Traveling with kids often means traveling with A LOT of stuff and A LOT of stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way and it certainly doesn’t have to be overwhelming! We travel as a family often which means we’ve “trial-ed and error-ed” many different things. From having a small suitcase for each kid to ways we keep our kids entertained on long flights or drives (and everything in between) I hope these tips help you find simplicity in traveling with your kids!
At the end of the day, family trips are FUN and are meant to bring your family closer together. You can easily make this a terrible trip or you can make it the best experience! It is up to you - you are the parent. Your kids need grace. You need grace. Relax. Breathe. And try to have fun!
In This Episode Allie Discusses:
Her pro-packing tips and how to simplify the amount of clothes you pack.
Ways to keep your family entertained on road trips or long flights (her family plays this fun game called, The Post It Note Goal Game!)
Advice for traveling with babies and toddlers - this is no easy task! But you can do it.
Why you should keep family trips FUN! How you roll with the punches will teach your kids how to roll with the punches.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Want an easy step by step guide to have with you as you pack for your next family trip? I got you! I created a pdf that's free and easy to download!
This guide has all the tips on it and breaks them down so you pull it out when you're packing, you're getting ready to go on a road trip, or take a flight with your family. Whatever your travel looks like this summer, I hope this guide makes it easier for you!
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hey, beautiful friends! Before we dive into this episode, I want to let you know it is loaded with Brian and mine's top tips for traveling, especially with your kids.
We have done all different types of travel. We're going to get all into that. Because it's so loaded with tips, I figured you might want the ability to print this out and put it somewhere. We created a pdf that's free that goes along with this episode that you can download. Basically, if you print it out it's got all the tips on it so that you can print it out, put it aside, and pull it out when you're packing for your trip, you're getting ready to go on a road trip, or take a flight with your family, whatever your travel looks like this summer.
I wanted to make this as helpful as possible and I knew that having a printout is going to be a lot easier than relistening to an episode that you knew was helpful, but you can't really remember everything that I said. This way you can listen and enjoy the episode and you don't have to feel the need to take notes. But you will want to listen to the episode still because I elaborate on these tips and give you a lot of audible help with this.
The pdf is broken down and don't forget, these are the tips that make you're traveling a lot easier. To get that free pdf, go to alliecasazza.com/shownotes/107.
Hey, beautiful friends! Okay, so we are diving in today to a super, super practical episode. This isn't really the type of thing I normally discuss here on The Purpose Show, but this question has been asked over and over and over again.
I am someone who travels often for work and for fun, and most of the time I have my family with me. The six of us have taken quite a few trips, both flights and road trips, short and long, near and far, over the years. Brian and I have learned a lot about traveling with our kids at different various ages and stages of life. I'm sharing my top tips for traveling with kids from how to pack, to road-tripping, flying, how we approach traveling with our kids, where our expectations are at and all of that good stuff. So, let's dive in!
One of the questions that I get asked more than anything is how to pack when you're traveling with your kids.
For us, one super simple, straightforward answer, something that we have learned is the best way to go, is we give each of our kids their own suitcase. Our oldest is 10, so at this phase of our kids' lives, they have one of those ‘kid’ suitcases. You can get them at Target or wherever. None of them have a full-sized suitcase, just one of the little kids’ suitcases. Bella has got this one that has little owls on it from Target. The boys picked Minecraft, Mario, and Legos. They have their own themed suitcase that they've chosen. So each kid gets their own suitcase.
The reason that I like doing this versus packing one big suitcase for all the kids’ stuff is that it keeps things organized. It's cleaner, it's more organized. It's easier for each kid to know where their stuff is and not go sifting through an entire suitcase full of all their sibling’s stuff and making it super disheveled, messy and impossible to find anything. It's much easier to have them each have their own suitcase that they carry. They drag it on the wheels through the airport by themselves. They're responsible for their suitcase. Obviously, we don't want them to lose it, so we're looking backwards and watching them, but they drag their own suitcase. They've got their own stuff in their own suitcase.
If you've got super, super littles that cannot carry their own suitcase, maybe that is a better season for having one suitcase for your really, really small kids, like if they're babies or really young toddlers. Otherwise, I think it's best to have each kid get their own suitcase.
I have tried it all different ways and I think that this is the best way. It's much simpler and all the space is assigned to each kid so it's way less messy. It might seem like it's overwhelming and it's like a lot of suitcases, but that it is so much better than having one totally ripped apart, messy suitcase with everybody's stuff thrown in. As organized as it looks when you first began to pack it is not going to stay that way. It's just a fact of life. I have found that my preference is by far to have a suitcase for each kid.
