Tips for Traveling With Tots

posted by Andrea | 03/17/2017
Print pageEmail page

I’m a homebody — I don’t particularly love to travel (I think most of you knew that already!)

That said, Dave and I will actually be traveling more than usual over the next few months — and yes, we’ll be traveling with all 3 kiddos.

Thanks to a fun spring break vacation with my entire family, a 85th birthday party / family reunion for Dave’s grandma, a mini-vacation with Dave’s immediate family, a week at the cottage with my family, and potentially a couple weekend trips to visit friends or family this summer, the Dekkers will be traveling more in the next 4 months than we have in the last 4 years (seriously!)

Since I’m not an experienced traveler by any means, I figured it couldn’t hurt to do a few quick internet searches for handy tips, tricks, ideas, and suggestions to simplify the traveling process with small children.

We’ll be flying for 1 trip and driving for the rest. We’ll be staying in a large 2-bedroom condo with a full kitchen for one vacation, in a beach house for another, with relatives for another, and we’ll most likely end up in a couple smaller hotel rooms along the way as well — so I was ultimately interested in tips for all types of travel.

Not surprisingly, I found way more than I would ever need (the internet is amazing!) and I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you today.

.

Helpful Advice for All Traveling.

As I mentioned above, I don’t have a ton of experience traveling with young children — however, whenever we go anywhere, I always bring plenty of snacks and drinks.

Even if we’re just running a few errands or going for a walk, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS bring a little stash of food along. There’s no telling when the kids will suddenly be “famished” and super cranky. Give them a few goldfish, a sucker, or a handful of grapes and they are instantly happier.

Also, if you have an infant, make sure you bring a baby carrier along. I cannot tell you how many times this has saved my butt!

.

A Few Packing Suggestions.

While I’m normally not extremely minimalistic when it comes to my clothing, I do tend to pack VERY minimally for any and every vacation. If we’re staying for more than a few days, I always make sure we have access to a washer and dryer and we simply wash what we wore the first part of the week — and wear it again the 2nd part of the week.

I always check the weather forecast a couple days before we leave, and I try to stick with mix and match pieces and coordinating color tones (example: all black and grey, no brown or tan) for myself, and only pack a few outfits for the kids. The absolute worst-case scenario is someone has to wear something slightly dirty for a day — not a huge deal in my opinion.

I also find it helpful to use these EZ packing cubes to separate clothing for different people or for different days (depending on what works best with our vacation schedule). It’s SO handy to be able to quickly pull out one cube and have everything you need for a specific person or a certain day of the trip.

Oh, and we always bring a laundry bag (or 2) with us for every vacation. We put everyone’s dirty clothing in the bag and when it’s time to do the laundry, I can take that one bag. This also makes it very quick and easy to unpack when we get home as all the dirty clothing is together in one location.

.

If you’re flying…

I found SO many redundant and overly-obvious tips and ideas for flying with small children — and then I found this VERY LONG list of helpful tips from a pretty funny blog, My Life Suckers 🙂

She is a very experienced traveler and has flown SOLO with her kids… so she definitely knows what she’s talking about!

One thing she didn’t mention (that I always do) is bring sanitizing wipes along. Airplanes are NASTY — and even though I’m not a total germaphobe, I really don’t want my kids picking up a bug on the way to our vacation. I take 2 minutes to quickly wipe down the seat trays, arm rests, window sills, and anything else I know they will either touch or put their mouth on (so gross!)

Also, here’s an informative post about the pros and cons of taking a carseat on the plane, versus checking at the baggage counter, versus renting a car seat when you get to your destination. We’re still unsure which option(s) we’re going to go with on this issue. If you ARE planning to take the car seat on the plane with you, here’s a really clever way to attach it to your rolling carry-on so you don’t have to lug it through the airport!

