It’s been over a month since we had our family vacation in South Carolina & Knox is still talking about this beautiful beach, jellyfish, seashells, + of course our friends that joined us! This solidifies how successful the trip was in our 3 year old’s world & hopefully will be a lifetime memory for him. And this just solidifies that all the effort & preparation for the trip sure was worth it in mama’s world. Our family is far from professional travelers but our trip was such a success, I thought I’d share what worked for us traveling with two busy toddlers.
- First & foremost: keep expectations low!
Keep in mind: you are traveling with little people who strive for routine and have a tough time with change! With that being said, a time change, different bed, or maybe having to share toys with more kids is tough on their little brains. As a parent, understand there will be meltdowns and the trip will probably have a hiccup or two. Try to keep their naps on regular schedule, prepare your little ones for what’s to come each day, and just stay relaxed. Embrace all the chaos and don’t forget to laugh about it when you get a minute.
2. The airplane ride: be PREPARED!
As for the plane ride, bring something “tried + true” AND something brand new for each toddler! Our “tried & true” was Knox’s tablet, a coloring book, & his favorite trucks. Our something brand new was Whoa Dough (a better version of play doh that my kids had never played with). Don’t let them open the new toy/item until you get on the plane! Also- snacks, snack, snacks! Bring all the snacks you can fit into your bags. Between the airport, airplane, & car rides to & from the airport, snacks kept my kids occupied while waiting anywhere. As for take off, make sure to pack a sucker for older toddlers or have a paci, bottle, or a snack ready for younger toddlers.
3. Rent a *family friendly* house
Keyword here is family friendly! Our South Carolina house was fully stocked with kid + baby items, including plasticware, Pack + Plays, kid cups, toys, high chairs, baby gate, & so much more, which truly made life a heck of a lot easier for us all. When you arrive, you can always go around and “baby proof” the place by putting away anything that could break/unsafe or rearrange furniture to make it more kid friendly. Our Isle of Palms Family Friendly house can be found here- http://www.carolinaelegance.com The owners were so easy to worth with! I highly recommend.
4- Masks & Pacifier Clips
If masks are needed, use a pacifier clip for the kids’ masks so they don’t fall off/get lost. Pack an extra mask in their carry-on just in case!
5- Order any necessities in advance
Amazon anything you need to the house/location before you arrive. Some items are just not worth the hassle of packing so we amazon’d the kids’ puddle jumper life jackets & an extra Pack + Play, which took off a lot of stress when packing. You can always leave these items at the house (make sure it’s okay with the owner) or squeeze them into your luggage on the way home.
We also scheduled a delivery of groceries, diapers, sunscreen, wipes, beach towels & anything else we needed to arrive the day we got there. Nobody wants to spend their first day of vacation grocery shopping for the week. We did a Shipt order using Wal-Mart to deliver our items.
6- Rent a car with car seats
Rent a car with car seats- ‘nough said! If that’s not an option, make sure to bring a car seat/stroller bag to put your car seats in for the plane ride. Many airlines you can purchase these stroller bags on the spot (like Southwest). We actually did NOT rent car seats, (because we didn’t rent a car) but it would have made things much easier.
7- Separate your little one from your room (if you can!)
If your little one doesn’t have a room of their own, put the pack + play or crib in a room separate from your room (laundry room or bathroom work just fine). Mack slept in the laundry room & it was perfectly quiet & dark.
8- Reusable Water Bottles
Bring a water thermostat or reusable water bottle for each child & have your kids use it the entire trip. Write their name on it to make it easy to keep track of & bring it with everywhere. It was just nice that they weren’t dirtying up 10 cups a day, like my boys do at home.
9- A Smooth Sleep Situation
Bring all the things you use at home to make your sleep situation as normal and smooth as possible! White noise machine, sleep sack, pacifier, sheets for pack & play, blankie, bottle, a few favorite books & follow the same routine you follow at home. I laid with Knox (my 3 yo) the first couple nights to make sure he fell alseep and wasn’t in & out of bed. If your babe is used to black out curtains at home, order or bring black garbage bags to tape in your windows. If you don’t feel like packing your white noise machine, you can always find an app on your phone that plays white noise as well.
10- Take pictures!
Take pictures & make sure you (yes, you!) are in them! Family vacations are a time of making memories and you’ve got to document yourself in these memories. Bring a camera tripod to take pictures of your family, or ask strangers to take pictures (I’ve NEVER had anyone say no, haha!) I brought my nice camera and had someone walking on the beach take this one below. Not bad, huh?
Again, we are far from professional travelers but our trip was such a success, so I thought I’d share a few things that made it so great. As some of you know, traveling with toddlers is not an easy task, but keep your eye on the prize: the memories made & it’ll all be worth it. Hope this helps! Happy & safe traveling!