Fifty Two Shades of Shay: Traveling With Your Kids

Today’s Shade of Shay has been highly requested.  I mean…some people have flat out begged me to talk about it (I won’t mention any names Ashley Vaughan…), so I’m really excited to share and hopefully, give you some great ideas and tips.  This post is full of info…I tried to cover everything!
Here’s the thing…I am not the perfect parent.  I have a lot of struggles with my kiddos…potty training has never come easily, eating all of their veggies is a battle of the wills, my kids hate when I take their picture…seriously, I have a long list of things we are not great at over here at the Shull house…but there are two things I have mastered…getting my kids to take long naps and traveling.  I am your go-to girl for both topics.

Just to lay the groundwork…here are some quick facts about my kids and traveling:
1. They both flew on planes for the first time as infants.
2. They’ve each been to 13 different countries.
3. They’ve each flown up to 16 hours at a time.
4. They’ve both been on cruise ships.
5. We’ve survived every trip we’ve taken (you think you won’t survive sometimes, but you will!).
6. They travel well in the car too (Andrew’s family lives 6 hours away and we always drive)
Mine and Andrew’s favorite thing to do is travel…I’ve been traveling since I was a small child and so, it’s just a part of my nature.  We told ourselves that even though we have kids, we are not going to let that stop us from traveling.  About half the time, we take the kids and about half the time, we travel without them.  
Here are some benefits of traveling with your kids:
1. They learn patience.
2. They learn about how airports, security and flight crews operate (it’s way more educational than just watching a Bubble Guppies episode…they really absorb this stuff!).
3. They learn to eat, nap, be quiet, etc. in other locations than just home.
4. It’s great bonding!  You really feel like a team when you’re getting from A to B together.
5. You’re removed from the distractions of every day life.
I know that my kids will never remember going to Russia with us…but Andrew and I will always remember taking them.  Don’t travel for your young kids to remember things, travel because you want to enjoy their company and experience things with them in tow.  My kids might not remember exactly where they’ve been…but they have a sense of family, a sense of togetherness that formed by them being away with us.  And Andrew and I have some amazing memories…

I’m first going to cover traveling in the car…and then I’ll cover traveling by plane.  Here we go…

Traveling in the Car

1. Bring blankets
For whatever reason, my kids are much more quiet and content on a long car trip if they’re snuggled beneath a blanket.  They also nap longer in the car if they have a blanket.

2. Try and leave early in the morning or late at night
I find that my kids nap more and are more content if we load them up early in the morning or late at night.  It might be more work for you but it will help your little ones.

3. Dress them in comfy clothes
As a grownup, the worst thing is sitting in the car for a long time in tight, uncomfortable clothes, so the same is true for your kids.  I let my kids travel in their pjs.  I’m just trying to keep them happy!

4. Limit their beverages
I’m not saying dehydrate them but don’t hand them a Big Gulp either.  Kids get squirmy and whiny when they have to potty…and you don’t want to have to stop every hour for a restroom break, so limit what they drink and everyone is happy.

5. Pack some candy

Or pack some kind of treat…traveling is the time to indulge, so if they’re being extra good…or extra cranky and you need to make them smile, pack something extra fun (but not too messy) like jelly beans, Sweet Tarts, etc.

6. Bring a ton of wet wipes and plastic grocery bags
Nothing is worse than a big mess in the car while driving 70 mph through the middle of Oklahoma…carry a ton of wet wipes.  And carry those plastic grocery bags for your wet wipe trash (or any other trash).

7. Use movies and/or music
If your car doesn’t have a DVD player in it, you can buy one like this for road trips and airplanes…

…or you can use a i-Phone or i-Pad.  I’ve learned that my kids like a few familiar things to watch and a few new things.  You can buy the headphone splitters that allow two people to use headphones and watch the same movie or of course, you could play it in the car without headphones.

My number one tip for packing for car road trips is this…don’t over pack.  If you’re traveling within the US, then whatever you forget at home, you can find where you’re going.  Trust me.  At first, Andrew and I would over pack to drive to his parents’ house in Missouri until I realized that….hey, they have a Walmart too!  If I run out of diapers, or wipes, or baby wash…I can pick some up in Missouri, I don’t necessarily have to bring a year supply from home for my short weekend stay.  Don’t fret about not having what you need when you get there…you will be able to find it or something close to it…relax.

