In a few short weeks, we will be taking the family on our yearly trip to South Florida. We went a couple of years ago sans children and it was great. It was so great we felt a little guilty. We talked about all the things they would love- getting some sunshine during the long dreary winters of Pittsburgh, getting to see and spend time with family down there, and most importantly lots of swimming and physical activity. So, two years ago we decided to bring them along with us – on an airplane and traveling around Fort Lauderdale and Stuart. We had such a great time that we have invited them back again this year 😉
I love taking trips with the family but I do not love packing. Trying to narrow down so many fun outfits into the bare essentials but still being able to dress cute is hard. Making sure you do not over-exceed the weight limit for the luggage is also hard. But, honestly, how many outfits do children need at the beach? My kids would be happy with a couple of bathing suits! Here are a few tips and tricks on what to pack and how I survive planning the family trips:
TIP #1 Stay somewhere with a washer/dryer
Number 1 tip – I always make sure we stay somewhere with a washer and dryer when we have the kids. You never know how long an outfit will stay clean and I’d rather be safe than sorry and have to make a run to a store. I have forgotten backup clothing on short trips before only to have to make a Target run while away because of an accident. Insert frown face here. When we stay somewhere with a washer/dryer, I only have to pack for 4 days(or half the trip) and plan on doing laundry half way through. This makes my life so much easier! I can throw a quick load in and wait it out by the pool.
TIP #2 Check the luggage
The first year we brought the kids on a plane trip, we attempted to bring carry-ons and check minimal luggage. We also had a carseat that we brought. Suffice it to say, its amazing we didn’t lose a kid in the airport. It was too much and way too hard for 2 adults vs. 4 small children. I have since learned that the upgrade is worth it to be able to check all the luggage and have minimal baggage through the airport.
TIP #3 Rent a carseat (stroller, pack ‘n play, bikes, etc)
Most car rental places have the option to rent carseats and boosters. Most tourist destinations have rental services where you can get the large items you didn’t want to bring or couldn’t. This is a nice option to have when you have alot on your plate already. We did end up renting a booster the second year and it made a huge difference getting around the airport.
TIP #4 Leave the kids at home
Ok, I’m joking about this one. But at moments of total chaos, I do wonder why I ever embarked on this journey with them?! Its all about making memories. One day, they’ll look back and remember the craziness and how much fun it was.
TIP #5 Make a checklist
I have an excel spreadsheet for every type of trip and the things we always need to pack. So, when we are going on our beach trip I just pull out my checklist and go right down the list. It improves the speed in getting ready and reduces my anxiety that I’ll forget something. Here are some things from my checklist:
- Backpack for plane ride – stocked with things to do, small travel blanket, small travel pillow, headphones, books, games, snacks. Each kid has their own bag for their stuff that they are responsible for carrying through the airport. I also throw in a swimsuit for easy access once we get to our destination.
- 3 pairs shoes – adventure shoes/sneakers/flip flops – I always make sure the kids have adventure shoes when we travel. These are great amphibious shoes that we can wear biking, to the beach, hiking, etc.
- 4 t-shirts, 4 tanks, 4 pairs of shorts (or half the days of your trip) – Usually shirts will be dirty before bottoms so I pack extra shirts.
- 4 undies/4 socks
- 2 pajama sets
- 3 swim trunks or suits
- 1 dress outfit
- 1 sweatshirt/2 sweatpants or leggings
- 1 long sleeved shirt
- 1 pair jeans
- Swimmers or vest (for the little guys learning to swim)
- goggles (my kids are amphibious) and sunglasses.
- Fedoras (we all have one) – gotta have sun protection!
- And of course lots and lots of sunscreen! They will need it applied immediately in Florida. We use Sunbums 70 spf. I bought another brand last year which was an organic/safe for kids brand but it was only 30 spf and the kids got burnt.
So, I hope you enjoyed my traveling and packing tips! Do you have a packing plan when you go on trips? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks too! Drop me a line below and say Hi!
Peace out winter, I’m trading you for some sunshine!