MY TIPS:

Pay for a seat, even if they are under 2. I know it’s an extra fee, but unless your child is a tiny baby that will easily sleep on your lap the entire time, I would say it’s totally worth it to pay for an extra seat. Not only will everyone have more space, but you can also bring your car seat on the plane (which, in my opinion, helps the little kids sit and sleep so much better).

Also, don’t give into cute kid carry-ons — you know YOU will eventually end up carrying them around! If older kids want to take a backpack, that’s cool, but I would suggest carrying everything you want for your infants and toddlers in YOUR carry-on (no matter how stinkin’ cute the kid’s carry-ons are these days!)

.

If you’re driving…

I personally haven’t had many great road trip experiences — mainly because I have terrible motion sickness.

I do think it has gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but the thought of driving long distances with 3 young children (all while feeling slightly woozy myself) has never appealed to me!

However, Tune My Heart Blog has a bunch of fantastic ideas for road trips with toddlers (for those of you who are much braver than we are!)

MY TIPS:

Flip the radio to a staticky AM station that doesn’t come in clearly as a white noise machine to calm a fussy baby or during nap time.

Also, if your vehicle doesn’t have a TV/DVD player built in, bring one along! It’s worth it for a few minutes of peace and quiet, especially on a longer trip.

.

If you’re cruising…

I’ve only been on one cruise, but it is way up there on my list of favorite vacations. I LOVE that once you’re on the ship, you don’t need to worry about anything. You don’t need to worry about getting lost driving somewhere, wondering where you should eat, worry about how expensive the entertainment or the meal will be, or wondering if you’ll have anything fun to do tomorrow.

Almost everything on a cruise is paid for up-front (at least everything I would do)

I personally wouldn’t choose to go on a cruise with young children… but if you’re planning to cruise with toddlers, this post has SO many helpful ideas from a very experienced mom who has apparently taken many cruises with her young children!

MY TIP: Don’t cruise with young children! Either that, or bring a nanny along to take care of the kids so you and your spouse can actually relax a bit 🙂

.

If you’re staying in a hotel…

I found so many helpful tips regarding staying in a hotel room with young children (something Dave and I have personal experience with!) that I didn’t know which ones to link to — so I figured I’d just list out a bunch of the tips I found:

  • bring your own pillows (we do this if we’re only driving a short distance, not if we’re flying)
  • bring a nightlight
  • get a room with a mini fridge (or at least ask for the use of a mini fridge)
  • bring quarters and laundry detergent for longer trips
  • inspect the room before unpacking (look for bedbugs or overly gross and dirty areas)
  • always keep the door latched/locked when kids are inside
  • bring extra plastic cups (since the hotels usually only give you 2 or 4)
  • don’t be afraid to move furniture around to make more floor space
  • bring noise makers and/or fans for sleeping at night
  • be prepared to sleep one adult and one kid to each bed (this is what Dave and I always do with Simon and Nora)
  • bring your own toys and books so the kids have something to do in the room
  • scout out local parks or other places within walking distance (or at least a short drive) from your hotel BEFORE leaving on vacation
  • use the desk as a makeshift changing table (we always do this!)

MY TIP:

If at all possible, find a hotel with continental breakfast AND a small kitchenette in the room (mini fridge, sink, microwave).

We almost always stay at Holiday Inns or Holiday Inn Expresses because of this — they are frugal, they always have a hot breakfast, and they usually have a kitchenette.

.

If you’re heading to the beach…

I’ve never been a beach lover (I don’t like sand) but my kids seems to love it. Dave and I have taken them to Lake Michigan a few times over the past 5 years — and every time, I think of a few more things I should have or could have done to make it a smoother, easier, less stressful outing.

I recently read this blog post from Passion for Savings that has thought of practically everything to make beach outings easier with little kids — seriously, this lady is a genius!

MY TIP:

Bring a small shower curtain, dig a hole in the sand, place the shower curtain in the hole, and fill it back up with water. Now babies or small toddlers can have some really shallow water to play in right by your chair.

.