In terms of packing and keeping it minimal for each kid, I think that packing is kind of overwhelming sometimes. It is just different than the way that you live at home where kids have drawers. It's just different when you're packing.
You have to prepare for certain circumstances that you wouldn't normally have to think about day-to-day because you're at your home with all of your stuff. But when you're leaving you only have what you packed. I think that's where the urge to overpack comes in. I definitely understand that, feel that and have to fight that every single time I pack.
The way that I choose to pack for my kids is I go by their age and where they're at at the time of our trips. When I was traveling with a baby or really young toddler, 2 and under, I obviously needed to pack more changes of clothes because at that age, kids have diapers that leak, they have accidents on themselves, they spill way more often, they trip and fall and get really messy and muddy way more often. It's just a different season of life.
So absolutely bring a few changes of clothes. Maybe that'll be one extra clothes outfit per day. Maybe it'll be three extra outfits for a week trip and you're guessing that some days you'll need the extra outfit and some days you won't. You can gauge that by how your kid usually is at home and how long your trip is. If are you going somewhere that you can do the laundry, use that to your packing advantage. It is always better to pack less. If there's any circumstance in your trip that will allow you to pack less stuff, take advantage of that. It is better to do a load of laundry on your vacation than to pack extra stuff and not have to do any laundry. Believe me, it is always better to pack lighter. In any way you can - pack lighter.
Now that my kids are a little bit older, I just pack according to their age. I don't really need to bring everybody an extra pair of clothes for each day because my kids don't need that. They stay in their outfit for the whole day pretty much. On the rare occasion when something happens, we'll deal with that as needed. But pretty much I just bring one outfit per day. Maybe I'll bring a spare or two if the trip is really long, or I'm unsure about the weather, or unsure about the dress code for a certain event we’re going to, but pretty much it's one outfit per day. I don't even bring multiple pairs of pants. It’s one per day.
For a week trip it's two pairs of jeans and you can rewear them and deal with that because again, my goal is always to pack the least amount possible, especially for my kids. They are simple, they just need less. Let them be your reason to have less stuff to carry, pack as little as possible. Use any single thing you can about your trip or where you're going to your advantage in terms of packing less stuff and bringing less with you in the car or on the plane.
Typically, if we are going somewhere for a week, which is usually the average length of our trip, I will pack two pairs of jeans for my kids. I will pack maybe a shirt per day if I'm not going to do laundry. If I am going to do laundry then I'll bring three or four shirts and then two pairs of shoes and socks for each day. Of course, underwear for each day. That's about what I would bring.
It totally depends on the trip. It depends on when we're going. It depends on what type of stay we're having. It depends on what I am and not be able to do while on that trip in terms of laundry. What are we doing? Is this a super active trip? What's going on? It all depends.
I hope that helps. It’s hard not to be super specific, but I don't know what size your family is and I don't know how your kids are. I don't know how you are. I don't know where you're going. I don't know for how long and all of that stuff. Make it relative to all of those things. That is what I do. I hope that having one suitcase per kid and all those specifications has helped answer some of the things you've been wondering.
Let's talk about how to keep your kids entertained on road trips. I'm a pro at this. This is where it serves you really well to limit toys, constant entertainment, your kids being entitled to being entertained all the time, and technology in your normal day-to-day at home life. Your kids will be cool to just sit and chill on drives if they're not entitled to constantly being entertained and having constant fun.
When, and if, you do bring out the technology on a road trip, it'll be such a treat that it'll actually serve its purpose and help you have a more peaceful road trip rather than that technology coming out being the norm and your kids are totally used to it when you really need it to help, but it's not going to cause your kids are going to be used to it. They're still going to complain, whine, bicker, and be less ‘all in’ in on the technology that’s in front of them.
Having said that…when we take road trips…I'm talking about really long road trips, we have road-tripped across country multiple times. We have road-tripped from the middle of the country to southern California and back multiple, multiple times. What we did was every kid got their own little bag of stuff for the trip. It's also stuff that can be used and played with while we are where we're going, where we're road-tripping to. It's not just for the drive.
Examples of some things are small little toys and activities like hot wheels, coloring books and all-in-one art activities. The kinds of things like a pad with a special pen. It’s a magnetic pen and the pen is attached to the pad and the kid can erase and draw on the same pad the entire time. It's not like consumable papers and colored pencils everywhere. Those sort of all-in-one activities are really road trip friendly and they're really great for kids who don't get carsick. Also there are car games that you can get at Target or Walmart or wherever and they are literally for road trips. But just make sure that you know that your kids don't get carsick. We have one kid who gets carsick very easily so he doesn't get those kinds of things. He just has to figure it out and look straight ahead out the window, not get dizzy or woozy, and not look down at a coloring book. But our other kids can totally handle it and it's awesome.
