Tips for Traveling with Kids & Our Trip to Florida!

We recently returned from an extended weekend trip down to Florida.  This was our first time traveling on an airplane as a family of four.  Since I think most of the people reading my blog are also parents to young kids, I thought it would be helpful if I shared some tips for traveling with little ones.  I did a similar post (read here) last May when we went to Florida, but that was just with one toddler.  Now we have TWO. Whole new ballgame. ;)

The first thing I want to let everyone know reading this is - don't be afraid to travel with your little ones!!  I think a lot of people just skip traveling all together when their kids are young because they don't want the hassle.  Honestly, I think that as long as you are prepared, it's not that bad!!

I learned alot as a result of this trip.  Here are some tips/tricks for your next plane trip!

1.  Packing:  Pre-plan outfits for the kids when you pack.  Avoid just throwing a bunch of clothing items into a suitcase and calling it a day.  I put outfits into those freezer-size ziplock bags and it was so easy to just grab a bag and dress the kids.  Also, make sure you prep for weather changes.  Bring hoodies and layers for unexpected changes.  For toiletries, we like putting all the kids' bathroom stuff in a separate bag.  We have a wet/dry bag like this one.  It's perfect to throw in all their bathroom items and just grab it when it's bath time.  Lastly, when packing, just run through all possible scenarios/activities you are planning on your trip and try to come up with a list of everything you might need.  Don't fret though, most items you forget, you can just buy at your destination.  We forgot a few critical items and it was Walgreens to the rescue. :)

2.  At the airport:  We never check our car seats or stroller with baggage when we travel.  We always just gate check them.  I feel like they are safer that way.  Make sure to buy the "Gate Check" bags like these for those items if you decide to gate check.  Since we had 2 car seats to lug through the terminal this time, my husband was able to secure some bungy cord around the seats and attach them to our rolling carry-on to make it easy for him.  Speaking of car seats, I STRONGLY recommend you invest in a lightweight car seat for travel.  We have these Cosco car seats and they work great!  With the stroller, we had Emi in that the entire time, so that we didn't have to carry it around.  Once you get through security at airport and get settled, I would recommend either letting your little ones run around for a while (under your supervision of course ;)) and/or grabbing a bite to eat to kill time.  The last thing you want to do is force them to sit at the gate, and then sit some more on a plane.  Burning off energy is ALWAYS a good thing.

3.  On the plane:  Ahhh, the fun part. :)  With 2 kids, it can be tricky to keep them both occupied.  Hopefully at least one of your kids falls asleep (like Emi did for us!), but if not, I have learned that there are a couple things parents can keep up their sleeves to make the plane rides a little less brutal:

  • Their favorite cartoons pre-loaded on your iPhone/iPad/Kindle.  For older kids, I'd also get some fun headphones.  We have these pink ones for Evie.  She felt so grown up wearing them. :)
  • A few small toys that they have never seen before or haven't played with in a while and may have forgotten about.  We like this.
  •  Their favorite books.  Our recent trip included several of Evie's Peppa Pig books. :)
  • Snacks - don't forget about this!  We usually bring animal crackers, raisins, and puffs for the baby. Those keep them occupied for a while.
  • Candy/lollipops - we pulled these out as a last resort for when the kids were getting irritated.  Lollipops in particular are life savers!!
  •  And last but not least, our secret weapon - STICKERS!  These were the biggest hit with both girls.  I swear, the stickers literally kept them entertained for a good 30 minutes...which is an ETERNITY for kids that age!  
And there's our list!  I hope that this helps someone planning their own travel.  I definitely learned alot this last trip.

And for those of you interested in how our trip went, it was amazing!  I might do a separate post on our stay at the amazing Lowes Don Cesar in St. Pete Beach, but in the meantime, here are some pictures from our short (but super fun) trip to the sunshine state!

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