Things to consider packing:
1. A pack ‘n play or other type of crib
2. A sound machine (so baby can’t hear others and others can’t hear baby during nap/sleep time)
3. A light weight stroller
4. Garbage bags to bring your dirty laundry home in
5. A few of your kids favorite toys, books, or blankets (it’s good to have a few familiar things)
6. Clothes you can layer for your kids (to accomodate any type of weather)

And if your kid screams for a while in the car…don’t worry…at least your not on an airplane full of annoyed strangers…which leads me to…

Traveling By Plane

The first time we flew to Europe with our kids, Smith was 5 months old and Kensington 21 months old.  Because they were under two, we didn’t have to buy them an airplane seat…so, it was just me and Andrew holding them in our laps the entire way there…if I can survive that and live to blog about it, you can too!  Here are my best tips, tricks and ideas for flying with your kids…
1. Bring umbrella strollers instead of anything bigger.
I have all sorts of fancy big strollers, but when I travel, I always bring one umbrella stroller for each kid.  They’re light weight, they’re easy to fold up, you can take them right on board the flight with you, and if you want to separate with your hubby (or other traveling partners) you can, and each one has their own kid with their own stroller.  Plus, airlines are hard on things like strollers, so don’t bring your nice, expensive one.  Just bring one like this
Even though Kensington is almost five, I still travel with a stroller for her.  Her little legs just can’t keep up all day long traveling…it’s so much faster to stick her in a stroller when we need to move quickly.  And don’t feel like you have to buy more than one umbrella stroller if you have more than one kid…borrow one from a friend (sweet Erika’s stroller has traveled with us all over the world…it need its own passport!).
2. Don’t worry with car seats! 
I get a lot of emails from people asking me how to travel with their car seats.  In almost five years as a parent, I have yet to travel with a car seat.  Car rental agencies let you rent them out, so that’s what we always do.  The last thing I need is to lug car seats through a crowded airport with my kids and luggage.  And again, airlines are hard on baby gear…I don’t want them damaging my kiddos’ nice car seats.  Reserve a car seat from a car rental agency right there in your arriving airport and you’re good to go.
3. Put your kids in easy clothes
And by easy clothes, I mean something that looks like this

…it’s soft and comfy, it has a pattern (so spills and messes won’t stand out as much), and it would be easy to take her potty in (unlike jeans).  Also, make sure you put them in shoes that are easy to come on and off (and not for security, young children don’t have to remove their shoes any more while going through security…it’s for when she takes them on and off on the plane and you’re wedged in a small, confined seat trying to put them back on her).  I love these for traveling…

Toms.  They’re just so easy.
It’s also smart to bring a light weight jacket just in case the airport or airplane is chilly.

4. If your kiddo is at least 3, give them their own back pack of stuff to entertain themselves
My kids love having their own bag on the airplane.  We load it full of coloring books and crayons (not markers!  Markers will make your life miserable on a plane!), stickers, candy, small toys, and their little blankets (again, bring their own blanket!).

5. Bring snacks, snacks and more snacks
I almost always bring my snacks from home for our plane trips.  If it’s not a liquid, you can take it past security.  If you wait and purchase your snacks when you arrive at the airport, you’ll end up paying $5 for a Kit-Kat…and who want to do that?!  I’m all about eating in moderation and limiting a child’s sugar intake.  I provide healthy, balanced meals for my kids every day…but on a plane, when I’m trying to keep them happy and quiet, all rules go out the window!  I keep my bag loaded with suckers (because it takes longer for them to finish it than a bag of M&Ms) and candy.  In an emergency situation, it’s amazing what a sucker can do.

6. Load up on the $1 aisle at Target
The dollar aisle at Target is the perfect place to buy plane goodies (or the $1 Store).  I load up my kids’ back packs with all sorts of stuff the occupy them while they’re in their seat.   Don’t spend too much money on this stuff because let’s face it, the odds of you making it back home with everything is slim to none…that’s why stuff that’s only a dollar works best.

7. Bring something for them to eat as a meal
If you’re on a flight that is long enough to warrant a meal, I would go ahead and pack something for your kids just in case the meal that is served isn’t what they would like.  (We were on a flight six months ago and my kids’ options were cold fish or Curry something…needless to say, they passed.)  Bring a sandwich, piece of fruit, bag of chips…simple stuff that will pack well.  Better safe than sorry in the food department.

8. Let everyone know you know flying next to a kid sucks
When my kids were little, the very first thing I would do when we boarded a flight was apologize to the people sitting around us.  I would tell them that I know flying with kids is awful and that I’m so sorry that they had to sit next to us…and you know what?  Ninety-nine percent of the time, they would tell me how they have their own kids/grandkids/niece/nephews and that they love children and don’t mind at all.  I think by you recognizing what a pain it is, makes people feel sympathetic towards you and extra nice about the situation  Trust me, try this…it works brilliantly!

9. If you’re flying with an infant, ask for a bassinet
Who knew they had bassinets on airplanes???  Until I had babies, I did not know this!  Many, many airplanes reserve seats that have a clip on spot for a baby bassinet.  When the plane is in the air, the flight attendant can attach this little bassinet and your baby can sleep right inside.  When you make your reservations, ask about this!  Now that I know about it, I notice people doing it quite often.  This is a great tip if traveling with a baby.

10. The flight attendants will keep your bottles cold 
I’ve learned that flight attendants are really great with people and babies…because they don’t want to hear your baby cry either!  If you have something that needs to be kept cold, just inform your flight attendant.  They will handle it for you.

11. If you have young kids, you can board your plane early
If you are traveling with a young child (even if that child is old enough to have its own seat), you can board your flight when they first start calling passengers (like with the First Class people).  You should board early if for nothing else, to secure as much overhead compartment space as possible.