If you’re camping…

Dave grew up tent camping with his entire family — and I can guarantee it was NOT a “vacation” for his mom in any way. She worked like crazy ahead of time, then was busy the whole vacation, and then had to clean everything up after they got home again.

My family, on the other hand, never camped a day in our lives — and since we’ve been married, neither Dave nor I have had any desire to go camping.

I have a feeling that once our children are older (like all completely potty trained and sleeping through the night) we might attempt camping in a trailer, but I don’t ever see myself tent camping — at least not with the unpredictable weather here in Michigan.

That said, if you’re interested in camping with young children, this comprehensive list of tips and ideas should be helpful. It even includes a printable packing list!

Also, here’s a helpful post detailing everywhere you can camp for FREE within the USA!

MY TIP:

Since I have no experience camping — with or without children — I have a hard time offering tips. However, I would say that lots of organization and planning BEFORE the trip would most likely be essential to pulling it off without too many hiccups.

Also, rent a camper or RV instead of camping in a tent 🙂

.

No matter where you are going or how you plan to get there…

I would highly recommend doing a quick Pinterest and Google search for “traveling with kids to _________” with your destination in the blank. It’s honestly amazing how many fabulous ideas will pop up — many of which you probably never even thought of.

You’ll find everything from packing tips, food recommendations, lodging suggestions, free family activities, and educational ideas for learning about this new place with your children. The internet really can be amazing if you utilize it well!

.

Now it’s YOUR turn…

What are your best tips for traveling with tots?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: FamilyTravel

 
 

Leave a comment

49 comments

  1. Trisha G

    05/13/2017

    Didn’t read the comments so I don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but have you tried Sea Bands for your motion sickness? I also have horrible motion sickness, but I wore them the whole time I was on a tour of the British Isles while in college and had no problems at all even while driving on the wrong side of the road on tiny, curving streets on a bus, on a small ferry to an island, on a large ferry from Ireland to Scotland, and while flying. They are awesome!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, my sisters both use those bands. I should look into them for our next trip this summer 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. Julie

    03/23/2017

    We have four kids (2, 5, 7, 11) and lived ~3,000 miles from family for several years. Between flights home and long vacation flights, we’ve had lots of trips. I totally agree with the nightlight and laundry bag – we bring these almost every time. I also make sure to pack a waterproof mattress protector to ensure that nobody ruins a (hotel/airbnb/relative’s) mattress.

    In lieu of the storage cubes, I use gallon Ziploc bags for organizing the kids’ clothing. I put one full outfit per bag (two can fit for the smallest), so each kid can just grab a bag in the morning and get changed quickly. Clean clothes stay clean, and I know the outfit won’t be an eye sore. 🙂 If I know we’re going to be in a crowded place, I’ll be sure to have them wear something pretty distinctive that day so that I can spot everybody quickly.

    Also, flying is the one time that my kids get unlimited screen time. We bring loaded devices, headphones, and extra battery packs. They look forward to games and movies, we are given a little peace, and we disturb those around us a lot less. Air travel is so stressful anyway. I pick my battles!

    [Reply]

    Julie Reply:

    Almost forgot – I have a printable packing list that I use for each trip. This way I don’t have to try to remember every item for every trip. I can also throw the list into a bag for reference when it’s time to repack to return home.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh, good idea to bring the packing list with you. I always have a list, but don’t always bring it with me for re-packing purposes 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    03/22/2017

    We are big road trippers in our family…but that’s what happens when you live 24 hours away from your parents / Grandparents, and all your siblings are several states away. Emma’s already been to more states in one year than my husband had by the time he was in high school. Ha. In fact, we’re getting ready to do another 12 hour road trip to Atlanta next week for Spring Break to see my sister and her family. Planning ahead with lots of activities and stories is important. I always like to take one or two new surprises for the kids. (Some of my favorite activities are on my blog). And yes, pack lots of snacks! We try to teat one meal in the car to save on food costs so that’s helpful too. And with two little ones, I currently sit between them to easily read to them and keep them entertained as my husband drives. We laugh about who has the “easier” job.I have a couple posts about road trips with toddlers on my blog too. We hit some of the same points, since we think alike! 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Marisa

    03/22/2017

    We haven’t been on any long road trips (4 hrs, max), but we’ve flown to England (and back) twice with our toddler. He was almost 2 on the first trip, and 3 on the second trip.

