Updated on October 27th to say this:
Since implementing the tips and suggestions you’ll read about below, I’ve flown with the girls twice by myself and my anxiety is nearly gone! I know that continuous travels this year have helped so much with minimizing my anxiety with traveling, but I also feel so confident that practicing and believing the information below is what’s made the difference!
I also wanted to add this; I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to get it all right (especially when traveling and doing new things). It attributes so much to our anxiety. But what we forget is how resilient our kiddos are. So what(!) if their routine is thrown out the window for a few days. You’re traveling to make memories and to have a great time. So join me in releasing some of the expectations we place on ourselves and our kiddos, and let’s give ourselves lots of grace.
I feel as though I'm a seasoned traveler. I love traveling. I love exploring.
I've driven and flown to nearly every state in the U.S.
I've driven across the country from Alabama to Washington State and back twice. Once was with a two month old in the back seat.
I drove up to Maine by myself and traveled down the entire East Coast on a "soul searching trip".
I even have the word "wanderlust" tattooed on my side.
Yet, here I am. Two days before flying across the country with my hubby and two littles and I'm kinda FAAAA-REEEAAAAKKKK-INGGGGG OUT!
If you follow my personal instagram, you know that I struggle with anxiety.
I'm anxious for plane troubles. I'm anxious for the girls not behaving. I'm anxious for the girls not sleeping. I'm anxious for the three hour time change. I'm anxious for the people around us on the plane. Alll...theeee....things.
For me, when I get anxious, the best thing I can do is plan + prepare for what's to come.
1. When packing, go day by day, outfit by outfit. I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten the shoes I needed for an outfit or the slip I needed to go under a dress. This will make sure you don't forget anything! This also makes you pack the least amount of clothes cause you will have specific outfits for each day.
2. If something's in the wash, make a note to grab it before you go. Speaking from experience there too! Put a few garbage bags into the suitcases so you have somewhere to catch all the dirty clothes throughout the travels too! Bonus if you can wash your clothes before you return back home! It’s so nice coming home with clean clothes to unpack!
3. For kiddos, pack anything and everything you can (but not too much) that reminds them of the comfort of their own bed. i.e. we pack their sound machines and favorite small blanket/stuffed animal if we are flying. If we are driving somewhere, we take more of their things cause we have more room. They will love having the scent of their home with them on the go!
4. Do NOT pack big bulky items if you don’t have to!!! We use Baby Quip to rent all of our bigger items upon arrival at wherever we’re going, and let me tell you-it’s amazing!!! We essentially just use a single umbrella stroller for our bigger girl if she’s not walking (and this one is our favorite that we HIGHLY recommend) and then I wear our little girl in my Wildbird wrap! We get off the plane and just get our suitcase and then have car seats, strollers, pack n plays, and all the big items waiting for us at our car rental! Your Baby Quip rep will meet you wherever you want to be met and will even deliver to the hotel or home you’re staying at! I have LOVED my experience with Baby Quip and know you will too! Let me know if you have any questions and you can book your rentals here for future travels! p.s. I always love working out while traveling, so this is my way to rent a Bob double stroller while traveling and to go for a run in a new city! The girls love doing this!
5. I always roll our clothes in the suitcase. An army trick we're taught early on. It saves SOOOO much room!
6. MAKE SURE TO CHECK THE WEATHER! This will let you know if you need to give up some room for a jacket, which is typically what takes a lot of room.
7. I'm realllyyyy bad at packing too many pajamas. I don't know why, but I always feel like I need eight MeeeeeLLLL-YUN pairs of comfy pants. When really, you don't need many pajamas. When you're traveling/on vacation, you've typically got lots of people to see, places to be, and things to do. You'll only put on your comfy clothes at night to sleep in. There's not too much lounging around on the couch watching movies in your jammies all day, so just pack a couple and wear them over again! I promise, I won't judge!