Obviously, music and audio books or audio stories.
If you want to take it a step further, you could get your kids each a set of headphones and an iPad or a tablet or something to use to help break up sibling rivalry. It is only natural that they get sick of each other and bicker while you drive. It's just going to happen a little bit. It's okay. But there are things that you could do if you have the means or if you have two sets of headphones and only two kids and not four kids like I do, it's much easier to do that.
Brian and I sat down and we were talking about this before when I was outlining my main points I wanted to share with you for this episode and we both agreed that one of our biggest tips is saving the good stuff until as late in the road trip as possible. The very end if at all possible.
If you have something like the Nintendo switch or a game system or you have a TV in your car, don't pull those things out, don't turn them on until as late in the game as humanly possible. If you bring it out too early, it just doesn't serve you. It's not worth it. Save the good stuff for as late as possible in the road trip.
The other tip that…we were both like, “Oh my gosh, remember that? That worked so well,” is this thing that we found out worked really well. We called it the Post-it Note Goal Game. Super lame name. I don't even know what the name is, but basically Brian and I had a small little bag of goodies. We try to stay away from candy cause we didn't want the kids to have a sugar rush. I try not to give my kids candy anyway, but just little things like an organic cracker/cookie snack, something that wasn't getting them all hopped up, but that was exciting to them. Or a little tiny, really cheap disposable toy that would keep them entertained for a few minutes. Whatever, something like that. You know those little sticky hands you can stick to the ceiling? Things like that. They're silly, cheap and easy, and just for the road trip as prizes.
We would write a time on a post-it note and would make it an hour or two ahead of time depending on our kids' ages. We would put the post-it note on the front of the radio or the rear view mirror, somewhere up front of the car where everybody could see it. And we would say, “Okay, if you guys can be super good, whoever is super, super good until the clock says this time will get a prize. If the post-it note said 11:30 then when the clock on the car matched the time on that post-it note whoever was super good would get a little prize out of the prize bag. A hot wheel or a sticky hand or a little organic treat, something like that and it worked so well. The kids did really, really well with a goal in mind.
Don't make it too far ahead. We found that 2 hours was the max for our kids. I would do one hour or so and see how that goes. You can do more or less as your kids’ age needs it. Those are just little things that really helped us.
Have a trash bag, a dedicated trash bag in the car and try to clean as you go. It's kind of like cooking. Clean as you go. Dispose of wrappers, water bottles and things like that that come up while you're driving as often as you can as you go.
Every time we stopped for gas, we would do a quick cleanup haul. We would make everybody get out and go to the bathroom. It was a must-do, so we didn't really ever have to like, “Oh my gosh, somebody has to go the bathroom, stop, pull over.” Because every time that we got gas we made everybody get out and go to the bathroom. It took an extra five minutes but it was helpful in the end. It saved us time and frustration and it kept our car cleaned out because we were in there for so long, you know, we wanted to enjoy being in there as much as possible.
Okay friends. So, I know this episode is all about traveling with your kids, but I wanted to share something with you. I just came back from a trip to the Scott Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. This resort has been on my vision board for about six months, so it was a meaningful trip to me. It's a beautiful place. It was one of those places that exudes luxury and basically no matter what you're doing there, you feel like a queen. I went there for three days just to get a break from the norm. You guys know I'm all about self-care that's realistic and works for you and your regular typical life.
You guys know that I have all those tips about self-care that when your kids are still with you when you're at your house and you're taking care of yourself in small, little, bite-size ways, but I do think that there's something to be said for the occasional trip away, whether it's a day trip or an actual trip that's more than one day or even just a trip to the coffee shop for an afternoon or something.
I realized that I needed some space away from the noise and the normalcies of life at my house. I homeschool my kids at my house. I run my business from my house. Sometimes it just gets a little convoluted there and it helps me so much to once a year, get away alone, bring my laptop with me, go somewhere refreshing and just reflect about my business and where I'm at in my business. Where I'm at in my personal life. And just get a little distance and quiet.
And that is what I did at the Scott Resort. I chose to go there for this particular yearly getaway and it was so restorative. I loved it so much. I reached out to them and decided to do a partnership. I want to tell you if you're looking for a solo trip or a couple's trip with your spouse, or a girls’ getaway, this is the place to go. And they are so amazing. They've offered to give 10% off your stay if you use the code PURPOSESHOW at checkout.
So, go to the link in my show notes, alliecasazza.com/shownotes/107 and check it out. There's photos on there of the trip and the resort.
Their food, their restaurants are amazing. Some of you guys know I'm going through some major health stuff and their chefs were super accommodating. They were really sensitive to me and what I needed them to cook with. I was able to just relax and breathe, take a break from all the food prep, parenting, homeschooling, and working in my little office. It was a really, really great time.
I want to encourage you moms if you've been thinking that you really just need to get away for a second, that you just need a little bit of space and it's in your budget, I would encourage you to check out this resort. And Arizona is so beautiful. It’s such a quiet, inspirational place to go. I highly, highly encourage it.
Go to the show notes. Use the code the PURPOSESHOW at checkout for 10% off your stay at The Scott. They are so amazing! So accommodating. Such a refreshing space.
Let's talk about flying with babies and toddlers because it’s super hard. Flying with kids, as they get older, it gets easier. They're just more chill, they're easier to get entertained, they just kind of talk to each other. It's much easier. But flying with babies and toddlers is much more difficult.
I found that flying during bedtime, when I had babies and really young toddlers, is helpful because they will usually sleep but obviously that's not guaranteed. I know because of doing Q & A's that that is something I get asked all the time, like, “Is that a thing? I'm thinking that might work but should I risk it and buy the flight that's a red eye flight that is during my kids' bedtime and overnight or will it just be a nightmare?” And you know, there really is no way to know. You have to just try it.
But we found that the best flights we had were overnight flights. When we did red eye, we saved money and the kids were tired. We would give them natural calming aids. When they got a little older we could give them a little bit of Melatonin. But when they were babies…calming aides that are natural, like lavender oil or if you have toddlers, you could do Calmify which you can get on Amazon, which is a natural calming, anti-anxiety aid for little kids. They would just usually go to sleep.
We had one pretty rough flight where the baby's ears were popping and he was just freaking out. Sometimes it just is what it is. I don't think that your goal should be perfection. We'll talk about that more in a minute. I don't think your goal here is to have a perfect flight. I think it is just to learn, try things and see what works for you, and to be prepared for the worst. If you're prepared for the worst, there really is no anxiety there.
With flights, the same tips as road tripping in terms of entertainment for toddlers and kids who are a little older - try to limit it so that when you actually pull it out and you give your toddler an ipad to watch Peppa Pig or whatever it is, it's exciting and it's new and it's not the norm.
If you don't live a life with less entertainment and tech normally at home and you do overdo it all the time, I would at least consider taking a break for 30 days or so before your trip because most of the time, these trips, we know we're going to be doing them. Especially with toddlers, it'll help your kids be content and busy while you travel, especially if your trip is cross country or super long. Then when you do finally bring out that technology help, it's exciting and they're more engaged with it and it's actually serving its purpose and helping you a little bit.
I would do that. We'd do a 30-day break for Bella and then we would get on the plane and I'd be giving Leland a bottle and letting Bella watch the tablet for a minute. And she was super engaged because she hadn't had any technology in so long and she was really excited. It actually served its purpose and helped me because it wasn't the norm. It wasn't boring and pointless, if that makes sense.
This is pretty common knowledge, but I do want to mention breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby at the time of takeoff and landing to help with their ears popping and that ear pain, giving your toddlers and kids gum. Emmett freaks out when his ears pop on a plane. And it's been really embarrassing. We've had so many flights where he's just screaming. Sometimes they're just freaked out. It is what it is and you’ve just got to comfort them and be there for them.
But one time he freaked out so bad that his ears were popping. He was crying so hard, he made himself throw up. It was so embarrassing. It was so loud. I felt so bad for Emmett. It was just really hard. And so, from that trip we learned to give him a big piece or even two big pieces of Bubble Yum gum, which is terrible and loaded with sugar, but so be it when your kid has cried so hard from his ears popping that he's vomited. It’s a huge piece of gum and it makes them open up their mouths really big and wide with each chew and it really helped with his ears. We do that every time we're taking off or landing now for Emmett, specifically. Until he gets older, that's what we'll do.
And then one tip for traveling in general and making sure you've got everybody, making sure everyone has their suitcase, making sure everyone's taken care of, is divide and conquer your kids. Brian takes two. I take two. We split them up. We assign them ahead of time and then we switch groups of kids on the flight home, so it's not like one person is stuck with the youngest and most difficult flyers on the way there and the way home. We split it up. We take turns. We talk about it.
