Traveling with kids is never a total breeze but so worth it. After 13 countries with 2 kids we have learned a thing or two. Some of my fondest memories with the kids are abroad and I love being able to look back at those experiences. A lot of people don’t travel with their kids because the flight and airport is so stressful – which I totally get! So my hope in writing this is that you realize that it’s totally doable, it get’s easier, and is so much fun! Also I know this is a TON of info so I split it into sections for hopefully easy reference. I wanted to have a spot with ALL of the tips we have and we will update and add more as we figure them out.
*This is an update to my previous post, 50 Tips for Traveling with a Baby that I wrote 2 years ago! Crazy how time flies, and now 2 years and another baby later, we keep discovering new tips for traveling with not just 1 but 2, and not just babies but toddlers. If you have a newborn or infant, see my post above for the best tips. This article will be focused more on tips for traveling/preparing to travel with 2 kids or toddlers.
1. Help your child get excited about travel/flying. To see everything we do pre flight to get them excited, you can read about in my blog post here. These help to set the stage for the flight. These help big time in keeping the whole day exciting and not stressful. One of my favorites is getting your children their own luggage/backpack. It actually ends up being super functional (see tip # 13) while also letting them participate in the travel excitement. There are a lot of inexpensive cute options.
2. Security items. Does he or she have a blanket, stuffed animal, toy, or bottle that they might need on a flight? If not, think about introducing your child to something like a stuffed animal. My kids love their stuffed animals and take them everywhere. They can be a real comfort on the plane and in unfamiliar places.
3. Look up fun things for your kids to do wherever you are going. Look up local museums, playgrounds, parks, zoos, etc. ahead of time and plan to do at least one thing from that list each day. We usually also go to a playground each morning or evening. We usually just spot playgrounds while walking or driving around or find them through research. Even in places where there aren’t any museums or anything you can plan fun things like having a themed day, where you bring things according to the theme, like our pirate day pirate day in Bora Bora.
4. Non stop vs. connecting. I always try to do non stop. It might be a little more expensive (often it’s cheaper) but it will make life SO much easier. Without kids, layovers are a breeze. But the more time spent during the actual traveling part, the more opportunities there are for things to go wrong. The exception to this is, if travel is over 10 or 12 hours, consider doing an overnight layover. We did this when we went from New York to Bora Bora. We went from NYC > LAX spent the night in a budget airport hotel to regroup, and then took the morning flight to Bora Bora. It is often nice to book a hotel with a pool your toddler can do some swimming and get out energy.
*If you do book a layover always remember to allow yourself enough time. Remember that #1 the flight could be delayed and #2 even if you are the first off the plane, you possibly have to wait for your gate checked stroller. So consider doing a longer layover or check your stroller all the through to your destination. Also be sure to look at the airplane map of your layover city because sometimes you have to take a shuttle to another terminal to catch your next flight.
5. Seat selection – Window seat, or aisle seat, that is the question! First you kind of need to decide how many are traveling, ticketed passengers + lap children and the next thing you’ll want to determine is the seat configuration on the plane. Some planes are 3-3 but some long hauls do a variety of configurations like 2 seat outsides with a center row of 4. If your child is a busy body, he might want to walk to isles. If your child stays put, you might want to chose a window and let them look out the window. If you’re traveling on the plane with just you and 2 children, and only have 2 seats (2 ticketed passengers + 1 lap infant) and are sitting in an outer isle of 3, thing about whether or not you want a stranger at the window waking up your babies to go to the bathroom, or whether or not you want to be the one doing the waking up when you have to take the kids to change diapers/use the bathroom.
*Avoid the back of plane. There’s usually a lot of foot traffic there. People in and out of the bathroom, the flight attendants, and the light in the back galley tend to keep babies from sleeping. Also, bathrooms can get stinky.
**Bathroom/diaper change trips. If you’re traveling alone with two kids, this can get REALLY challenging if your oldest is still a toddler that you don’t trust sitting alone in his/her seat. I always bring him with me and try to have him play with the water in the sink haha – I don’t want him touching anything else eek.
