Picture this: No wifi, an oceanfront house with a million-dollar view, a week without being tied to your email. Sounds amazing, right? Vacation! All that is standing between you & this bliss is a four-hour plane ride with a three-year-old and a one-year old. <Cue tears.>
My husband and I used to travel all the time. Whether it was a weekend of camping on the Oregon coast or taking a last-minute flight to hit a concert in San Francisco, we loved to explore. When we had our first son, our wanderlust somewhat continued, though it was slightly more kid-friendly.
Kiddo number two arrived last January and everything changed. Suddenly, instead of being able to play “hot potato” with William if he got a little fussy, we each had to be able to hold our own when faced with two fussy little men. Late last year, we realized that it had been approximately two years since our last family vacation and set out to fix that, ASAP!
After the flu and strep throat derailed our first planned vacation to Disney World, we decided to rent a house on the coast of North Carolina for a week. I began to practically drool every time I thought about it, and then a month or so before, panic hit.
We have to fly with the boys??
Will is my three-year-old and he’s pretty easy. Entertain him, feed him, and you’re golden. Ben is my adorable, but crazy energetic (read: wild) toddler. My goal was to figure out how we were going to get from Broomfield, CO to Emerald Isle, NC, have a fabulous time, and return to Colorado in one piece. Easy, right?
Since this is a blog post and not a novel, I will jump ahead and tell you that we all survived the 12-ish (!!!) hours of travel and had an incredible week together. Now that we’ve gotten one major family trip under our belt, here’s how I survived (and thrived!) on our first family vacation.
Travel Survival Tips
Food is the way to a man’s heart, right? And it makes no difference if that man is 1 or 41. Snacks help distract for a few precious moments and give tiny hands something to play with. Word to the wise, stick to items that don’t make a big mess and that are easy to clean up. I found myself trying to pick up Cheerios between plane seats – close quarters!
If you’re flying in and out of Denver, you absolutely must check out Bags, Inc. Located by the Sheraton, it’s the best. thing. ever. You check your bags up to 90 minutes before your flight and avoid the massive lines at the ticket counter. The only caveat is that if you have a lap child you may still need to visit the ticket counter. We just recently discovered this and it was amazing – so much so that my husband encouraged me to leave it out of this post to try to keep it secret!
Kids are unpredictable at best, so make sure your vacation plans have some flexibility. We traveled with ideas of things we wanted to do and places we wanted to go, but let’s be honest… the tiny, blond men rule the roost, not Mom & Dad.
Simplify Wherever Possible
A family of four already comes with lots of baggage, ha! To avoid making things even crazier, we find ways to pick up things along the way and put less travel pressure on ourselves. For us, this means traveling with one car seat and renting another so we were only carrying one for miles through DIA. We also opted to get linen service at our rental. I signed up for the preferred program through our rental car company, so we could check in via the app and avoid the crazy long line at the counter.
Spoiler alert, I’m type A and completely anxiety filled about… well, life. I stress and plan and stress and plan again; however, I’ve come to learn – vacationing is rarely totally perfect. Whether it’s a day or two of bad weather, or a day or two with your kids, ha! Despite my over abundance of planning, I know we had a hiccup or two, but to be honest, I can’t even remember because I’m still glowing from the fabulous time we had together. It was so fun, I’m already planning our next adventure!