Tomorrow, myself, my husband and our two daughters, Honor, 6 and Imogen, 17months are going on a road trip from NYC to Washington DC ( we've never been). Over the years we have learned a thing or 10 about making a trip with kids run just that little bit smoother. So whether you're taking a plane, train or automobile for your vacation: Here are my top 10 tips for surviving a trip with your little peanuts.
1. International Travel
I would suggest taking a day flight. Traveling over night may sound logical but parents arrive feeling awful and the kids are full of energy. Awful combination. With a day flight you just keep them awake and then everyone goes to bed when you get there.
2. Exhaust them
My husband has Honor running laps at the gate burning off any excess energy. People stare but they will thank you later. In the car, we try to break up the journey every couple of hours. For example: Tomorrow we have plans to go to a diner near a play park.
3. Grab A Bottle (Or Boob)
Babies can't clear their own ears, so on take-off or landing make sure to feed them as this will ease the pressure on them tremendously.
4. Wipes, A Rag and A Plastic Bag
I have never left a plane with any remaining wipes or a clean rag. There is always a spillage and someone inevitably throws up. Plastic bags, I keep on hand to place dirty clothes in. I also keep a few of everything in the car.
5. Ziplock Bags
As a mum I barely leave the house without a ziplock bag and for travel this is no exception. They're great for everything from storing snacks to easy grab bags containing diapers cream and wipes. I also use them for spare sets of clothing including a pair of leggings for me. This is because when Honor was a baby her diaper properly exploded over both of us upon landing and a spare pair of leggings saved me from a lap full of poo!
Never underestimate the power of a good book. For my toddler I like Farm Tails. For my 6 year old I let her pack her own back pack with two of her favourite books (these are currently: Junie B Jones and Splat the Cat). Audio books are also great for the car - tomorrow the family will be listening to the wonderful Roald Dahl's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Ipad rules go out the window. We recently discovered this cool app call Toca Vacation which lets the player explore different journeys, Honor is obsessed. Top Tip: Make sure you have child friendly head phones and the ipad is CHARGED! Brain games are also cool with eye-spy (but with colour) a surprise success and "What Animal am I?". These wonderful mini travel activity packs of colouring and reusable stickers also keep most ages amused.
7. Timing Is Everything
Arrive everywhere early. I'm a last minute, run to the gate girl but with kids I make sure to get to the airport super early. It's waaay less stressful and weirdly liberating.
Another time tip: Do not give toys/snacks/games all at once but try to space things out roughly an hour apart (depending on how long your journey is). It's important to have something up your sleeve and also useful for bribery :)
Yes it's a little more expensive (plus this one is on sale!) but the Bjorn Travel Crib is so easy to assemble, light (at 13Ibs) and has the most comfortable mattress that I've ever seen with a travel crib - Imogen literally sleeps like a baby! You can also check it (for free) onto the plane and it will survive.
9. Air Bnb Vs Hotels
Hotels are a bit of a nightmare with a baby. Babies go to sleep early and me and the hubby have found ourselves confined to the balcony whispering at 7pm. Also washing bottles and storing milk in a mini fridge is not fun. Air BnB is a life saver! Just don't forget the monitor. Also check out Kid & Coe - AirBnb but for families!
10. A Sense of Humour
After writing all of these tips, traveling with kids does sound rather overwhelming but honestly it really isn't that bad. I flew to England last summer, on my own with the girls and was so worried, but when it came to it, they behaved so well and I felt like a super mum. For times when things haven't gone quite to plan (exploding diapers and melt downs) I remind myself to breath, try to smile through it and like most things in motherhood, embrace the craziness and remember the journey won't last forever!