Maybe I'll take Bella and Emmett and he’ll take Hudson and Leland or maybe he'll take Leland and Bella and I'll take Hudson and Emmett. We split up the most difficult ones so that each person has a youngest or most difficult kid. We take turns and we swap. So, he's responsible for those two. He's watching them. He's keeping them happy. He's making sure they're okay. They're safe. They've got their stuff. They're buckled in. He's taking them to the bathroom if they have to go. And then I've got the other two doing all of the same things.
It helps rather than bickering, getting frustrated in your communication on a plane or a road trip. We divide and conquer. It helps so much.
I wanted to give a few quick tips for the kids' behavior when you are at the location that you've been traveling to.
So it's one of those things where…imagine you're traveling somewhere and you're going to a family reunion or you're going to a wedding or an event where these people haven't seen your family in a long time and you know that stress you feel of your kids are going to have a really bad day, their behavior is going to be terrible and they're going to choose today to have a massive meltdown or something. It causes a lot of stress and tension in you as the parent.
I'm not above bribing. I'll do it. But I have found that affirming behavior that was already good goes way further than bribing for future good behavior.
What I mean by that is…example, “Hudson, you were so polite and sweet when Grandpa was talking to you about football. I am so proud of you. Great job buddy.” It makes them want to do more of the thing you're praising them for. Notice your kids’ good behavior as you get to your location. Once you're there, affirm that and they'll want to continue that.
Little toddlers, not so much. This is a really hard phase, and I think that kids need a lot of grace. They've been traveling. They're out of their normal environment. Abnormal kids thrive on routine. And they usually don't have any when you're traveling. It’s really hard. So just be gracious and expect people to give you grace too. Don't let anyone make you feel bad or guilty that your toddler's having a meltdown when you're across the country, when you just finished traveling and they're around a bunch of people they don't know. We can't expect our kids to be amazing and perfect. We need to give them grace.
I have found that little things like that, like encouraging good behavior and being nearer to my kids, letting them know they're safe and loved even though we're somewhere new and they're seeing people that seem to really, really know them that they don't know…that would freak anybody out. So, I give them grace and I stay close to them. I'm there with them and I can listen to them. I'm focusing on what they need, but I also do expect them to cooperate, especially as they get older, and be good. “You guys need to follow the rules. The rules still apply here.” I just have a little extra grace when I know they're tired of traveling, there are strange people around, and we're doing new things and we've got to give them grace for that.
I think one huge thing…remember that you're trying to have fun, assuming that you're traveling for vacation or a family visit somewhere. This is supposed to be fun. So relax. Breathe. You can easily make this a terrible trip. You can easily make this the worst idea you've ever had and it is up to you. Just remember that. You're the parent. Take a deep breath. Our kids need grace. You need grace. Relax. Breathe. Try to have fun.
Try to remember why you're doing this and just roll with it. If you end up inside most of the family party with your toddler who's really temperamental and really struggling to not be at home in her routine, that's okay. You're a mom and you're a great one. You're doing a good job. It's okay. You have to lower your expectations a lot and then lower them even more.
Things are probably not going to go as planned. You probably won't get to do all the things you wanted to do on your trip. You probably won't get to see all the things you wanted to see and talk to all the people you wanted to talk to. It probably won't look much like the idea in your head when you were planning this trip.
Someone might get sick or throw a fit or lose their suitcase. It's okay. It's life and life is what you make it. So remember that.
And also remember that you're an example to your kids of how to handle life's curve balls and things not going your way. Remember that because it's so huge and I know that we're all on the same page that we want to raise good humans. We want to raise kids who handle things well, can roll with the punches, are good examples and they won't be that if we're not that.
I think when all is said and done, remember this is just a trip. Don't think about how much money you spent on the trip and how the kids are ruining in, their attitudes suck and you're super frustrated. Remember that it's just a trip. Remember to be a firm parent and expect a lot of your kids if they're older, but also to give them a lot of grace because kids thrive on routine. You're out of your routine.
Sometimes they just need a little bit of wiggle room and when all is said and done, you're their parent and that's your top priority and that's your job even when you're traveling.
Just remember, lower your expectations. It's not going to be perfect. The best trips that we've had are the ones where our expectations were pretty low and we were just showing up the best way we could, trying to have fun and taking advantage of every spare second, but also letting our kids take naps. If it was nap time and they were tired and we just couldn't go try that cool new restaurant we read about on Yelp, you know, sometimes it just doesn't happen that way. Especially if you do have really little kids.
So as summer comes and you guys have all these trips planned, I hope these trip tips help you take a deep breath, have a sigh of relief, change your perspective a little bit, get a little bit more realistic and a little bit more prepared all at once, and give you happy family travels.
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See ya next time!