We’ve done a lot of traveling this summer, at least for us. Ben and I left for Singapore, then the whole family went to the East Coast, and we were off again for a few days this past weekend. There’s been a lot of packing, unpacking, and laundry set on repeat all summer long. When we left for our D.C. – Williamsburg trip, we wanted to pack as light as possible. We were flying into D.C., then taking Amtrak to Williamsburg, then flying out of Richmond with lots of taxis and shuttles in between, so we didn’t want to have to lug around a lot of stuff. Four kids going to and fro was already going to be a handful.
This was our first time flying with all four, while we have the whole road tripping thing with four kids down, flying with them is something we aren’t familiar with. Somehow, I managed to get 5 days worth of clothes (for all of us) in one carry-on suitcase. My mom was pretty surprised at how little we packed, and another mom on the flight who packed for the same amount of days (for a family of 5) was surprised how we were able to do it with no bags checked-in. I’m not an expert at all, since it was our first flight as a family of six, but we seemed to manage well enough, so I’m glad to share what worked well for us here with you all.
We took a red-eye, since it was the most economical and direct way to get to D.C., but I had no clue how the girls were going to do on that flight. Once the plans were in place, I tried to do a little training beforehand. For a couple months leading up to the trip, every time we saw a plane, I would ask Glow, “What are we going to do on the airplane?” And I trained her to respond, “We’re going to sleep!” So that’s what she said every time I asked. I hoped if she said it enough, she would do it when the day came.
Our flight left at 11:45pm (the kids are normally in bed by 7:30pm), so it was already a late night for them, and we didn’t let them sleep on the drive to the airport. I was thinking it was going to either backfire and she would be so tired and cranky that she would wail on the plane, or she would just fall asleep. All the girls were so excited about flying, and take-off was pretty exciting for them, and after take-off, Soul went to sleep and the big girls knocked out soon after. There were some kids sitting in front of us who were watching cartoons (and Glow could see the screen), so she would try to watch, I had to do some maneuvering to block her view between the seats, and after some tossing and turning, she fell asleep. Whew! Then, I fell asleep once I knew she was done for the night. Since it was a direct flight it was only about 4.5 hours, but the kids seemed to sleep well the entire time (it was a different story for Ben and me) and we woke up just a little bit before landing. Once we landed, the girls were so excited and ready to go. We had a shuttle pick us up, and thankfully, we were able to do early check-in at the hotel, so we spent about half an hour just reorienting ourselves with the area and plans for the day before we set off exploring with only about 5 hours of sleep in all our bodies.
The plane ride home was just as smooth, even though we had a layover, and all the girls fell asleep on the plane ride again. I’m thankful that they didn’t throw any plane tantrums and they all did a really good job on all the flights. You just never know with kids, so this first experience with all of them turned out really well.
Now for the packing tips, I packed the exact amount of clothes needed (no extras), one set of pajamas for each person (we bathed each night, so I figured they would stay clean), and I think what made the biggest difference in getting it all to fit into one carry-on suitcase is that I ironed everything. I ironed all the clothes to free them from wrinkles, then folded them to be put in the suitcase, and ironed them all again folded to flatten it even more. I totally think that did the trick! Everyone pretty much only had one pair of shoes and those were the shoes we wore on the plane, so we didn’t have to worry about packing any shoes in the suitcase (though I did throw one extra pair for the girls just in case). All our toiletries were travel size and Ben had them in his messenger bag (not in the suitcase), and I put enough diapers in the carry-on suitcase to last the 5 days we were gone. We didn’t bring any laptops, just an iPad, and I made each of the girls their own mini backpacks and in it were their books, crayons, and a light sweater. I had one backpack, and in it was my camera, wide angle lens, and wallet. We also brought our light umbrella stroller with us too, and that’s that for everything we brought along. Packing light made it really easy!
The girls knew they were each in charge of their own backpack, and since we only had one stroller, they knew their little legs had to do all the walking and complaining wasn’t going to get them very far. I’m pretty proud of them because they were such troopers the entire trip. Sure, we had to stop here and there to break up a fight or put one of them in time-out, but overall, they all did a fantastic job.
What are some of your tips and tricks for traveling with children?