8. Shoes take up so much room! AM-I-Right? But we want to take alll the pairs! Take shoes that go with multiple outfits! You'll save tons of room! If you're going on a trip that you'll work out and go hiking in, bring shoes that are dual purpose and you can do both in! Also try to wear the heaviest and bulkiest shoes to the airport to save luggage room.
9. Don't forget swimwear and swim necessities! I feel like everyone forgets this. And that's why all those beach shops make so much money! Pack sunscreen, bug spray, swim diapers and all the things you'd have to pay an arm and a leg for at the beach shop!
FOR THE AIRPORT:
10. Going along with number 6., if you are needing to bring a jacket and it's light enough, make it your airport jacket! Planes can get chilly and it can act as a pillow should you need one! It'll save room in the suitcase too! It’s great as a “blanket” if the kiddos get cold too.
11. Check in early and reserve your seats! BUT, make sure your tickets actually have those seats when you get to your gate! Sometimes they accidentally double book seats! (tip: the back row on most planes are typically the least ideal to book, which makes it the PERFECT room for families! We always end up getting an extra seat open next to us cause nobody booked it!)
12. But, if not, when you get to the gate, beg, plead, do whatever you can to see if there's any rows with open seats! If so, see if you can book those seats and pray that nobody sits there!
13. Fill up a water bottle at a water fountain to save another eight-MEEL-yun dollars. You won't die, I promise.
14. Referencing #4, we try not to bring car seats or big bulky strollers and instead rent them wherever we are going from Baby Quip. We use our Kolocraft stroller (that’s only $26 and gate check it - it’s cheap so if it gets messed up (which it hasn’t in 5 trips!) then you aren’t losing a ton of money!) I always wear the little one in my Wildbird sling which is so easy and comfy to travel in cause I have free arms to do whatever! IF we do check a stroller or car seat (sneak a few things into those check in bags! There's always tons of room in there and I've thrown shoes or jackets or blankets in them and had no problem! and those are free checked bags!)
15. If you are able to book a flight that's during nap time or nighttime, that may work great for you if you have kiddos that sleep well in new places! Some people get to the airport early to let the kids run around and tire themselves out so they're a bit calmer once they get on the plane. However, my kiddos don’t do well with this, so we actually plan it out to where we only have about 30 minutes prior to boarding our flight by the time we get to the airport. We’ll go to the bathroom, get some food and board last cause I personally want as little time on the airplane as possible. My kiddos can’t nap or sleep on the plane, so this works best for us!
16. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. We don't wipe everything down they touch, we just wipe their hands down after the touch everything. :) OH, and ELDEBERRY GUMMIES and thieves essential oils are our lifesavers while traveling for immune support!!! We never leave home without them!
17. Get some food in the airport that they may want on the plane if it's a very long flight. There's nothing worse than hungry babies who don't want the airplane food. I love bringing surprise food of different sorts.
FOR THE AIRPLANE (most tips apply to car rides as well):
18. I personally like getting on last with the kids. If Blake's with me, I'll let him get on first with Everly (our oldest) and all of our luggage to secure the overhead space above our seat, then he gets her seated and settled in. I wait with the baby until the last minute cause she's the one who will have a hard time sitting still. Some people like to get on first and get settled, but nope-not me.
19. As far as where you sit, that's a personal preference. Some like to go to the very back cause they feel like they're the least of a disturbance back there. Some (myself) like sitting as close to the front as possible. For me, it's less to walk and quicker to get off at the end. But, I also like sitting next to the engines cause that's the PERFECT white noise! I also always let the kiddos take the window seat. Not only do they always have something to look at but it also keeps them from going into the aisle or accidentaly getting nudged by someone while they're sleeping! (But remember #11 cause the back row typically has free extra seats!)
20. For the first few airplane rides I took with the girls, I gave all those sitting around us ear plugs and a sucker in a little ziploc bag! I’d print a little note off and staple it to each baggy that said "plug your ears if the girls get loud and if they do, remember they’re really just as sweet as this sucker. They’re just new to this!” They always get a kick out of it, and it eased my nerves of flying with little ones! (update: I haven’t done this for our last two trips cause the girls are soooo used to airplane rides now, but it’s great for mamas on their first trips with littles!)