12. There is a changing station in the airplane bathroom
Yes.  There is.  It folds up against the wall, but there is a place to change your baby on board the plane in that tiny little bathroom.  Ask a flight attendant if you need help.

13. Load up on movies and games for your kids (and practice wearing headphones!)
Make sure you bring some i-Phone, i-Pad, DVD player or something with headphones for your kid.  Most flights these days even have places where you can charge these types of electronic devices.  Also, make sure your child practices watching their movies while wearing headphones because on a flight, they’ll have to.  Give your kid a movie and a snack and watch how well they behave.

Ok…and my number one tip for flying with your kids…

RELAX!  Yes!  You really should!  Let’s say it’s the worst case scenario and you take a long flight with your kid and he/she screams the entire way…who cares?  You will never see those other passengers again.  You might think it’s awful but once it’s over, it’s over, and you’ve arrived.  Believe it or not, most people aren’t paying attention to you anyway.  If your kid screams, they scream.  You just stay calm and keep chanting to yourself, “This is ok, I’ll never see these people again”.  The more worked up you get, the more worked up your kid will get.

I have received some questions about medicating kids prior to flights.  I’ve tried this a couple of times and it has never worked for me…so, I don’t do it.  (You know, given them something like Benadryl before a flight.)  I wouldn’t if I were you, just because I don’t think it works well.  My hubby always says, just leave them alone.  When your kid is on a flight, if they’re quiet and content, just leave them alone.  Don’t bother them, don’t try and pull out a million toys for them…if they’re quiet, just leave them alone.  I think that’s great advice too.

Things to pack in your carry-on bag:
1. extra sets of clothes for each kid
2. an extra shirt for you
3. 10 large Ziploc baggies (for dirty diapers, soiled clothes, holding toys and books, leaky bottles, etc.)
4. snacks
5. bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes (and more wipes…you can never have enough!)
6. Identification for your child (a passport is required if leaving the United States, a birth certificate if you’re staying within the US)

Next week, I’m going to do a completely separate post on just taking your kids to Walt Disney World…because I get a lot of questions about that!  At the end of that post, I will answer any questions you might have from this post.  So, if you have questions, leave me a comment and I’ll answer it next Friday, April 19 on my Disney post.  I will also do a Shade of Shay in a few weeks about preparing and planning for vacations…saving for them, determining which destination you should go if you’re going just with your spouse, with your kids or with friends.  Look for that post April 30.

And next week…it’s Fifty Two Shades of Shay: My Fitness Routine πŸ™‚

Here are just a few pics I have of my kids traveling…

Have a wonderful day!!

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  • Trish White April 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Amen to suckers! Our boys get to have one during takeoff and landing to prevent ear pressure pain. Dum dums save the day!

  • Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} April 9, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I think I just broke out in hives. And I need a paper bag to breathe into. My goodness you are a wealth of information on this topic. SO MANY great tips!!!

  • Tara G. April 9, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Great tips, Shay! We traveled to 22 countries in 2 years on a particular military assignment we had. Our oldest was 6 months when we began, and we had a blast! Your stroller tip is great- the little foot strap is perfect for the other parent to grab when you must walk up and down stairs in places without ramps. They also fit better on escalators (not every country is as safety conscious as we are!). I trained my kids to take room temp bottles when I used formula. Travel blow up high chairs are great for non-baby homes or if you have room in your luggage. Every single country had diapers; we packed enough to get us through a flight and a night and bought on the economy. My husband is a pilot; he always says the best thing for a child who ends up only being able to cry during altitude changes is crying (as embarrassing as it is). Here is a link to a photo of how we'd travel around for 2+ weeks:

  • Emily April 9, 2013 at 11:19 am

    thank you so much for this post! i am due with my first in june {a little boy, liam}, and i can only hope and pray that he will be a good little traveler like your kids! we are even thinking about a trip to germany next fall {2014} to visit family, and although some people may think we're crazy, you have given me some confidence that it can be done!

    thanks again, shay! i'm a big fan of your family from watching the bachelor! πŸ™‚

  • Stacey April 9, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Your children are adorable!! I love how you have taken them both travelling from such a young age. My parents did the exact same thing, I was 4 when we went around the world and people thought my parents were crazy, but they survived and this was back in the day where there were no tv screens on the back of seats! I still have memories of that trip and am so fortunate that my parents took my sister and I on vacations with them while growing up.

  • MorganizewithMe April 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Great tips, I need to print these out. Limit liquids and bringing wipes – even though my kids are older these two remain the same. πŸ™‚ Thanks Shay!!

  • Kelly Jo April 9, 2013 at 11:42 am

    This is a great post!

    My question for next week: What do you think is a good age for Walt Disney World?

