Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The 10 best (and realistic) tips for traveling with tiny monsters

Hullo. Moriya here. Please do not be alarmed at my nonchalant reference to my children being monsters. I realize for some of you this may be alarming, but if you've hung around Olive & Clyde long enough I can assume you are not faint of heart. I love my kids more than I love french fries. And that's a lot, folks. But I'm just not going to sugar coat things for you: traveling with kids ain't easy.

Preparing for our recent vacation was a time-intensive adventure in and of itself. My husband and I loaded up our CR-V with an Ikea bag full of sand toys, a not-as-portable-as-advertised crib (a Pack-n-Pinch Your Finger, as I like to call them), a first aid kit complete with Monsters, Inc. bandaids, and about one million other essentials. Including our 2 year old daughter and 4 month old son.

My daughter, looking pleasant. Don't be fooled - this was hour one.

Our 5.5 hour drive to a little town off the MI coast of Lake Huron may have taken us 8 hours, but it was a much needed week-long, beach house vacation with some good friends of ours. It also marked a big check off our long list of life experiences: First Vacation with The Kids. I say "The Kids" as if it were a daunting exercise. And it most certainly was.

We arrived to this sunset and the super fun car ride faded into a distant memory.

The vacation was wonderful, my kids were (mostly) well-behaved, and we are so very lucky to have laid-back friends who had us laughing for the 7 days we were together. (Not to mention their super laid-back and adorable 7 month old baby, who makes my kids look like they eat pixie sticks for breakfast.)

She looks so not-demanding from a distance.

Baby Wearing Bocce Ball - oh how times have changed.

This view is worth ALL the poopy diapers.

I did a fair amount of research on how to travel with small children, to gain as many helpful tips as I could. One particular topic I did a quick search on was age appropriate car snacks and I SHIT YOU NOT this was an ACTUAL piece of advice.

**Record scratch** Since when is ANY member of the berry family a snack that's easy to pack and travel with? I can't even wash a damn pack of raspberries without slaughtering them all over my colander, not to mention the BRIGHT RED hue stained into every single item of kid clothing.

Listen up Gwyneth. High five to you and your toddler who love to snack on broccoli. You enjoy those apple slices from your purse.

Top 10 best tips for traveling with kids (for real moms)

  1. Movies I seriously can't say that enough. Movies movies movies. We loaded a few of her favorites onto our iPad – she watched Frozen on repeat.
  2. Car-Friendly Toys I bought Tagu blocks and they were perfect for the car. They are magnetized and actually fairly strong. It's nearly impossible for her to lose pieces, and she enjoyed "clacking" them together. They kept her occupied for about 7 minutes, which is a lifetime in Toddler Time!
  3. Limit Fluids There were definitely moments I wished my toddler was still in diapers. To keep potty breaks to a minimum, we kept the drinks up front with us and only gave her a few sips to wet her whistle while snacking.
  4. Snacks Snacks kept her mouth busy so there was less room for whining and crying. I prepackaged them in snack baggies and could throw one at her every time she got whiny. Some favorites (non-messy and easy to eat) were veggie puff-stick thingies, goldfish, little boxes of raisins, gummy snacks, and little graham cracker bunnies.
  5. Shorter Pit Stops On the way up we made the mistake of taking a little over an hour for our first stop. I thought the extra time out of the car seat would help, but all it did was make the drive much longer. We shaved an hour off our drive on the way back by taking shorter pit stops, and she didn't seem to notice the decrease in out-of-car time.
  6. Car-friendly Crafts My girl loves to color, but there was no chance I was letting her have markers or crayons in the car. Homie don't play that. I got a MagnaDoodle, and she was surprisingly occupied. Maybe 9 minutes.
  7. Feed That Baby in the Car Don't stamp and address that hate mail yet. Our little dude is a champ with the bottle and has never been a big burp-er. He didn't bat an eye at the whole carseat-bottle-drinking thing. Every baby is different, so asses your individual situation and decide for yourself if this works for you. *Disclaimer: Olive & Clyde is not responsible for angry mobs and/or injuries as a result of this advice.
  8. Washer / Dryer Access When possible, rent a place with a washer and dryer. With three kids we were doing a load of laundry every single day. And HO-LY smokes was it helpful. It helps to lighten your suitcase, too, because you can wash and re-wear.
  9. New Toys I went to the dollar store and picked out a handful of cheap toys for our gal to play with if we needed a moment of quiet while we were there. I'm talking like five bucks. Whether it be on a rainy day stuck inside or during a moment when you're trying to find a fun, local restaurant, having a new toy to occupy your kid for a few minutes is immensely helpful.
  10. Beer, Wine, and/or Xanax For obvious reasons.
I felt pretty prepared while we were there, and like I said, our kids were pretty damn adorable the whole time. 

Do any of you REAL moms have any tips to add? No broccoli snack tips, please. 

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