21. Bring headphones for the kids (if they can wear them), otherwise they won't be able to hear their gadgets! We love these from Amazon!
22. If your baby is nursing, breastfeed at landing and takeoff to help with ear pressure. If they're not nursing or bottle feeding, give them a sucker or some water to sip. The sucking and swallowing will help relieve pressure.
23. Dollar store and Target dollar spot toys for the win!!! Get a bag with a bunch of dollar toys/fun things that they don't get to see until the plane ride! It will be such a fun treat to see what's in the bag, and they love the surprise! It's a must for us every long trip we take! We get enough to last us for the trip back as well! Right now our favorites are window clings, twistable crayons (so they don't break mid flight), play doh, slime, washi tape, magic coloring markers and shoelaces! We also love Melissa and Doug water wows and reusable stickers!
24. Same goes for snacks. I hate paying quadruple the price at the airport, so I stock up on little snacks that I know the girls will love. We do mini oreos, mini cheeze-its, plum gummies and all the things they don't necessarily get to eat at home. Yes, they get spoiled on trips!
25. If your kiddo is potty training or is recently potty trained, DON'T EVEN SWEAT THE PLANE BATHROOM! Just forego the potty training for the trip and stick with pullups! Who wants to mess with a wet seat mid flight, or run to a filthy plane bathroom. They'll get back into undies after the trip. Grace upon grace!
26. Along with the last one, bring garbage bags, ziploc bags and changes of clothes with you at all times. You just NEVER know when an accident will happen. Because hey, accidents do happen. Put a dryer sheet in the bags just in case it's a stinky and it'll hold in the bad smell a little better!
27. I spoil the girls with pacifiers on trips too. The big girl doesn't ever get one at home, but the little one does during nap times. But on trips? Again...we spoil. I need them to be good for my sanity! There's no shame in that friends!
28. Layer everyone's clothes, including babies, kids and adults! It's so much easier to warm up and cool down in the ever changing plane temps with layers! I also suggest wearing close toe shoes, cause my feet always end up freezing! For the kiddos, put them in shoes that slip on and off easily! Nobody wants to be messing with those difficult shoes on a plane!
29. Extra baby wipes and hand sanitizer. Let's face it. Airports and airplanes are filled with germs. We always wipe down the arm rests and table tray before the girls touch them. Nothing worse than getting sick while on vacation! We also ALWAYS travel with our oils! So be sure to oil up and take some vitamins before you travel (and during!) These are the elderberry gummies the girls take for immune support.
30. Download Netflix movies to your tablet and computer! It is SO nice having movies downloaded that the kids love that are quickly accessible but also aren't charging you for data! Here is my ALL TIME FAVORITE tablet case that the girls love! They stand up on their own and also have great handles and come in both boy and girl options!
31. If you have a little baby that likes being worn, after about an hour or two on the plane, get up and walk up and down the aisle. They'll be able to look around, but also (if you're lucky) may get them to fall asleep! Remember the Wildbird!
32. If you have plane anxiety, just pray. Close your eyes and pray. (whether you're a believer or not). Meditate, breathe, relax. You are protected, my friend. I promise.
FOR THE DESTINATION:
33. This is where it's great if you have Baby Quip waiting for you at the car rental or passenger pickup area waiting with car seats and a stroller for you! You didn’t have to lug it around, and your personal ones didn’t have to get messed up, yet there’s clean safe rentals right there at your destination! I despise getting somewhere then having to get the carseat and base out and put it into a rental that is brand new to us! We just wanna get to where we're going! That way you can just load everyone up and get going!
34. As soon as we get to our destination, I immediately start getting our room ready for nighttime. Even if it's morning or midday! I want to let the girls know that this new place is comfortable and that we are going to sleep here, so I start preparing the pack n play and pulling out all of their things from home. This also helps after you're out site seeing and being busy, you get back to a room that's all ready for bed!