  • Aubs April 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    You are hands down the pro on this one!! We don't fly very often at all but we do ALOT of road trips!! Such a great post with tons of great advice!! =)

  • Natalie Stephens April 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    My husband and I have traveled quite a bit with out young kids as well. We are leaving this month for a three county tour of Europe with our 3 and 1 year old so this post came in extra handy as I am stressing about what to pack, etc. I have one thing to add. We traveled from Dfw to Paris and Barcelona when our oldest was 20 months and I was 6 months pregnant. I thought it was going to be awful and you know what? It wasn't at all! So my tip is keep you expectations LOW, expect a whiney kid who won't sleep and cries. And I am almost guarantee they will do so much better than your expectations and you in return will be so much more relaxed!

  • The Dentons April 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Great tips! Thank you for this post. My question is about carseats. What do you do if you need to take a taxi somewhere? Do you always rent a car with carseats in other countries or even other cities in the US? Or do you just plan on walking most places?

  • Shelli April 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post!!! Great advice! We have a 14 hour (splitting into 2 days) drive vacation in June and are flying to Disney in October with our 2 year old. You better believe I am pinning this post and your Disney post!

  • Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    thanks for the tips and just wanted to say SUPER excited for the WDW and kids post… my husband and i are thinking of taking my 3 yr old and (will be)1 yr old there later this year… thanks!

  • Kristin Loboda April 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks so much for all the helpful info! I am definitely putting this in my bookmarks :).

  • Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Another great trick is to bring packs of stickers with you. We would give our kids a sheet of stickers and they would spend an hour peeling them from the paper and sticking them to the tray table. It's also a wonderful way to improve their fine motor skills. The stickers peel off the tray tables easily and everyone is happy. Bandaids also work well. It takes them a long time to get the bandaids out of the wrappers too!! Yes, these were our tricks when our kids were preschool ages.

  • Sharon April 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    My kids are now grown and we did many travels with them when they were young, often to Disney World. How many times I heard criticism and comments from others that "we aren't taking them and spending all that money til they can remember it". Your comment about taking them when they are young explains perfectly why its a good idea. Our eldest daughter celebrated her 1st birthday at Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World – what a great memory.
    Our grown kids now all tell us that once they have kids, camping with them will be a must.

  • Tamara @ The Workout Mama April 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you so much! This is so helpful! Caden just turned 10 months and we have yet to travel anywhere with him. I loved reading this and you have answered all the questions I have been wondering about for our upcoming trip this summer :).
    xoxo, Tamara

  • Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Hey Shay,
    I am so glad you put that disclaimer at beginning of your blog. There is such a fine line between giving advice and being arrogant. I think casually listing where you have been or "name dropping" can backfire and turn people off. That being said, your tips are merited, and I appreciate what you are trying to do. Just do realize there are people that will be put off with how you come across whatever angle you take. You obviously are on mission…more power to you!
    Charleston, SC

  • Mandy April 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    These are great (and very timely as we're doing our first Disney trip on an airplane w/ two kids in a few weeks)!

    For your Disney post, I have a few questions… do you recommend Epcot and Hollywood Studios for small kids? Do you do a meal plan? What's your approach to eating (sit downs, character meals, counter service, breakfasts in the hotel, etc)?

  • aprilparrish April 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Great info for traveling!!! I definitely have a problem with over packing. My hubby hates it!!! We have a place at the beach which is about 90 minutes away from home and I still over pack. Trying to work on it!!!

  • Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I'd love a post on getting kids to take long naps!

  • Stacey C April 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you for the great post and info!

  • Nicole April 9, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    This was a great post! We took our girls to India (12 & 9 hour flights!)last year and they did great. It's all about the prep!

  • Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    This post was SO helpful!

    – What hotel do you stay at when visiting Disney? We stayed at their budget hotel and had a great experience!
    – What did you do about naps? Did you skip them and just let your kids nap in their strollers?
    – Did you pack any lunches?

    I love that you said that you don't worry if the kids are going to remember it or not when you travel. We took our 14 month old to Disney and some people thought it was too young. We had the best time and I'm so glad we did it!

  • Karlie April 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! I love to travel and we just haven't since my son was born. This gives me new hope… I think it's about time! Now, I need to know about those long naps too! πŸ˜‰

  • Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    How do you handle all of the time changes? Are all the kid's naps "on the go" while you're traveling?

  • Brandi Robertson April 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I absolutely love the Toms you are wearing! Do you, by chance, recall the name of the pattern/color so that I can scour ebay looking for a pair?

    Thanks! Love reading your blog – found you through PinterestToldMeTo!

  • Elaine~ Honey Pie Accessories April 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Great, great tips!!! Thank you so much for sharing! When my oldest was a baby, we lived 12 hours from family and made that trip a few times a year, or we would fly. Now that I have two kids, and we live only 4 hours from family our traveling isn't as expansive as it was. And, I can guarantee you that my 5 year old does so much better in the car than my 1 year old- because she's use to it! We love the DVD player, and I make sure to have treats; dried pineapple was a hit on our last trip!

  • Nicki April 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Love your tips! I noticed in your post, DWTS Recap Episode 2 that Smith is watching a movie on the airplane. Can you tell us what headphones he's using? Also, is that an i-phone he's watching the movie on or do you have i-pods for your kiddos? Thanks!

  • Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I'm not sure how I came across your blog today, but I sure enjoyed your post. I work for an airline so I travel often with my family. My kids have the travel bug and we get out of town as often as possible…they love an adventure. I think your tips for traveling with children are great. My two girls are now both teenagers so they are super easy to travel with and know the ropes quite well, but when they were younger, I found one of my most daunting tasks associated with traveling was packing for all of us. Very early on, I taught my girls how to pack for themselves. I started by having them help me pack their bags and then I started making lists for them to pack themselves and before I knew it, all I had to do was tell them how long we would be gone, what weather to expect and to pack their bags and it was done…right down to the liquids in the quart size bag. They were packing independently by the time they were 7 or 8. That is something you can look forward to. Kids are so smart; they can absolutely live up to what is expected of them. I've also taught my girls to be very flexible when it comes to traveling so they aren't upset or disappointed when a flight is delayed or booked to capacity (this happens often because, as an airline employee, we fly stand by most of the time). They have really learned to roll with the punches.

    I love your tip about apologizing to those who have to sit next to our children as well and can attest that it works wonders. We often don't get to sit together because we take whatever open seats we can get. When my girls were younger, I used to get them settled in their seat before I would go to my seat and I would always talk to the people they were sitting next to, assuring them that I was nearby and would be checking in. I would also assure them that my children were seasoned travelers and had been taught how to behave on a flight. I think these passengers appreciated the reassurance.

    Happy future travels! It will only get easier from here on out. Traveling together has been the best family bonding we could ask for.

  • Fisher April 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    We take our daughters on 12-hour car rides traveling to and from our vacation destination each summer and I can't agree more with your tips! My girls also love music, and I love to be the car DJ, so I make playlists of all their favorite music and add some new songs for a surprise. I especially love it when my big manly husband sings along with the girly music! That always makes us giggle.
    My oldest daughter is 5 and asks me just about every day when we are going to Disney World. I'm also wondering what is a good age for that trip?

  • Williamson's April 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I have traveled tons with our kids and I 100% agree with everything you wrote!
    Also– question for next week: what age would you recommend for Disney??

  • Hilary April 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Great job Shay! That was excellent. Our boys are excellent travelers too. One other thing I do is take $5 Starbuck Gift cards. My plan was to always pass out a gift card to the person in front of us if one of my boys had an issue on the plane. However I never had to use them. Instead I would give them to airport workers who went out of their way to help us. I did this one time and that person went out of her way to help us on our returning flight home. She was a gift from God! Lastly, one question…..what do you do about a carseat & taxi. We are going to Philadelphia, PA in 4 weeks. We are not renting a car because we are staying downtown. My husband has an Ortho meeting. My mom and I are sightseeing with the boys (age 6 &1). We only need a carseat for the taxi to and from the airport. Any suggestions? In the past we have taken our own…it's a pain and takes up so much room in our hotel suite. Should we buy a cheap one from target so if it gets damaged no biggie? Help any thoughts would be awesome. THANKS! Hilary

  • Kristin Aron April 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Shay, I adore your blog. My husband is a pilot and we have a 1 year old that I've flown with 28 times so far! I love and agree with so many of your tips, especially the umbrella stroller. I also love to use the Baby Bjorn for traveling through the airport and getting on and off of the plane, so I have 2 hands to carry bags. I often travel without my husband so the Bjorn is a life saver,

  • Nicki April 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I can't wait to read the Disney post!! I'm actually leaving next Thursday, the 18th, to take my daughter for our first time! I'll have to check in Friday morning from FL to get all your tips! πŸ™‚

  • Tyler and Shea Moses April 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Great post. I'm so chicken to travel with my kids. Can you tell me about jet lag/kids sleeping once you have reached your destination, and when you return? Also- I really dislike sleeping in the same room with my kids. I wake to their every little toss and turn. How do you handle hotel stays and naps while you are there?! Thanks!! πŸ™‚

  • Surrounded-By-Boys April 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Loved this post! I have been so scared to really TRAVEL with my 2 BOYS. (yikes). However, traveling to Disney with my 2 boys is something I'm a PRO at !!!! I've even done that by myself when they were both in diapers! hA! I'm your girl if you need Disney advice!!

  • Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Your travel tips are spot on with the exception of one. My children always flew in car seats. There were no exceptions. In the event of a hard landing, you cannot protect them the way a car seat can. It isn't humanly possible. And no, in all our travels we haven't once had an emergency that made those car seats necessary…but it just takes once.

    Tips for flying with a car seat:

    Double check your safety stickers on the car seat. It should say FAA approved. Flight attendants have have checked ours several times.

    Tell the gate agent when you check in that you have car seat(s). They must be next to the window.

    Keep your boarding passes handy. You will be asked to gate check the car seat(s) at the gate. The flight attendant will tell you the flight is full and there no seats available for car seats. Some trips I have felt like a parrot saying the children are ticketed passengers too.