6. Lap children – Our youngest is now almost 18 months (at the time of this post) and we rarely get her a seat. If there is an extra seat on the plane, flight attendants are really good about offering it to people with kids on their lap. But for really long flights we have bought an extra seat even if they aren’t two yet. Depending on the flight time, sometimes it is just worth the extra money. The longest flight we have done with our youngest on our lap and our older in a seat is 12 hours. So lap is doable.
7. Strategize flight times with nap times/bed time. You know your child best and because of that you can try and strategize when it’s best for you to travel. If your child isn’t a nap on the go type, book your travel for immediately after a nap or an early morning flight before nap. Also just remember that a red-eye sounds great because they’ll just sleep the whole time, right? Not necessarily. It is totally hit or miss depending how well your children sleep so you just kind of have to know your own kids. Also keep in mind time zone difference if you’re traveling a long distance. I’ll talk about this later in the tip #21.
8. Reserve seat when you book! This is always helpful, even without kids, but especially important with kids. If you’re traveling without a partner, and are trying to risk it without booking the 3rd seat, stagger your seat selection by choosing a window and and isle (usually works best if the flight isn’t full) Most people don’t chose a middle seat, so that seat might not get selected. It’s a great way to get 3 seats when you pay for 2. Just don’t rely on this because it doesn’t always work.
9. Lap infant fees – When traveling in the domestic US, most of the time infant fees are included in your airfare, but when traveling internationally, sometimes there are extra fees that apply but they don’t always require you to pay it when checking out online. Make sure to contact your airline and pay upfront so that you’re not required to do so last minute before your flight. There’s nothing worse than getting to your flight, waiting in line at checkout, only to find out that there are fees you have to pay but have to do so at another desk (We’ve had this experience a few times) so do it in advance. This is usually 10% the cost of the flight.
10. Car seats – I’ll talk about the pros and cons to flying with a car seat later, but if you’re planning on bringing yours on the plane, just know that if you’re traveling internationally, different countries have their own standards and regulations. So check with your airline in advance that your car seat is certified to fly on that airline, you might be required to show your label to a flight attendant on the flight. I encountered this once and was struggling last minute to find the car seat information online because it wasn’t printed on the label.
11. Baggage – Book your bags in advance, and remember that if you’re traveling with children who have tickets, they might not need their own bag, BUT that is a bag that’s often forgotten. If you have a travel port-a-crib, or need an extra bag, even if it’s a carry on, think about using that child’s baggage allotment to free your hands up, especially if the airline offers a free bag. Also keep in mind that most budget airlines and international airlines have a lower weight limit (U.S. companies are usually 50lb limit and generally we see 35-40lb limits with foreign airlines)
PRE-FLIGHT: PACKING & PLANNING
12. Luggage – You’ll be your best judge on what you do and don’t need but here are a few tips on your suitcase. If space is tight, think about bringing enough diapers for just your travel day + one emergency day. If you’re traveling for a long time, diapers can really fill up your bag, so just buy when you get there. The whole world uses diapers and some of the most household names are found everywhere. The same goes for wipes. If you’re bringing a port-a-crib, lots of times there are little nooks and crannies that can hold extra stuff like toys, books, diapers, wipes, even shoes! I usually prefer to bring as many diapers as we can but we haven’t had a problem buying them abroad, even in tiny little towns like Oia, Santorini, Greece.
13. Diaper bag – This is the bag that tends to turn into a wreck the quickest on a long flight because when you’re traveling with 2 kids, you need almost twice the stuff. So it’s best to be streamlined and not over packed or it will all just turn into one big mess. Bring enough diapers/wipes for the flight. I try to pack backup diapers, wipes and clothes in the carry on and keep food out of the diaper bag and leave it in the cooler (see below). I try to keep the diaper bag free of activities/toys etc. Just the necessities so I can find them when I need them without pulling everything out. In flight activities, toys, books, ipads etc I like to put in my child’s carryon/backpack. (tip #1)
I prefer backpack diaper bags like this Honest Company backpack. I’ve been using it for years and love being hands/arms free. I also REALLY loved our JuJuBe diaper bag and often wonder why I don’t still use it – it holds SO MUCH STUFF.
