suitcase. Then when the time comes to actually pack, most of what I need is already there, and I can use the list to quickly figure out what still needs to be packed. Packing in advance is key!! I’ve had so many people message me about the packing cubes I use to pack for the kids, so I’ve linked them HERE. They really are game-changers!!!
- Planning Outfits: So I’m a bit of a nut with dressing the kids. As in, I enjoy it and I like them to coordinate and look put together (most of the time). The only way this is possible for me is if I literally lay out every outfit- bow to shoes. Once I lay out coordinating outfits and suits, I stack them up together (meaning both of the girls’ “Monday” outfits are in a pile together) Since Max is so young and will mostly be wearing onesies and pjs, he’s excluded from the daily outfit piles…for now! 😉 This helps SO much when we are there and the kids are sandy or dripping water everywhere from the bath, and the baby needs to be fed and we are late for dinner reservations- I can literally hand Ryan the “Monday” pile and he can get the kids ready without them winding up wearing two left shoes (which, let’s be honest- is Cubby’s favorite thing to do!)
- Plane Entertainment: We reserve ipad time for special occasions so that once on the plane, the kids are actually excited to use them. Before we travel, Ryan let’s the girls pick out a few new movies/tv shows/apps to download onto their ipads. They get really excited about this! Then I let each girl have a backpack. Here are some packs we love! These are from Herschel and I LOVE them, except they were a bit too small for this trip. I linked them here: Herschel Survey PacksSince this is a longer trip, I grabbed these bigger packs from Pottery Barn Kids. They were on sale for $12…TWELVE!! I don’t believe they are on sale anymore but I linked them HERE for you just in case you want to keep you eye out! Since they were “the same” I let the girls pick out their own key chains to individualize them- they like to feel special like that. Aside from being cute and cheap- these backpacks are the perfect size and have cupholder slots on the sides for the girls water bottles (aka one less thing I have to carry!)
I keep a cabinet in the house that I stock with small toys, books, magnet tin games, etc. that are specifically for travel/restaurant use. Target dollar section is my best friend for this! I let the girls “shop” the closet and decide what they want to pack in their bags. They LOVE doing this and again, it keeps them excited to play once they board the plane. Here’s a peek at some of the things the girls chose for their bags: ipad (obvi!), kleen kanteen water bottle (our fav brand), a school workbook for Q, sticker/coloring books, “Grab & Go” coloring Play Packs (Thanks Target Dollar Section!), Some marshmallow clay (this stuff is awesome), a plain notebook & fresh crayons (always a kiddo favorite!), a small pouch of figurines (Cubby especially loves to play figurines! Q packed some shopkins & Cub packed My Little Ponies), a mini Buddha Board (check this out- you paint with water & it dries and erases!), wiki sticks (so awesome for travel!) and of course, some of the dreaded “surprise packs” (LOL Dolls anyone?!). Most of these toys have passed the test of time- meaning they keep the girls occupied for longer than 30 seconds. Anything they get easily board with, doesn’t make the cut!
- Secret Weapons: Aside from their “quiet bags”, as we call them, here are the secret weapons for traveling with kids: snack, snack, and SNACKS. Seriously, imagine that you are going to be stranded on a deserted island for a month and then pack that much food for your several hour plane ride- trust me. I pack lots of different snacks in small amounts because it’s all about the novelty of “trying a new snack”…with my kids at least. I love using THESE plastic organizers to fill will all different small sized snacks: granola, almonds, m&ms, fruit snacks, goldfish, etc. And don’t forget lollipops or something chewy to help pop those ears during descent! I also ALWAYS pack a giant gallon sized ziplock (or five) to use as my “trash bag” during the flight. It makes keeping our row not look like a stage-5 disaster zone a little easier.
- Travel Clothes: We usually fly super early in the morning so the key to getting out the door is dressing the kids in their travel clothes the night before. Crazy, you say? Not with Plain Jane Play Gowns! These adorable and cozy dresses function as a nightgown BUT are cute enough to pass for a dress! I put these on the girls the night before and lay out a pair of sandals and a jean jacket or cardigan to throw on in the morning. Then I pack an outfit in one of the zip pouches from my packing cube set above that into my carry on. At some point during the flight I get the girls changed into their real clothes and do their hair. Sounds like a lot of work, but in all reality- it kills a good 15 -20 minutes of flight time! 🙂 If you have little girls and you don’t know about Plain Jane…do me a favor and click that link right there!!!
- Sunscreen: I linked a few of my favorite organic/mineral based sunscreen brands to use on the kids. I’ve used them all and find these brands are the cleanest (chemically speaking), the easiest to use, and work the best. Babo Botanicals, Babyganics, Blue Lizard, Alba All of these brands have a spray option (besides Blue Lizard) and I know we are supposed to “stay away from the spray cans”, but let’s be honest- practicality trumps all when dealing with wet, sandy kiddos! What I usually do is apply a thick coat of a lotion sunscreen in the morning and once again mid-day, then I use the spray can for all the in-between coverage! 😉
- Items for the Trip: I’ve been known to ship an item or two to our location in advance…especially when we have a teeny tiny baby. This time, since we are staying at a house, I went ahead and shipped a rock n’ play. It’s Max’s current favorite sleeping apparatus & the pack n’ play they had available just wasn’t going to cut it since it’s not what he’s used to. Plus, I figured the rock n’ play is so light and easy to carry, we can easily cart it down to the beach and then back up the house for naps/bedtime every day! Amazon Prime is my BFF, people. Here are some other items we are bringing. (Sidebar: Most of the time we like to pack any “extra items” (that we know won’t be coming home with us) in a box- this way we aren’t traveling home with extra EMPTY luggage- cause that’s just annoying.
I haven’t used it yet- but look how small it is?! I think it’ll be a perfect beach mat!
Ok, if you do beach trips and like to snorkel these are a MUST!!!
The girls absolutely LOVE these!
Again, I haven’t used these yet but since we are going to be in the Caribbean and our “car time” will be limited, I thought these would be perfect for the girls in a pinch. Look how tiny they are!! (Although I have to say- they are pretty heavy!)
Mosquitos, Zika, Heat…you know.
Max insists upon being carried at all times so although I love my Solly Baby, I thought this one would be much better suited for a beach trip!
Because, hello photo opps!
The only travel bottle warmer I found that didn’t require you to boil water on a stove first or be plugged in for it to work. This one has a warming packet that you add to the water in the base cup. It heats the water and the stainless steel bottle that goes into it. Takes up to 2 minutes to warm the bottle. I am breastfeeding but I’m still not fully comfortable breastfeeding in public (or when sitting next to a stranger) and sometimes when Max is really sleepy he does better with the bottle anyways. So we will be bringing a few packs of breastmilk in a little cooler bag and this warmer will be perfect for on the plane/ on the go! But here’s a little warning: there are “hot” packets which will boil the water and “warm” packets- make sure if you get this for bottles that you ONLY use the “warm” pouches!
Two Words: Rum. Punch.
For my little budding photographer. But really, we all have fun snapping polaroids when we are away. I bought some cute little polaroid albums and Q loves collecting all of our snaps. 🙂
That’s about it, I think! What’d I forget? Let me know and I’ll add it!
Now, all that’s left after alllllll that hard work and planning is to sit back in the sun and enjoy a frosty beverage uninterrupted.
Bahahah! Well, a girl can dream…
Happy Travels, friends! xo
Written by Jordan Maconachy