    As for navigating with the added "luggage" of car seats…let us be honest, those darn things get heavy and are cumbersome…our roller boards had hooks and straps. We popped those puppies on and headed to the next gate, bus, train or car.

    In the event you do travel with lap children, little known safety issue. The two seat side of airplanes have 3 O8 masks. You will be moved to another aisle if you have 2 lap children. This is an ordeal for all involved. Tell the gate agent when you arrive at the airport so you can verify you are not in these seats. I have seen this happen several times and even had flights delayed while people were moved.

    We also always took a travel crib. Other countries do not have the same safety standards and frankly, many US hotels provide horrible cribs.

  • Katie April 9, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    This is a great post! I'm not a parent, but I am a pilot's wife and lots of the things you said can apply to traveling in general, especially the one about not overpacking (every one has stores-huzzah!).

    I became a much better traveler after getting married and flying stand-by with my pilot husband. You don't get to check your bags on stand-by so I learned how to get everything into one carry on. You don't always know if you're going to get on a flight, so I learned to be patient and enjoy being in an airport just as much as the vacation itself.

    I also think kids are like animals (as a former teacher I have lots of experience with this :). They totally pick up on your stress. So the more relaxed you can be while traveling the more relaxed they will feel.

  • Rachel Johnson April 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    what about tips on how to travel affordably? I think the reason why a lot of people don't travel more is because it adds up with kids.

  • Anonymous April 10, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Thanks for the great tips. Do you have any tips for adjusting kids to and back from the time zone difference?

  • Julie C. April 10, 2013 at 1:15 am

    What a great post!!! I wish I would have had this post to refer to a couple yrs ago when we traveled to Hawaii w/ a 3 yr old & 11 mo old. Altho, I can't complain cuz both kids were amazing travelers!!!!

    We are wanting to take the kids to Walt Disney, but can't decide if we should wait til they're a little older or go soon…my kids will be 7 & 5 this yr. We just want to make sure they REMEMBER the trip, especially since this particular trip will mainly be for them. Thank you for all your very helpful tips!!! I am LOVING both of your blogs!!!! πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous April 10, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Hi, thanks for this post! I have a question about travel- I am traveling 8 time zones with my 8.5 month old next week- do you have any tips on how to combat jet lag and get naps under control in the new time zone? πŸ™‚ It's our first trip!!

  • Olivia April 10, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Can't wait for your fitness post! And how you save for all these trips. Great advice about traveling.

  • David April 10, 2013 at 6:10 am

    I agree with and have practiced everything you mention…except I try and keep the snacks fun with as little sugar as possible πŸ™‚ Also, hand sanitizer (we all apply this after we get through security), a zip lock full of chlorox wipes to wipe down the tray tables and everywhere little hands touch, and some handy wipes and paper towels for quick clean ups… Those are my go-to items in a pinch. Try and book your seats for as close to the front of the plane as possible. Air is circulated from the front to the back, filtered, and circulated again. To avoid those nasty travel bugs, sit closer to the cleanest air and wash, wash, wash those little hands! And despite what you see on the news, breastfeeding on a plane keeps baby's/toddler's ears from hurting on ascent and descent. Bring a cute nursing cover and don't be afraid!

  • David April 10, 2013 at 6:11 am

    I agree with and have practiced everything you mention…except I try and keep the snacks fun with as little sugar as possible πŸ™‚ Also, hand sanitizer (we all apply this after we get through security), a zip lock full of chlorox wipes to wipe down the tray tables and everywhere little hands touch, and some handy wipes and paper towels for quick clean ups… Those are my go-to items in a pinch. Try and book your seats for as close to the front of the plane as possible. Air is circulated from the front to the back, filtered, and circulated again. To avoid those nasty travel bugs, sit closer to the cleanest air and wash, wash, wash those little hands! And despite what you see on the news, breastfeeding on a plane keeps baby's/toddler's ears from hurting on ascent and descent. Bring a cute nursing cover and don't be afraid!

  • Team Seghs April 10, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Shay. I'm in see of you.
    The only real travel experience I can account for (longer than 4 hr drive) is two summers ago when I flew to Colorado with my two (1 y/o and 2.5 y/o) and just me, no other adults (that'll scar ya!) and of course the 2.5 year old decided he was ready to potty train the week before we left (ugh) so how was I supposed to have a 1 y/o who couldn't walk with a toddler who wanted to see every potty from here to kingdom come (especially the airplane potty). So- take both kids to the airplane potty, pop the infant in the sink (the Bijorn is too much trouble once inside the plane) and let little man pee. I even got a chance to go myself (whew!). But the best tip I can add is if an adult is traveling with kids and no other adults, ask for a grandparent to come along to help you to the gate. The counter people can issue a "Gate pass" so the grandparent will help you through security (and don't carry on luggage. Duh). But know that the gate person doesn't have to issue this golden "gate pass"- it is a courtesy (as one very bitter airline worker continued to announce to me in less than a kind manner). And take long deep breaths! The kids will learn to take long deep breaths watching you ; )

  • Anonymous April 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Thank you so much for this post!! So many great tips and it comes at the perfect time. We are driving with five kids from Ohio to Florida in June for a trip to Disney and the beach. Really looking forward to your Disney post next week. Also, as others have mentioned, I would like to hear tips on how to make traveling to other countries affordable.