14. Carrier – Always bring a carrier if your youngest is still able to. I love the Ergo 360, Solly Wrap, and Wild Bird Slings. Ergo is especially good for when they are a little older – they can sit forward or backward and my kids always like to be forward. Sollys I love because the baby feels so cozy in there. Wild Bird slings I love because they can sit on your hip more and often Rosie preferred that.
15. Packing Cubes – Since kid’s stuff is so little, I like to use packing cubes. I have one with our youngest’s socks and leggings. Another with our older’s undies and socks. One with pajamas, one with t shirts, etc. It just helps to keep us streamlined. We have color coordinated cubes so I know pink cubes are Rosie’s, blue is for Atticus, red is for myself, and green is for my husband.
16. Cooler – For long flights I like to pack a small cooler like this for food, snacks, milk, fresh snacks etc. I don’t like to rely on the airplane food because often they haven’t liked what was served (picky eaters over here). If you’re packing for 2 especially you might need to pack breastmilk for one, and toddler snacks for the other so having one place for it all helps. I like to have it separate and small, with a strap to just hang from another piece of luggage or the stroller. If you’re worried about cabin pressure and equalization, bring crunchy or chewy snacks to get their jaws moving (age appropriate obviously)
*Just remember that if you’re trying to keep milk cold and you’re using an ice pack, those are usually above the allowed volume of a closed container. I’ve seen moms in security line that have had to throw away their ice packs, even though they are used for cooling baby’s milk:/ I suggest using a Hydro Flask. I LOVE these. They work incredibly well at maintaining temperatures. Or make sure to have ice packs under the allowed limit (3.4 fluid oz).
17. Carry-ons – I don’t love to travel with carry ons because you’re usually carrying something else, or in this case, SOMEONE else. It’s just one more thing to worry about. But if our diaper bag is overflowing then sometimes I like to have it for the reason I mentioned above (to have spare clothes etc). I also like to have necessities if our bag was to get lost (I have had this happen twice). The carry can also a) be pushed by a helpful toddler b) be used to hold something else up. I’ll put a backpack, camera bag, or cooler on top of the carry on, or c) can be gate checked if you ask the gate attendants. *The only reason I don’t like gate check is with a tight connection flight
18. Stroller – Strollers are hard, because everyone has their favorite, and depending on how many, and the age of your kids, you might want to bring yours all the way to the gate. With two kids, one a little older, we’ve been going with the single stroller/ride board combo if we must have the stroller. It gives our oldest a little more freedom to do what he wants. But if we’re traveling light, or with one baby you can go with the Quinny Yezz which is incredibly lightweight, folds down small and really well constructed. If you’re partial to double strollers, our favorite travel double stroller is the Maclaren Twin Triumph. Otherwise, we just take our Ergo 360 carrier for the youngest, and let the oldest walk/shoulder carry as he explores the airport. I also find them stressful to collapse when going through security with kids so when I travel alone with the kids I like to only have the ergo and just come with plenty of time for our oldest to walk at the pace he wants.
19. Try and keep your stroller baskets empty, or at least keep things from floating freely in them. If you must, put items in your diaper bag, backpack, carryon or food cooler in your stroller cargo. At least 2 points in time you’re going to have to clear everything out from underneath. Security, and boarding, and there’s nothing worse than having a ton of loose stuff to try and manage. (You can’t have anything in the basket when going through security)
20. Rental car? Obviously this tip applies to traveling without children, but consider this extra carefully if traveling with 2 because you might have twice the stuff, twice the baggage, and twice the people to look after. This depends greatly on your destination. When available, we almost ALWAYS get rental cars, 99% of the time. But some destinations don’t lend to rental cars. If you’re in a big city like NYC, Paris, or Tokyo, look into their public transit. Sometimes the inconvenience of parking, and stress of driving in a foreign city with a foreign language overcome the convenience of having a home base. Helps to do research beforehand to know what mode of transportation is best. We love the convenience of rental cars. We love Avis and lately have just been renting our car seats through them for extra convenience. It is nice to have a place to come back to if you’re out exploring and the kids need a car nap or are getting sad. Sometimes being far away from your hotel is stressful in those times so it’s nice to just pop in the car.
