So we took our first ever, on-an-airplane vacation as a family of three to Arizona this Spring. The trip was amazing, but before we left, we had a lot of friends ask why we were using our precious family vacation time to take a one-year old on a trip with us (not exactly relaxing… I know), and the answer is pretty simple. We knew going into the trip that it wasn’t going to be relaxing, and that helped calibrate expectations right up front. But what we did hope the trip would do, was to help build Emmett’s flexibility, to help him learn that he can be kind and caring even when he’s outside of his comfort zone, and to build memories!
We had so much fun, and Arizona was beautiful. We combined hiking, ‘touristing’, driving, and exploring into a family-friendly itinerary, and it the whole thing went remarkably smoothly (Emmett was a CHAMP on the plane, which was my single biggest concern!).
So what did we learn, and what would we make sure to repeat for future trips?
Travel with Friends (Who Have Kids the Same Age)
We’re so lucky to have a few sets of amazing friends who have kiddos very close in age to Emmett. We went to Arizona with one such set of friends, and it was SUCH a lifesaver. We swapped kiddos one day to give each couple a full day of adult time, and the kids got to play and explore together, which gave the adults a bit of downtime. Plus the kids schedules are almost identical, which made planning outings pretty seamless.
Build-in Toddler Time
As tempting as it is to schedule every day to the brim, so you don’t miss a single destination on your trip… don’t. Leave breathing time in your schedule for the little ones to play, explore and relax. On days where we had long hikes with Em in the backpack, we made sure to leave time for the boys to get out, play and explore their surroundings. It was a lifesaver.
Don’t Travel Light
This concept is painful to me, and tugs at my organizational heartstrings, but I needed to let go of the travelling-light dream. And it was life changing. Don’t skimp on things you think will make travelling with tots easier. You’ll likely end up with more pieces of luggage than you thought were possible, but it’s worth it. We took:
- A large suitcase for Emmett and myself
- A large duffle for the hubby’s clothes and the baby hiking backpack
- A Summer Infant 3D ONE stroller – this bad boy is amazing, and folds
up into a compact format with a kickstand for plane travel, but has all the features (including a huge shade canopy for napping) that you’d want in a stroller when you’re away from home!
- Our convertible car seat (you can typically rent them from car rental places as well, but the cost was pretty steep, so it just made sense to bring our own)
- A large carry-on tote that doubled as a diaper bag on the flight – we stuffed this with snacks in this awesome Boon Snack Box, drinks and a clever drink tether, and these Walker’s Baby Earmuffs.
Also, a hot tip for our Canadian friends, we got all of our baby travel gear from Canadian Tire and it was a HUGE time saver. If you haven’t checked out their baby/toddler section do it – they have everything you need, and you can order it online and pick it up in store! Mom win!
Convenience is Key
I had to accept that as hard as we try (we rented a house for the week, so had quite a bit of flexibility), meals, snacks and our general routine just weren’t going to flow as smoothly as at home. There were going to be times when a meal needed to happen in a car (or backpack for that matter)! So we packed some of our go-to, sanity-saving snacks with us. Emmet’s favourite Baby Gourmet pouches were consumed just about everywhere (I may have even snacked on some of their Slammers on the plane myself – so good, try them as a slushy!), and the Mushies snacks were always close at hand. Bringing along a healthy option, that’s super portable, is key to avoiding mealtime meltdowns and frustration.
Who doesn’t love some delicious free goodies to make travel with their little one a bit easier? Enter below to win a tasty (and healthy!) giftpack of Baby Gourmet goodies! Yum!
NOTE: We were provided the items for our family vacay at no cost from Canadian Tire and Baby Gourmet… and we truly love every one of them!