I’ve had a lot of questions about traveling as a family since my last post so today I thought I’d answer a bunch of them. There are a lot of logistics to consider when traveling with kids so hopefully this post shares a little insight into how we do it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling with Kids
Do you travel with passports for the whole family? TSA pre-check?
We do not have passports for the kids yet, but Soren and I travel with ours. The only identification we have needed for the kids is a copy of a birth certificate or shot record for our lap babies. I have also never done TSA pre-check but I intend to the next time we fly as a family.
What do you do about car seats? Rent them from the car rental or bring them?
We have done it all when it comes to car seats over the years. If I have a baby in an infant seat, I prefer to bring my own car seat. Especially if that car seat clips into my stroller. We always bring huge, thick trash bags to wrap around our seats whether we check them with our luggage or gate-check them. We’ve found it protects the car seat and the stroller and that’s worth the extra hassle of tying them up. Once the baby is in a bigger convertible car seat, I’ve found it’s easier to rent a car seat or a booster from the rental car company. We have so many other things to pack and to carry, I’d rather not add car seats and booster seats to the list! I’ve never used a car seat on a plane, but I’ve seen other parents use it and it looks helpful depending on the baby’s age.
Can you share how you get to the airport on time with all the kids please?!
Getting to the airport on time is definitely one of the most stressful parts of the trip. I usually try to book flights that are 8 am or later. It’s not always possible though and travel days typically start really early! I’ve learned to start packing about three to four days before the trip and to finish a full day beforehand. That allows for extra time for the unexpected things that come up. I pack all of the snacks, activities, and backpacks early the day before the trip.
The kids get their showers and travel clothes done and out the night before. Soren and I shower the night before as well. Anything we can get done before the day of travel the better!
I pack my carry on with all of our papers handy and we plan to leave the house and be at the airport two hours early. In Kansas City (and many airports) that is enough time for us to run late and still make it!
Do you always over pack? Any tips on downsizing the amount of stuff?!
Yes, I do. I always over pack and I think it’s okay. I do have travel size toiletry kits for myself and the kids so those are already compact and ready to go. I always have two suitcases to myself and Soren usually just uses his carry on. The kids have their packing cubes and all their things usually fit in their largest cube. All of the kid’s cubes either go in a big duffle bag or Soren’s large suitcase. Most places that we travel have a way to do laundry and I always take advantage of that if we have it. For a 4-5 day trip with kids I will pack about four outfits and make sure things mix and match. Then we do laundry, and something is always clean.
Will you talk about toiletries, do you take small bottles of everything?
I usually take travel size bottles. Last year I packed a toiletry bag for myself full of travel size items and I always leave it packed. When I get back from a trip, I make sure it’s still full and ready to go. I also have one for the kids that always stays packed. There are a few hair products that I bring full sizes, but if I can find it in travel size I’ll snag it.
Any tips for flying with a baby <6 months? I’m nervous about bottles not being allowed.
Flying with babies under 6 months has a lot of perks (speaking as someone who just flew with a one year old!). Bottles are easy. I usually bring a pre made bottle and extra water. Leave them out of your bag in your bin and they will flag your bin. They’ll do a little test on the bottle and let you go. It’s great! One tip I have would be to remove your wipes from your bag. We’ve had wipes in a carry-on get flagged because under the scanner they look dangerous.
With a little baby I will usually take my stroller and car seat all the way to the gate. Get them gate checked by going to the desk and having them tag your items. Then you can just push everything right down the ramp in the stroller and drop it right off before you get on the plane.
Try to get your babe to nurse or drink their bottle on the way up and down. It helps with their ear pressure, but if they won’t, it’s fine. They’ll be fine.
Bring extra clothes, wipes, diapers, etc. You can change a baby in the plane bathroom, so a blow-out is survivable. (I’ve had a baby blow out in line to board the plane.)
How many outfits fit in each packing cube? How many did you use per child?
For a 4-5 day trip, if I know I’ll have laundry available I will pack four outfits for the day, two pairs of pjs, one extra pair of shoes, 5 socks, 5 undies and a jacket for each kiddo. I try to make sure their clothes all mix and match. On our recent trip to Puerto Rico I knew the kids each needed some new warm weather items, so I let them each pick out a new swim suit, two new tees and a pair of shorts. The new things made packing even easier. They all coordinated, and they didn’t need to be washed before I could get things packed.
Right now, I have each kid use their largest packing cube. Sometimes Easton (the oldest) or the baby will need a second. They each have their own color set for future use, but for now I keep it to one each.
Do you pack any hot hair tools? If so, which one?
I usually just bring my flat iron. I count on there being a dryer where we stay. Most of the time I’m right.
What’s in your boys’ backpacks for the plane? How do you keep your boys entertained?
I change it up a little for each trip but in general their backpacks each have: a gallon sized zip lock with 4-6 snacks, a book, a pad of paper, crayons or a pen, headphones, a pack of wipes, an empty water bottle and something from the Target dollar spot. I typically don’t allow them to use electronics until we are up in the air, so they use their papers or read a book in the airport. On this trip they each had an iPad that we had loaded with movies to watch in flight. For this flight I also added a few baby toys to my bag to try and entertain Rush. We did a lot of peekaboo and he ate a lot of mini M&Ms.
What do you pack in your carry on/purse?
My bag for traveling with kids versus no kids is very different. With kids I definitely bring the biggest bag I have, and I fill it. I carry extra snacks, gum, diapers, wipes, an extra outfit for the kid most likely to have an accident, a small first aid kit, my travel makeup and hair products, an external charger, a book for myself, my air pods, passports/birth certificates, wallet, baby toys, travel size hair gel for the boys, more wipes, and someone’s blanket.
How do you travel with your N&S earrings?
I pack my earrings and other accessories flat in a canvas zip pouch. I make sure they are laying flat in the suitcase and they do alright.
How do you travel with a hat on flights?
I wear my hat while we travel through the airport and boarding the plane. I have also used this clip, but it got lost last time I flew. I put it under the seat in front of me while in the air.
Do you use the reusable container in place for a quart size bag for TSA?
I do. They work really well! Here is the link.
Where does Rush sleep when you travel?
It definitely depends on where we go! If a pack ’n’ play is an option, he will sleep there. I’ve also had him sleep with me when he was smaller, on the floor with a cushion or blankets folded under him and on a big bed by himself.
Feel free to leave any more questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer them as well!
And for more travel tips on traveling check out the posts below: