If you’ve been following along with our Instagram or Facebook this week, you might have noticed that both Lane and I are down in the beautiful state of Arizona enjoying the desert sun and warm weather. As it is spring break for many schools right now, the airport was filled with kids and families when we traveled last week. As I prepare to fly back home this weekend, I’ve been thinking about the things I frequently rely on to make traveling with young kids just a little bit easier. This week’s Friday Five is all about Traveling with Young Kids.
Traveling with kids is always quite an adventure. It can be stressful, for sure, but in the end, I think it is always worth it. I’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit with both of my children, despite their young ages (they are currently two and six). Thanks to trial and error as well as lots of help from other mamas (!), I’ve got a list of things I consider essentials when traveling with young kids.
01. Notebooks, Cheap Stickers, and Cool Crayons. This might sound really simple, but before each trip, I pick up an inexpensive notebook (I like these or these) for each kid. My oldest stays busy drawing crazy pictures, while my two year old loves to cover the pages in stickers. You can get packs of inexpensive stickers at Michaels for $1. I usually grab a pack or two before each trip. Both kids love it when I bring a new pack of crayons or markers just for the trip. These gel crayons are super fun and these twistable crayons travel well, too.
02. Snacks. I’m gonna be totally honest here: on long travel days with young kids, I definitely relax my typical food rules and bust out a lot of the “forbidden fruit” of kid snacks as a special treat. I typically pack a small bag (these stasher bags are awesome for this) with snacks for each kid. Current favorites are the individual packs of Annie’s cheddar bunnies, fruit snacks, or bunny grahams, along with Z-Bars, and little boxes of raisins or dried apples. Apple sauce pouches are great, too, but be sure to check that they are under three ounces. I also try to bring some fresh fruit – usually a banana or clementine for each of them – and water bottles that we fill at the airport. Travel days are tough. Being hangry never helps!
03. A New Small Toy or Game. Having a new little toy or game can definitely help to pass the time on a flight. I’ve had great luck with these water painting books (no mess, I promise!) and if you’re willing to pack a slightly larger toy, this small set of magnetic play tiles, which is awesome for both travel days and play at your destination. On my most recent trip, my six year old was totally entertained by a new pack of Pokemon cards that I picked up at Target!
04. Tech. Yup, I said it. I am totally going to admit that I am not afraid to use technology (i.e. iPads) to survive a long travel day. We have repurposed our old iPads for our kids use, loading them with a few educational apps, photos of themselves (super popular with the toddler set!), and a movie or two. Because they don’t get a lot of screen time at home, it’s a great treat that keeps them occupied and happy when we need it. We have loved the Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader apps as well as the Peek-a-boo Barn app.
05. Carseat Travel Tools. These last two items might not seem super exciting for the kids, but they are game changers for us adults. I think the best travel thing I’ve EVER purchased (seriously) is the Gogo Babyz Travelmate. It’s basically a device that turns your carseat into a mini stroller for the airport and is super helpful when traveling with a small kiddo and bringing a carseat on the plane. I’ve used it on countless flights and loaned it to many friends. It’s not the cheapest thing out there, but if you travel a fair amount, it’s 100 percent worth it. Similarly, we picked up this travel booster seat last summer in preparation for a trip where we it just wasn’t feasible to travel with a large convertible carseat AND a full sized booster seat. It was really helpful, inexpensive, and lightweight. One disclaimer: my son (who is a bit of a string bean, admittedly) did complain that it was somewhat uncomfortable on lengthier rides so I wouldn’t recommend it for long trips. It’s perfect for those uber rides from airports though!
I’ll be packing all of my favorite travel things tomorrow as I prepare to fly back to Minnesota this weekend. Have any favorite travel hacks when it comes to kids? Send me an email or comment below! We wold love to hear from you!