Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert in the fields of traveling and parenting. Photos are from my sister of my awesome two nephews by FF Ambassador Bre Drake at Wildhair Creative.
My wife and I have an 18-month old daughter named Palmer. Shortly after Palmer was born, we made the decision that Palmer was gonna enjoy (or suffer through) every possible trip that would allow her to join. Both of us were lucky enough to have parents that gave us the same priceless experiences growing up and we’ll never forget those memories.
Most of these lessons were learned the hard way and others were passed on to us by friends and family. Although none of them are ground-breaking, it’s all about the little things, right?
Tip #1: Book Early, Book Smart
No one wants to be stuck on a redeye middle seat with a crying infant, so find the right flights at the right times. We normally book our flights and accommodations at least 4 months in advance with the airlines that offer the most flexible policies around cancellations and changes.
When it comes to accommodations, we prefer house rentals over hotels for a lot of reasons - more space, easier for naps, cooking meals, etc). When searching for a house, most websites like VRBO have relevant filters “great for kids/families” that make the process a lot less daunting. If the review section of the house rental has numerous 5-star ratings from other families, it’s always a safe bet.
Tip #2: Flying will always be an F-word
I don’t care who you are, flying with kids is always an anxious experience. Nothing ever goes perfect, but you can lower your blood pressure with a few of these flying tips.
- Your stroller is your best friend. Use it as a child/luggage/drink/passport holder and you will be kissing those wheels by the time you get to your destination. Most airlines let you take it everywhere and gate check it for free. We highly recommend the B-O-B stroller.
- Snacks, snacks, snacks. Bring them all, especially the salty ones. Salty snacks will make them thirsty and the water intake will help with future dehydration we all suffer from traveling.
- Get creative with entertainment distractions. We start with books and toys and eventually everything goes out the window and my daughter is watching Real Housewives on the iPad. Joking (sorta) but don’t be too hard on yourself as a parent for letting them play with devices while traveling. Other people on your flight will thank you later.
Tip #3: Naps are KING
All parents know the result of an overtired child. It’s inevitable when you’re away from your home court and in a different time zone. Different tactics work well for different kids, but we try to book at least one of our flights during one of our daughter’s typical naps.
Finding a dark, cool spot for your child to nap while on vacation can be incredibly difficult. My sister told us about these amazing suction-cup blackout shades that are a game changer while traveling! Highly recommend.
Tip #4: Find a Pool
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Throw some floaties on the little ones and you’ve got a day full of laughter and fun for the whole family. Mom and dad might even be able to manage a couple cocktails and a sun tan.
Tip #5: Roll With It
Things are always gonna go wrong and there will be meltdowns (from kids and parents). Overall, kids are pretty resilient and they will adapt to anything that you take them to do. If you go into trips with the right mindset and let the little things roll off your back, there will be plenty of memories (good or bad) to be made by all. Just don’t forget to bring your camera so you can embarrass your kids later in life.