Spring break is upon us, and I am so in need of a change of scenery; however, vacation is not what it was before the juggle of packing and traveling with kids. Gone are the days when all I had to think about was what cute bikini I was planning to pack. As much as I love the memories and fun we have when we get to our destination, the battle to actually get there can be overwhelming at times. I am all for anything that will get my kids and me to our vacation with as minimal tears as possible- them and me.
Toys and Entertainment:
Traveling more than one hour in the car or flying with my kids gives me so much anxiety; not only do I despise being in a plane or stuck in the car- having a crying, an inconsolable kid is my greatest nightmare. Here are a few items that have helped pass and create some easily managed entertainment.
- Busy books: My kids all loved these busy books– Anything with a zipper and buttons has always been a big hit and has at least bought me 10 minutes without screaming or climbing out of their seats.
- Reusable stickers: I am all for anything we can reuse. I hate buying stickers that can only be used once and are impossible to get off the surfaces they inevitably stick on. I love these Melissa & Doug Puffy Sticker Activity Books Set. I have had the same sticker book for 3 years and bring it out when we travel. I love them because they can stick them in the book or stick them to the plane window, and they come off really easily.
- Color Wonder coloring sheets: I love these coloring sheets! I cannot trust my kids with markers after their “art” has been discovered on many walls around my house and the seats of my car. I love that they can color without needing so much supervision. The Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Kit has been our favorite, but the smelly stamps have been a huge hit and lots of fun too.
- LCD Writing tablet: All three of my kids, ages 2-8, love these LCD tablets to doodle on. We have used them to play games like hangman or Pictionary. I love that it is reusable and that kids can click the button to erase the screen! There are lots of options to choose from. This one has held up well for my kids
- Snacks, Snacks, and more snacks! My go-to when my child is melting down is to provide snacks. However, they never want the snack I give them, which always turns into a battle and guessing game to find the right one. These snack spinners have been so helpful when traveling. I fill them with all their favorite snacks, and they can push the button all day long to spin it for their favorite option. This has eliminated the guessing game and allows my kids to feel more in control of their choices.
Packing and travel favorites:
- Packing cubes: I am all for organization, especially when packing up to return from vacation. These Packing cubes have been so amazing for organizing my family of 5. I love that I can pack most of us in one suitcase, but when we arrive at our destination, it is easy to grab one family member’s things without digging through the rest of the folded suitcase. I have also used these to have an extra set of clothes for me when flying because I have been puked on more times than I’d like to admit, and having easy access to a change of clothes is important.
- Car organization: I like to organize the chaos before departing when we travel in the car for more than a couple of hours with all three kids. I have learned that giving each kid a basket at their feet to put any snacks, toys, or activities has made traveling much easier. My older two can access their items easily, and the mess stays contained to their basket. My kids also become irate when their sibling touches their items; this has created a solution to that problem; everyone has their own space for their things.
- Tushbaby: I bought this baby/ toddler carrier after my third kid and wished it was available when I had my others. My Kids are not great about sitting in a stroller when we are traveling- or any time for that matter. They are super active and constantly want to be picked up and put down. This hip carrier was a game changer for life and traveling, primarily through the airport. It was an easy way to hold them and pull my suitcase without feeling like I was going to drop my child.
- Stroller/ Car seat Rental: I love the convenience and bringing a stroller, three car seats, and a pack-and-play to the airport is way too much for me to handle. Most car rental companies will have car seats, even 5-point harness options for you when you arrive at your destination. If you call ahead and reserve one for your car reservation, they will have it ready to go. Many cities have stroller rental companies that will drop off a stroller at your hotel or vacation home and pick it up when you are done!
- Instacart/ Grocery Delivery: My Husband and I just started doing this when we travel; it has been amazing. We used to haul all the kids to the nearest grocery store when we arrived at our Airbnb and tried to figure out what we needed. Now we order our groceries, diapers, sunscreen, etc., to be delivered when we arrive; that way, the kids can start having fun, and it has been much less stressful on the adults.
Vacations are wonderful, and I am so happy to make amazing memories with my family when we travel. I am not great at keeping my cool in stressful situations, so these tricks have helped me to keep my sanity and have allowed me to focus on the fun and enjoy the madness a little more.
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