Our ohana took our first family vacation last week. I was nervous about taking our 4 month old on his first flight across country. I was even more stressed out about all the baby gear I would have to bring. I felt like I would be packing up our whole house for this family vacation. Traveling in general stresses me out. My husband on the other hand travels all the time so traveling with all of us in tow definitely slows down his usual travel process. In the end it all worked out,our travels were smooth and we all had an amazing vacation together. I thought I’d breakdown all the planning that was happening in my head so that I could remind myself how I did it the first time and hopefully have a few helpful tips for my mom friends that are getting ready to travel for the holidays.
I absolutely loathe packing! I think the super organized part of me hates taking things out of place. Now that I have 2 kids, packing is even more involved. To keep myself organized I place all clothes, toiletries, shoes in their designated spacepaks and “go clean” bags. Years ago I discovered these Flight 001 travel bags when watching Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel. Now it is what I gift to all my family members for their travels. I love that the spacepaks have a side for dirty clothes and clean clothes. Maybe it’s an Asian thing but I absolutely can not stand shoes touching stuff in the suitcase and or dirty clothes touching clean clothes.I put each shoe in separate spacepaks and always separate the dirty from the clean stuff. I had spacepacks for the hubs, myself, my daughter and baby boy. Since we were staying at a family member’s house I knew I could do laundry and not have to pack less. The Dapple laundry sheets were convenient to pack and travel friendly since they are concentrated laundry sheets.
I went back and forth on my decision to take our huge Austlen Entourage stroller. It is marketed as a travel stroller but the stroller is pretty heavy at over 45 pounds with all the accessories. I was worried that it would get damaged in flight especially since Austlen doesn’t offer a stroller bag yet. Despite all that, I decided to take it through the airport and gate check it. I purchased the cheap red “gate check” double stroller bag for under $20 and it did the job of keeping the stroller from getting dirty. I’m so glad we decided to gate check the stroller because it was really nice to be able to wheel both kids and the carry-on luggage (diaper bags and backpacks) through the terminals. Since our stroller was too large to put on the x-ray machine at TSA, I just wheeled it through while I was babywearing my little one. I also brought our car seat through and had that attached on our stroller. We checked in our daughter’s convertible car seat that was in a padded car seat bag with backpack straps.
Luckily our flight was not full. Once we were at the counter gate we were told that we would be able to bring our infant car seat on board and have a seat for the baby. Score on the free seat! Entertaining the 4 month old was easy because all he wanted to do was eat or sleep and breastfeeding makes the eating part even easier. My daughter has traveled twice to the Philippines, a grueling 20+ hours from Chicago, so I have become pretty good at finding ways to keep her entertained in flight. When my daughter was a toddler, I used to gift wrap her toys and pack them in her backpack so she’d keep herself busy just unwrapping toys she already had. Now that she is 5, I came prepared with crayons, coloring books, activity books, magnetic blocks, and of course the iPad. We have a RAVPower filehub to play all the movies we have stored in a flashdrive. I always pack headphones for the little so she can listen to music or watch movies and I also packed noise canceling headphones for baby to help drown out all the noise. Lastly, the most essential thing to bring- lots and lots of snacks for the whole family to make sure no one gets hangry. You just never know if there are flight delays.
This is where the Austlen Entourage stroller really came in to play. The stroller has a 150 pound cargo limit. Baby was strapped into his carseat still while we loaded the suitcases on to the stroller. Walking from baggage claim to our rental car was totally doable with the 2 kids, 2 car seats and 4 suitcases. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard work traveling with kids but I don’t want it to stop us from taking vacations.
We are traveling again next week for Thanksgiving but this time it’s a 5-6 hour roadtrip. Wish us luck!