In just a few weeks I will be traveling to my heart’s home, St. John, in the US Virgin Islands, for Spring Break with the family! I’ve traveled a lot both with and without my little people. Some trips have been as a family and others I’ve traveled with the kids alone. I’m so thankful that for this trip my husband will be with us the entire time!
In all my traveling, I’ve learned a few things about traveling with my kiddos. I hope these things will help you in planning your next vacation with the family.
1. Pack extra clothes
First up, make sure they’ve got extra clothes especially undies. I HATE washing that stuff out in a hotel room sink! My husband will wash clothes while we’re away, but not me. I’m on vacation! When traveling with kiddos sometimes accidents happen so you want to be sure they have plenty of clothes. I also try and make sure we’ve got a pullover, because even at the beach it can get chilly at night. If you’re traveling to a destination where you will be walking outside a good bit, grab some inexpensive ponchos and throw in your bag just in case you get caught out in the rain.
2. Bring a first aid kit
You want to be sure you have the basics of a first aid kit with you. When traveling outside the United States, medicine that your family takes for minor ailments may not always be available and if it is, you are paying big bucks for it. I always pack children’s Tylenol, children’s Motrin, and adult Advil and Tylenol. Just be sure to have those different medicines that you know your family may need.
For some reason when we went to Disney World I had decided to pack a thermometer. I just had a feeling that it may come in handy and it ended up being a fantastic idea. I’m so thankful I took it! My daughter got sick on that trip, and I was able to relay this information to our doctor at home. I had also packed various medicines so I was able to give her some relief until we got to an urgent care clinic to see a doctor. Unfortunately, the wait time to see a doctor rivaled that of the wait time for the new Disney Avatar Flight of Passage ride! Insurance cards are also another important thing to pack for just that reason, now whether it’s an adults only or family trip, I always make sure I have our cards on hand.
3. Practice using an Uber
If you are not familiar or comfortable using Uber/Lyft or hailing a cab, then I suggest you practice before traveling. It can be a bit intimidating if you’re having to learn how to do those things for the first time once you land at the airport. Download the app and practice around town if you must! Order a Lyft/Uber to take you to pick up dinner one night, just so there’s no confusion.
4. Order passports in plenty of time
If you’re traveling outside of the US, make sure you’ve gotten your kids passports if they don’t have them, and if you do, make sure they are still valid. Passports are good every 5 years for minors under the age of 16. Applying for passports for kids isn’t easy or quick. Both you and your spouse must be present, and you need a copy of their social security cards, birth certificates along with the adult photo ID. We will be visiting the British Virgin Islands while we’re away so passports were a necessary part of our trip. It’s a process, but worth it when you’re done. Be sure you plan to get passports in plenty of time before your trip. This is a very important step. Clink here to learn more about how to apply for a passport. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply.html
5. Have your Mary Poppins bag ready
If you’re traveling alone with younger kids, make sure you’ve got your Mary Poppins bag filled with toys they’ve never seen before to keep them interested and calm during the flight. If you’re driving make sure you’ve got snacks that are within reach and plan safe spots for stopping to stretch and get out some energy! I also like Chic-fil- A because the restrooms are clean and there’s a play area! Travel games are fun and can be educational as well.
6. Know that it’s never perfect
Finally, don’t expect to have a vacation to go exactly the way you planned. Our trip to Disney where my daughter got sick isn’t what I had in mind. I envisioned all of us loving all the rides, laughing, and enjoying our time together in the most magical place on earth. Instead, the only thing my daughter took away from that trip was her being sick and missing out on SeaWorld. Last spring break we went snow skiing, my husband envisioned it to be all of us smiling as we whooshed down the slopes, drinking hot chocolate and loving every single minute of it. That’s not what happened, and while nobody ended up sick one of us did have to be skied off the slopes with the twisted ankle.
Enjoy the moments together and learn to embrace the changes that inevitably will come. Learn to laugh when things don’t go the way you plan, because it’s those moments that will make up your stories you share around the supper table for years to come.
For more travel tips check out Peggy’s advice on traveling with tots.