Despite the fact that we have generally opted out of a dense travel schedule while our children are young and during this full-on-the-vine time of our lives (more thoughts on that here, and an interesting related conversation in the comments section of this post), we still find ourselves hitting the road a few times a year, and have a couple of trips on tap this summer. I feel spirited along by a comment a Magpie shared recently:
“I think traveling WITH or FOR other people is nearly impossible with younger kids. There are misalignments in schedules and needs (yes we need to be home from 1-4 for a nap, no we cannot do dinner at 8, everyone in this rented house will be awake by 630am sorry). But the captains of small families are also necessarily focused on tending to our ship only, with no time to explain the complex navigation systems. I have found that traveling with only my husband and children to be a truly life-giving experience.” – Elizabeth
I had never realized that we’ve not once taken a trip just the four of us. We have always contoured our schedules and plans around those of the family/friends we are traveling with. Of course, it is magical to spend time with people we love, but perhaps it was the slight tension of trying to accommodate later dinner times for those with older children, or no children, or wedging in naps while everyone else was interested in beach/adventures, that contributed to my general feeling of stress during these travels. Anyhow, I’m encouraged. This summer, we are planning our first trip as a family of four and I am encouraged by Elizabeth’s note.
On to the gear.
Packing cubes really changed the game for me. I have a few sets, all in different colors, so I easily know where my son’s stuff is, where my daughter’s stuff is, etc. I love the ones from Paravel and have been eyeing the colorful ones from State, but I also have a few sets from Amazon that are cheap and get the job done, too. I actually really like that the Amazon ones have a mesh front so you can easily see what’s inside — “oh, that cube has her clothes / this one has her underwear and pajamas.” Pouches in general have been a huge help to me as a mother — wet/dry pouch (don’t always love the patterns PBK has, but I do love these particular wet/dry bags…super insulated, heavy-duty liner; perfect size; monogram options) for each child in my diaper/outing bag, pouch for snacks, pouch for my own stuff. Makes finding items so easy.
I also must extol the virtues of Land’s End XXL totes (currently on sale) — they are ENORMOUS and my favorite way to travel by car. I have one for each child labeled with initials / different colors and keep everything organized that way. The open top makes it easy to reach back and grab what you need. My kids are still small enough that I can wedge these underneath their feet/in front of their seats so everything is handy and proximal to them.
01. LANDS END TOTE // 02. STATE BAGS PACKING CUBES // 03. TRVL DESIGN BACKPACK* // 04. LAUNDRY BAGS (GREAT FOR CORRALLING DIRTY LAUNDRY) // 05. CRAYOLA X STATE ARTFOLIO** // 06. TRAVEL TUBES FOR SHAMPOO, LOTION, ETC // 07. USBORNE STICKER BOOK // 08. BOOGIE BOARD TABLET // 09. POLLY POCKET SET // 10. LOL SURPRISE DOLL // 11. MIAMILY RIDE-ON SUITCASE // 12. LUGGAGE TAG // 13. PACKING CUBES // 14. QUILTED DUFFEL // 15. QUILTED COSMETIC BAG
*If this boutique is sold out of the style linked, check out the others available / inquire after a restock. This boutique does REALLY beautiful monograms. Her attention to detail is incredible.
**I bought this for my daughter and this one for my son and they have been true MVPs. I pack them for Church every Sunday and bring them on any long trek / restaurant pit stop. My kids love having their own little space to draw, a fresh stack of paper with their own crayons (I try to rotate in fresh/sharpened crayons when I remember), and everything packs up so nicely.
01. PARAVEL PACKING CUBES // 02. LETTERFOLK KIDS PASSPORT // 03. STATE BAGS ROLLING SUITCASE // 04. ARTFOLIO // 05. CLEAR PVC POUCHES* // 06. BACKPACK TAG // 07. USBORNE TRAVEL STICKER BOOK // 08. BOOGIE BOARD // 09. MARKER SET IN CASE // 11. VINYL MONOGRAM STICKER // 12. STOKKE RIDE ON SUITCASE // 14. MATCHBOX CARS, ALSO GREAT WITH CAR TAPE
*Good for so much — corralling snacks, small toys, cars, paper, crayons, etc.
**Not included above: 1) travel stroller — we loved our Yoyo (<< currently a tiny bit ON SALE here!), but when I was on the hunt, I also heard really good things about the less expensive GB Pockit Air, which I thought was a good buy if you only use your folding stroller for travel. We used ours A LOT in NYC with two kids — easy to fold up while going up/down stairs, in a restaurant, etc.); 2) travel carseat — don’t mess with anything but the $59 Cosco Scenera. Inexpensive, well-reviewed from a safety standpoint, but most importantly, very lightweight. We would carry ours through the airport in this case, which afforded some (minimal) protection from nicks while on jet bridge / being schlepped, but mainly made it easier to carry over one shoulder. Carseats are so hard to carry!
Finally, a few things for us mamas…
01. LAPTOP SLEEVE // 02. TSA-APPROVED TRAVEL POUCH // 03. PORTABLE CHARGER // 04. DAGNE DOVER FANNY PACK // 05. MINI ORGANIZERS // 06. PARAVEL CABANA TOTE // 07. APPLE AIRTAGS (PUT IN LUGGAGE!) // 08. ARLO TECH ORGANIZER // 09. TRAVEL WALLET // 10. ANYA HINDMARCH COSMETIC CASE // 11. LUGGAGE TAG // 12. AWAY CARRY ON
P.S. Some more great travel/car activities for children here.
P.P.S. Motherhood is a lopsided, but elegant, dance.
P.P.P.S. In case you’re in the phase of new motherhood and are burrowing into your home life, feeling very much like a butterfly in cocoon — I see you.