    I was really worried and over-prepared, but it turned out to be fine. He hardly cared for all the toys and activities I packed because there was so much to see–all the people, TV shows, weird seats, etc. And he was so exhausted after the whole airport-experience that he slept pretty well. Not to say that he never got cranky, but it was doable.

    My best tips for long flights with toddlers:

    1) Bring headphones that fit them. We bought a sort of cloth headband that has speakers inside (from amazon). He loved it and it was easy to wear and easy to sleep in.

    2) Make packets for diaper changing. I put several wipes into a small ziplock bag, then put the wipes and one clean diaper into a larger bag, taped shut with painter’s tape. I made a ton of these packets. When it was time for a change, it was easy to grab and carry one small packet. In the bathroom/toilet, I didn’t fret over where I set it down because the clean stuff was safe in the bag. Afterwards, the dirty diaper & used wipes went into the bag where the clean diaper had been and it was all tidy and ready to throw away.

    3) if using so many plastic bags bothers you, you can buy doggie poo bags that are earth-friendly.

    4) In a public restroom, pull-ups are easier to change than a diaper: they pull apart at the seams for removal, and them just step into a clean one. But they don’t seem to hold quite as much pee, so just remember to check.

    Our little guy actually has pretty fond memories of traveling. He frequently begs us to go to the airport so we can fly to England. He explains that the flight won’t be too long because he will sleep.

    [Reply]

  5. JJ

    03/20/2017

    Where did you get your neck pillows for your kids? I had gotten some at Walmart, and they were way too thick. Almost like a mini Boppy. My tip for camping would be to try renting a yurt. I haven’t(so this seems odd to suggest, probably), but my best friend with 3 small kids did and loved it. It was air conditioned and all! It allowed for a camping experience without the setup of camping and without the higher costs of hotels.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I got them online — they are Trunki brand

    [Reply]

  6. Michelle

    03/17/2017

    Oh wow! I can’t believe you don’t care for the beach because of the sand! One thing that works great to remove excess sand from your skin before you enter your vehicle upon leaving is baby powder. I keep some in my beach bag. The sand comes right off very easily.

    Thank you for the shower curtain tip. I’m definitely adding one to my beach bag as well for my youngest grandson.

    My husband and I went on a road trip this past weekend and I definitely recommend a small trash can for your vehicle whether you have kids or not.

    When my kids were small I kept one of those plastic drawers under the seat of my van that had things such as extra clothing, jacket or long sleeved shirt, extra diapers, wipes, snacks, cups, paper plates, drinks, travel games, extra plastic bags, etc. in case of emergencies.

    Camping is an excellent way to get in touch with nature. It can be a very enjoyable time if planned out ahead of time.

    Thank you for this post. I can’t wait for my next road trip.

    [Reply]

  7. Natalia

    03/17/2017

    My jaws dropped when I saw the title of today’s post, as we are on our very first road trip with our 2 foster children (an 11yo and 2yo whose bday is today!!). It will only be for the weekend, and we are so excited and nervous about this New milestone. I scanned thru your list almost holding my breath, wondering why I didn’t see your email sooner, what important thing have we forgotten?! I’m glad to see that I’ve checked most. We’ll just have to make do without the others (I wish we had a DVD player for our car, but we didn’t even think about it until just now, that i read your post. I brought a bunch of toys and activities, instead).
    Thank you for the fabulous post, with all the helpful links. I’m sure I’ll come back to it for future trips.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — glad to offer some tips just in time. Have fun on your trip!

