Traveling is SO. MUCH. FUN… except when you have to travel with your kids. Kidding but not really! I can not believe how much STUFF we had to pack. I actually had to go out and buy an extra luggage just for the toys, snacks, toiletries, diapers, wipes, my medicine cabinet, and the kitchen sink.
One big mistake that I made was not having a carseat on the plane for my 10 month old. We had traveled with Johnny at that age, but he was a much “calmer” baby and Xander is not. He’s a super happy baby, but is all over the place! Basically, he had FOMO and refused to sleep the whole plane ride. Fun right?! If I had brought his carseat on the plane, I bet he would’ve slept. So, spend that extra money and get a seat for your babe. Your lap and sanity will thank you.
Another big mistake was not finding out about TSA check in with a child with special needs. Johnny has some sensory issues and does not like to be around big crowds. He had a full on meltdown when we went through TSA, refusing to get out of the stroller. I then proceeded to have a mini panic attack because my heart was breaking for him. TSA (was doing their job, I know-insert eye roll) but they went through EVERYTHING. Checking my milk, the snacks, opening bags, pulling stuff out and making a huge fuss over nothing!!! All the while, Johnny is in hysterics and I’m now screaming, “he has special needs!! What are you people thinking?!” I was fuming. In the end, we made it through, Johnny with a new toy and me with a nice, extra large Bloody Mary. TSA also received a “nice” phone call from me when we got back to the states. There definitely needs to be a better way for children with special needs to get through TSA, but thats a different rant for another day…
SO.. the good stuff! What did I pack and what helped on the plane?! For Johnny: a backpack filled with activities and new toys. For Xander: snacks, more snacks, milk, tons of diapers and a change of clothes.
I made sure that Johnny never saw what was in his backpack. I wanted everything to be a surprise so that he would stay occupied on the plane and it worked. He was so happy and content when I finally opened it. Here’s what was in his backpack:
- A Color Wonder Activity Book
- A Magnetic Drawing Board
- Wiki Sticks
- Nemo and Dory toys
- Coloring Book and Crayons
- Glow Sticks
- Toy Story toys
- Reusable Stickers
- Harness for the plane
- IPAD ( with pre downloaded shows)
- An Organizer
- Booster Seat (for the taxi)
The biggest hit on the plane was the Magnetic board and the Reusable Stickers. Everything else was played with while on vacation. Now when we go out, he always asks for his backpack! I have it filled with more or less of the same listed above. Its a great mix of stuff as a “go bag”, especially when we go to family or friends houses who don’t have age appropriate toys for him. It keeps him occupied and allows us some “freedom”.
For Xander, I used my large Steve Madden duffle bag and it doubled as my diaper bag. In it, I had:
- A change of clothes for Johnny & 2 sets for Xander, an extra shirt for myself
- Itzy Ritzy WetBags (LOVE THESE BAGS. This is where I put the extra clothes)
- 2 swaddles
- An Organizer (and in that…)
- Hand Sanitizer wipes (to wipe the dirty plane down)
- Arm and Hammer Bags (for accidents & poopy diapers)
- Random little toys and teethers
- Xanax for ME.
I am SO happy I packed 2 sets of clothes for Xander. Because he didn’t sleep, he drank A LOT of milk. I actually had an overnight diaper on him just in case he peed through his clothes, but like I said.. a lot of milk and snacks. Once we landed, I went to change him again and realized he now had a poop explosion. So, YES! very happy I had those extra sets because they were needed!
Not sure if you know this, but you can check as many baby items as you want and for FREE! (but always double check with your airport first). We have checked Pack and Plays, walkers, pop up tents and carseats. Just make sure you label everything, twice. You can also gate check your stroller but remember to bring the stroller bag. This time around, we gate checked our Vista with the rumble seat. The travel bag I bought worked great, the Vista.. not so much. Its HUGE. I have a love/hate for that stroller but I was not going out to buy another stroller. Johnny hates walking so I needed to have it but will definitely invest in the Zoe Double Stroller if we travel again in the near future. My favorite travel stroller is the GB Qbit LTE Stroller. I traveled with Johnny everywhere with that stroller! I ended up selling it, still kicking myself for that but I had 8 strollers at one time sooooo……
I used a large insulated cooler bag for the plane. It kept the milk cold and held the many snacks I had stored. I loved the fact that it had a shoulder strap, I hung it on my Vista and it also fit right under the plane seat perfectly.
As for packing the boys and myself, I absolutely LOVE travel cubes. It makes packing so much easier and once you’re at your destination, all you do is put the cube directly into the drawers. I also have laundry bags for each child, making unpacking and laundry “not as bad” for when you get home.
When we traveled with Johnny (pre Xander) we bought a Cosco car seat. Best travel car seat ever. Its super light weight, fits right into the plane seat and can double as your “emergency” car seat for grandparents. I bought a travel belt strap which went right into the carseat and onto our carry on luggage. These 2 things are a must have when traveling with kids! I wish I would’ve reminded myself of this, but we didn’t buy that extra seat for Xander…. never again!
Traveling with your little nightmares… I mean kids, is not so fun but making memories with them is priceless. All in all, it wasn’t SO bad. Like I said, I just wish I would’ve bought a seat for Xander and had done my research for Johnny regarding TSA.
Linked below are some of my favorite finds when traveling with babes:
- Pop Up Tent
- Pop Up Paypen
- Pop Up Booster Seat
- Pop Up Activity Station
- Travel Crib (Johnny fit in this until 2 years old and he was tall for his age)
- Baby Monitor (great for travel when you don’t want to take your “good” one
- Baby Monitor Stand
- Travel Size LectroFan Noise Machine
- Travel BlackOut Blinds
- Travel fan
- Disposable Travel Seat Covers for toilets
- Outlet with USB ports (for the monitor, noise machine, chargers.. )
- An Organizer ( I listed this 3 times because it was amazing! Each of the boys had one for their stuff and I had one where I kept diapers, wipes, sanitizers, poopy bags, etc. I actually use it in my diaper bag now).
- Portable Changing Mat
- Baby Bottle Bag
- Little Pool (worked great for the beach!)
- Itzy Ritzy Wet Bags (LOVE LOVE LOVE. I have about 5 and use them for bathing suits, dirty clothes, extra clothes, etc.)
I hope this post was helpful!! Let me know if I forgot anything or If I didn’t link something your looking for. Just remember, seeing those smiling faces and making those memories makes traveling with kids ohhh so worth it. You got this Mamas!! Just don’t forget your Xanax….. 😉
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