*A good way to see the city in big cities are the sight seeing buses!!! WE LOVE THEM! So fun with kids and easy to hit up all of the best spots.
21. Hotel vs vacation rental – Both have their pros and cons and a few things to consider when traveling with 2. First is, with one, you can get away with just a single crib. But if you’re traveling with 2, especially with great age difference and different nap/bed times, things can get challenging in Hotels, because once one goes to bed in a single room hotel, it can shut you down for the night. so here are the things to consider.
Hotels are nice because they are managed by professionals, so you are catered to and looked after which is especially nice in foreign countries. If you need something, you’re a phone call away. With vacation rentals you’re kind of on your own. So if you’re a novice traveler, think about staying in hotels first. Most hotels (ask in advance) will have baby cots or porta-cribs. But, unless you’re willing to upgrade to a suite or 2 rooms, traveling with 2 or more kids and adults gets tricky when you’re sharing one living space. That’s one reason we like vacation rentals with 2 kids. We can arrange a rental with 2 rooms, usually for a cheaper price. For us, ultimately it comes down to how many are traveling, and where everyone is going to sleep. If hotel bathrooms or closets are big enough, they can double as a bedroom for your youngest in a crib. We do it all the time. Just be extra careful with your babies surroundings in tight spaces. Make sure to double check any safety hazards. And I can’t stress this enough, do NOT use the tub as a crib for your child soo just play it safe regardless of your child’s age.
Often times even a partition in a room is enough to give one of your children the feeling that they’re separated in their own room, like their nursery. My husband travels with tape in his camera bag and can easily jimmy rig a spare blanket across a corner of a room to create a partition for a sleeping or napping baby. We did it in Banff and in Florence.
If you go the vacation rental route and they don’t have cribs, consider bringing a travel crib. We use the Babybjourn Travel Crib Light all the time.
Since our oldest is now sleeping in a bed and not a crib, we usually order a cot and put the small mattress on the floor and he sleeps on there! Most hotels have cots available. If we are at a rental we usually ask the owner if we can take a mattress off the bed and put it on the floor. He still falls off the bed occasionally so this works best or we have him sleep in the middle of us but he likes to have space. We still have our youngest in a crib! If you have two kids you can ask for two cot mattresses or have them share one!
Babysaway.com is a rental service for port-a-cribs (and other baby items like strollers, car seats, high chairs etc) so if you’re staying in a vacation rental or hotel that doesn’t have cribs, you can have one delivered to your room! My sister in-law introduced it to me. They used it on their last trip to Hawaii and loved it.
*If you’re kids are bath tub bathers, make sure your hotel or vacation rental have a bathtub.
**Elevators abroad. Don’t assume your building has an elevator and if it does have one, don’t assume that it’s big enough to fit a stroller, or bags. Ask in advance. European elevators are TINY.
22. Know your destination – Look up ER, hospital, pediatrician or any other information you might need to know while traveling. Many times your hotel might have this information for you or might even have a doctor on call. We stayed at the St. Regis in Moscow and our oldest came down with the flu and the hotel had arranged a pediatrician to visit him after midnight because he was on call. Perks like that are great to keep in mind when selecting a hotel.
23. Time zones. Keep time zones in mind when traveling. If you’re traveling overseas, crossing many time zones, you might be arriving in the morning of the destination, night time where you came from. We always try to arrive in the late afternoon or at night so right when we get there we can put the kids down. They are generally tired anyways and go right to bed – when they wake up they have adjusted already. Our kids have been so good at adjusting and we haven’t ever had an issue with this as long as we arrive late afternoon/night.
AIRPORT DROP OFF STRATEGY – Sometimes even the airport drop off itself is stressfull because you have a ton of stuff and you either have to schlep it all the way from parking.
24. Set a goal for when you want to walk out the door, and then realize that you’re not going to make your goal, so add 30 minute to that time (you have 2 kids!) to give yourself plenty of time for things to go wrong. The other week I flew from Hawaii to Arizona alone with both kids and showed up to the airport 2 hours and 45 minutes early haha! We got to the gate 90 minutes early but it wasn’t one bit stressful and that is all I cared about. (I also planned the flight for 1pm during their nap so they were both asleep before the plane even took off!)
