Recently, every blog and newspaper has featured traveling tips for summer holidays. Two sites provided me with the best information; Goop and The New York Times (both of these sites are constant sources of inspiration and happiness for me. I am not a Gwenyth hater and the NYTimes is my source of news). That said, I have my own tips on traveling for people — especially for families.
This past weekend, we made our first cross country trip as a family of four. And boy, let me tell you, did it take a lot of planning, to do lists, and effort. Thankfully, we will not have to do this trip again for another two months when I head back out east. Yep, that is right folks, I am spending the summer in Heaven on Earth — good ‘ol Eugene, Oregon. I will be there with my parents and kiddos, with Ken coming out three times for some family fun times. I am not the most successful traveler, but I have had a lot of experience traveling with ONE baby (not two) and feel that despite some bad trips, we generally have everything covered.
I started traveling early on as a child and my parents showed me how to pack everything in an organized and systematic way (perfect for me and my organization OCD ). The key was the use of Eagle Creek Packing Cubes. Discovering these is comparable to discovering gold or oil. It just changes your life. You have a cube for your shorts and pants, a cube for your cute and fun outfits, a cube for your workout clothes, etc…It just makes life so much easier when you are packing, dealing with your items upon arrival, and repacking everything back up. You can find them online at Amazon or in various stores such as The Container Store. I swear, a game changer.
CARRY ON BAGS
I will never be in a magazine for “Celebrity Outfits at Airports,” as I am obviously not a celebrity, but also because I don’t dress hip or sophisticated when we travel. To me, plane outfits are all about comfort, ease, and practicality. And that also applies to the bags that I bring as carry ons. SURE, the it-bag and a straw beach bag look awesome with cute flats, a beautiful scarf and blazer, but when you are carrying 1 or 2 kids, wearing running shoes (in order to save space in your check in bag), and look ridiculous, then an awesome bag doesn’t matter anyways. So, BACKPACKS, here we come. Backpacks are incredibly useful when traveling with kids. You can carry 50 pounds of crap and it doesn’t feel too heavy, you have both arms to carry another bag or child, and you look European. DUH, best carry on EVER.
My favorite backpack is sold at Lululemon. It has a bzillion pockets to store cars, trucks, trains, juice sippy cups, kleenex, etc. Plus, there is a handy pocket in the back for your computer so you have somewhere flat and safe to store it.
I had every intention of photographing both myself and Ken with our awesome backpacks on, but let me tell you, traveling with two kids and WAY TOO MUCH STUFF makes it quite difficult to relax for thirty seconds and whip out a camera and take a picture of myself looking oh-so-hot and oh-so-fashionable. Sorry!
I hate not having food on hand, and therefore, I never travel without food for a day for everyone on the plane. My biggest nightmare is to arrive on a plane trip without healthy food options. My go-to options are bagels and cream cheese (a winner for everyone including Mr. Cruz), yogurt (if the security guards don’t take it away from me first), hard apples (so they don’t smoosh), nuts, raw granola and chocolate.
Ken, on the other hand, moaned and groaned at my big pile of food. He made it clear that next time we travel, we would have to be normal people and buy food at the airport instead of hauling along my massive bag of goodies. That said, I know that I am going to win this battle and will continue to bring food on the plane with us.
I learned early on that in order to keep Cruz in his seat without kicking the seat in front of him with his seatbelt on, he needed a present. A present that would keep him entertained for some time on the ride, as well as something that took time to unwrap. It was after a disaster flight that we came up with this idea, and it has been life changing for us on our trips. Sure, there might be some psychological damage we are doing by bribing him with presents, but it makes us calmer and happier as we don’t have a kid kicking and screaming and standing up on his chair.
So, in the weeks prior to our flights, I always stock up on presents, wrap them up and store them for our travels. Wrapping them is key, as it makes Cruzzie feel like he is really receiving a present and unwrapping them takes time (every minute wasted is important, as that means he is so distracted that he doesn’t mind his seat belt). The items that I have found the most successful include:
A four-pack set of cars is great because you can individually wrap the cars and then have FOUR presents for whenever you need them. Plus, if your child is like Cruz and obsessed with cars, these are the perfect item. Will keep them busy for hours (or minutes, but any minute where you don’t have to entertain them feels like an hour).
Like the backpack picture, I really wanted to take a picture of Cruzzie opening the presents onboard the flight. With Zoe nursing, and C all over the place, the picture did not happen. Imagine a happy boy and a distraught mother with frazzled and frizzy hair.
Kids = iPad with cartoons on it. I tried to avoid this with all my might, but it is not worth the fight. It’s either the iPad or sedatives…. and the iPad is the worse of two evils.
FLIGHT STATUS UPDATES
While they are annoying, signing up in advance for flight status updates can make a HUGE difference. They did for us on this trip. We were supposed to fly from JFK to Salt Lake City at 7 AM and then Salt Lake City to Eugene. We got a flight status update hours before the flight saying that the JFK flight was delayed, meaning we would have missed our connection. The next flight they had availability on to Eugene was 11 HOURS LATER. We fortunately called Delta and they rerouted us (for free) to fly directly to Portland (2.5 hours from Eugene by car). Because we got early word, we were able to avoid an 11 hour layover in Salt Lake City, which probably would have taken a year off our life.
Yeah, I probably could have managed to have more deep breaths on our travels the past weekend, but I did try to breathe and think about the big picture. Sure, I was super grumpy and no one wanted to be around me, but I was less difficult than I could have been. Breathing and realizing that soon, I would be in Oregon and not have to do this again, helped me. Even if Ken thought otherwise. Sorry, Babers!
So there you have it, travel tips for those looney enough to go across the country with two kiddos. I will be based out West until the end of August, but like always, will be writing and updating you on fitness/fashion/fun/family/food from out here! We have nothing planned but to attend the US Olympic Trials for Track and Field, rest, recuperate, get back into shape, and spend time with the family. Happy start of the real Summer!
Until Wednesday, have a great start of the week!