    [Reply]

  8. Nicole B

    03/17/2017

    I have found the following to be helpful while traveling:
    Extension cords (so that we can plug our phones and other electronics in more convenient locations)
    Night lights
    A tumbler or mug to stand toothbrushes up in

    Have fun!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, we always have an extension cord and nightlights along! The cup for the bathroom is a good idea though — I always put my toothbrush back in my bag every night 🙂

    [Reply]

  9. Jennifer Peterson

    03/17/2017

    Hi Andrea,
    Enjoy your trips! We have traveled quite a bit with our 5 year old son (even up your way to Grand Rapids!) and my #1 tip is if your child has a special item that he or she needs to sleep with, make sure you have a duplicate at home (and, one step further, wash both the same amount of times so that they are equally loved). We have been lucky and have never lost my son’s, but we have had a few close calls. And when we did a trip earlier this year, we gave our son $10 to buy a souvenir (he also had $15 from Christmas). It totally made a world of difference in the asking to buy him things as we were out and about. After a few reminders that he had his own money, he suddenly stopped asking so often and actually decided to forgo the souvenirs (aka junk) and bought some Legos when we got home!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for the budget tip — I might do that with Nora and Simon when we go to Florida. Nora especially asks for EVERYTHING she sees. Maybe I’ll tell her she has $10 or $15 to spend on whatever she wants and see how long she makes it last. I can guarantee Simon will want to spend his all on candy 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Hannah Beth Reid

    03/17/2017

    Oh, that tip for the carseat on rolling luggage would have been great for us the one time we’ve flown with a child. Thanks for sharing that link!

    And I notice your last picture shows a fold up stool. That makes an excellent addition to a hotel room (or really anywhere you’re staying that doesn’t already have young children living there).

    And a big YES to bringing toys for hotel rooms! You can only watch so much tv or go for walks so many times in a day. We like to take mega blocks or duplos because they change every time you play with them (also, if you loose one, it isn’t a big deal). Kind of like the diaper changing station (which is a great idea!), we usually make a snacks area (out of reach) and on our last trip, we let the children each choose a drawer in the room for their toys. It was very exciting for them to have their own space in an exotic hotel room and also kept the room slightly more organized.

    If you will be needing or wanting to eat out often in one particular city, searching “kids eat free in _____” works great. I found a local blog listing lots of options when we traveled out of state last year.

    Thanks for sharing your research and tips!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, we take that handy fold-up stool everywhere (even in our luggage when we fly). it comes in handy SO often with little kids!
    And yes, I’ve already been scouting out restaurant deals and coupons 🙂

    [Reply]

  11. Sarah

    03/17/2017

    For road trips, leave ridiculously early in the morning so that kids will sleep in the car. When I was growing up, we had an 8 hour drive to my grandparents house, and my mom/parents always did this. We’d stop for breakfast and to get dressed at a McDonald’s almost halfway through the drive – which I still remember fondly because we NEVER ate at McDonald’s otherwise.

    I’ve done on solo road trip with my kids (a 10-hr drive! and they were 6 months and 2!) and actually left at 2am so that I could get a good portion of the way without having to stop. Audiobooks and coffee kept me awake, and we only had to stop twice the entire drive.

    Stopping frequently and making the trip can be a fun part if it’s planned that way, but there are times when the goal is simply to get to a destination (or home) with as few “Are we there yet?”‘s as possible.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is what we did once when we traveled about 8 hours away when Nora was only 5 months old. We left when she woke up around 3:00 for a feeding and we were over halfway there by the time we ate breakfast. It did work very well for us!

    [Reply]

  12. Lea

    03/17/2017

    Lots of travel – both car and plane for us. Our kids are older now, but we’ve had a lot of practice.

    Our tips, in addition to what you’ve already written.

    Planes:
    Car seats in the plane on the plane seat. Yep – it’s actually recommended for the same reason as a car – safety. Plus it’s familiar and more comfortable for little bodies.
    Suckers, pacifiers, etc. for little ears on the plane during takeoff and landing.