25. Visualize before you go. If you’re traveling alone, or with your partner, it’s great to have an inventory off all your bags and assign each person either responsibilities. Come up with a system to account for everything, that way there’s nothing left to the unknown. If you can visualize yourself walking down the aisle, or getting in a taxi with all of your pieces and children you’re responsible for, it will help prepare you for that moment and it will be much less stressful when that moment comes.
26. Uber, taxi, or friend or family dropoff. Convenient without kids, but a game changer with. Nothing better than curbside drop off and not worrying about parking and not lug everything. Thing about this especially if your long term parking options require you to take a shuttle with all your things.
27. One parent drop off. We do this a lot. Either my husband or I will drop the other and the bags off with the kids and the other will park the car/return the rental car. Usually you can get a head start on the check-in line this way too. If your rental car drop off isn’t in the terminal, this is almost always the best option because you can avoid going on and off rental car courtesy shuttles with all of your stuff.
CHECK IN/SECURITY LINE – This can be one of the most challenging parts of travel, but there’s an easy order of operations and a few tricks that can make is stress free.
28. Check to see if your airline has curbside check-in. Make sure to keep cash on hand and tip your bag handlers. It’s definitely worth it for shorter lines and offloading bags sooner rather than later.
*Usually the check-in attendant will let your child weigh themself, or their toys, or bags on the scale. It’s a great way to keep them occupied during the check in process. Also play the guessing game on how heavy you think your bags will be.
29. Check, or ask, if there is a family line. You’d be amazed how many airports have them, and if they don’t, and you ask the right person, sometimes they’ll usher you up to the front if you have kids. Ultimately, they want the line to go quick, and so they’re not just giving out preferential treatment, they just realize traveling with kids can hold up the line so they want you to get through as fast as possible.
30. In some countries, you’re not allowed to carry your child through in a chest carrier or in your arms. Keep this in mind, because you don’t want your baby to fall asleep on your chest before hand if you’re going to have to wake him or her up. Also know that if chest carrying, TSA will perform a hand swab test. It’s harmless and only takes seconds. In Barcelona I couldn’t hold our oldest (then just a few months old) at all so I had to have a stranger hold him since I was traveling alone.
31. Your child might be required to walk through the metal detector on his or her own. If they are scared to go through the TSA agents are usually good about helping.
32. Ask for your child’s help. Our oldest loves to feel like he’s helping out so he likes to put bags up on the counter, push luggage carts and suitcases and even have his own tray in the security line. Keep in mind that if your child has a security blanket or toy, or bottle, they are going to have to separate for a moment when it goes through security. I’ve found that if rather than taking the item from the child to put through security, if you make it a game, they’ll enjoy having their own tray to put through. They usually get so excited to see it come through the other side.
33. Strollers can be a beast to fold up, especially if traveling alone with one or more children. Ask for help, or if you don’t have free hands, some TSA agents will do a manual inspection.
AT THE GATE: Most airlines require you to be there a certain amount of time before boarding which means you still have a good amount of time to keep your kids from going bonkers.
34. With young babies, I like to lay down a travel blanket or a small Gathre mat, something you know can get dirty, and let them get their wiggles out. Something that folds up nice is great to bring with you for parks etc.
35. With toddlers, stop at your terminal’s information booth, or map and see if there is a play area. I’ve been to a number of airport terminals that have had these and they’re such a great way to get your toddler’s wiggles out before the flight. If not, plant yourself next to the windows. There’s so much going on outside. Airplanes landing and taking off, people directing planes, luggage carts etc. It’s a great place for I spy. And since you’re going to be prepared and show up early, you’ll have plenty of time;)
36. We like to eat in the airport, especially when traveling abroad when we’re required to be there even earlier. It’s a great way to let the time pass and I also try to avoid dipping into our flight snacks and activities to keep them special for the flight and to stay organized.
37. Double check seating arrangements. I’ve had flights before that were booked last minute and there were no seats together, but with 2 children, you can’t exactly have your 1 year old sitting on his/her own. Lots of times the check-in desk can’t help you with that so double check with the gate to make sure you’re sitting together. Or if you have them on your lap, now is a good time to ask if there are any open seats on the flight and often they will give you an open one.
