Aug 13, 2019

10 Tips for Traveling in Style with Kids


Travel tips from a stylish mommy who's been around the globe with two little ones in tow


The first time I took a trip with my son Liam he was just a little over a year old. I was scheduled to be in New York for a few days so that I could attend a Fashion Group International Conference and there was no way I was leaving him back in Seattle. I have a blurry photo that my husband took of Liam and I in Times Square at night and it's a picture I will cherish forever because that trip marked the start of our family travel adventures. My husband and I traveled a lot before we had kids, but after our son was born we were both too exhausted to even think about the prospect of globetrotting with a tiny one in tow, but several months after the New York trip we ventured off to London and then spent a few days in Paris. We've been going non-stop ever since- now with a second kid in tow- and loving every minute of it. Traveling with little ones is definitely an adventure, but trust me, it gets a lot easier and every kid benefits from having the opportunity to explore the globe. Here are my top tips for traveling -in style- with kids. 


#1 - Buy your child a seat
The first thing I recommend to any parent traveling with a little one (i.e. a child under three) is to spend the extra money and buy your child a seat even if the airline doesn't require it. I know, it sounds a little counter-intuitive, why spend the cash if you don't need to? But trust me, it's worth it. Having the extra space on the plane to get comfortable is the key to having a stress-free flight, especially if you're traveling long distances. My son loved spreading out his toys on the seat and I loved not having to constantly worry about elbowing the person next to me.
Bonus tip: If you buy your child a seat don't forget to sign them up to earn frequent flyer miles.  


#2 - Fly direct if you can
Sometimes even a small layover can add on numerous hours to your total travel time so in order to avoid meltdowns, we find it's helpful to book direct whenever possible. Traveling from Seattle to London on a direct flight is around 9 hours, but with layovers, you're looking at almost 15 hours+ of total travel time. For a small child (and even some grown-ups) that's a small eternity, so if the airline offers a direct flight and you are traveling with kids, my advice is to take it. You can thank me later.


#3 - Pack light for your flight  
It's almost second nature for some parents to pack everything but the kitchen sink in their diaper bags, but somehow I missed that bandwagon (including the diaper bag) and always strive to pack light when I travel. My carry-on bag always includes kid-friendly snacks and toys, plus emergency items like children's Tylenol.  Essentials for my travel bag also include a phone charger, aromatherapy lotion in peppermint or lavender, diapers + wipes, plus at least 1 disposable sippy cup so that I can kid-proof any in-flight beverage. If your kid is notorious for spills don't forget to pack an extra outfit, or two. But remember, the more you pack in your carry-on bag the more you have to lug around (in addition to carrying your kid), so whenever possible, pack lightly. If you forget something and can't live without it, chances are you can buy it at the airport or upon arrival at your destination. This also goes for magazines and books.

Another tip for traveling with kids is to pack smaller toys that they haven't played with in a while so that they get the experience of playing with "new" toys on the plane. This little trick kept my baby entertained for hours on our last flight to London.

#4 - Buy Diapers on Arrival
I'll admit, I once managed to disperse an entire package of diapers into my suitcase before leaving on an overseas trip because I was a newbie when it came to traveling with a baby and I was worried about finding them on arrival. Since then, I've realized that taking up valuable suitcase space with diapers is a waste and as long as you have enough diapers to get you to your destination and a few extras "just in case" it's easier and sometimes cheaper to buy diapers at your destination rather than sacrificing valuable suitcase space. With the exception of Hawaii, we generally travel to cosmopolitan areas where drug stores are readily accessible and stock all the diapers we could ever need, which means I have more room in my suitcase for shopping.

Also, another quick note on packing- don't bring an extra suitcase for your kid, no matter how cute the suitcase is. Try and pack as much of their clothing into your suitcase as possible so that you aren't stuck at the airport with one of those trolly carts because you have too much luggage. My rule is: if we can't carry it between the four of us, we don't bring it. This is especially important if you have to carry around additional items like a car seat or stroller. Speaking of car seats, we have found that it's far easier to rent a car seat from the car rental company if you are planning on driving than it is to carry one around with you. We have always had great luck with car seat rentals (clean, functioning properly, etc.) when we've needed them and with our AAA membership the car seat rental is often free.