    Cars:
    Audiobooks – we’ve never had a video player and we’ve LOVED these and still do.
    Wipe off games like bingo and tic-tac-toe.
    Bubbles or a jump rope for rest stops.
    Wet wipes, Kleenex, and someplace to put the trash.

    Camping:
    We have been renting a camper cabin at the local State Parks – real beds, a roof, and no bugs! It’s awesome. We can tuck the kids in to bed and go back out to the campfire without worry.

    In General:
    Take time to enjoy the trip as well as the destination if you can. We usually stop every hour to hour-and-a-half if we’re driving to stretch, use the bathroom (if needed) and explore. A local ice cream shop or bakery, a park along the way, a museum or shop we like, etc all are fine and we spend 10-15 minutes or so and feel much better. If we have longer we pick a longer stop – lunch, sightseeing at a museum or attraction, etc. Even stopping in an airport shop (our kids always loved just looking in the candy shop) or pausing to watch planes take off out the window can be exciting if you’ve never done it before. Some airports even have art exhibits or movie theaters for longer layovers now. We’ve seen some really cool things and it makes the trip much more enjoyable.

    Great article, Andrea! Enjoy your travels!
    Lea

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Great tips! Thanks Lea!

    Oh, and you sound like my type of “camper”!

    [Reply]

  13. Alicia

    03/17/2017

    Oh my goodness, Andrea! We are so on the same wave length these days…I have a post drafted to go up on my blog next week about tips for road tripping with kids!! Great post, couldn’t agree more with your ideas! 🙂

    [Reply]

  14. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    03/17/2017

    We don’t have kids, but I saw some cool activity books at Sam’s club the other day that used a dry erase marker so you could wipe them off and use them again and again. I thought it would probably be great to keep kids occupied during travel. Just thought I’d mention it! Good luck!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we have some of those already 🙂

    [Reply]

  15. Robyn Norbeck

    03/17/2017

    As someone who has sufferred the hell of bed bugs after a a vacation, I STRONGLY recommend washing or high heat drying ALL clothes, blankets, costs, etc when you return home. I used to keep my clean stuff that we didn’t wear seperate and just place it back in drawers and closets once we got home. It is a lot of work for a family of seven to wash EVERYTHING, but it is just not a risk I am willing to take again! My other tip is to always have plenty of extra plastic bags for trash, sickness, dirty clothes, etc!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh my word — I am so grossed out by bed bugs and it’s one of the reasons I hate staying in other people’s beds. You know they rarely wash the mattress pads and pretty much never wash those nasty comforters! Grose!
    so sorry you had to deal with this, but that’s for the tips. I usually try to do a quick check of the mattresses and bedding before we unpack — I feel a little better about things that way 🙂

    [Reply]

    Hannah Beth Reid Reply:

    I have also taken on this habit after my parents had a terrible bout with bedbugs in their home (and never determined where they came from). If we’ve packed fairly minimally and didn’t get to do laundry while gone, most things are already dirty when we arrive home anyway. The hardest part of this is children’s lovey items they sleep with, but we prioritize those as soon as we arrive home and they’re usually ready by the time the children are bathed and ready for bed.

    [Reply]

  16. Muriel

    03/17/2017

    We’very done 2 Disney cruises with my kids (currently 3 & 5). They were wonderful. It was really convenient to go back to our room for naps & there were plenty of kids activities. They have a nursery & kids areas if you want some adult time, but we’ve haven’t used them. Both cruises included long drives to get to the port. We just plan plenty of stops, bring special snacks or a new small toy. The DVD player in the car really helps. Our kids do well for 9-11 hours of driving a day. After that we need to stop. We let them have playtime at the hotels.

    Packing cubes really help in keeping the suitcase neat and fitting more. We also try to have a small overnight bag if we’really just staying 1 night in a hotel. This keeps us from dragging the big suitcase in.

