THREE MOMS ◽ TIPS
Traveling with the kiddos…some did this summer…some are still afraid…and some just find it exhausting even thinking about it. Our three moms all went on family vacays this summer and are sharing their tips on all things related to the kids! So if you haven’t gone yet or last time you did, it was a disaster, we hope these tips will encourage you to pack up and go! Find a weekend or week soon, this fall, where you can escape and play…
Mom 1 (kids ages almost 2 and 4):
We finally took a family vacation this week to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Our girls are toddlers, and the thought of flying during COVID-19 made me a nervous wreck. We started planning several months ago and knew we wanted to go somewhere with a beach. Living in Alaska for the past several years, we didn't get much beach time! I started researching beaches that were close enough we could drive but some place we had never been before... we had several friends recommend the Florida gulf or Alabama gulf coast. I picked a place that had a very FLEXIBLE cancellation policy. I had no clue where this pandemic would lead, so having some flexibility in our vacation plans was crucial. I found a resort in Gulf Shores State Park (away from the city/crowds) that would allow us to cancel up to 24-hours before arrival. That was great! I looked for family-friendliness, which they had (pool, beach, outside dining, nature center, etc.)
Other than that, that was about ALL the planning I did! Our past year has been filled with a lot of change, challenges, stress and A LOT of planning. I wanted our vacation to be relaxing, chill, and not filled with to-do items.
Our vacation definitely looked a little different due to COVID-19 but it was still enjoyable. To keep us protected, we were:
Constantly washing/sanitizing our hands…hand sanitizing stations everywhere.
Wearing required masks indoors - but with our kids so young, we couldn’t keep any type of mask on them. We wear tried to have our girls social distance as much as possible.
Staying away from the big city and keeping to ourselves.
Sitting outside to eat to avoid crowded indoor areas.
Packing breakfast items and lunch items so we could minimize our contact with others (and save money) - PB&J, yogurt, granola, milk, cereal, fruit, pop tarts.
Traveling with toddlers isn't easy but they were troopers. Our drive was around 8-hours one way. A lot of time for little kids! To keep them entertained, I some new gifts to explore on our trip - easy to maintain, and no mess!
These books were a hit and I highly recommend!
These puzzles were hard for my 1 year old but my 3 year old loved them! Make sure to provide a hard surface for your little one to work on it, in the car.
These doodle boards were a hit as well. The girls used both sides to color w/ crayons but oh well!
We also brought books from home, baby dolls (their favorite), and let them use their tablets for a movie. This broke up a good part of our trip, and they even took a 2-3 hour nap!
Mom 2: (kids ages 8, 7 and 5)
Each kid had a backpack and I attached zipper pouches to each one. In the pouch were their masks and travel hand sanitizer, and then a small package of wipes. We were very clear about wearing masks, what they could and couldn't touch, and we went over everything before we traveled. The kids were great about it all!
We didn't pack snacks out of the gate because we flew. Once we landed and were in our space, we stopped and got snacks like crackers, drinks and each kid picked out their favorite candy.
Make it fun, include the kids in your planning, but give options you know are within your budget.
Create in Word or on computer custom ID tags for their backpacks (they were so excited!) It's a simple way to include them and get them pumped up.
In order to not pack 5 suitcases, we packed one big one and then a small carry-on. We all had our own backpack for personal items. We limited kids to one stuffy, their tablet, a coloring book and one toy (because on road trips they tend to want to bring every toy). We packed clothing in large baggies to remove air, pack tighter and make room to fit everything in one bag. It worked great!
We planned flights, car rentals, place to stay and a couple big activities. But we tried to leave room open for flexibility. However, we did set a budget for everything. We talked each evening about things we saw or wanted to do and budgeted them. Budget even included souvenirs. We did pretty well. We went over a little, but had some wiggle room there with some extra funds that came in.
Our experience was GREAT! I wasn't sure about flying with Covid, but honestly Frontier Airlines was amazing! They were so clean, so well organized, and they reminded about masks and not "gathering" at restrooms on the plane several times through the flight. The airport was clean, and they spaced people out. Car rental was the same. Colorado and the towns we were in did a phenomenal job on safety and protection.
Breckenridge, Colorado was where we went - beautiful weather, so much hiking and outdoor activities! It's a great place travel on a budget because so many things are free. Breckenridge has free bus system and gondola rides. This is a great way to experience another state, the outdoors and family fun without breaking the bank. We hiked, we explored, we visited a zoo, and walked everywhere! It was just an amazing trip!
Limit what they can bring.
Pre-download videos on tablets so they are set for plane rides. Use an app like Hopper to track plane ticket prices ahead of time. It alerts deals and specials. Include some surprises too and give hints to excite them.... they'll talk about it for hours.
Don't over plan or plan out every hour with littles. Being able to sleep in and just flow at times was so great. This made the trip relaxing and not stressful.
Balance the planning and go-go-go with…let's just hang out, chill and leave room to find "treasures" along the way. BUDGET! Setting a budget seems in the moment like a barrier, but really it creates freedom to do things so you aren't constantly saying no, or we have to discuss that again, or we probably can't do that.
Find places that have kitchenettes if you can. This allowed us to buy our own groceries. It saved us tons when it can cost us $30-$50 to eat out each meal. We made breakfast and sandwiches and only spent $100 total for four days. We budgeted in for coffee (because we love coffee), one special lunch and a couple of dinners.
Mom 3: (kids ages 11, 9, 7, 4)
We went to Jellystone – a camping resort – tons of fun! We packed as normal (but added masks!). It was just a regular camping experience.
Each kid had a suitcase and packed their own stuff. They also each brought a backpack. (We double checked of course).
Planning – we booked our cabin about a month in advance. Everything was on the resort to do. We have our camping gear already ready…but also brought bikes, balls, sports equipment, s’mores ingredients, and fishing poles. We traveled there in two cars and that was totally worth it, so that we had all we needed.
The days were planned for us or we could do our own thing…which is great for a family of six!
Each kiddo had $50 for the week and that was their spending money – at the gift shop or activities that cost (laser tag) – they budgeted their own money. This was a great learning and fun experience for them.
Each child had a pouch on their bikes to keep their masks handy!
Jellystone was so much fun with all was there to do – definitely worth the money.