35. If we’re staying at a hotel, we put the pack n play in the closet! One half sticks out and the other half sticks into it where the sound machine is. This not only makes the baby feel like they're in their own room, but it adds so much darkness and calmness around them!
36. We always always always try to get a suite! When there's two sides to the room, you can make one side the "play side" where the kids can watch tv and play (kinda like a living room at home) but the other side is only for sleep. How hard would it be if your kiddo had to play and sleep and eat and do all the things in their bedroom all day?! Right? We try to take the same approach we have at home into our new space when traveling! This also helps if you have multiple kids and they have different bed times. You can quiet and black out one side and still make some noise on the other side.
37. Having a suite also allows you to have a kitchen! We always try to get groceries as soon as we get to our destination, cause not only does this allow us to eat healthier but we also get to save money! The girls love being able to eat the same stuff they eat at home too!
LASTLY, CHARGE EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU GO!!!! PHONES, LAPTOPS, TABLETS, ALL THE THINGS! Don't forget your chargers!!!
WHAT'S EVERYONE ELSE SAYING?
Today I asked my IG community if they had any other tips I hadn't mentioned! Here's what they said!
FOR THE CAR:
@bryanalikes says "On road trips it is absolutely necessary for everyone's sanity to plan stops for the kids to get the wiggles out. When traveling from Idaho to California, we like to pre plan the parks and indoor eat and play stops. This way we can say "only 40 minutes til we are at the park!"
FOR CHECK IN:
@faithfulmommyhood says "if your airport offers curbside check in through your airline...DO IT! We had a sleeping baby in his car seat, dropped all our checked bags with the airline workers at the ramp then drove our car to its parking spot before walking back to the airport with only our carry on bags and baby!
FOR A KID WHO DOESN'T LIKE THE PACK N PLAY:
@nichols.lauren says "a game changer for us was a pack in play mattress. We got the "3 in dream on me" from amazon prime. Our little one hates the pack n play, always sleeps terrible. Since using an actual mattress instead of just that thick glorified cardboard, she sleeps great!
@meghanstone6 says "tips? mainly lower your standards...a lot! haha! but seriously, throw out a ton of expectations and rules. Offer lots of snacks and special activities that they don't normally get. One of the best tips I ever got was to not allow screen time (tv, tablet, etc) for a few days prior to travel. Then when it came time to fly, she's so excited and missed her favorite show!"
@whitekg says "If there are multiple bags being checked, I spread out everyone's clothes across the bags. So days 1-3 will have outfits for everyone and days 4-6 will have the rest of everyone's clothes. Rather than each person having their own suitcase. Just in case one goes missing we still have clothes!"
*****There's a bonus below for sticking with me this long!*****
As a bonus, here's my packing / to do list that I use EVERY TIME we travel! Some trips I don't need it all, and based on where we are going I have to add or delete some items, but I keep this on my phone in my Wunderlist app! I mark things off as I pack them throughout the week prior to leaving! These are in no particular order.
Baby wipes + diapers (don’t forget nighttime diapers!)
Camera, camera equipment and tripod
Shoes (for all)
Coffee (for the on the road) + mug for destination
Water bottles (for all)
Food in the fridge (to go)
Car seats (rent with baby quip)
Suitcases (duh-but I'm a lister, so I have to list it)
Baby blankets and sleep things (sound machine, bears)
Check-In (verify seats)
Bags for dirty clothes
Take out the trash
Turn on Alarm for flight
Bobby Pins + Hair stuff
Purse + Planner + wallet
Tablet, Phones, Computers, Chargers
Makeup, hygiene bags (for all)
Clear out laundry
Bottles + Pacis
Food in Pantry
Gift if needed
Baby Wraps (Wildbird)
Important documents (passport, id cards, birth certs, etc)
Turn off everything in your home (but maybe leave a self timer light on)
I hope you found this useful, friends!