You’ve been planning this vacation for weeks, months, maybe years. You’re packed, on your way, things couldn’t be going smoother…then it happens…that tiny human in your life decides that all of this isn’t THEIR plan. The meltdown begins.
Here we are on our first big trip with C. Poor B was hauling a giant stroller, our carseat, diaper bag and backpack through the airport, plus we had 2 large suitcases. I was wearing a one year old, my purse and trying to keep everything under control.
We’ve definitely learned a lot of lessons since then and we now travel much smarter and lighter. Each trip is a new experience and we have found some great tricks to make things easier.
Here are the tools you need to keep those meltdowns brief, maintain your sanity and enjoy your vacation!
In the days leading up to your trip, start getting things in order. Create a “To Do” list and run those errands early. Do laundry, pay bills, get your nails done, etc… Whatever you need to get done before leaving, do it days in advance so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Next, get your packing list together. I’ve created the Ultimate Vacation Packing List that covers everything you’ll need while away. You can download it here for free! Here’s what my guest room generally looks like in the days leading up to going on vacation. I have clothes, toiletries and other items (including sleeping cats) all grouped together with my packing list on top. This way I can ensure I have everything I need and avoid any stress before we go.
Invest in a Good Lightweight Stroller
I know the lure of a $20 umbrella stroller is sucking you in, but trust me on this and invest in something a bit nicer. I’m not saying spend a fortune here, but try to find something with at least has these features:
- Easy to maneuver one-handed
- Large basket to carry all-the-things
- Sun canopy, preferably with UV protection
- Washable seat (because…kids)
- One-handed folding ability
- Shoulder strap to carry while folded
My recommendation for a brand is Maclaren. Their strollers, or buggies as they call them, are very high quality and extremely lightweight. We went with the Maclaren Volo because of its mesh seat since we spend a lot of time in the Florida heat. My only issue with this model is that it doesn’t recline, but that’s never stopped C from taking a nap in it, so I guess that’s not a big deal. Even if your child is actively mobile and you rarely use a stroller in your daily life, you will want to bring one with you. Not only does it allow you to keep a closer eye on your child in busy locations like airports, but it will also be a lifesaver in helping you to carry the next few items.
Have New Surprises Up Your Sleeve
Before you leave, make a trip to the Dollar Store and load up on a bunch of new toys, games and books. New things keep kids occupied MUCH longer than the toys they are used to playing with. My favorite things to get are:
- Coloring & Activity Books
- Hot Wheels
Get a bunch of little things so you can use them throughout the trip. If you have a long car ride, give them something new every few hours to break up the boredom. Whip out a new toy car to make a long dinner less mundane for the little one.
Technology is Your Friend
Sometimes those new toys loose their luster and you’ve just got to bring out the big guns.
If you have the means to give your child a tablet for your trip, it’s well worth it. This sucker has saved my sanity on more occasions than I can count. I know…too much screen time blah blah blah…I get it, but I also need to get through certain occasions without a screaming child.
Oh and make sure to protect your devices from inevitably being dropped. This case that C has in the photo is super durable and has a great handle that doubles as a stand.
If you think you have enough snacks packed, pack a few more. The last thing in the world you want is to be stuck somewhere with nothing to eat or drink for an irate little one. The best thing you can do is pack your own, especially if you have picky eaters.
Having things you KNOW your kids like will save you when you’re at a restaurant with nothing on the menu for them. Plus, it’s always good to have things on hand when you’re on a plane since snacks are scarce these days when it comes to air travel.
I like to bring baby food, fruit & veggie pouches, puffs and crackers. If you haven’t tried the Ella’s Kitchen Nibbly Fingers, go get them! They are the perfect individually wrapped snack and they are loaded with fruits and veggies.
Just Go With The Flow
No matter how hard you try to make sure all your bases are covered, chances are something will throw a wrench in your plans and the best thing you can do is to just go with the flow. Don’t be disappointed if you have to spend a whole day in a hotel room because of a sick kid, or if a storm rains out your beach day, or if you miss that dinner you were so looking forward to. Even those times that seem tough in the moment can bring great memories. Keep your sense of humor and remember to live in the present. You’ll look back one day and be grateful you had that time with your family, even if it wasn’t exactly what you had planned.
Getting ready to plan your next vacation? Good news, I’m a Personal Travel Planner and my passion is to bring joy to people through travel!
Contact me for a FREE no-obligation quote to the destination you’ve been dreaming of. I am an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, a Certified Universal Vacation Planner, and have extensive experience traveling along the East Coast, along with various other locations across the country and in Europe. I specialize in working with families, couples, honeymooners, foodies, runners and girls’ getaways. Let’s get started!