ON THE FLIGHT –
38. Break down your flight time by hour. So a 3 hour flight means a combination of 3 toys or activities. I make a stop before the trip to a dollar store and pick out a toy or activity for each our. Something inexpensive, but new and exciting. Here is a post with 40 toy ideas to take on the plane. Each toy I wrap in aluminum foil. So each hour I pull out a wrapped activity for each child. Opening each is an activity in itself and it always gets them so excited. They get so excited for each new activity. Just keep it inexpensive and fun.
39. Get up and stretch – Just like you need to stretch, so do those tiny legs. Take turns walking down the aisles, or take each to go say hi to the flight attendants. (Often times they play peekaboo or something fun which is so sweet) But respect their time and space when they’re working, they’re not babysitters;)
40. I-Spy. There are a lot of great opportunities for this fun game. Take off, landing, and also the seat back pockets are full of reading material you can play i-spy with. Skymall, airline magazines, even emergency instructions.
41. Airline children activities – Lots of airlines have activity packs or books with coloring books, puzzles and toys especially for kids. Some are free, some aren’t but the paid ones usually have fun snacks in them too.
42. Tablet – Let’s get real, we try as hard as we can to keep kids from going crazy on long flights and as prepared as you might be, sometimes it all goes down the drain and it’s time to pull out the ipad. We’ve figured out what we think is the best setup.
a) Don’t always spring for the brand new tablet. There are plenty of tablets that will do fine for your kids that aren’t the brand new iPad. We’re an Apple family so we like being able to use our apps across all devices, so when we get new tablets for kids use, we get older model, or even refurbished tablets like this from Amazon because they’re much cheaper and your kids probably won’t know the difference between the specs of newer and older models.
If you’re not brand specific, look into some cheaper alternatives like the Amazon fire. No reason to break the bank on your child’s media device.
b) Netflix download options are a game changer. If you didn’t know, Netflix now offers content that can be downloaded and played without network access or wifi.
c) Protection – We use the Nuud case with this amFilm protective glass and together the device is pretty much indestructible and waterproof. It also has a handy strap so your kids can keep it around their neck. Comes in handy!
43. Snacks – I like snacks that double as activities. Anything that can be sorted by color or shape is great. Think, colored goldfish, fruit loops, organic fruit snacks etc.
44. Sleeping on the plane – I usually have my oldest (almost 3) sitting in his seat with his seatbelt on, two pillows on each side (I use the free pillows they give out on flights) so when he falls asleep he isn’t leaning on the arm rest. Sometimes after an hour or so of sleeping like that he will want to move and lay on my lap but we usually start all of his naps like that. Our youngest is usually being held by husband.
If I am alone with both kids I have my youngest asleep on me and oldest with his seatbelt on and pillows next to him. Or I splurge and get our youngest her own seat so we can have the whole row and she can sleep the same way in her own seat.
I have also brought a big pillow for them to sleep on and you can lay it across your lap! But I find that they sleep fine without this and I don’t like carrying a big pillow through the airport.
45. Car seats:
While flying –
The pros: I thought it was nice to have when I flew alone with our oldest to Europe. I had him booked at a lap child but they had a spare seat and told me I could bring my car seat and I loved it, he slept the whole way.
The cons: Another thing to lug down the aisle. If the baby doesn’t end up sleeping, or wakes up, or during those times when the baby isn’t napping, you have no where to put it. There’s no car seat storage, so it just takes up the entire seat. If I had to pick, I personally think it’s a bad idea and should only be considered on long redeyes when your child is really young and you expect your infant to be sleeping.
Bringing them vs renting through your car rental agency:
This is a toss up for us, sometimes we rent them, sometimes we bring them, it all has to do with how much other luggage we have. Just remember that you’ve got to lug them to and from the airport. Car rentals can charge about 10 per seat per day, so *2 ends up being a hefty bill. Our children are still young so we’re using full on car seats which can be a hand full. But if you have a toddler of the appropriate size/weight/age, thing about doing a portable light weight booster like the Mifold Grab-N-Go. My husband’s siblings use it and swear by it.
