Before having kids, I remember when my husband and I would prepare for an upcoming trip. We’d pack our luggage and take a carry-on bag with some snacks, a good book to read, and our wallets with credit cards and cash to buy anything else that was needed. Fast forward to three kids ages seven and under, and it’s a whole new ballgame when preparing.
Our family of five recently took a road trip to San Diego for five days, and it was a fabulous experience for everyone. Here are some tips and tricks for those looking to save some time and hassle when travelling with small children.
Prep, prep, prep:
First, get a minivan. Just kidding, well, not really. It’s amazing how efficient our minivan is with storage space. Regardless, prior to your trip, clean out your trunk/cargo space/hatchback so you know everything that’s in there, and how much space is available. I always begin with an emergency stash that includes a change of clothing for each child, and parent.
Here is what I found helpful to pack:
Snack bag – fruit, granola bars, trail mix, juice boxes, pretzel bread, etc.
Beach bag – towels, sunblock, beach toys, sunhats and the like.
Luggage – one bag/person. Include weather appropriate clothes, a sweatshirt, two pairs of shoes, two swimsuits, toiletries and one stuffed animal per child. My kids love having their own bag to roll around. It makes them feel responsible and important.
Backpack – this was our multi-use bag for coloring books, crayons and puzzle games. I used the backpack as our daypack with water during outings.
Stroller – my youngest is three, so we still pack an umbrella stroller, both for him and to hold things while we are out and about.
We stayed at a suites hotel in Carlsbad that was affordable and perfect for our needs: Two rooms allowed us to put the kids to bed at a reasonable time, and allowed hubby and me to stay up later to relax and watch TV in the living room.
My family likes to eat, and we eat a lot. Luckily, our hotel included breakfast each day and a light dinner Mon-Thurs. Score! With a family of five, having two meals taken care of was ideal. At breakfast the bread, peanut butter packets and jelly can make PB&J sandwiches too. We could eat out for lunch, trying the local restaurants.
I highly recommend bringing a couple of reusable water bottles that do not spill and are easy to carry so everybody stays hydrated through the day. You can refill them at water fountains, e.g., after security at the airport terminal.
Savor the Moment:
We took numerous pictures and videos, and the kids will look back and remember some great times. A travel souvenir that our kids love collecting are the vended stretch pennies. They find them cool and can choose from different designs.
By planning and being in the moment, you can enjoy a trip and the time together. The best part of our vacation was when we just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed ourselves!