Traveling, in general, brings out the worst in me. Joanna is the exact same way and it’s the basis of our understanding of one another. So…traveling with kids? Terrifying. 

If you have been following our recent Instastories, you are probably aware that my husband and I took both of our kids back to LA to see their grandparents over the holidays. On this trip, in particular, the following things happened: 

1) The Elf On The Shelf was packed so it could stare down my children during the travel day. Let’s use it while we can, y’all! 

2) I considered recording my voice saying “Yes, yep, cool, yeah, go ahead” so I could sleep or relax in peace 

3) I have successfully trained both Stella and Sutton to only want to sit next to their dad on planes 

But, guess what? We made it and if we can, you can. Here are some kid travel tips, all in the name of surviving not thriving:

TIP #1: 

Buy luggage that your kids can handle themselves. Preferably something that’s not double the size of them and rolls easily. Believe it or not, my kids actually ENJOYED carrying their own things this time around. I chalked it up to the excitement of  independence.

But…it could also be the fact that I bribed them with new suitcases with cool designs if they promised to fend for themselves. Either way works…as long as they don’t roll it on Roberta’s wood floor. 

Dinosaur Spinner Luggage | Pottery Barn Kids

Unicorn Rolling Travel Luggage | Skip Hop

Rainbow Multi Spinner Luggage | Pottery Barn Kids

Dog Rolling Travel Luggage | Skip Hop

TIP #2: 

For moms who don’t have the luxury of enlisting the help of their children, you will need a good travel stroller…with LOTS of storage room. 

Chicco C6 Stroller

Summer Infant 3DLite Stroller

UPPABaby G-Luxe Stroller

Baby Jogger City Mini

TIP #3: 

As far as I’m concerned, the issue of screen time means nothing at 10,000 feet in the air. For educational benefits, I decided to get each of them a Leap Pad. There was absolutely NO buyers remorse with this one, people. It kept them occupied and neither of them asked for my iPad once.

EXTRA TIP: Make sure each device is fully charged ahead of time, just in case. 

LeapPad Ultimate in Pink

LeapPad Ultimate in White

LeapPad Backpack

LeapPad Carrying Case

Clear Activity Lap Desk | The Container Store

If electronics really aren’t your thing, here are a few other travel games that could potentially save your life. BTW…anything magnetic during travel is your best friend. 

Magnetic Crazy Face Game

EZ Desk Travel Activity Kit

Magnetic Bingo Game

Dress-Up Sticker Activity Book

TIP #4: 

Since it would be a long travel day, I decided neck pillows for the kids would be a good idea. I just didn’t anticipate the fact that they would DROP THEM EVERY CHANCE THEY COULD. As someone who is insane about germs, it almost put me over the edge. Luckily, I found kids travel pillows that clip to their bags and have their own carrying case. 

Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow with Clip

For all other germ or mess-induced terror, pack these: 

Seventh Generation Wipes

World’s Smallest Vacuum (Joanna’s discovery and it charges via USB)

TIP #5:

There is one major similarity between kids and adults: we all like snacks. Trust me, cheddar bunnies help me when I’m stressed too. Pack enough for the whole army so you don’t have to lie to your kids that you ate the last handful (UNLESS a viral video and a spot on The Ellen Show is involved.)

To keep your mess to a minimum, buy bite sized packs or snack dispensers that are practically impossible to spill. Yes, they are a thing and I’m grateful for that. 

Cheddar Bunny Snack Packs

Mini Almond Butter and Cheese Crackers

Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

Earth’s Best Strawberry Snack Bars

ZoLi On-The-Go Snack Dispenser

Munchkin Snack Catchers

(BTW… I’ve decided to nix the idea of packing lollipops to help with in-flight ear pressure. They have turned Sutton’s hand and arm into a fully shellacked cast not unlike Iron Man’s. Do yourself a favor and stick to the bite sized snacks above. They provide the same benefit and less of a sticky mess.) 

TIP #6: 

NEVER assume that there won’t be a delay. Also, NEVER assume that one of your potty-trained kids will always make it to the bathroom in time. To be safe, pack your carry on bag like you are practically moving into the airport. I’m talking extra underwear, clothing, pajamas, etc. In other words, you don’t want the only option of clean clothing for your child to be an overpriced tourist t-shirt from Hudson News.

To ensure everything fits, go for carry-on luggage with easy to find compartments. Whether it’s a bag you strap on your back or something that rolls behind you, the choice is up to you. 

For everything you deem the most important (medicines, wipes, clean underwear), utilize packing squares and labeling to make it even easier. 

20-Inch Roller Carry-On | Calpak

Expandable Travel Bag | Longchamp

5-Piece Packing Cube Set | Calpak

Borealis Backpack | The North Face

TIP #7: 

This phrase feels foreign as I type it but…STAY POSITIVE. Do whatever you can to make it seem like a fun adventure. I’m not above acting like there are surprises around every corner…even if that surprise is getting in a rental car shuttle. 

And, if all else fails? Queue up episodes of Paw Patrol on repeat and order that extra glass of champagne (or tea). Whatever helps. 

 Xo Clea + Joanna 

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  1. The best advice I ever got from my OBGYN when I was pregnant with baby #1 was "Always have your husband bring your children onto the plane. When the passengers and flight attendants see that they will think, ‘Aw, what a good dad! How can we help?’ If you bring the baby on the plane they will look at you like, ‘That kid better not throw a tantrum at 35,000 feet…’" It’s 9 years and two kids later and I am here to tell you: WORKS EVERY TIME.

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