It's that time of year again – the first Christmas decorations are going up in stores, the faint sounds of the year's first Christmas carols can be heard, and everyone is making holiday travel plans. Since we are a military family, travel is a necessity if we want to spend the holidays with our extended families. If you're a parent of a little one, like me, you could be wondering how to keep them entertained on the way to your destination.
Whether I am traveling by car or plane, my little ones are bound to become restless, and making sure I have the right items on hand could make all the difference in keeping them comfortable, engaged, and distracted on the trip. Here is a list of must-haves that I bring with me every time I travel with my children, and will hopefully make your holiday travel plans a bit easier.
Baby wipes: Baby wipes can be used for more than just diaper duty – you can use them for cleaning hands, faces, wiping up spills, and even makeup removal! Many eco-friendly brands are safe enough for wiping little hands and faces regularly, and are perfect for long trips in which your little one will be eating and drinking in their carseat. Toss these in your purse or carry-on for easy cleanup on the go.
Ergonomic baby/toddler carrier: Unlike strollers, baby carriers and wraps are easier to pack, less bulky, and don't require an extra carry on when traveling by plane. Many ergonomic baby carrier brands also have toddler carriers, making it easy to carry your little one, and your luggage, with ease.
Extra clothing/diapers: One rule of thumb that I live by is "if you think you've packed enough, pack at least one more." Children are oftentimes unpredictable, and with that unpredictability, comes, well, Murphy's Law, if you will. Make sure to always have extra clothing and diapers (if applicable) on hand for life's big (and little!) messes.
Snacks: While airports always have the option of purchasing snacks in house, and gas stations are usually in abundance on the road, you're bound to pay a lot more for their convenience than if you were to pack your own snacks. Plus, your little one will appreciate having the snacks that they are used to. On the plane, I will usually have an organic apple, orange, organic crackers, or an organic fruit pouch in my purse. If I'm traveling by car, I keep a cooler of fresh organic fruits, veggies, cheese sticks, and yogurt within reach. This option is healthier, keeps them full, and costs a lot less than stopping at a convenience store for chips and soda.
Pillows and blankets: Little ones can be unsettled while they travel due to changing surroundings, so it's important to let them have a little piece of home on the way. Having their favorite little pillow (for toddlers) and their favorite blanket (toddlers and babies) can help your little one feel more comforted, and more apt to rest on the trip. This will help give you a break, too!
Toys and activites: Instead of letting my little ones play on their tablets for the whole trip, I like to keep their minds engaged by letting them play with their toys, and therefore, use their imaginations. For my youngest, I pack her favorite eco-friendly teether, her "cuddly", and her favorite Green Piñata toys – her Shakin' Eggs, her sorting bus, and/or her submarine. I try to pack toys that don't have too many pieces, because then you will probably have a hard time finding them all when it comes time to pack again and go home.
Holiday travel doesn't have to be stressful! With these must-haves on hand, you little one is bound to have a great trip to see the family – and you won't lose too much of your sanity, either. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season full of joy, laughter, and adventure!
What are some other items you always take with you when you travel? Share with us in the comments!