I’m so thrilled to have Sarah Carson contributing today as my guest blogger!
Sarah hails from Williamsville, NY like me (but, you will soon find out she leaves quite often!). I met Sarah initially at a local church’s mom group, but got to know her at our local YMCA, where she is a fierce spinning class instructor! While I do not endure her spinning class (but I should!), where I would connect with Sarah is in the children’s adventure play room. There I learned that she is sweet and bubbly and a great conversationalist. In our conversations, it kept popping up that she had either just been on a trip, or was about to leave for one. I was noticing a pattern – this girl loves to travel! She told me that her travel loving husband rides his bike to work each day, instead of a car, so that they can put their money towards something they have a passion for – to see the world! I think that’s awesome!
Now, as many of you would know, I travel a lot with kids too, but I think even Sarah and Matt have us beat! They cart their two boys everywhere, and I mean everywhere…
Morocco, Dubai, Madrid, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hawaii, Rome, Croatia, Ireland, Montreal, Ecuador, New Zealand, Australia, Toronto, Brooklyn, Austria, Norway, California, Stockholm, Puerto Rico, NYC, Great Britain, New England…..to name a few…and that’s while preggo and with a newborn!
Even as we chatted this week about a time to have a coffee/writing date, Sarah came back with “I can’t do the week after next, because we’ll be in Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava”…. I’m not gonna lie…I’m not even sure I know where that last place is! So, although I know a thing or two about traveling with kids, Sarah is a pro, and I have learned some very ingenious mom tips on her blog spot Sarah Travels. Her pictures of the globe are stunning too! Whether you loathe or love travel, this post will be helpful to you if you have young children and need to take them somewhere other than the supermarket. So, without further ado, here’s Sarah….
Traveling with Tiny Humans
If you’re a mom, you know how easy it is to over pack when you go anywhere with your kids. Is it all really necessary? Yes, you need diapers; probably a change of clothes for your potty training toddler, (I’ve learned that lesson too many times) but why do we, moms, feel like we need to pack EVERYTHING we own every time we go somewhere!?
Packing: Less IS More!
When Matt and I take our kids across the globe, we don’t just go to one place and stay there the entire time. We spend one or two nights at a place, then hop on a train and head to a new town. There is no way we could carry everything that you would typically want to bring for your precious little ones while away. So, we have to be strategic to not pack too much stuff with us! Knowing Matt and I will have to carry EVERYTHING ourselves, we’ve learned how to simplify what we bring to make everyone’s lives easier. We only pack TWO suitcases for the whole family. One big suitcase for the boys’ and my clothes, and Matt uses one small suitcase for himself (I would go crazy if he and I shared a suitcase!). For the boys, I pack very few clothes. Maybe they will get one shirt each day of the trip but they generally wear the same shorts/pants for several days. I normally don’t even pack actual pajamas! Their “pajamas” are generally comfortable clean clothes that they will wear later that week or on the airplane home. I really try not to over pack. Of course, you have to expect that something may get ruined (potty accidents, dirty puddle jumping, strawberry drool) and you will need more clothes than you brought. So, I always bring a small bottle of laundry detergent to wash and dry their clothes in the hotel bathroom.
With very few pairs of clothes for the boys, we have to be strategic about what they wear and when they wear it, especially for meals. Our boys are super messy eaters and we never pack bibs. So every morning when we get ready to go down to the breakfast buffet, we put both boys in the shirts they wore they day before. It’s inevitable that someone will have yogurt all down their shirt or spill their orange juice in their lap, so to put them in a clean shirt for breakfast is pretty much useless. After breakfast, we go upstairs and change them into the new, clean clothes that they will actually wear for the day.
We started letting Dylan bring a small bag of toys for the plane, but he’s not allowed to bring very much. He fills a small sandwich sized Ziploc bag with his favorite matchbox cars or toy figurines. We also bring 5 paperback books (that we will read over and over again) and his little blanket…. That’s it! I feel like we are soo busy during the day while we travel that the boys don’t need a ton of toys. They are occupied by looking at the cars, buses and “towers” in a city, exploring the nature along a trail in the woods, or interacting with people of different cultures! By the time we get back to our hotel, they only have about 30 minutes or so to play with their toys before bedtime, so there’s no need for too many. On the plane, they normally play with their toys a little, (or watch a show on our tablet/plane TV) but we usually book red eye flights, so they are (hopefully) sleeping for that! You can read more about things we bring and do for the flight to occupy our kids here. I personally believe that my kids will be fine with limited toys for a week or so… they can learn to use their imagination more and I want them experiencing their surroundings instead of their heads down engrossed in their toys!
How we carry everything
Generally, Matt rolls the two suitcases and I push the stroller with the two boys inside. Matt’s laptop bag goes under the stroller and his camera bag hangs off one handle of the stroller. My purse (with diapers, wipes, change of clothes, etc.) and a bag of food/bribery treats/toys/ books, hang off the other side of the stroller. Between Matt and I carrying everything, we literally couldn’t bring another suitcase… well, at least for now, until Dylan is old enough to walk longer distances and carry his own suitcase! 😉 Before we had kids, we would only bring carry-on luggage, and it was soo nice to never have to wait at baggage claim for everything. Now, we always put our two suitcases under the plane. We keep our stroller with us until we board. You can bring the stroller up to the gate and check it under as you enter the plane. This is sooo nice because it is almost impossible to carry all of our bags AND both boys walking long distances in the airport.
Our favorite single and double umbrella stroller brand is the summer 3D lite. We use it everywhere we go and both the single and double strollers are sooo durable through everything: sand, cobblestone, rocks, grass, dirt, you name it! Also, it is lightweight and easy to fold up when you pack it under the plane! We love the summer 3D lite double stroller because it is tandem and narrow enough that you can fit onto trains, alleyways, shops, etc. When we hop on trains with our luggage, we keep both boys in the stroller and Matt will quickly throw our luggage into the train and then he and I will lift the boys onboard. If we had a side by side stroller, it probably wouldn’t fit through the train door. I can’t imagine getting both boys out of the stroller, folding it up, and carrying that, the boys AND the luggage on the train in the few minutes it’s stopped. The stroller also reclines a bit for nap time, which is where both boys take their naps when we are away! We also LOVE the two separate handles on the summer strollers to hang all of our bags! I would definitely recommend this stroller to anyone who travels! You can find our double stroller here!
How often do you over pack for a trip and don’t use half of what you pack? Don’t do it!! The most important thing I always remind myself when we are preparing for a big trip, is that there are babies all over the world!! If I do actually forget something, I can always just buy it while we are there! Next time you go away, pack light, worry less and allow you and your kids to experience more!
Here, Sarah is pictured in St. Andrew’s, Scotland with her world traveler husband Matt, and two sweet boys, Dylan and Christopher.