I wrote ‘easy’ travel days in the title but let’s be real, it’s all relative. We travel because we love it but also because our families are spread around the world. Travel will always be in our lives so we (try to) stay really positive about it whatever happens! There’s no second option, and it’s always fun in the end, so we try to just to take it as it comes and make it fun. And attitude really does make such a difference! So that’s my top tup number one 😉 But onto the real stuff:
I don’t like to travel minimally. Correction, I don’t like to pack minimally. I prefer the security of throwing in eeeverything. But as soon as I leave the house I LOVE to have packed minimally. Especially when I’m squeezing two kids and myself into a tiny bathroom stall in the airport; then you bet I’m glad I packed minimally. (…but sidetone: never glad I wore highwaisted jeans under the Ergo – consider that a free extra tip, just don’t do it.) This trip Jared and I each took one bag to check, and one backpack for the flight and we also checked two car seats. We had no extra bags for babies, they shared ours. Once checked baggage was gone it meant we both had two hands free all the time. Essential.
(I took the 26L Repurposed Canvas Del Dia pack from Cotopaxi (Click HERE for $20 off) and LOVED it. It’s made from fabric scraps and they’re a B Corp so it’s sustainably and consciously run business with great values. The bag was comfy and had room for everything I needed for me and two babies for a whole day.)
For both of us, a key to feeling great as we travel is to chug chug chug. Usually we’ll start the day with a coffee and maybe buy a second cup on route but otherwise it’s just water. Still and sparking but just water. I say yes every time I’m offered it on board, and we fill up our bottles to take on the flight – most airports have a hydration station, or a restaurant that will let you fill up. If I say yes to a drink on board it’s cos I’ve drunk the 32oz I brought and then I choose sparkling water from a can. That was it doesn’t come from a plastic bottle, but I’m also not choosing juice or soda.
PACK FOOD (AND TREATS!)
I wrote more about this HERE
but we pack all our own food for travel days. It saves money, it saves looking for options on the road and potentially only finding something sub par, and it means we get clean food to keep us feeling great as we start/end a holiday. We use the containers linked in the above post to take the food in given we’d be bringing them anyway for the trip (they go everywhere with us for taking food to-go, taking leftovers, and grocery shopping.) Then any food scraps/fruit peel etc I’ll pack back in the containers to compost when we arrive.
When we used to buy food on route, I’d research the layover airports before traveling so I knew what was available in each one. It meant we knew where we were headed and what the best options were so we could plan our meals to get the best.
CHOOSE FLIGHT TIMES INTENTIONALLY
(Note: Before this point I’ll say when we were single and without kids we chose flight times solely on price. That worked perfectly for that stage of life. Now it’s definitely a balance, but we’ll still only usually work within a range of $100 to get an optimal flight time.)
Everyone is different with timing and for us it depends if we’re traveling long or short haul but within the US we like to have a relaxed start to the day, and then arrive in late at night rather than getting up early and arriving earlier. Because we’re on the west coast we’re basically always traveling forward in time so this way round works better with jet lag. When we travel to Europe I choose flights so that we arrive early in the day (7/8am) that way we have the whole day to adjust and stay awake before the first night which I’ve found really helps jet lag.
Read more about transatlantic jet lag with kids HERE
This makes SUCH a difference to how we feel when we travel. We try not to sit down at all on layovers and
while we wait at the gate. We’ll walk, stand, do stretches, (sometime we pack a mini travel roller for stretching
), standing still we’ll do calf raises or anything to keep the blood pumping.
TAKE CASH FOR CURBSIDE CHECK-IN
Definitely an indulgence but it’s the most worthwhile extra spend of the day. It doesn’t technically ‘cost’ but we take a tip to give the attendant. Then the routine is: pull up, check in everything right from the car then send me in to the airport with two kids while Jared parks the car and comes to join us. Easy. When I’m alone usually it’s not Jared who drops me off and someone will just drop me off curbside with all our bags so curbside check in is essential!
KEEP KIDS ON A SCHEDULE
We’ve found keeping kids on a loose schedule gives structure to an all-over-the-place travel day and can really help. Even without kids, it helps me feel sane. We obviously can’t and don’t keep it exactly the same but things like still eating real meals at real times, encouraging naps at the usual time and packing pajamas if it crosses over into bed time can all help the day go smoothly for them. (When traveling across time zones with babies I try to just space the feeds out to the usually number of hours between rather than thinking about the clock and then add in feeds as needed it time zones make the day longer.)
Without kids: It’s easy to make travel days eternal snacking days so I try to eat real meals rather than grazing through flights and layovers and arriving feeling not best myself.
FOR KIDS: TALK ABOUT THE TRIP BEFORE YOU GO!
This was the first trip that Clayton was old enough to real understand but even still I’ve always told him ahead of time what’s going to happen and it really helps. We draw pictures, talk though the whole day multiple times in the days running up to the trip, watch videos or airplanes and talk about things that will anchor the day. This time we made cookies and talked about how we’d get on the airplane and eat special cookies. It helped get him to the flight, and gave him vision through layovers!
FOR KIDS: TAKE FLIGHT ACTIVITIES
Packing minimally meant I didn’t take a ton for the flight but I packed 2 books, a blanket + soft toy because they help nap time, paper to draw on, and we downloaded 6 videos onto a phone for watching on board. Then we get up and walk as often as possible, get a window seat to see out, make our own games on board. And we scour the on board magazine for animals and cars!
INVEST IN AN ERGO
My number one recommendation traveling with a child under 2 is an Ergo 360. I had the basic model before and any of them are great but the 360 is my personal fave. They can face in and out on my front and go on my back too. I use them for getting them to sleep on board, and they are a LIFESAVER in the airport. We don’t take a stroller to the gate, and we don’t do carseats on board – my trusty Ergo is a much simpler way to navigate the day! The first time I travelled long haul with Clayton alone, I was (no joke) told: oh to get to your gate, go out that door, through the open lot then up the stairs in the building on the other side. That was 25 minutes before my flight and before I’d worked out not to take a rolling carry on. I cried, called Jared on speaker phone to tell me it was going to be ok while I raced through security… but I made my flight. Without being able to jog with him on my front, no way. Note: You can wear kids through take off/landing so be prepared to undo that child you just got to sleep… Still worth it though in my book!
In June I do my first solo long haul with two babes, so if you have any other travel day hacks, tell me in the comments below!