The first time we took our twins on a trip, I was skeptical. I was skeptical the second, third and fourth times as well. Let’s face it: traveling with kids isn’t always fun, relaxing or a vacation for anyone.
I wish I had some sage advice and sure-fire ways to make things go seamlessly. If I did, I’d bottle it and sell it on the Home Shopping Network. But through trial and error, I’ve made a few discoveries that made life easier.
Our first trip with the kids was to Kalamazoo when they were six months old. They still weren’t sleeping through the night and my daughter’s reflux made it necessary to bring every bib and burp cloth we owned, in addition to a back-up outfit and a back-up for the back-up for the Mt. Vesuvius moments. We decided that leaving our house at bedtime and letting the kids fall asleep in the car was the way to go.
For the most part, it worked. When we got to the hotel, my husband unloaded the car as quietly as possible and went to set up the cribs in the room while I drove around in a circle with the kids. The idea was we’d just bring the kids in from the car and put them right to bed.
Our daughter stayed awake well into the wee hours of the morning. She wasn’t crying or fussing. She was staring at me with a look on her face that said, “Well, now what?”
That trip was a learning experience for us. And since then, I like to think we’ve learned more each time we’ve gone somewhere. We haven’t ventured onto a plane yet, but we’ve taken several five-hour car rides (which seemed like nothing after I met the mom of 14-month-old twins who drove from Maryland to Mackinaw City by herself).
Here are a few things that helped me keep my sanity, er, I mean, my kids enjoy the trip more:
- Bring a white noise machine. Sometimes new places make new sounds. Having the same sounds they hear each night to fall asleep helps the transition. Bonus for you: It drowns out the noise of the drunken bridal party staying in the same hotel.
- Bring new toys. A few weeks before our trips, I pick up some new toys and books for the kids to play with in the car. I also hide some of their toys to give back to them on our trip so they’re like “new” again. Keep in mind safety, though. Don’t give your kid anything you don’t want flying around in the car if you get in an accident. Bonus for you: You might hear a different version of “Happy and You Know It” for two hours straight.
- Don’t pack diapers and formula. I only bring what I need to get me through the travel and the first day at our destination. If we’re visiting friends or family, I ask them to pick up some diapers/formula at their local store and I pay them when I get there. Or, do a little research before you go and find a Target, Meijer, Piggly Wiggly, near where you’re staying. Head there the first chance you get. Bonus for you: More room in the suitcase for your shoes!
What are some tricks of the trade you have for traveling with kids?
—Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples