Traveling light with kids

Vacationing and traveling in general isn’t quite so easy with kids. Am I right?

The thought of driving 12 hours with our 3 boys was beginning to concern me a bit. We have driven with the 2 boys so many times, since they were born, doing 12 hour car trips to New Jersey and/ or Florida at least 2 or 3 times a year, but adding a baby could get tough quickly. Now, we are certainly not ones to shy away from doing things just because we have children. They have been on many, many flights, road trips, vacations, family and holiday visits. We even took Hunter to Hawaii when he as 13 months old and I was pregnant. And once in my life I flew solo with 2 kids, 2 1/2 years old and 8 months old… never again. But aside from that, these guys know how to pack, travel and enjoy time visiting family, friends and vacationing throughout the year.

Right now, we have: a 3 year old, “I gotta go potty”, a 5 year old, “Are we there yet?” and an 8 month old who doesn’t just sleep in the car seat all of the time any more, to say the least. But we were prepared to drive to Destin, Florida for family vacation with my in-laws driving also. However, with 2 days notice, Hurricane Michael had done enough destruction to our resort that they weren’t going to open back up the following week and we had to find a new vacation spot. My father-in-law quickly changed reservations to another Florida Wyndham resort and before we knew it, we were going to Pompano Beach and booking flights to Ft. Lauderdale (yes, just 2 days before we traveled).

Pompano Beach would turn our 12 hour drive to 18+ hours which just isnt feasible with these guys right now. Luckily, I found fairly cheap and direct flights through Allegiant Air and just had to pay for suitcases and a rental car. (And Josh and I were finally going back to where we met 12 1/2 years ago. ❤)

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To be honest, the packing for our flight as opposed to a road trip was SO much easier. We decided we were going to pack as light as possible. (I tend to overthink things and pack more than necessary because you never know…) We decided we were taking 1 suitcase with all 5 of our clothes and shoes for a 7 day vacation. We could buy diapers, baby food, sunscreen, umbrella and beach necessities there and the place we were staying had a washing machine in the room. Also, we had a full kitchen and bought breakfast and lunch food there too which just added to the convenience. Now, if we were driving, we would have had to pack beach chairs, stroller, wagon, bikes, helmets, beach tent, coolers, tubes, the list goes on and on.

SO, with efficiency in mind, this is how we packed-

  • 1 large suitcase held 4-5 outfits per person, toiletries, 2 bathing suits each, flip flops and we traveled wearing our sneakers. We didn’t need to worry about extra pants and sweatshirts for the boys because the temperature highs were in the 80’s and lows in the 70’s for late October in southern Florida 🙂
  • The boys packed a couple of toys in their backpacks (free “personal items” for them) and we made sure they left enough room to fit their lifejackets into those backpacks.
  • My carry-on included 2 days worth of diapers, wipes, bottles and a change of clothes for Wyatt. I also brought our iPad for the 2.5 hour flight (which we didn’t even need) and my personal items (wallet, phone, sunglasses). I didn’t even bring my purse.
  • I had 1 mandatory 90 minute online class while we were on vacation (Marketing was my 3rd class toward my MBA) and so I fit my laptop in my diaper bag/carry-on.
  • I wore Wyatt in a baby carrier and did without a stroller 🙌🏻
  • We checked 2 booster seats for the bigger boys (who are both over 40 pounds) and Wyatt’s infant car seat and base (all for free of course).
  • Josh brought his golf clubs and got to golf 3 mornings with his Dad (while Mimi, the boys and I took walks around the property and checked out the pools, built sandcastles at the volleyball sand pit, saw the ponds, gardens and all of the wildlife like ducks, lizards, an iguana, herons, and so on.)

Out trip was so great. It was freeing to pack lightly, just the necessities, and not be consumed with our stuff. We did buy the cheap beach chairs, shovels for sandcastles or hole digging, and umbrella from Walmart and then donated them when we left. We bought 2 $5 cooler bags and repurposed them as carry-ons when we flew home. Also, we used a pack-n-play, which was free from the resort, for Wyatt to sleep in during our week stay.

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We rented a mini-van for less than $400 for the week and it fit all 7 of us. We always own large SUVs and trucks to fit our big family lifestyle and to haul our boat and camper but we were definitely spoiled by the comforts of a brand new Dodge Caravan for the week. It fit all of us and our stuff.

Also, we ate dinner out (seafood!) almost every night and doing without the stroller was easy enough. I am learning that if you challenge yourself, you can easily do without all of the many, many things that babies and kids usually need or want. Josh is great at asking, “Do you really need that?” And usually the answer is no. Do you know much about The Bucketlist Family? They are minimalists and they travel the world with just a couple outfits each and a few toys per kid. Now that’s something to admire. <<More on Minimizing later.>>

Hunter said his favorite part of vacation was visiting the Everglades and holding an alligator. Deacon said his favorite part was going to the beach and getting knocked down by the waves! (I loved the alligators and beach too, guys!)

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Look at Deacon’s smile here ❤

We had a ton of quality family time and enjoyed the pool, beach and really warm weather. Vacations always fly by so quickly, don’t they? We could have easily spent another week there. Yes, traveling with 3 kids isn’t necessarily easy but we know how to relax and enjoy ourselves too, especially having 4 adults to handle 3 kiddos. 🙂

Where are your favorite family vacation spots? How do you travel with kids and what tips do you have to make it easier on the parents?

as always, thanks for reading.

xoxo

kim

ps- enjoy this 🍑

The Indianapolis Zoo

We learned that Hunter would not have Kindergarten today due to the school’s first Student Enrichment Day. I am  beginning to understand that students will be able to have a few of these days where they can learn virtually when there is inclement weather, etc. We logged into his Google classroom and did some fun activities. BUT FIRST, we spent our day at the Indianapolis Zoo. And what an enriching day we had.

This was my and Wyatt’s first trip although my parents have taken the older boys 3 times in the past couple of years. Josh won 2 tickets at a golf benefit recently and with Hunter having the day off and the weather looking perfect, I made a decision just last night to go with my Mom!

We started off at the “Ocean” which included fish, sharks, penguins and dolphin exhibits. A clownfish, “Nemo” caught Wyatt’s eye and he tried to grab him through the glass. Hunter pet a shark and Deacon loved the fuzzy hair on the little penguins. The dolphin exhibit is beautiful but we missed the show this time.

We then made our way to lunch, the playground, got the boys ice cream and to visit all of the monkeys. We met a 40 year old mommy orangutan, Kim, and her 2 year old baby, Max. Next we saw a few of my favorites including lemurs, zebras, giraffes, antelope and baboons. The boys climbed some rocks in the beautifully landscaped gardens and in between exhibits. We saw lions, cheetahs, and an enormous tiger- oh my! The rhinos, elephants and flamingos were all fascinating too.

At this point, it was getting well past Deacon’s nap time and he was letting it show. And Hunter was obviously tired as well. We quickly saw all of the reptiles including snakes, turtles and lizards. It was time to go but we were able to see most of the zoo in about 4 hours. Wyatt was a trooper and we used the stroller and carried him a bit to show him some of the animals too. I’m so grateful Mom was there with us. What an amazing day we had!

The Indianapolis Zoo is beautiful, well cared for and maintained and definitely clean. There were many informative signs, volunteers and exhibits that I would have loved to spend time to read, listen and learn more. Maybe when they’re older… We can’t wait to go back!

Turn them around DD

The big Rhino weighed 4800 lbs!

We think he had a nightmare about this on the drive back home 😅

Also, the boys decided to bring their own binoculars this morning! What a smart idea, I thought. I asked Deacon to use them so that he could let me know if the zeebra was white with black stripes or black with white stripes.  The verdict? 

“White. White with brown stripes, Mom.”