How to Travel with Kids (and not go insane)
I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about traveling with kids and how we do it without going insane. Those of you that know me, know that I’m travel obsessed. It’s one of the most important things in my life to show my children the world we live in. From Jersey to Mexico, China to Switzerland. We have a lot of passport stamps and TSA pre lines in our future.
But here’s the thing, traveling with 2 young kids is hard. Like, really hard if you’re unprepared.
Preparation is KEY.
That’s why I’ve made a list of my top “traveling with kids hacks” for any of you looking to simplify the process and reduce the risk of meltdowns (I’m looking at you, husband). 😉
Traveling with Kids Hack #1 | SNACK ATTACK
The first thing you MUST have when traveling with young kids is snacks. You can NEVER have too many snacks. I like to buy the pre-packaged assortment boxes at Target and have an entire carry-on bag devoted to snacks. Here’s a link to some of my favorite kid approved, airplane-friendly snacks and here’s my favorite carry-on bag for traveling with kids.
Traveling with Kids Hack #2 | CLEAN UP ON AISLE 4
The other thing I pack in my carry-on snack bag is what I call “clean up committee”. I pack a separate smaller tote that I put inside the carry-on that’s easy to locate quickly when your child throws up in your lap (true story) or squeezes an entire Gogo apple sauce pouch all over the woman behind you (another unfortunate but true story). ps – she was pissed. In this tote I pack wipes, wipes, and more wipes. My favorite are the Seventh Generation wipes because they’re thick and textured and perfect for airplane aisle cleanups (including the woman’s pants that were covered in apple sauce). I also put a travel sized hand sanitizer in there for post cleanup sanitizing in case the seatbelt sign is still on.
Traveling with Kids Hack #3 | SOUTHWEST TO THE RESCUE
Only fly Southwest Airlines. No, seriously. That’s all we fly if we can help it. Unless of course we’re going to Vermont or Bozeman, two of the tiniest airports in the USA to visit family. But, I’m still holding out hope. Southwest, if you’re reading this (which I doubt), please, pretty pretty please, add these 2 teeny tiny airports to your list and you’ll make me the happiest mama on the planet. No, really. Here’s the thing with Southwest … they let families board after the A boarding. Which means, you aren’t stuck in the last aisle next to the stinky bathrooms. You will likely get a seat closer to the front. They also give out good snacks for the kids. And, if you’re a Southwest credit card member (which I highly suggest for the travel points), they’ll mail you drink vouchers every few months. And yes, drinks are necessary (hello, that’s why Mimosas were invented, right?!) when traveling with young kids. Oh, and lastly, there’s no bag fee. And Lord knows you need more bags than you would need to move your entire house when traveling with kids. Can someone explain this to me? How can 2 tiny children need more stuff than 2 adults can carry?! Which leads me to hack #4 …
Traveling with Kids Hack #4 | AMAZON PRIME IS YOUR FRIEND
This year I smartened up and realized there’s no need to pack everything we need for a 2 week vacation when things like Amazon Prime exist. And Amazon, if you’re reading this (again, doubtful), I just wanted to say I love you. No, really. Like, love you more than I love wine. Ok, that’s a lie. But you get the point. Back to what I was saying. Amazon Prime everything you’ll need for your vacation that you don’t need on the flight. Which is mainly, everything not mentioned above. With the exception of clothing. You don’t need to buy a new wardrobe, but that does sound fun. This last trip we were gone for over 2 weeks and we took 3 carry-on bags, and checked 3 suitcases (one for Mark, one for me, and the kids shared one … which Miles insisted on wheeling from the car). Boom. That’s what I call a win!! I Amazon Primed everything else. All of the sunscreen, body wash, shampoo, snacks for the week, Pellegrino, diapers, wipes, swim diapers, beach toys, etc. It. Was. AH-freaking-MAZING.
Traveling with Kids Hack #5 | UBER TO THE RESCUE
We live about 45 minutes from Denver International Airport. Our options are we drive to the airport and park in economy (there’s no way I’m parking off site and shuttling in with 2 kids, 6 bags, and a stroller). Or we Uber. No brainer, right. It actually turns out to be $20 less expensive and soooo much easier. Uber drops you at the door right in front of curbside checkin (which I’ll get to in a minute), helps unload your suitcases while you can stand on the sidewalk to be sure your toddler doesn’t wonder out into traffic (DIA is a madhouse). It’s genius if you ask me. Uber for the #mamawin
Traveling with Kids Hack #6 | CURBSIDE ALL THE WAY
As I mentioned, Southwest has no bag fees. It’s absolutely necessary with children. Take advantage of the curbside checkin they offer at most airports. Have your Uber driver drop you right in front and carry the bags over to the line. From there all you have to do is give them your licenses or passports and they will not only check you in, but print your boarding passes and take your luggage. Avoid the check in lines inside the airport with 2 kids? Yes, please!! Just be sure to tip the curbside people a few bucks for helping reduce your stress. It’s totally worth it!
Traveling with Kids Hack #7 | Stroller + Skateboard
This past summer I bought the best invention I’ve ever seen for traveling with young kids. It’s so simple, I wish I had invented it. So everyone traveling with kids knows a stroller is key. But when it comes down to it, which stroller will do the trick without falling apart, braking your back, or worse causing fights over who’s turn it is to ride. DIA is huge and it’s a long walk from curbside checkin to all of the gates. That’s why we bought the Hitchhiker stroller attachment for our umbrella stroller. It is freakin genius. It is the perfect solution for our 5 year old when he’s tired (or we’re running late, which happens more often than not). Take a peek at this incredible invention here.
Traveling with Kids Hack #8 | LIE ABOUT THE FLIGHT TIME
Confession, my husband is habitually late. We’ve missed more flights than I care to remember. One to Mexico that I’m still a little bitter about. So, these days … I just lie. I tell everyone the flight is at least an hour before it actually is. That way we get through TSA without any panic attacks, have enough time for a quick bathroom break, diaper change, and with any luck a little pre-game beverage before getting in line to board. I’m not above lying to my family if it will avoid an epic airport meltdown. Trust me, I know how those go down and they are not pretty.
Traveling with Kids Hack #9 | CARSEAT RENTAL
Years ago we would bring our carseats with us everywhere we went. Now, I just rent them. It’s one less thing to carry along and it makes everyone that much happier. Especially when you reserve your carseats from the car rental in advance, they’ll usually have them installed in the car when you check in. Just double check that they’re in properly. I also like to wipe down the seats with a sanitizer wet wipe before loading the kids and I try to let my OCD go a little. It’s all for the convenience factor anyhow.
Traveling with Kids Hack #10 | TSA PRE
Last but not least, traveling with children calls for TSA pre. Actually, traveling in general calls for TSA pre if you ask me. For $85 for 5 years (guys, that’s only $17/year!!), it’s a no brainer. Even if you only fly once a year (which we do a lot more than that), it would still be worth it to me. Especially at airports like Denver where the line is notoriously long. TSA pre speeds up the process, doesn’t make you remove your kids shoes/jackets/hat/etc. and will even help you load your stroller and car seat on the belt. I personally think they’re nicer in that line too. But that could just be me. 😉
So there you have it, my top 10 traveling with kids hacks. I hope they help you as much as they help us. It’s taken YEARS of trial and error and I’m sure I’ll be updating this list in a few months when we get back from our next adventure. But until then, happy travels friends!!