Tuesday, September 30, 2014

traveling with kids

We're gearing up for a trip back East for two weeks.  We leave next Monday and we'll be staying with my brother and sister-in-law in Richmond, VA.  My husband's whole family is going because my other brother-in-law is getting married!  We're all so excited!  On our trip we'll be spending a couple days in DC, then heading down to North Carolina for the wedding.  After that week, our little family will be flying down to Orlando to see my family and go to Disney World!  The kids and my husband are all so excited, but I think I'm the most excited because I get to share something that I loved so much growing up with the people I love most.  How great is that?!  We'll be flying out, no way were we driving!  But flying isn't easy with kids either, so I thought I would share what we do to make it a little bit easier on ourselves.  Last summer we went to New York with my family and these are the things that worked for us then and still work to this day in similar situations where the kids are confined and get bored quickly.

 sources // 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

The first thing I did was buy the book This Is Washington by Miroslav Sasek.  I knew it would be a great way to get our kids, mainly our son, excited about our trip to DC.  He loves this book so much!  And he is seriously so excited to go see the Washington Monument.  The last time I went to DC, I was really young, about 7 I think?  I barely remember the trip, so I'm really excited to experience this with him for what will feel like the first time for me too.  His enthusiasm has really rubbed off on me; I mean I was excited before, but now I'm even more excited!

One of the things we do when we're getting ready for a trip is to buy some new books and a few little cars (they love Hot Wheels) that we then give them at the airport or on the plane.  This helps to keep their interest on something other than being bored or wanting to run around like a crazy person.  Since our kids are big enough that they don't really need a stroller anymore, we bought them each their own backpacks, which they both love wearing, so they can carry their own books and toys when we travel.  We got our son the one with the teepees and our daughter the blue chambray with stars, but neither are available anymore!  Such a bummer.  Some other ones we looked at were these on Amazon.

On my son's first day of preschool, he brought home a Scholastic book order form.  We decided to order some books because their prices are really good and then we could save them for our trip.  Our kids love the Pout Pout Fish and they had this brand new one on sale, so we ordered that one.  They also love Little Critter, so we had to buy a pack of those books; $9 for 5 books is such a good price!  We also bought a few Curious George books and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

We don't let our kids use the iPad a whole lot, but we do like it because it really can be educational (and a lifesaver!).  So we're planning on bringing both of our iPads so our kids can each use one.  We bought these M&M headphones because the kids will need something on the plane.  I shopped around for awhile before I finally settled on these and I am so glad that I did.  First of all, when I opened the box, the kids thought I had ordered candy!  M&Ms are their favorite and they got so excited, until they realized it wasn't candy haha but they do love them and the fact that they have the iconic "M" on them.  They even willingly wear them too!  My son says they're comfortable and I love that they actually stay on their heads.  The best feature, however, is that they have volume control, so even if the iPad's volume is turned up all the way, it won't hurt their delicate ears.  Our daughter is two and tiny and these even fit her head, so that was another win.  Speaking of iPads, here's a list of our kid's favorite apps: LetterSchool, Endless Alphabet, Endless Reader, Endless Numbers, PBS Kids, and Disney Junior.  Another app we like for long trips is the Disney Movies Anywhere app.  Some of our recent DVD purchases came with a code so that we can watch them on our devices using the app.  It's really nice to have that on hand as well.

We knew that one thing we had to have were car seat bags.  When we traveled last year, the airline had them for us, but they were just barely a step up from garbage bags and they tore so bad.  This year we're flying a different airline and we know that a lot of airports don't even offer the bags, so we decided that we needed to just buy them ourselves.  We didn't want to spend a lot and these bags had the best reviews while being in our budget.  The one thing that I found very common among the reviewers was that if you want the bag to hold up, you have to gate check the car seats, so that's what we'll be doing and since we're not going to carry those huge seats through the terminal, we'll be renting one of those luggage carts.  We figure it's worth the hassle if it keeps those bags from getting ripped apart.  We don't want our car seats getting destroyed on our trip.

And last, but not least (or pictured), we're having our kids bring their favorite blankets and a pillow.  Last year for Christmas, one of our dear friends gave our kids these adorable little pillows that were made with fabric she designed with their names on them.  Their only about 8x8", so just the right size for traveling and they won't be a pain to carry around.  Our first flight is at 6am, so we're going to keep our kids in their pj's for the first flight and hopefully they'll sleep.  If not, at least they'll be comfortable and entertained.  We'll also have plenty of healthy snacks and water on hand.

I hope this helps some of you who might be unsure of what to bring with your kids when traveling!  The best advice that I think I can give you, though, is to keep it simple.  If you try to do too much, you'll get overwhelmed or end up carrying way more than you want to on the flight.  Our goal is to keep things as minimal as possible while maximizing what we do have.  I would love to hear any of your tips and tricks too!