I have a love-hate relationship with travel. I love to go different places and experience new things. Seeing different cities and the cultures within those different cities is my favorite. But traveling while plus size is NOT my favorite and I didn’t realize it affected me until I was having a conversation with my friend Ari.
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I don’t think that traveling with kids will ever be labeled as easy. Ok, when Mini was little, traveling with her was super easy. She was easy. When she was a baby, I would wear her on the flights. She would nurse and sleep through the flight only to wake up and be pleasant. When she started to walk, she would pull her own car seat to the gate. She’s a pro.
But now I have THREE children so traveling isn’t that easy breezy. But there are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way to streamline this as much as possible.
5 Pro-Tips To Traveling With Kids
1. Pack snacks. Lots of snacks.
This is super important whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile. When flying, this can be tricky because of all the regulations so make sure you check those first but cars? I love the idea of filling the craft box with snacks. Some people hate the idea but it works for us since we have some serious snackers.
When your kids are president and vice president of team eat and you’re about to hit the road you’ve got to properly prepare… Snack packs for each because I’m not here for the fighting and shenanigans. So excited to be road tripping in the 2016 @mitsucars Outlander Sport!!! #tcmtravels #TeamEat #travelingwithkids #snackpacks #healthysnacks #snacks #roadtrip #craftymom #drivemitsubishi
2. Make sure all electronics are charged.
Sure, we don’t want our kids to have crazy amounts of screen time but listen, if you have a choice between your kids terrorizing other travelers what are you choosing? My choice is Peppa Pig. But make sure that those electronics are fully charged AND you have headphones made for children. I love the Amazon Kindle and these here headphones since they’re cute and the girls look so cute wearing them.
3. Make sure you have age appropriate entertainment packed.
As much as we wish the kids would sit and watch whatever entertainment is available for them on their tablets, they won’t because, well, kids. Inside of their travel bags make sure to have back up games and forms of entertainment.
This age range is pretty easy. They typically want to be held or snuggled or nursed. But they do like to be entertained and like to chew things—especially when teething. We love this rattle and it keeps BC entertained.
Toddlers & Preschoolers
These guys are the hardest to entertain. I mean, at my age it’s super hard to sit still for all the time it takes traveling so for them I know it’s really difficult–and they make sure we know. But since we homeschool it’s also a pretty good time to get some quality learning in. I love the Highlight’s Activity Book for ABC. It’s colorful and makes it easy for me to make sure she’s getting some learning done. These also come in different age ranges so it’s available for others.
If you have a preschooler plus an older one <insert my current set up> having the older one play games with them is a great way to distract them. I love this sneaky game that also teaches kids to look out for patterns while they play.
Ages 5 and up
If I’m being completely honest, I think they should already have their bags packed with the things they need to entertain themselves–right? But I do like introducing new and fun educational games to my kids while we’re on the go. One of the newest ones that Mini has are these Mental Blox. It works their critical thinking skills which is really one of those life long skills they need to make sure are properly honed.
If you’re kids have tablets that are compatible with either Google Play or the Apple App Store, they’ll love this interactive coloring book. This is NOT your basic coloring book!! My kids creations come to life and they love it.
4. Set proper expectations for travel.
Yes, this means be proactive with the “Are we there yet?” questions. Let them know how long the trip will take, how you’re getting there, and give frequent updates. When I roadtripped with all the kids to go speak at Blog Life University 4 weeks after giving birth, I shared with Mini how nervous I was about the drive with the 3 of them by myself. Do you know that was the easiest road trip ever? Share with your kids any emotions surrounding travel as well so they can help if they’re old enough to.
5. Pack treats for yourself.
I know this is about making travel easier with kids but let’s be real here, if the parentals aren’t 100% ready to tackle the trip, all hell will break loose. Travel is stressful so make sure you take the edge off by packing snacks that are just for you and making sure you have your activities as well. I just finished downloading my audio books to my phone so I don’t have to worry about whether I can stream or not. I also have a wireless earbud so that I can listen freely while still keeping an ear out for my minions.
Do you travel with your kids often? What tips do you have?
Yes. You read that right. A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a conference that I’d pitched prior to finding out I was pregnant and was invited to speak at. This was also before we’d made the final decision to homeschool the girls. Well, after wanting to become a speaker and then getting the opportunity I couldn’t not take it so I packed the kids up into this awesome Kia and the four of us roadtripped to my conference.
Yes, I May Be A Bit Crazy
I think this was the consensus as I shared our trip with my friends on social media. In fact, as we packed the car up to get ready to head out I, too, thought I was a little crazy. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was beyond anxious for being in the car alone for a minimum of 4 hours with 3 kids–including 1 newborn.
How NOT To Go Crazy
We encountered lots of traffic and delays but we all made it with nerves in tact. These are some of the things I learned on this journey:
Take your time.
When I roadtrip I like to get there as fast as I can with minimal stops. We gas up, eat, use the potty and stretch all at the same time–no additional stops. But I had to not only change my expectations because of my body but also because of the bodies of my littles. We didn’t rush and we stopped when needed.
Travel in comfort.