  • Colossians 2:6-8 April 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! We travel a lot by car around the states, and it's safe to say I'm not good at knowing what to pack for our two kids sometimes. One thing I always bring with us in the car is my daughters " my carry potty." So when we are in the middle of no where land, and she has to go. We can just pull over, let her sit on it, on the floor of the car, and then we are right back on the road. It folds up and seals well too.
    For Disney, my question would be what hotel do you stay at? Or are there reasonably priced nice hotels around Disney?
    Thanks again Shay!

  • Lindsey April 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for this post. We have some travel with our kiddos (2yrs and 6 months) coming up and I'm already anxious about it. My questions is do you do anything when you get home? Like damage control or something to get your kids back on their schedules and how long should we expect until we get back to "normal?"

  • Melisa W April 10, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks for all of the great tips! Last time we flew with the kids my oldest (2.5 at the time) did not want to wear his seatbelt at times, and it became a problem. It was his first time flying in his own seat, and I don't think my husband and I were prepared for that. I think we're better prepared for our trip coming up, but just in case, how have you handled that situation in the past?

  • Amber W. April 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Shay, I love your blog and am looking forward to you Disney post. We are looking at going in the next year or two. How long in advance do you recommend booking things like meals, shows, hotel, strollers, etc?? My other question is if you have any input on the Disneyland vs Disney World. My husband hates to travel and is NOT a vactioner (which makes me very sad) but when his little girl BEGGED to see the princesses he gave in. He has stated that he would probably feel more comfortable at Disneyland but I think my daughter and I would enjoy Disney World better. What are your thoughts?? Thanks in advance!!!

  • Jaren April 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Thank you for all the time you took to do this post! Wow, how I love your blog! Can't wait to see the Disney post (first trip in June). I also look forward to seeing travel saving tips. I would LOVE to take my kids to see the world, but I need to know how you do it!

  • Anonymous April 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    We did Disneyland with our son at 9 moths from WA state and it was a blast! My husband and I wanted to go so we did. Our son was perfect the flight there, the flight home he cried the whole way but the gal next to us was so encouraging and sympathetic. We did all the rides we could and went with another family one of or three days. Ask about ride swap if you go with more adults! In the end, Disney is fun if you are up for kids rides, make sure you get your kid a nap, and are going for you because your babies will only have the pictures.

  • Erin Hamilton April 11, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Great tips!
    And I'm excited to see an upcoming Disney post is in the works since we just started planning our trip for November.
    I have a few questions:
    My girls will be 5 and almost 2, do you feel we should just visit Magic Kindom and Epcot? Is two parks enough without being overwhelming?
    Have you ever stayed at The Beach Club and would you recommend it?
    Also, do you recommend lugging our double stoller, bringing two umbrella strollers or renting from the stroller company down in Orland and getting it delivered to our hotel?
    Also, any must-do rides for the little ones and must eat places?
    Thanks so much!!!

  • Jami April 11, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    This comes at the perfect time, muy husband and I are taking our two boys, 5 & 2, on their first plane ride to none other than Disney World!!! We have been several times to Disney, but that was before kids so this trip will be all new to me.

    My question is the best time of day to fly. Our only option for a direct flight out of Louisvile is at 4:00 pm, it's a 2 hour flight so we probably wont arrive to our resort until almost 8.

    Other option is a 7:50 am flight with a layover in Baltimore, arriving in Orlando before 1:00, so layover isn't too long. Is it worth gettting kids out of bed at 6:30 to get that earlier flight? We only live about 20 minutes from our airport, so we can just grab them and go at the last minute.

    Also, a good tip for our readers. We are taking our umbrella stroller but wanted another one, there is a company called Apple Scooters who rents out scooters for Disney travelers. They just started renting strollers too, the same kind you can rent out from Orlando Stroller Rental or Kingdom Strollers. Right now they are free, all you pay is $5/day for insurance plus tax.

  • The Tomlinsons April 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    I always pack wipes and diapers together in a ziplock bag so I don't have to take the whole thing to the tiny bathroom. And I usually make 2 oz containers of Nutella or PB to go with pretzels and put them in with the zippy bag that has the small fluids. And always take extra wipes and have them handy, like in an outside pocket or with our snacks to clean up after we eat…ourselves and the tray since we're messy. And suckers have saved our skins on take off and landings…gotta keep the kids swallowing to equalize the pressure in their ears. Less is more, try to really think about how much you want to be carrying on top of having to carry kids, if you won't need it, put it in with the checked baggage. I'm always over packing our carry ones and regretting it.