If you end up shopping more than you anticipated on your trip, you can always buy another suitcase or duffle bag at your destination and check it for your return trip home. We have done this several times and works like a charm when/if we need it.


#5 - Bring picnic supplies 
In Europe, it's common to eat meals outside in the park by having an impromptu picnic, but the picnic supplies I recommend are actually for your hotel room. I like to pack plastic forks and spoons so that we can have yogurt in the morning and things like pre-packaged salads for dinner or a snack. Be sure that your hotel has a mini-fridge so that you can shop during the day and store your food. You can also pack an empty water bottle in your suitcase for use on arrival. Most hotels have lemon or cucumber-infused water in the lobby for guests, making it easy to fill up a cup and then transfer it into your water bottle when you get back to your room.

#6 - Take the umbrella stroller with you 
Our umbrella stroller has saved us too many times to count. My daughter naps in it when we're on vacation and she's too tired to keep walking and we also like it for keeping her contained when we are en-route somewhere and don't want her to get lost in the shuffle.


When it comes to picking an umbrella stroller for your trip, you'll want to find one that is:
1) Easy to fold up (preferably with one hand)
2) Has a strap attached so that you can sling it over your shoulder
3) Has storage space so that you can stash diapers and snacks for your little one/s.


Our favorite umbrella stroller is the Uppa Baby G-Luxe because it reclines and has a bit of storage. For our last trip we retro-fitted it with a cupholder attachment and an organizer. These little attachments made all the difference in our experience and were well worth it in the long run.  When we fly we usually take the umbrella stroller straight to the gate and then have the flight attendants gate check it so that upon arrival we can strap our daughter in and make our way to baggage claim as quickly and efficiently as possible.


#7 - Dress the Part
I like to dress up when I go out of town, but I also like to be practical. This usually means finding the right balance between casual and comfortable. Pack some lightweight tops, a few pairs of jeans, a dress (or two) and a sweater that can be added if it gets chilly in the evening. Scarves are also great for travel because they can multi-task. For example, my scarves become swimsuit cover-ups when we go to the beach. When it comes to shoes, I live in sandals when visiting places like Florida and Hawaii, but in Europe, I prefer flats that are good for walking around and chasing my kids. It's always WAY more walking than you plan on, so don't try to break in new shoes on vacation. Break them in before you leave on your trip otherwise your feet will be miserable.

Another tip that is absolutely essential for traveling with kids? Pack a crossbody bag so that you can be hands-free when you're out with the kids and don't forget to pack a portable charger so that you never run out of battery when you're on-the-go.


#8 - Take advantage of blow-dry bars and express spa services
Let's face it, most hotel blow dryers are total crap and definitely not an option for someone like me who has a lot of hair. Instead, when visiting cities like London and NYC I like to research blow dry bars in advance that are close to my hotel. Hands down, Dry Bar in NYC is my absolute favorite. In London, Hershesons Blow Dry Bar is the best. Don't forget to check nearby salons and spas for express spa services. A 30-minute mani? Yes, please. Selfridges in London has a great beauty workshop that offers a variety of beauty services including a full nail bar, lash services, and even spray tans.


#9 - Take advantage of Frequent Flyer programs
If you travel with kids in tow, be sure to sign them up for their own frequent flyer accounts so that they can accumulate points toward a free trip or discounted ticket. We took several trips with my son before realizing that as a paid customer he was also eligible to earn travel miles. Don't make this mistake. Sign up your kids now before your next travel adventure and they'll start accumulating travel miles that you can use on future trips.

#10- Keep Calm and Carry On 
This is the most important travel tip of all. Travel is an adventure and no matter how much time you spend planning everything out, at some point, you have to embrace the fact that not everything goes accordingly to plan. Trust me, I'm a total "Type A" personality and this one was hard for me, but once I learned to just relax and roll with it, traveling got so much easier.  Little ones pick up on your stress and will react to situations based on how you handle them, so remember to keep calm and carry on, and your kids will too!

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