Christa is a mommy to two children, both of whom have travelled near and far.
You MUST be crazy!
One of my husband's goals is to be well-travelled. He has a bucket list of places he wants to travel in his life. Sometimes he travels alone. Sometimes he travels with friends. Most of the time, he travels with us—his wife and two children. We have a two-and-a-half-year-old son and a 10-month-old daughter. We have travelled near and far with them. The general initial reaction is either: you're crazy or you're brave. We might be a little of both, but mostly, we're strategic.
Tip #1: Room and Board
When we travel, we usually look for Airbnb. We check for houses, studios, or other private lodgings that:
- Are child-friendly
- Have a private bathroom
- Have a kitchen
We have had the opportunity to stay in some really cool places. We recently stayed in a bunkhouse in the Rocky Mountains. We have stayed in a family home in New York. We have travelled every 3 months over the past two years to different locations in the United States. All good experiences so far.
Tip #2: Pick the Right Transportation
Most of our trips have been undertaken by our car. The last trip we took clocked in at 2500 miles total over the course of 6 days. That is a lot of driving for babies. We have also taken them on airplanes for flights of 4 hours at a time. We have taken them on train rides for trips of 6 hours at a time.
Mode: Personal Car
Driving your own car is cheaper and often easier. I personally love driving because when we get there, we have our own car. I don't have to be as neurotic over crumbs. The downside is it can be very hard on children. Our children tend to travel much better in the morning than in the afternoon or evening. We haven't really tried to travel at night yet, as that's hard on mommy and daddy. We try to schedule our drives for the morning.
We have a Rewards credit card through Southwest. We used it to buy our appliances when we bought our house. That gave us enough points to redeem for a few round-trip flights. We have only flown a handful of times. Each experience has been great, but without points, it can be expensive. Plus, transportation once we get there is an additional expense. We reserve flying for longer trips.
I have ventured on a train ride alone with my baby. I really love trains, but they are often an inefficient means of transportation. A 10-hour drive translates into a 24-hour train ride. The benefit of trains is the ability to get up and move around.
Tip #3: Pack for the Children
Regardless of the means of transportation, packing for the children requires some thought. Our children are not allowed to play with our phones or tablets. We go "old school" for entertainment. For this past trip, we brought a few stuffed animals, a few bath books, and a few wooden cars. When one child got bored, they switched toys. Our daughter was mesmerized for hours with her bath book.
In addition to entertainment, we pack snacks. I buy big packages of the snacks we are going to bring, then divide them by day. We bring healthy and not-so-healthy snacks:
- Apple Sauce
- String Cheese
- Animal Cookies
We also bring sliced vegetables, prepared meat (mostly grilled chicken), and boiled eggs. We always get a kitchen in our reservations, so we can clean dishes, prepare meals, and replenish our supplies.
We also pack a sippy cup for each child, plus a spare. We bring water with us on our adventures. The sippy cups come in handy. We learned to always pack a spare when we lost a sippy cup in Salem last autumn. Whoops.
Tip #4: Pack Clothing Strategically
We manage to pack four people in one suitcase, two duffle bags, and a backpack. One duffle bag is used for diaper carrying and soiled clothes collection. The backpack is my diaper bag. I put small toys, diapers and wipes, spare toddler underwear, a change of clothes for each child, and light jackets in there. My husband and I pack capsule wardrobes - two bottoms, three tops that can be mixed and matched - undergarments for each day plus 2-3, and a light coat. We limit to the pair of shoes we are wearing and one we are bringing. We pack the children similarly.
Tip #5: Plan the Activities
We do not let having kids prevent us from going on adventures. We do, however, keep them in mind when planning activities. We try to plan around nap times and be conscientious of their needs. Children need to eat more often, sleep more often, and be cleaned more often than adults. Keeping this in mind when travelling prevents surprises.
Farrah Young from Lagos, Nigeria on April 24, 2019:
I don't like traveling with my kid as it's a kit of stress in her. However, these tips should work just fine to reduce the stress either of us could face.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 24, 2019:
Great tips for parents of young children.