Saturday, March 22, 2014

Traveling with Littles: My Best Tips

We are actually winging our way to the States today!  It's been a year and a half since we've stepped foot on US soil (well, we did go to the embassy at some point this last year...does that count?  Or is that just a urban legend?)  We are going for a two week time with family and we are thrilled!

Anyway, as I was packing, I felt myself fall into a normal groove.  You know what I mean.  This packing thing is so natural now.  And I have needed something natural and normal this last couple of weeks.  We've been in the mists of a hurricane with ministry stuff, and while everything is completely out of control and nothing is nailed down and the winds are hollowing around me, at least I can put things in suitcases and organize backpacks.

That got me thinking about my List of Things that Work when Traveling with Kids.

Ok, so in no particular order, here's what works for our family when traveling by plane.

  • Stroller.  Yes, my boys are getting big, but we're still taking our double stroller.  This maybe one of the last trips for the double.  But it works well when little legs get tired.

  • Empty water bottles/sippy cup.  Since you can't bring a water bottles full through security any more, we bring empty ones and then fill them up.  We've even had it where the flight attendants fill them up with juice on the plane.  And I mean FILL them.  All the way.
  • Backpacks.  I know this may not work for everyone, but for us it does.  I keep them light because there are times when the little people get tired.  This time, here's what's in each kids' backpack.  And each boy has patches from every country they have traveled to.  We love the LL Bean ones (I buy them used on Ebay.) They are sturdy and have taken a beating and still are great!

1.  Colored pencil roll                                     
2. New Lego minfig. My boys are obsessed!
3.  Large popsicle sticks.  You can make just 
about anything with these                      
4. Large dot stickers. To make faces, to stick 
on Dad, to use as tape                             
5.  Pipe cleaners.  Theses things are amazing!
         They are lightweight take up almost no room 
      and provide endless hours of entertainment
6.  Headphones and mp3 player loaded           
with audio books                                
7.  Large drawing pad.  I love how these are   
 such a common thing here in Costa Rica
8.  2 books with multiple stories                     

  •  A lightweight piece of fabric or blanket to sit on in the airport picnic style.    This is nice for baby to lay on and get some wiggles out, and for bigger people to sit on too.  We actually look for spots that have lots of floor space to help us stretch out.  You can also put your stroller at an angle and sorta create a space for your family. 
  •  Limit the blankets/stuffed animals/lovies.  My boys want to have a blanket, stuffed animal and....and...and...nope.  Sorry.  One thing man.
  • Snacks.  Need I say more?  I try to pick snacks that won't spoil and that are bit different from our normal routine.
  •  Audio stuff.   Remember item #6 in the backpack?  Books on Tape...errrrrrr mp3?  I think they are called Audio books now.  Anyway.  You can sometimes get these from your "local" library's website.  Yeah, go grab your library card out of that drawer from last time you were stateside!  Or email your sister and beg for her card number, because yes, you can access a lot of libraries digital stuff from overseas! Sweet!  Also, include a pair of kid friendly headphones.  Our boys have these. (Thank you Grandma and Grandpa!)  They are great because they actually stay on and don't hurt their ears and they are pretty rugged.  I just made these drawstring bags for them for their backpacks so they can keep the headphones and the player together.

  • Don't use up everything all at once.  Ration, people.  Don't let them break out everything the second they get to the airport.  Take your time.
Ok, so your turn.  What is your best tip for traveling with kids?  Share the love sistas!


  1. My best tip is trying to keep things as much like routine as possible. (Yeah, right!) I mean, at home we eat, play, sleep... while traveling we eat, play, sleep. This is more for traveling with a baby than older kids, but it goes for them, too. I do not try to keep to our actual schedule, just the general order of everything. Very much go with the flow, and don't make a big deal of anything.

    And we don't carry much with us as all. Fun backpacks sound great, and I know they're perfect for some families, but I personally just can't juggle them all and keep track of them. We do best with one small bag carried by Papa, or two at most.

    Oh, and this is essential for us: several years ago my husband asked me to keep track of our children's "lovies" as if they were actually children. Really. That's the kind of priority I put on those things! Before every move, I count heads: four children, both blankets... okay, we're good to go. :-)

    1. love the counting the lovies like kids!!!! So true!

  2. Hi ladies! I'm Liz's friend Elizabeth, and I've stalked her over to this website because I'm her biggest fan ever. I'm not a missionary. I'm not even a mom. But Liz is awesome at being a missionary mom - she stayed at my house for a couple of days on her recent trip to the states so I got to see her in action. Here's some other cool things that she did that I was impressed by:

    1. She's got this awesome tent for her baby that he sleeps in, and it folds up to the size of a pizza so that they can take it with them. I think it really helped her little one to have a consistent sleeping spot the whole time he was here.

    2. These folks plan like you wouldn't believe. While we were packing for their return flight they were planning out who would carry what in the airport and what every single step would be. I was impressed with the intense way that they visualized the entire process and talked through details in advance... "do you want to leapfrog our bags like we did last time?" "If the skycap service is less than $5 a bag is probably worth it, but if it's more than that we can go without." That sort of thing. By anticipating as much as they can, they minimize the decisions they will have to make on "game day."

    3. Liz packs her checked bags to a nice, conservative 47 pounds. My aunt (who is a missionary) takes a different approach - she packs them right up to 50, but puts something on the top that she's willing to leave behind. Then, if the bag weighs in too heavy, she pulls that top item out and re-weighs it. Often she's able to squeak by with the little extra weight, but this strategy only works if you are truly OK with leaving that top item behind (and have a friend with you to take that top item home with her).

    Thanks for letting me crash the party, friends.

    1. you are such a stinker!! I just found this post!! Love you so much friend!!!