“When you travel with children you are giving them something that can never be taken away…experience, exposure and a way of life.”
Pamela T. Chandler
Greyson celebrated a pretty important travel milestone when we returned home this past weekend from Texas: his 30th flight! We’ve been taking Greyson with us everywhere ever since he was an infant – mainly because we’re raising him without a village, but it is also our desire as parents to educate and teach him about places other than here at home in California.
I’m grateful that we’ve had opportunities to travel across the U.S. and even Europe. In 2017, when he was 18 months old, my husband had a work trip that took him to England, Luxembourg, and Italy (however, Italy was canceled due to him needing to return home unexpectedly- we went to Paris instead). Grey and I were excited to tag along and getting to experience those countries left a lasting impression.
No matter where you go, traveling with a child can bring up some tricky and frustrating challenges – some seen and many unforeseen. From navigating airports, having everything you’ll need for the flight itself, to living out of a suitcase in whatever destination – it can all be overwhelming. But thankfully it doesn’t have to be! With a little bit of research and investing in the right travel products (and a positive and flexible attitude) traveling with your child can be one of the best experiences.
Since Grey has been flying for a while, he’s come to learn the process fairly well. That doesn’t mean he’s immune to the common tantrum, refusing to sit in his stroller, or listen to any direction we give him…we’ve definitely been those parents with that kid. However, we never let that stop us from exploring the world and that kind of persistence, and learning a few tips along the way, has really paid off. Here’s how we travel (+ a dog!) and a few tips of our own for minimalist travel.
Travel Rules of Thumb:
Don’t check bags. Period.
I know, I know. It took me a long time to grow to love this ‘no checked bag’ lifestyle thanks to my husband – but I’m so glad I did and I can’t look back.
By not checking a bag we are:
- saving money on checked bag fees.
- saving time waiting at a baggage claim carousel.
- saving my sanity from lost or late baggage.
- being more mindful and strategic with my packing.
TSA Pre-check is a gift from the travel gods.
TSA pre-check was a foreign term prior to visiting Europe, but knowing we would be traveling with Grey and to different countries we wanted to look into it. In retrospect, I’m so glad we did because the little extra we paid, we received back in the form of an effortless security check experience. Shorter lines, not having to remove everything, and saving time spent in security is worth every penny.
- a diaper backpack.
- Most airliners don’t charge you a carry-on fee if you’re flying with a child and using a diaper bag (i.e. Frontier Airlines).
- Invest in a durable diaper backpack instead of tote-style bag (frees up your hands to manage the stroller or your child).
- Carry-on luggage.
- Don’t be silly and check a bag (see point made above). Find a carry-on that suits your style and needs and rethink how you pack. You can do it…I believe in you!
- Collapsible Stroller.
- We love our Summer Infant 3D Lite stroller and have been using it non-stop since our big trip to Europe almost 2 years ago. One of the best investments and we gate check it every time.
- Travel booster seat.
- When we travel we rarely rent a car so we’re left with public transportation or good ‘ole Uber. For good reason, many Uber drivers wont accept us unless we have a seat for Grey. The Mifold booster is a perfect option for kids who are 4+ years old or 40 lbs or more. It simply folds out and adjusts the seat belts to a proper position.
- **please note to continue your own research about the safest travel options for you and your family.
- iPad mini with cover + child headphones (bluetooth if you can).
- The iPad mini is the perfect size to pack plus child headphones helps keep you from disturbing your seat neighbors or hearing Baby Shark for the entire 3-6 hour flight. We love this durable toddler cover, too!
- Make a capsule wardrobe for your trip.
- Make your wardrobe work smarter, not harder. Capsule wardrobes are great for every-day, but especially important for traveling minimally.
- Dr. Zarbee’s melatonin “sleepy” pills.
- Don’t judge me, but we totally embrace the sleepy pills and give one to Grey about 30 minutes prior to boarding. They’re great for allowing him to sleep during our flight, which ensures he’s in a good mood when we land. It also helps him adjust to different time zones and keeps his naps on schedule.
- Purell antibacterial wipes.
- Packing your own snacks and pouches are very helpful when you have a hungry or upset child. Nothing cures a bad mood like snacks, so pack plenty of them.
- Foldable travel potty.
- When we first began potty training Grey I wanted to create a little travel kit for everyday errand trips. This potty made the cut and I have been so impressed with it! I love that it folds up and fits perfectly on most toilets. I just simply wipe everything down and we’re good to go!