Because I’m nursing BC I knew I wanted to make it easy to nurse him in what I wore. But I also wanted make sure that ALL of us were comfortable. Instead of driving our normal car that has a pretty tight back seat with all three, we roadtripped in a Kia Sedona that had a bigger backseat and a way more comfortable front seat which made nursing BC on the side of the road (yes, we did this a lot) nicer.
Set proper expectations with the kids.
The night before we left I had a conversation with Mini about how nervous I was to drive with the three of them. I also told her what I would need from her. I attribute much of the smoothness of the trip to her and this conversation.
Have snacks. A lot of them.
I laughed when one of my FB friends said food was the answer but in truth, it was lol! When they got antsy, I offered them food and don’t you know they calmed down???
Music. Make sure you have good stuff.
I’m lucky because my Kia had the Sirius XM radio so we had GREAT age appropriate music at our fingertips. But if you don’t, make sure you have Pandora or something to sing along with. My husband started car karaoke with them and it definitely makes the time pass.
Was it crazy to drive what turned 6.5 hours with 3 kids? Yes. Absolutely. But my kids made it happen so that I could rock my first speaking event at Blog Life University and I’m grateful.
What roadtripping tips do you have?
**Many thanks to Kia for loaning us a vehicle to make this roadtrip happen in comfort!**
Most days I love living in Georgia. I love how you can escape the madness that is “Hotlanta” and find yourself in a totally different world but not completely out of touch with the six lanes of bumper to bumper traffic. One of the places I love most is Sweetwater Creek State Park.
Sweetwater Creek State Park
This week we had a homeschool field trip to learn to fish. After fishing wrapped up, my friend Ashley from Mommy Week suggested taking a walk to the ruins. The trails all start at the Visitors Center, which also has a museum, so we checked that out first.
Although quaint in size, the museum was chock full of info. It had remnants from the Civil War, Native Americans, slavery, and more. There was a classroom that contained snakes found in the area and turtles to be seen up close and personal. One of my favorite things to see was the old loon used to make fabric.
The Red Trail
The kids all equipped themselves with maps to guide us to the ruins that we wanted to check out. The trail is pretty easy to walk–I did it with BC strapped to me in my Tula carrier. I loved how there weren’t swarms of flies ready to attack me and then baby. The scenery was beautiful as the trail is along the waterside with huge rocks sprinkled about.
Omg they were beautiful!!! You couldn’t get to close (safety first) but just being able to see them up against the perfect backdrop of the sky and bubbling waters was breathtaking. The baby and I sat on the stairs and enjoyed the view while the kids walked around exploring. Although I was suuuuper sore after finishing the walk I’m so happy I was able to make these memories with the kids.
Do you go on mini adventures where you live?
Mini’s final track meet was in Charlotte, NC the weekend after Thanksgiving. This week was a bit hectic since I was on a road trip, the hubs was home and the kids were with Nana in South Carolina until I picked the hubs up and we headed there. We ended up leaving some pretty crucial things home as we rushed to beat Atlanta rush hour traffic and turned right around and went home to Atlanta Thanksgiving night.
Fun, right? Oh but the fun was just getting started 3 hours into our road trip when I realized that I had left our debit card home and all we had to get to Charlotte and back was $20.
Mini Ran Like The Wind
Ok, so maybe not like fast whipping wind–more like a slow breeze on a hot day. But she ran. We arrived at the meet and it was intense there! The parking lots were full, the team areas were packed, and I was a little on edge since we literally had no money for this here road trip. Luckily for us, we were driving the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid and not either one of our cars so I wasn’t so worried about the gas and was able to focus on getting mini ready for her final race. She normally runs a 2K with the 8 & under group but today she was running with the 10 & unders and running a 3K. Her race was literally the very last race of the day and we cheered for everyone as we got ready for her race.
She took off fast with everyone else while abc, the hubs and I stood on the sidelines screaming and cheering for her. I tried not to cry as I watched my once baby take off with all these older kids and hold her own. As she ran, my memories of her crying and saying that she hated track drifted through my mind. We had come so far from the beginning where I would have to beg her to run her 2 hour practices while thinking her coach was insane. But now we were here in Charlotte with mini LOVING running.
She finished strong. There were some tears threatening to come out of her eyes but the didn’t. It was a struggle for her to finish but she never stopped running just like I never stopped screaming and believing in her. As she swallowed her tears, she asked, “Mommy, can I run track again next year?” And just like that, my track star was born.
Making From Charlotte To Atlanta
The $20 we put in the tank as we arrived to North Carolina was going strong in our tank. I’ve never driven a hybrid before this week so I had no idea what to expect regarding gas mileage. I knew that I’d made it from Atlanta to Nashville on one tank a couple days prior but I wasn’t sure how that would measure up here. More importantly, I couldn’t believe that I had left our debit card at home!
Luckily, the Kia Optima was AMAZING on gas and comfort. While mini recovered comfortably in the back with abc, the hubs and I were able to enjoy the sunset as we returned home. Thanks to the electric motor in the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid, we were able to make it back safely and focus our energy on cheering mini on.
Big thanks to Kia for partnering with me to make this meet happen for mini!