After our recent trip to Idaho with a baby and preschooler in tow, I think it’s time for a little updated edition of traveling with a baby and toddler. Not because I know all the things, but we have done air travel with two kids a couple times now, with another trip coming up soon. I considered our most recent trip a success because I didn’t say “I’m never doing this again!” event once on this trip. That, friends, is the low bar that I set for traveling with little kids, because it’s hard, sometimes crazy, and a little bit nuts but it’s worth it. And with the right mindset, it doesn’t have to be miserable, either.
So, here are a few thoughts and take-aways about traveling with little kids.
Age Matters //
The girls are at totally different stages in terms of how easy they are to travel with. Collins is currently just over a year old and in, what I think, is the hardest age to do air travel with. She isn’t able to walk well yet, so she crawls all over dirty surfaces like the airport floor, and she isn’t easily entertained with toys, stickers, media, etc. Yet she isn’t a sleepy newborn anymore, either. She mainly just protests being held and squirms around a lot. Just remember that things get easier and better over time.
Pick Smart Flights //
I know this isn’t always an option because price is a factor, too, but I suggest trying to travel in the morning vs. later in the day when everyone is exhausted and weary. My girls aren’t super great at napping on the plane or in the stroller, so while “nap time flights” seem like a great idea in theory, it really backfires. We took a very early morning flight on our way home (think 5:30 am) and it was surprisingly great. We were all pretty exhausted after a 12 hour travel day and 3:45 am wake-up, but Ainsley was super sleepy on the plane, they dimmed the cabin lights and Collins even napped for a little bit as well. We had breakfast when we got to our destination and then hopped in the car for the drive home and everyone slept + early early bed times so mom and dad could recover, too! Early morning flights not be for everyone, but finding flight times that work for your family really does help make the experience easier. Also, if you can fly direct, by all means do so! You reduce the risk of getting stuck
Check Your Bags //
We’re pretty light packers, so we typically only have a couple carry-on suitcases with us, but we learned a long time ago that having our hands free in the airport to wrangle kids is key. We check our bags (and our car seats) when we get to the airport so we only have our stroller and a couple backpacks to deal with through security and the airport. If you fly Southwest, the first bag is always free and on all airlines the car seats are free to check. If you typically fly another airline, look into getting that airline’s credit card, which typically gets you a free checked bag as well. We borrowed this awesome car seat bag from a friend and I bought two of them today because they are SO good. Car seats are so awkward to carry and this backpack carry option helps tremendously!
We travel with our double stroller because we *need* a way to contain both girls through the airport and love having our stroller with us when we reach our destination. We gate-check the stroller when we get on the plane and it works great!
Get on the Plane Last //
If you check your bags, then you don’t have to worry about getting on the plane early to ensure room for luggage overhead. And if you’re not worried about that, then you can get on the plane LAST. We say “no!” to getting on board early because we’ve had too many times stuck on the plane super early while boarding takes forever and the kids have already been on the plane an extra 45 minutes by the time the plane takes off. So wait until the last minute to board and keep everyone running around and fresh until absolutely necessary.
Buy What You Can There //
Things like diapers, wipes, and formula can really take up a ton of space. Don’t waste that space packing enough of those things for your entire trip. Pack enough for your trip there, and buy what you need once you get to your destination. With so many Targets and Walmarts and more available to you, chances are you’ll be just fine getting what you need when you arrive. And if you are staying with family, you can always ship your items ahead of time!