Traveling with Toddlers

Well last year we decided to take our first flying family vacation.  Honestly I was 7 months pregnant and we were halfway through a pretty massive reno and I didn’t know how easy it would be to travel with 3 kiddos the following year so I thought we should take advantage of the 1:1 Ratio and hit up Hawaii for 10 days.  I am so happy we did!  As nervous as I was to take two little people (Rowen had just turned 2 and Grace had just turned 1) I soon realized there was not much to be nervous about. The first thing that made me feel better was when the stuardist announced at the beginning of our flight there were 11 lap passengers (children under 2) flying that flight (and even more kids over two).  It was a great way to make you feel better about worrying if your kid was the loudest. The flight was packed with families like ours and the kids were all sorts (some sleeping, some crying, some wild, some sedatated… or I mean calm). 
Anyways these were our tips that we learnt from flying with so many families, keep in mind we have only flown with the kids once and it was just to Hawaii… always open to what hearing what worked for other families or from someone who has traveled lots with their kids. This is what we found worked for us. 

–  Rent an IPad for your kids, my baby daddy had an impulsive shop the night before we left and decided to go out and buy our son a new iPad (talk about an expensive London Drugs shop).  In future we will not be buying each child an iPad but for $10 or so dollars we would happily rent them for the flight. If you are taking your own make sure to download your airlines app so you can access all the shows you want!  

–  Pack Snacks we weren’t totally sure what was acceptable for bringing through security and what was not, so I feel like we didn’t bring much and then realized we should have. A couple rows in front of us a huge family was traveling and the Grandma showed up with Bento style boxes of packed snacks for the grandkids that were amazing!  I will definitely do this for the kids next time. 

–  Layer Up with an extra pair of socks or maybe slippers and their favourite blanket. My son was pretty good and quickly fell asleep but my daughter couldn’t get comfy (on my 7 month prego belly). I think if we had had her blanket to comfort her it would have been a bit better. Plus planes are either really cold or stuffy so good to be prepared for either extreme. 

–  Bring Grandparents or better yet convince them to bring you:) (Mom this ones for you), lol!  Okay maybe not realistic for everyone but honestly I swear we were the only family traveling immediate family only. I couldn’t believe all the grandparents helping out. Better yet was the couple in front of us with their nanny. Bring your sitter… what baby sitter or nanny doesn’t want to come to a tropical paradise with your amazing family???

I think just remember everyone knows what to expect on a flight and if you are flying to a popular family vacation spot even better because you will most definitely not be the only family on the plane.  I sat with Grace on my lap and I was beside an older couple. They were on there way to Maui for vacation and were so helpful and understanding with Grace it was amazing. I ended up hearing all about their grandchildren and how much they could relate to our little Gracie!  Most people get it, we are all human and flying is hard on anyone, especially the tiny ones. 

GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS

I also have a few tips for traveling with children (not just the flight).  We were so worried about how full our hands were that we took the attitude of anything we need we can buy or rent in Hawaii. In theory this is a great attitude and totally true. However, in reality this is a fairly expensive way to travel and although it seemed the easiest I am feeling more confident this year and we are going to try to bring a lot more from home this time. Plus the fact that we are booked for triple the time we were last year our rentals would really add up. That being said depending on the length of your trip you may want to just rent or you may want to bring from home. We really felt that 10 days just wasn’t long enough. It is a lot of work to pack kids for a trip and 10 days just starts to get into routines and let kids get settled. This year I will be able to tell you how a month in Maui feels!  

GO FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN

So, my first piece of advice is go for as long as you can (and this doesn’t just apply to Maui or a flying holiday we take this piece of advice for road trips too!).  Mainly you put so much time and effort in preparing for a trip make it worth your while!  Plus it eliminates the rushed feeling of needing to get so much in, if one day your kids don’t feel like being in the sun or going to the beach, not a big deal hit up the aquarium and know there is always tomorrow. If your trip is shorter you feel pressure to enjoy every minute, at least I do.  

QUICK TRIPS RENT WHAT YOU NEED

For a quick trip, 10 days or under I definitely suggest renting car seats (we just got them from the car rental company) as well as sand toys, strollers, play pens and toddler beds, a beach wagon, umbrella and even cooler and chairs could all be rented from Maui Baby Rentals. It was fairly affordable and super conveneient.  If you aren’t traveling to Hawaii I am sure whatever city you are going to would offer a similar service. Or even if you are staying at a Hotel I would imagine most major hotels would offer rental services for all things baby. 

BRING A GOOD STROLLER

That being said this year we are going to attempt to bring the car seats on the plane and have the kids sit in them (I am really not sure how this is going to go down but the car seat rentals are soooo expensive that we thought we would give this a try). We are also going to bring both our double and single Mountain Buggy Stroller. Last year we brought umbrella strollers thinking we would barely use it and they were light and compact and we were very surprised by how many large strollers people brought and how much we missed ours in Hawaii whenever we went for a walk. 

PLAY BEFORE FLYING

I think that the pros so outweigh the cons when it comes to traveling with your kids. For us the moment the kids saw the beach and their little feet ran for that sand, the flight was totally worth it!  We don’t “drug” our kids but it is not because I am against it we just haven’t really found we need to and also don’t know a drug that would knock them out. LOL!  But in all seriousness my kids don’t seem to get drowsy from children’s drugs and seem like pretty good travelers in the car or plane.  We do however let them have a good play before we board the plane.  Most airports have some sort of play area or even a nice open space where you could let them shake their sillies out and run around. 

Would love to hear from other parents and what worked for them when traveling with their little ones, or even favourite destinations. We love Maui and found it super family friendly. But can’t wait for our kids to get a bit older and may be we can venture a bit further. For now that 6 hour flight is our magic number…  what was easiest for you?  Do you have a favourite flight (we had avoided a red eye but I heard other families like them)?  Hope you found some of the tips helpful and are busy planning your next vacation.  

Check back for my next post with our favourite things in Maui and recommendations, dos and don’ts, etc!!!

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