  • Anonymous April 11, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Can I add something about plane travel as a selfish childless traveller? PLEASE do not bring your kids on the red eye flight! They will be cranky and cry and kick the seat in front of them (usually mine) ALL flight, while everyone else is trying to sleep. Try to bring them during the day when they are up anyway (and so is everyone else, so getting sleep on the flight isn't the hugest deal ever). kthx πŸ™‚

    Also, Shay, what do you do for seating arrangements? Do you pay in advance to select your seats so you can all sit together? What happens if there are 3 to a side? Split up 2 and 2 (and would you sit aisle or window)? Or 3 and 1?

  • Raegan ~ FrillyLittleDetails April 15, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Loved, loved, loved this post! My husband and I have only been married a year and a half and have already knocked out five countries… We intend to continue our travel adventures after kids and so many people have discouraged it or called us naive. I'm so grateful to finally read some encouraging words!

    My question doesn't exactly fit within your topic but it's close! We visited Peru when I was 13 weeks pregnant. With the exception of steering clear of a few foods, I didn't have to change much about my travel habits. We are going to squeeze one more trip in before our son is born in August, so we'll be touring Italy during while I'm 28/29 weeks… As my belly has grown, so has my concern for being able to keep up! I read your posts about traveling Italy at 28 weeks (great minds!), but I'm hoping you can give me a few pointers on things that helped you travel more comfortably! Any advice, suggestions or warnings?! I spent a month in Italy in college so I can't wait to go back, but since it's my first pregnancy I'm not really sure how to prepare! Any suggestions would be appreciated!! Thank you!

  • Anonymous April 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Shay,
    Great tips! I am wondering if you have any recommendations for what you use as a handbag/purse while traveling. Something that is big enough to hold your camera, wallet, etc. but not too big and unwieldy, while still being cute and fashionable–any suggestions? Thanks so much!

  • Angela Ellingson April 19, 2013 at 2:16 am

    Hey Shay, do you know if I can "pin" this post? I usually "pin" things already on Facebook. I got the little "pin it" button up on my toolbar, but just a little confused how to do it. Thanks!

  • Angela Ellingson April 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I meant already on pinterest (not facebook).

  • Angela Ellingson April 21, 2013 at 1:43 am

    nevermind, figured it out! πŸ™‚ thanks.

  • Mix and Match Mama July 29, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Ashley, you need to check out my 52 Shades of Shay on blogging! Best of luck to you!!

  • Anonymous July 29, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for beginner blog writers? I'd genuinely appreciate it.

    my site – Ashley

  • Sarah Wherry October 14, 2013 at 1:33 am

    GREAT TIPS!!! I have 5 children between the ages of 16 and 3 months, and we are planning on taking them from the West Coast of Australia right across to Minneapolis next year (where my husband is from). I have travelled a lot with my kids – I even took the older 4 on a plane across Australia on a midnight flight by myself with all our luggage AND two dogs when the youngest then was not quite 2 and the eldest was 9. We have also done extensive road trips around Australia with them, travelling many thousands of kms at once. Your tips are very good! A lot of the blogs I read are not so great – I keep looking for tips and soaking it all up, because even though I've travelled and they've flown before – I think a super long haul international flight, with many legs of travel with a 14 month old, a 9 year old, a 12 year old, a 15 year old and a 17 year old will prove to have it's own unique challenges!! I've travelled this trip on my own and with my husband several times – total transit time is somewhere in the vicinity of 36 – 40 hours – any tips for cranky sleep deprived teenagers, lol?!

    I will definitely be following your blog – you write so well! If you have 5 minutes you could check out mine (it's more on art as I'm an artist, but still) at


  • Jessica Still April 25, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I enjoy reading your shades of shay and helpful tips. I'm going to Europe and a European cruise with a 6 month old. Do you have specific tips for babies in Europe, on planes, cruises, etc. Funny, I'm actually going on the same cruise you went on, n Europe from Denmark. (Noticed after I read your posts on the trip). Thanks!

  • Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 4:10 am

    Hi! We have a 9 month old and will be flying in the fall. The flight is only 4 hours. Our big dilemma is first class or coach? Before we had the baby we always flew first class because my husband is 6'4 and the seats in first class are larger and have more leg room. I've never seen a baby if first class before, have you ever flown first with a baby? Is this taboo?

    • Mix and Match Mama May 25, 2015 at 10:31 am

      You fly whatever you want to fly! I don't fly first class, but if I did, I wouldn't hesitate bringing a baby one bit. Have fun!

    • Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks! One more question, have you ever flown with A's purple Chico stroller? Will it/does it fit in overhead bin? It's amazing how much you don't pay attention to until you need to, I've never used the overhead bin! Lol

  • Mix and Match Mama May 25, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    We always check that one at the cabin door. The flight attendant puts it under the belly right there and then pops it back out as soon as we land. I've never put it overhead.

  • Rosey May 25, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Shay, I am taking my 9 mo to Chicago. (I live in Allen!) anyway what stroller is the one you posted? The target link doesn't work and we are leaving Sat! We have a city mini but I don't want that damaged. Thank you Shay!