Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

Hey, hey, hey!  Today, Erika and I are kicking off a three part series where over the next three months, we’re going to share what we pack and how we operate when we head to certain destinations with our families.  Once a month, I’ll share a destination and she will too and we’ll just let you in on any tips, tricks, dos and don’ts we’ve learned.  We talk to people all day, every day at our travel agency, and one of the most popular questions we receive is about packing and just day to day “how do we…” for their trip.  So, we’ll share our tips and then PLEASE SHARE YOURS TOO!  This can be a great resource for all of us!  Because isn’t the worst feeling ever arriving at your destination and realizing you packed all wrong and planned incorrectly? #travelfail #beentheredonethat

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

I’m kicking off our series today with a post about what to pack and how to prepare for CITY vacations and Erika is posting on what to pack and how to prep for SKI vacations.

Now, please forgive me because several tips will be suggested for multiple posts, but for the most part, this applies only to those fun city trips where you’re walking a ton and sightseeing a lot!

I would venture to say that city trips are my family’s absolute favorites…

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

Washington D.C.

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

New York City

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips


, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips


, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

Beijing…just to name a few 🙂 .

City trips always keep us entertained, teach us things we didn’t know and show us this great big world outside of our little bubble in McKinney, TX.  We have a whole big list of cities we want to visit.  We LOVE city trips!  But…the last thing you want to do is go on a city trip only to realize you didn’t pack correctly or prepare yourself.  Here are things I never leave home without when packing for a city vacation along with some other tips…

1: Comfortable shoes.  It begins and ends with comfortable shoes.  I’m all about cute shoes.  I love cute shoes.  I could wear cute shoes every day of my life…except when I’m on a city trip.  You need practical shoes on city trips.  If your vacation includes a lot of walking (which so many city trips do), then you have to wear comfortable shoes.  And not just you…but your entire family!  You don’t want to be five steps into your trip only to hear your kids whining because their feet hurt. I think more about my footwear when packing for these trips than anything else.  And along with comfortable shoes, you have to add a box of Band-Aids (or two) in your suitcase too…because blisters will take you down on a city trip :).

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

On our D.C. trip two weeks ago, I wore my Uggs for miles and miles and my feet never got cold or ached.

2: Memorize that weather before you leave.  I love the Weather app on my phone.  I’m one of those weird people who check it 18 times a day because I just love as much up to the minute weather as I can find.  Before a trip, I check that thing RELIGIOUSLY.  I am checking for three things: heat, rain, cold.  I don’t want to over-pack, but I also don’t want to be trying to walk outside from A to B in my tennis shoes when what I really need are my Wellies because it’s pouring outside.  If it says rain is a possibility, I pack my Wellies.  If it says cold weather, I pack my Uggs.  If it says a lot of heat, I pack light colors and light fabrics.  I pack for the weather because I do not want my trip ruined because my feet were soaking wet and freezing just because I didn’t think to pack my rain boots.

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

In their Wellies in the rain in Norway.

I also check the weather because as a mom of little ones, I need to know whether or not to pack these too…

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

…ponchos and stroller covers.  Now, there are nice versions of these and then there are less-expensive versions and I always pick the latter.  I like to buy mine off of Amazon for next to nothing and then, I don’t feel bad about throwing them away and not bringing them back home with me (because have you ever tried to pack a wet poncho before???).  These are life-savers when traveling in the rain.  Just because it’s raining does not mean we don’t want to sight-see, it just means we need to take an extra step or two to keep ourselves dry.  I will also pack umbrellas for the whole family (as you see in the Norway pic) because being wet can ruin a trip.

