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Friday, July 7, 2017

{7qt} tips for traveling as a family

Tomorrow we embark on another family vacation...this time to Colorado. We are flying to Denver, spending a few days there then driving down to Colorado Springs where we will meet my family {who are driving up from TX in an RV} and spend a week there. Should be loads of fun!
Now while we are not professional travelers at all, I have learned a thing or two about traveling with a family and being that we are about to take our 4th big family trip {not counting about 5 TX beach trips} I thought I would share what I've learned through experience 😊

1. PLAN PLAN PLAN!
Now this one might seem obvious but y'all I can't tell you how many families I talk to that don't plan and then find themselves so unprepared once they get to their destination. I spend about a month or more choosing a family friendly destination and then about another month or more planning what to do. My fav spot to research is of course Pinterest. I have found all most valuable information there. I literally sit down days before the trip and type our an itinerary for each day. This has been life saving! It's alot of work but I cannot stress how handy it is. Every vacation we've been on we have seen everything we wanted too. Not only that but we get to spend a good amount of time seeing what we want and not just speeding through because we are making up for lost time. The kids also love it because they know what's coming next and that's the biggest lesson I've learned from traveling...kids like {and need} some kind of structure. At least mine do. When they know what to expect and what's going on they are happy and happy kids lead to happy parents 👍

2. EVERYONE GETS A SUITCASE THEY CAN PULL AND CARRY
Our last trip to California started off with the wheel breaking off our big suitcase so Cameron had to carry it. THAT.WAS.AWFUL. Even worse was I had always thought the less suitcases the better so we only packed 2 really big, heavy suitcases...none of which the boys could carry or even pull. Therefore I was pulling a heavy suitcase and big bag, Cam was carrying a heavy suitcase and big bag which left the boys to push Milly in the stroller. Let's just say it didn't work out too well. The trip before that one we went skiing in New Mexico where again, the suitcases were too heavy for even the boys to pull which left Cam and I doing all the grunt work. And don't even get me started on trying to wrangle everyone's clothes all mixed together. LESSON LEARNED. I remember sitting at the airport in California thinking there had to be an easier way. So I ordered each of the boys a carry on size suitcase that they can pull and carry. All their stuff is in their own suitcase. Milly and I will share a big suitcase and then Cameron has a medium size for himself. That's it! No extra bags, no need for multiple giant suitcases, just the minimum for a family of 5. This way, Cam can handle both of our suitcases while I push Milly in the stroller and the boys each have theirs that they can easily handle. I really don't see how this plan will fail ✌

3. PACK CARRY ON BACKPACKS FOR THE KIDS
Again, make sure it's a backpack your child is comfortable carrying on their back for long walks through airports. Things I make sure my kids have are:

1. snacks 
they always get hungry as soon as we sit on the plane...always
2. an empty water bottle 
We learned pretty quickly that buying bottle water for everyone can really eat up your traveling budget. Also airports have filtered water taps where you can just fill up as soon as you get through security.
3. Word search and coloring books for the boys and sticker and coloring books for Milly. 
4. Ipads with movies downloaded from Netflix. 
Thank you Netflix for free downloadable movies that don't need Wifi. LIFESAVER!
5. Ear buds or Headphones
6. Small Blanket
My kids are always cold on the plane or in the airport
7. Hoodie or Pullover
see reason above

Other then that I let them add a few extra things they might want but our goal is to keep it light so no one complains about carrying it.

4. MAKE ID TAGS FOR KIDS
I started this tradition at Disney and have used it on every other trip. All my kids wear an ID Tag with their name, my and Cam's name and both our cell phone numbers. The boys use to wear a necklace but this year we are just doing tape on the inside of their shirts. They know our info but you never know how kids are going to feel if they get lost and are upset. Milly will have a necklace or bracelet.

5. ALWAYS RENT A CAR & CARSEAT
Another lesson we learned the hard way 😉 In New Mexico we took Milly's carseat only to have all our luggage rained on and her car seat soaking wet. When we went to California we decided to save ourselves the trouble of lugging it around and just rented one...brilliant!
As for the rent car when we went to San Francisco everything I read said to just use public transportation because how bad parking was. Well that worked for us a whole 30 minutes when we walked all the way to a train station to have just missed the train. So we had to go back to the hotel and then realized that using public transportation everywhere was going to be the same cost as just renting a car. AND...parking wasn't even bad! Which brings me to my next tip...

6. USE THE MAPS APP
This app has been a lifesaver for us. In SF we used it to find parking lots. EASY PEASY! We also use it for restaurants, which is one thing I don't plan. When we decide we want to eat we just go to the maps app, it gets our location and then we search restaurants. All the ones nearby pop up and from there you can see reviews and menus. It's really crazy how easy it is. And of course we use it to find all the sites we are seeing. Before we even leave town I use to plan our day seeing how far things are from each other and the best plan of action to take for seeing everything we want to. 

My last tip when traveling with kids is...

7. RELAX!
I can't tell you how many times we've had things go wrong that we could have freaked out about, fought about and let ruin our trip but we just chose not too. 

Like the time in NM when our luggage came through the belt and the airport so wet it was dripping with water.
Or the time our flights were delayed 5 hours!
Or the time our stroller broke as we were starting our day of walking in SF.
Or the time we walked the way too long walk to Disneyland only to find out we could have saved about 20 minutes off our walk using another route
Or the time we were at the train station in SF under a bridge with some really shady people around us.
Or the time Cam had to get a man at the hotel in SF to drive him back to the airport to get us a rent car. 
Or the time Cam got so sick snow skiing that he spent most of the day in the medics office.
Or the time Asher dropped Cam's brand new iphone and cracked the side {maybe some freak out happened with that one 😂}
Or the time I forgot to buy Alcatraz tickets only to find out they were sold out the whole time we were in SF {we ended up going thanks to stand by}
Or the time when we got stuck in LA traffic so bad that we almost missed our flight only to get to the gate to find out it was delayed 2 hours.

Each of these times {and there were plenty more} we could have let ruin our vacation. but we didn't because in the end we are SO lucky to even get to go on vacation as a family. Even my Type A super non patient husband chooses relaxing and not freaking out over freaking out when we are on vacation 😉😂 The memories we've made with our kids are priceless. They absolutely love to travel and have become such great travelers. They always ask and look forward to our next adventure together and even help plan the trips. 

Nobody says it better then The Cranberries {for all you 90s kids out there}

These are the days...to remember 























Linking up with Kelly!

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