We did it. We completed our first vacation as a family of four, quite successfully, I might add! Just before Christmas, the four of us hopped on an airplane to London and spent four days in the beautiful city. We found all sorts of fun, kid friendly things to do while we were there and I have definitely figured out the essentials to make traveling with a toddler and a three month old, dare I say it, easy (or at least, easier).
One of the questions my husband and I always get is “How do you do it? How do you travel with kids and still have fun?” and today I’m going to let you in on my two secrets: 1. It’s all about bringing the right gear and 2. Change your expectations. You’re going to have a blast as long as you choose activities that both parents and kids will love, and if you’re worried about what to pack, I’ve got you covered.
1. UPPAbaby VISTA: I know the jury is split on strollers and vacation. Lots of people prefer to bring the cheaper, smaller umbrella stroller. Others prefer to use a carrier and skip the stroller altogether. After this trip, I’ve even convinced my husband to bring the heavy duty, regular stroller (seriously, if I had a quarter every time he exclaimed “I love this stroller!”…). You can read my full review on this stroller here, but I’ll hit on the travel highlights real quick.
- The basket under this thing is unbelievably big. We were able to put all our carryon luggage under there while walking through the airport and on the train.
- It’s multifunctional. We only traveled with one seat, assuming that our toddler Harry would take up residence most of the time, and our baby Oscar would be worn much of the time. However, when we were inside a museum and Harry was running around, we were able to put three month old Oscar in the seat to give him a break from being carried constantly, and he loved it. We even laid the seat completely horizontal when Harry fell asleep in the stroller on the train.
- The wheels are heavy-duty and big, meaning it handled all curbs, cobblestones, and rocky parks like a charm.
2. Solly Wrap: I loved wearing Oscar on this trip for a few reasons. We were out all day long, meaning he needed to take naps on the go. And with Harry occupying the stroller most of the time (again, we only brought one seat for ease of travel), wearing him was a great solution. He slept 3 hour naps! On top of that, the Solly Wrap is so tiny and light when it’s all folded up, it’s super easy to throw into the diaper bag and forget about. This was one of my favorites for two kids when Oscar was first born, and it’s still a must have for me.
- It’s big enough to hold everything you need (spare clothes, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, wraps, food, entertainment) but it doesn’t feel big or bulky.
- The divided pockets are great for organizing your stuff – no searching around in a cavernous hole looking for the wipes.
- The insulated food pocket also fits the iPad perfectly, which meant a happy toddler on the plane.
4. New (to them) toys: My mom recently went through the old pole barn and found all of my old Beanie Babies. I asked her to bring a few with her when she last visited and I stashed them away for a trip like this. I simply packed the Beanie Baby in the diaper bag and gave it to Harry on the plane. It was super exciting to him to have a new toy, it was small and easy for me to pack away, and it provided entertainment the entire four day trip because it was new. Any new toy will do, but bonus points if you find one for free in your old boxes.
5. Kid-Friendly headphones. On the plane and on the train, Harry was entertained by movies. To keep the volume down and keep our fellow passengers happy, we grabbed a set of kid friendly headphones. The key is to get the ones meant for children so they fit their head and so the volume level can’t go too high.
6. Bizee Babee Nursing Cover. I love this nursing cover because it doesn’t look like much more than a stylish cape but it conceals everything when nursing. Half the time I don’t use a cover, but when I choose to, I use this one. It’s lightweight, meaning Oscar doesn’t get red and hot under it, it’s small enough to fold up and stick in the diaper bag out of the way, and it’s cute enough that I can wear it even after nursing if I needed to (read: if I leak all over my shirt or Oscar spits up on me).
7. (Bonus) Patience. Remember that your vacation will look different when you bring kids, vs. when you don’t. You won’t be able to go out late to the pub or spend all afternoon wandering a nice, quiet museum. But if you change your perception of things, say go to the pub for lunch when the kids are both napping in the stroller, and you give your kids grace, you’re going to have just as much fun. Remember that they are out of their element, excited, and probably a little tired. Try to choose things that are fun for them to do, and bonus if you enjoy it too (we all loved The Natural History Museum). Get them to a park and let them be outside while you sip a coffee. Play it by ear when it comes to bedtime, mealtime, or quiet time. Relax and I promise you’ll have a great time.