3: Know where you’re going before you get there.  Words you would NOT use to describe me: spontaneous, relaxed, care-free, go with the flow…nope.  I don’t claim to be any of those things.  And you know what?  My personality works well on these types of trips 🙂 .  If you’re going to a city to see sites, then I think it’s smart to plan a little of that in advance.  We always write out the days of our trip on a piece of paper (like Monday through Thursday across the top) and then write down what we want to do on the trip on another piece of paper (like visit the World Trade Center memorial, Times Square, The Empire State Building, etc).  Then, we move things that we want to do underneath certain dates.  For instance, we might put “visit the World Trade Center memorial” underneath Tuesday.  Well, at this point, we know we will be in lower Manhattan, so we need to find anything else on our “need to see” list that’s in lower Manhattan and move it to that day too (so we aren’t going back and forth across the city like crazy and wasting time).  By doing this, we have a good bearing on where we’re going and what we’ll be seeing so that we’re maximizing our time.  This also helps us tremendously with what to pack.  Knowing where you’re going can guide your packing.  Broadway show?  Might need pants and a sweater even if you’ve been wearing shorts all day.  Going to see the Yankees play?  Baseball cap and sunscreen are a must.  Knowing where you’re going helps you pack!

4: Don’t over-book your trip.  I learned really fast with small kids that it’s better to do less and enjoy what you’re doing than to cram a ton into a day and be miserable.

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

Visiting Amsterdam with Kensington (22 months) and Smith (6 months).

As you’ll notice from our trip to D.C. two weeks ago, we did a lot…but not everything.  We don’t want to be rushed, we want time to enjoy what we’re seeing/doing and we want to stay in the moment instead of hurrying off somewhere else.  Did I really want to see the Vietnam War Memorial?  Yes.  Were we able to squeeze it in?  No.  And that just has to be okay.  I’m glad we enjoyed where we went and appreciated the time that we spent there instead of just breezing through things just to check it off some to-do list.  I think quality over quantity wins for city vacations.

5: Make dinner reservations in advance. Do you use Open Table?  It’s a website where you can easily make dinner reservations in other cities.  We use it all the time!  In larger cities, sometimes it’s harder to find places to eat on busy evenings (especially parties of six like our family!), so we try and find places to eat before we head to the city and make reservations in advance.  I look on Pinterest, read blogs and other places online to find restaurants and then book through Open Table.  The good news is that if we stumble on some other place that just looks divine while we’re on vacation, it’s super simple to cancel our dinner reservations through the website.  So, it allows for flexibility but also guarantees us a place to eat if we don’t see somewhere else we’d rather stop.

6: Pack essentials (but not too much) when you’re out walking.  When we’re out and about, I try to have the essentials on us, but at the same time, I don’t want to be weighed down by a giant bag while we’re sightseeing.  These are our essentials: wallet, sunglasses, antibacterial, baby wipes (because they do a million things), Band-Aids and phone charger (because if it dies, you want to be able to charge it!).  Of course, if it might rain, we’ll throw our umbrellas, ponchos and stroller covers in there too.

7: Think about transportation. With four kiddos, we plan our trips around transportation these days.  So many big cities have a subway/metro system and that is SO HELPFUL!  It’s also easy to line up cars (with car seats) and drivers too for longer trips (like from the airport to your hotel).  If we rent a car for a big city trip, we always rent car seats from the rental car agency.  This way, we don’t have to take our car seats with us to the airport (because we do not need one more thing to lug around!).

8: Take two strollers.  I know you’ve noticed this before…but we always use two strollers instead of our one big one…

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

Vienna, Austria

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

Helsinki, Finland

, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips

New York City

…for us, two umbrella strollers are better than one.  Here’s why:
1. You can divide up.  Sometimes, Andrew will go one way and I’ll go the other and it’s super simple to just divide and conquer.
2. They take up less space.  They’re easier to maneuver through airports, restaurants, hotels, stores, crowded streets…smaller is just easier to handle.
3. Sometimes, we only need one.  Maybe if we are heading out just to dinner, then Ashby can walk and Madeley can ride, so we can leave one stroller behind in the hotel room and aren’t forced to take the giant one.
4. They don’t have to sit next to each other.  I can only say the phrase “stop touching your sister” so many times per vacation…if they’re in two separate strollers, it cuts down on that BIG TIME.

Okay, so those are some of my tips for city trips.