    [Reply]

  17. Nancy

    03/17/2017

    I hear you on the carsickness. What always got me was the constant need to turn around from the front seat to hand something to the kids, find something for them, or deal with an argument. In their defense, the kids are strapped in those car seats and really can’t move much or retrieve something if they drop it. But I would pretty quickly reach a point when I said “That’s it, I can’t turn around anymore. You’ll have to figure it out yourself.”

    We’ve done a lot of long-distance car travel to visit our families. Along with snacks, two other things that helped were to make sure everyone was wearing very comfortable clothes and to save some toys specifically for car trips. We had lap boards with magnetic letters and shapes, and storage inside for supplies and toys. My kids loves to play with those in the car. (Although…if pieces got dropped they were on the floor until the next stop!)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, the turning around is what kills me. I usually sit in the 2nd row bucket seats to alleviate SOME of the turning around, but it still catches up to me VERY quickly if there are lots of questions and requests.
    but you are also right that the carseats are so brutal for long trips. My sisters and I would have never lasted if we had to be tethered to our seats for hours at a time. This is just one of the MANY reason we rarely drive anywhere more than 3 – 4 hours away!

    [Reply]

  18. Marie

    03/17/2017

    We have driven to Florida several times from Michigan. We are headed out in a few weeks with our 4 kids. We choose to leave about 2-3pm instead of 1st thing in the morning & will drive through the night as long as safely possible.

    This way, leaving at 3pm, you are in the car for a few hours, then get out for dinner, potty & change into pjs is needed. A movie & they sleep for the night. I am a very late night owl & we end up missing all the big city traffic like Atlanta. We pull over & try to nap if needed, but adrenaline or excitement kicks in. I always have mini cereal boxes to make it a little special & hold them over until we stop for breakfast. Another movie or checking out the Florida scenery & you are there by lunch time.

    We have done this 4 times maybe (??) & it seems to work very well for us. Also, if we DO plan on stopping I make sure everything we need is packed on top & separate (pjs & toiletries bag, new clothes only in a bag) so I’m not rummaging through everyone’s bags in the bottom of the trunk.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — good for you! That drive is much too long for me (even without kids!) someday, Dave says he wants to drive… maybe when our kids are all much older!

    [Reply]

  19. Jessica Canny

    03/17/2017

    What is the baby carrier you use?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    it’s a Boba 4G — I LOVE it significantly more than any baby carrier I’ve ever used before.

    [Reply]

  20. Shari

    03/17/2017

    I just went on an 18-hour road trip, to Grandma’s house, alone with my 4 kids. We stopped at a motel for night. I packed our clothes for the trip in a separate bag so I didn’t have to drag everything in at the motel.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow! i’m guessing your kids are a bit older than mine! Either that or you’re wonder women 🙂

    [Reply]

  21. Eileen

    03/17/2017

    I’ve used the shower curtain in the sand trick and it worked great!

    You really should (when the kids are a little older) try camping…even in a tent. I grew up camping (we never stayed in hotels) and did/do it with my family (I’m headed to FL next month for 8 nights in a tent). It’s work to set up and take down, but the rest is really the same as home, cooking meals and cleaning up.

    We found (as kids and parents) that kids have much more freedom in a campground than they do in a hotel. They have room to roam, ride bikes, etc that they can’t in a hotel or hotel parking lot.

    Camping takes organization and I’d bet you’d be great! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I think the point of a vacation (for me) is to NOT have everything the same as home 🙂 I don’t want to cook every meal and clean up every meal, wash dishes after every meal, smell like smoke all week long, and then have to wash every single thing we took along when I get home.
    I’m sure we’ll TRY tent camping at some point (even if it’s just in our backyard) and I DO think we’d enjoy it as an “experience” for our family, but NOT as a “vacation”.

    [Reply]

    Brenda Reply:

    50 of the Michigan State parks have “mini-cabins.” They have 4 bunks, a table/bar with chairs/stools, mini-fridge & microwave. Only $47/night (I think). Then a picnic table, “state park grill” and fire pit like a regular lot. We stayed at one of these last summer and it was fun. I didn’t have to worry about the coolers staying cold enough, could use the microwave for some meals, and I brought an electric fry pan for the rest. It’s a very easy way to camp. And your at the state park so (usually) close to the beach and a play ground. Used a tent outside for the teenage boys. Also, a lot of private campgrounds have cabins now too.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Brenda — and yes, you’re thinking the way I would be thinking IF we ever decide to go camping 🙂
    I love the idea of cottages or cabins, but I still think I want to wait until all our kids are fully potty trained, sleeping in normal beds (no cribs), and a little more self-sufficient before we attempt camping! We really just need friends who camp regularly who we can go visit for a day!

    [Reply]

  22. D

    03/17/2017

    When staying at a hotel, never hesitate to ask them for more of what is already being provided. Generally, they will drop it off within minutes of your call. Also, if they have continental breakfast grab some snacks for later. The little cereal boxes also make great shakers for toddlers.

    [Reply]

  23. Heidi

    03/17/2017

    My girls are 4 and 7 and have traveled 1000 or more miles once or twice a year since they were born. No plane trips- we always drive. Last summer we drove from South Carolina out west, covering about 4,000 miles in 3 weeks. It was ALOT of fun, but I’m pretty sure our sanity hung on organization and routines for the girls. I loathe having to unpack a car for only a night or two, so I packed our bags by where we were going to need it. For each night we stopped, I only grabbed the toiletry bag and our bag of clothes for the night (or nights- sometimes we were at one location for 2-3 days) . There are also lots of fun and free visitor’s centers and rest stops out there. Lots of times, my girls would score free stickers, coloring sheets, or travel pamphlets that would keep them amused for a couple of hours.

    [Reply]

    Heidi Reply:

    Also, we’ve come to LOVE staying at Drury Inns. Free food at night, a really good breakfast, and frugal prices.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — you are amazing! Someday when the kids are older, Dave and I would like to do something like this over the summer when he’s off school. Of course, everything is busier in the summer, but it could be fun (maybe!?!?)
    Thanks for sharing your tips — about the Drury Inns too. I’ll have to look into those!

    [Reply]

  24. Stephanie

    03/17/2017

    Yeah! Vacations can be so fun! We have road tripped, flown, tented and camped with a trailer, stayed at family’s homes, hotels, and cottages, and go to the beach at least 4 times a summer. Our oldest is 8, so it has all been done with young kids. I usually try to be an optimistic person, but when traveling with kids I try to prepare for the worst. I have over packed but never under packed. I’ve decided it is impossible to underpack, because almost anywhere you go, you can quick run to the store for anything you need. And depending how long you will be at your destination, sometimes it’s easier to buy your toiletries, diapers, etc when you get there instead of packing a 2 week supply.
    My tips fall in in line with most of yours.
    Minimal clothing. Our family of 6 traveled by airplane last year for a two week vacation. We brought 2 carry on suitcases, each child over 3 had a back pack with books, an extra pair of clothes, and shoes, and any special items for the plane ride. I had a diaper bag for the baby, and my husband had a back pack with food, and his and mine sweatshirts. We packed empty water bottles and filled them at the water bottle stations in the airports. We also brought a stroller and borrowed car seats and pack n plays at our final destination.
    Camping same thing, minimal clothing, and organized food menu–keep it simple or else you are cooking the whole time.
    It is a lot of work, but very memorable, and fun for the family!
    Hope you have a great time this summer!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ok THIS is amazing — 2 carryon suitcases for 6 people for 2 weeks! I’m so impressed!
    We have a crib and highchair waiting for us at our condo, but no luck borrowing car seats — so we’ll be lugging ALL 3 of those along.

    [Reply]

  25. A

    03/17/2017

    What are those neck supporters pictured in your sleeping car seat picture?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    they are Trunki neck pillows — VERY nice for little kids. Here’s the Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2m9Jxxi

    [Reply]