46. There are certain items on the market that allow you to transform your seat into a bed for your baby. I’ve found that they are more cumbersome than not. They tend to get in the way, and when aren’t being used, you have no where to put them. I personally have yet to find one we like.
AIRPORT ARRIVAL – Unfortunately, your travel day doesn’t end when you land, nor when you get your bags. So here are a few ways to keep yourself and your kids from losing it on the last leg. And once again, keep extra diapers, wipes, clothes and activities on hand for going from the airport to your accommodation.
47. Fun at baggage claim – Use easily identifiable ribbons, string, straps, or stickers for your bags. Make it a game on who can find your bags first. Our oldest LOVES spotting our bags!
48. Spring for the luggage cart, especially when traveling with car seats. On domestic flights (US) they usually cost no more than $6 but they’re worth every penny. I’ve found that most airports overseas they’re free. Our kids love to push them too. After you land, the battle isn’t over, so it’s just another way to keep them busy and happy.
DURING YOUR TRIP:
49. We don’t like to plan full days so we can just relax and go with the flow. There are a lot of unforeseen circumstances with 2 kids ie jet lag etc. I often have a little list of must see’s for each city and we try to pick one or two each day. If we end up seeing more than we thought I always have a list of back up sights and activities.
50. Like I said above, it is so fun to take them to new zoos and fun exhibits and getting to see new things in new places through their eyes. Some of my favorite memories from vacations weren’t the tourist sights I wanted to see but the ones I planned for the kids. We always have at least one fun kid friendly thing planned and usually stop at least one playground each day.
51. If your kids are stroller nappers, plan to see more adult oriented activities ie museums when you think they might be napping. Museums are also usually quiet environments to offer good stroller nap time.
52. Have some toys and activities for your kids to play with while you are at restaurants! Most places in Japan had little toys or coloring activities – they also had plastic utensils, cups, and plates for children which was HUGE. So that’s changed our restaurant strategy when traveling.
53. This is where the pre prep comes in handy because anything you teach them about beforehand will be fun for them to see. Any sights in books you read about or animals you told them about – make sure you actually see them 😉
NAPS AND KEEPING A SCHEDULE:
54. We usually always go back to the hotel at some point to have them nap or even just to have a moment of quiet time. Otherwise, if we have a car, we strategize long drives over nap times. For example, rather than waking up and setting off on a 2 hour drive, we’ll plan the first half of the day around an activity, and plan nap time over a longer drive. This worked especially well when traveling in places like Ireland or Kyoto where we were in the car a lot and most of our locations were really far away.
55. In addition to naps we keep their nighttime routine the exact same. Bath, story, song and prayer, etc. and we always have their stuffed animals that they sleep with.
56. We always use noise machines. This helps if you travel a lot because then there is some consistency with ambient noise. We use our ipads as noise machines and use the Relax MD app.
57. When in doubt, go bigger. This goes especially for Europe for rental cars, hotels and rentals. Everything seems a bit smaller there. We’ve had SUVs that didn’t fit all our bags, elevators that didn’t hold strollers, and hotels with ¼ bathrooms. So go big.
58. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Every step along the way. At check-in, security, the gate, boarding the flight, disembarking, baggage claim. Ask for help and people will help. Sometimes other travelers are in their own zone and are willing to help, but just don’t realize you need help. Don’t be afraid to ask. People are also generally REALLY sweet. I was alone in Europe with our oldest and he was crying so an officer told me to set down all of my stuff and he put it all through security for me. Often tender mercies like this happen.
59. Don’t worry about others on the plane. Headphones are so cheap nowa days. Don’t compromise your parenting opportunities because you’re worried about others around you. Remember to always be considerate of course, but the other passengers are adults and can handle themselves. We’ve had far more positive experiences with other travelers on flights than negative. Most people are considerate and helpful and realize the situation you are in, especially when traveling with 2 children.
60. The best thing to do for your kids when traveling with them is to make it about them. Make it fun for them, make it an adventure, or a game. The more interested in it they are, the less stressed you’ll be and the more memorable their experiences will be.
I hope you found this post helpful. I’d love to hear your tips too, so let me know what works for you and I’d love to add them to my list.