Now, here are things I pack every vacation:
1. Baggies (both large and small).  They corral items, they hold stinky items, they keep things organized, they’re good for trash…the list goes on and on.
2. Trash bags.  For dirty laundry.  It keeps your dirty stuff away from your clean stuff.
3. A lint roller.
4. A portable charger for iPhones (because sometimes, you just cannot find an outlet to charge your phone and you need it charged.)
5. Band-Aids, Band-Aids, Band-Aids.
6. Fingernail clippers and tweezers (because sometimes, you just need these things!)

The good news about a city trip is that…you’re in a city!  If you forget something or need something, you can almost always find it.  That’s the blessedness of a city vacation, resources are within your reach.

Now, it’s your turn!  Tell us your secrets for a city vacation.  I know you have tips!!  Share please!!!

Now, right now, our city destination vacations are limited to current clients only…but if you’re a new client and are interested in a vacation by Mix and Match Travel Agency, we are offering our services to Walt Disney World, Mexican all-inclusives, and cruises sailing to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean. Email us at with any questions!

Clearly, my little family loves to travel…and in our opinion, city trips just cannot be beat!  I can’t wait to read through your comments and see your tips too!

Don’t forget, you can check out Erika’s post for Unpacking a Ski Vacation HERE.


, Vacations Unpacked: City Trips
  • Lauren March 22, 2017 at 4:59 am

    This was so helpful! Added it to my Pinterest board for travelling 🙂

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog March 22, 2017 at 5:00 am

    I’ll be taking that Open Table tip to mind. Sure sounds convenient to make a reservation elsewhere beforehand!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Erika Slaughter March 22, 2017 at 5:06 am

    I LOL’d when you said blisters will take you down. Yes!! Yes, they will. New York City was one of our very favorite vacations. Our kids had heard a lot about it so they were really into it all.

    • Nikki March 22, 2017 at 6:40 am

      Bandaid blister is my New York City must!!! You rub it on so certain areas don’t rub like between toes or the back of the heel ?

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams March 22, 2017 at 5:09 am

    These are great tips even if you don’t have children yet. I like “memorize the weather” because nothing is worse than be unprepared for rain or cold! Love seeing your family trips, they inspire me for the future!
    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Sheaffer Sims March 22, 2017 at 5:18 am

    Blisters are from the devil.

  • ELizabeth March 22, 2017 at 5:18 am

    Great tips! I ALWAYS make sure our shoes are comfortable for walking miles, it makes such a difference!
    Xo, Elizabeth

  • emily @ a little bit of emily March 22, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Love using Open Table! It’s great when you stumble across a place you’d like to stop – making a reservation even just a few hours in advance can be a game changer!

  • Sarah March 22, 2017 at 5:37 am

    I thought I was the only one who packed baggies of all sizes and trash bags. I practically need a separate suitcase for all my bags LOL

    Great tips!! We also love city trips!! With little kids especially, we’ve found it’s much easier to have them on the go than to try and “relax” in a mountain cabin or on a beach all day.

    Hope you have a great day!!


  • Sharon March 22, 2017 at 5:37 am

    I would add pre-book tickets to sites you know are must dos. This helps skip lines, saves time and makes sure that you actually get to see the site as many places sell out far in advance. If you are travelling abroad, bring any and all medication that you and your family might use…. not all countries carry the same medication or have the same ingredient list.
    Bring a pocket size map/tour book…. Check out any city pass type travel cards… depending on what you want to see and do, you can save a lot of $ or time ( Can you tell that I gate wasting time?!)
    We love, love,love city vacations!

    • Kelly March 22, 2017 at 8:10 pm

      Great tips!!

  • Emma @ from my little pink couch March 22, 2017 at 5:39 am

    Such great tips!!!! Thanks!

  • Kim March 22, 2017 at 5:43 am

    We are huge travel city people as well! We are addicted to yelp for amazing restaurant recommendations. That’s how we ended up at Nick’s Crispy Tacos in San Francisco in the back of a dive bar or the best local Italian in NYC in little Italy! Or the Boxty House in Dublin. Swoon. And even eating at George’s in Paris which is in the modern museum of art! Yelp is the best!

    We also try to find a super cool park to play in! Anyone going to Chicago this summer, the Maggie Daly Park is amazing! Fun for adults too. