We have traveled with our little ones quite a bit. Sawyer is barely 8 months old and he’s already been on four flights! We really have tried to make traveling part of our lives as parents even though it can be more challenging with kids. A lot more challenging! I always think of something Jordan of Oh Happy Day said when thinking about taking our kids on a trip. The gist of it was that traveling with kids is not as fun as traveling with all adults BUT it sure beats staying at home all the time! A-men, Jordan.
I feel like every trip we take we downgrade what we bring. Our first couple of trips back home to Texas we’d be schlepping a million things through the airport! Car seats, a pack n play, large luggage, carry ons, a big stroller, along with our kids. It was SUCH a production just getting to the airport! My husband is somewhat of a bag aficionado so he’s been looking at Tom Bihn bags for a while. I started watching videos on their website and was blown away by how much they could fit in their different bags. The type A in me was all googly eyed over the organizational aspect! It totally changed the way I thought about packing!
For our trip to Texas we brought more than we will on our Ireland trip but we still only checked one bag (along with our car seats). I’ll tell more about our international packing/car seat/traveling in a future post — some tips will be the same, some will be different.
- Bring luggage that helps you be as hands free as possible. When you have little kids, it makes traveling so much harder when don’t have hands to help kid A with this, kid B with her backpack, or wipe kid C’s spit off off his mouth without putting everything down and picking it back up. It’s seriously exhausting! We both carried an Aeronaut 45 on our backs and just look at how much I was able to fit in mine! I love the organizational cubes. Honestly, I could’ve fit even more than this!
- If your kids are old enough, get each a backpack to carry on the plane full of snacks and activities. In the past we’ve used whatever backpack we had around the house but this time we got a Sprout pack for each of the older kids and they are amazing! We filled them with tons of activities, iPads, snacks, “babies” and there was still room for more, they were just getting too heavy. When they get older they’ll be able to carry even more!
- This goes along with #2 but pack their bags with their favorite activities, snacks, candies they don’t usually get to eat. For us, most rules at home go out the window while traveling. We are in survival mode! We pack iPads for each of them, temporary tattoos (with a rag in a plastic bag), stickers, a notepad for each, a dry erase board, and a small game. When Holden was younger we brought little boxes of nerds because he would eat them one by one and it would take FOREVER for him to eat them, it was fantastic.
- For babies, pack more than you think you’ll need for the plane. One time I was heading home and before we even made it half way to Texas, Sawyer had pooped through one outfit and peed on his extra outfit so boyfriend had to hang in an outfit he had peed on for the rest of the trip. Have backups for your backup! If you’re nursing, bring your favorite nursing cover (Covered Goods!!) so you can nurse on take off + landing. We’ve been using our Parental Unit from Tom Bihn (sensing a pattern?! All of their stuff is so so good!) and it’s crazy how much stuff you can fit in the bag and still zip it up and it doesn’t feel heavy or bulky. My husband has LOVED this diaper bag because it just feels like a bag he would carry everyday but with all of the organization a good diaper bag needs.
- If you have access to a washer + dryer, try packing less and doing laundry on your trip. For our 10 day trip to Ireland, we plan on bringing a small thing of detergent and doing some laundry in our sink or bath. I have a feeling a tide to go pen will be our best friends too with spills and splatters.
- Buy diapers when you get to your destination. We always bring enough for the plane ride and for a day or two once we get there (if we have the space in our bags) because sometimes you just don’t want to go to the store as soon as you step off the plane.
- Pack an empty sippy cup or straw cup for the plane ride. We just buy a water once we get through security and pour it into each kid’s cups. It’s a lot easier than dealing with screw tops and it helps the kids be more independent on the plane. We love the ones that have a straw but close so they don’t spill in their bags.
- Check your stroller at the gate or bring a baby carrier (like an ergo or solly wrap). We love to check our stroller at the gate because it helps us be as hands free as possible while walking around the airport. Bonus: our kids ride on the skateboards of our orbit so it keeps them close to us!
- Kids get restless so if the seatbelt sign is off, get some wiggles out by walking up and down the aisles a few times! This is especially important on a long flight. We’ll do this and also sometimes hang out in the back with the flight attendants for a bit if our youngest is feeling grumpy. They usually love to see a cute baby so they’re happy to share the space for a few minutes (I think at least hah!)
I hope those were some helpful tips for packing/traveling with little ones! As I’ve done it more and added more kids to the bunch my motto is simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.