Travelling with kids … you either love it or hate it. It’s a lot of work and it probably doesn’t help that I’m a planner and I feel the need to do right research to get the best bang for my buck. So I blame some of that on me. I dislike the time spent on finding flights at a reasonable price, accommodations at a reasonable price, packing, car rentals, car seats, strollers and the list goes on. But at the end of the day, the vacation is sooooooo worth all the time invested.
So with that, I’m sharing with you my top five tips when it comes to travelling with kids. Am I an expert? Nahhhhh, but we’ve taken the boys on thirteen trips (air and road) and with each trip, it got easier because you learn and then incorporate what worked well to the next trip.
With the boys, we’ve never flown with a connecting flight and we’ve never passed the five hour mark for a destination on purpose. So, if there is a flight that offers direct only, we’re booking it. Why? From my experience pre kids, connecting flights have stressed me out, have had delays and I just don’t like getting up out of my seat and hauling my stuff to board on to another plane. I can’t even imagine having to do it with kids. One day I probably will, but right now, I’m booking direct.
Pic Below – Air Canada: direct flight to San Francisco (Brandon was just under 2 so he flew free)
Book accommodations where you want to hang. We love the west coast (Cali) with kids in tow. And as you know, getting the day started, packing up and loading the car just to get out takes time. And on top of that, if you’re heading to the beach, you’re going to have to drive, park, unload and get settled. Booking an airbnb, within a block or two from the beach, saves time, arguments and less items to carry.
BONUS: if you want to just hang out at the beach to watch the sunset after a day out and about, it’s amazing to just park the car walk to the beach and hang.
NOTE: booking anywhere near a beach is pricier. But this is important to us and to avoid paying a lot of money, plan ahead, call ahead or try to negotiate. I always throw in the “so do you offer a twin discount?”. And sometimes, it works! So, it’s worth the time to plan.
Pic Below – Air BnB booked two blocks from Ocean Beach in San Francisco
Plan but Don’t Over Plan
Make plans but don’t get bummed out if they don’t work out entirely. I’m a planner and I invest a lot of time researching. So when you invest time, you want to make sure it pays off. Now throwing kids in the mix, plans go out the window. Okay not entirely, but make loose plans with A LOT of room for delays, naps and mood swings. One trip that comes to mind, we were enroute from San Diego to LA and my little one had to use the bathroom. We were already running late and I wanted to get to LA. Made a pit stop at a coffee shop in Encinitas and of course, while in the shop the rest of the gang said that they were hungry. So we grabbed our food to go and hubby decided to drive around the neighbourhood to check it out. We ended up finding a beach where locals hung out and pulled up, parked in a residential area and made our way down. We spent 2.5 hours there and didn’t want to leave. Why didn’t we want to leave? It wasn’t busy, everyone was so cool and we had no expectations which made the experience a heck of a lot more memorable.
Pic Below – Encinitas, California (best planned but unplanned experience)
Toys, Books and Dolls– pack favourites and familiar items from home to make the trips and adjusting to accommodations a little bit easier. I’ve found that my boys love having a piece of home with them. They don’t bring the whole gang of dolls but they’re involved in the packing process.
Snacks – fav snacks too should be packed. And if I could bring my whole pantry of snacks, I would and I may have once or twice. Saves money, easy to take along and can be packed in your luggage. PS – we always pack oatmeal – add some hot water on a plane and voila!!!!
Containers and Thermoses – we bring all of that! It’s familiar to them as they know how to open and close it and keeps us organized and avoids spills. Thermoses are amazing because you can feed them a hearty meal!
Pic Below – Baby and Baby Baby had to come along
So that’s it. Thanks for coming by and reading ’till the end. This blog post just gave me the kick start that I needed for our upcoming trip in May.
If you have any other tips, please feel free to leave a comment below.