When is the last time you and your family have taken a vacation?

Have you avoided traveling with the kids?

So many parents FEAR traveling with their children that they end up missing out on some amazing memories with their children.

After figuring out the destination details it is now time to figure out how in the world are you going to travel with your kids. 

Well, I have great news! It is much easier than you think! Not only is there less to bring then you think but also less to worry about!

We recently had a family trip down to Key West. Fl for our destination wedding and had many family members with children. Our daughter, Melina traveled with us of course, who at the time was 18 months old. So we had children from 18 months – 10 years of age traveling. 

My husband and I are pretty laid back individuals but traveling from Michigan to Key West with our 18-month-old daughter, while finalizing wedding details seemed like a daunting task! Really it just overwhelmed me to no end.

Overall though, we had a great experience traveling with our daughter. I am so happy that I ignored what so many people were worried about and took the plunge to plan a wedding in Key West and travel without closest family and friends. With a little planning, preparation, and some patience we have some amazing memories to look back on.

Here are some tips on how we survived 10 days of traveling from Michigan to multiple destinations in Florida with a toddler.

luggage

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  • Do not over pack!

Seriously the more you lug with you the more you are responsible for. It is enough work making sure you have your husband and children, worrying about having all of your stuff for 5 suitcases is just too much! It will take away from your overall vacation experience.

I promise you won’t miss that extra pair of flip flops for you, your husband and child! Try packing as little as possible. After taking the plunge and traveling light, you will be amazed at how free you feel! 

Funny story about our trip….we flew down to Miami airport and rented a vehicle that we had to fit our daughter’s car seat, stroller, two carry-ons, a wedding dress, a suit, and our backpacks. Can you tell we may have over packed a bit??

Now, of course, we had to bring all of this for our wedding and that is not what typically travel with but still! We made it safely to our hotel in Key West only to realize that we did not have my husband’s SUIT for our wedding in TWO days!!

Luckily it was safe in Miami airport and we had a family member to retrieve it. But all of our other things completely distracted us and honestly lugging all of that stuff was just overwhelming and exhausting!

  • Make travel arrangements around your children’s sleep schedule.

Are you a drill Sargent when it comes to naps? I never really believed in the power of routines until I had a child. Now I realize the importance and try to keep us on a basic nap routine. Keeping your child close to what their normal schedule is will help avoid overtired meltdowns and ease them into the adjustment of being somewhere new.

When we flew to Miami, we had a 6:45 AM flight time. Yes, it was awful waking up at 4 AM to get ready but it worked out that our daughter was tired enough she slept through most of the flight. On our flight home, we planned the flight around her normal nap time, and again we had a sleeping toddler on the plane!

Yes, success!

  • Make sure you have some type of electronic entertainment.

I am not a big fan of a lot of screen time but when traveling it is a must! Travel days for little ones can be very overwhelming. They need some sort of entertainment to help them wind down and keep busy when there really isn’t anywhere to play like the plane or long car ride to your destination.

Helping your little ones entertain themselves will help avoid boredom meltdowns. The truth is, young children don’t understand why they have to sit for long periods of times, they just feel stuck and want to get out! Unless they something to do that they enjoy.

  • Bring Snacks!

As all parents know, food is a great entertainer and distraction. I do not see anything wrong with this tactic if you are providing your children with nutritious options.

Plus it stops you and your child from getting HANGRY. (I let this happen too much to myself)

Check out my post about healthy toddler snacks, most of them are travel-friendly!

Read more here: 5 Healthy Toddler Snack Ideas

  • Try to stay in a hotel where the kids will be sleeping in another part of the hotel room.

If you are traveling with your children, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to go out and have actual adult time with your partner. So why not guarantee that you will still be able to have that time in the hotel room? As exciting as it is to be traveling with the family, make sure to still nurture that excitement with your partner and value that alone time.

In Key West, all of the hotel rooms at the Sheraton were suites so it worked out perfectly that we would put Melina down at a reasonable time and still could have a conversation with each other without waking her up! We played some Yahtzee and enjoyed some adult beverages, spending quality couple time together.

When we traveled to Chicago with our daughter, we were able to place the crib in the hallway in front of the bathroom and could enjoy some “us” time while she slept.

This is much easier and affordable if you have children in cribs because you can relocate the crib to a different area of your hotel room if it is large enough. For older children, it means needing a suite with doors to the bedroom.

If you are in a financial situation where this is not a problem then go for it! If you are unable to find one in your budget, you might have to get creative!

  • Do not over plan your trip.

Some days are better than others with kids. Placing high expectations on what will be accomplished during a trip can become overwhelming and frustrating. We had planned to do multiple tourist outings while we were down in Key West but hardly got to half of them!

We realized that Melina did not enjoy sitting down at restaurants…so we opted to eat at the hotel restaurant by the pool for most meals. Shopping the little stands was a no go so we avoided them.

We learned that the beach and pool were what worked for us as a family and even snuck in a sunset cruise that was amazing….which Melina loved! Loud music and dancing is something she enjoys. Not to mention we were on a boat like Moana!! (Disney reference for the families that are obsessed with Moana)

No matter where you are you can find activities that your little one will enjoy and realize when an activity is not working out to accept it and move on. 

  • Invest in a stroller that is light and easy to use.

We researched a ton of different lightweight strollers and found that the Summer Infant 3Dlite was the one for us. We mainly used the stroller for traveling through the airport. We were so grateful that we did opt to bring a stroller since MIA airport is huge! I was wishing I had someone to push me around through it!3d-lite-stroller-by-summer-infant-min[1]

The umbrella stroller is very light, only weighing 13 lbs and has a carrying strap making it easy to travel with when not in use. It also has the option to put the seat to a reclining position which is perfect if you are hoping to get your little one to snooze while you are out.

We purchased ours from Buybuy baby because we had a gift card and it was on clearance! But you can also purchase it from Amazon here.

 

  • Check car seats and strollers at the GATE! I have two reasons for this

    • Personal items will have lower chances of being damaged from handling by having airport staff put it on the plane right at the gate then allowing it to be shuffled from luggage check all the way to the plane. We all know that airport workers are most often times in a rush and don’t handle luggage with a lot of care. When traveling with your child’s car seat you do not want it beat up or potentially damaged! It is very important for car seats to remain in the best condition that way they are as effective as they can possibly be at protecting your little one in case of an accident. That is why we chose to purchase covers for our car seat and stroller when they would be stored away by airport staff.

  •  You are going to want to travel through the airport with your stroller. Toddler feet just can’t move as fast as we can. And when you are in a time crunch you just have to move at a faster pace. Our stroller was a huge help for us!

Traveling with children is not the easiest process, however, it is still a very rewarding experience for the family.

Having realistic expectations and a little bit of patience can go a long way.

Go plan that vacation Mama!

The family needs it.

YOU need it.

 

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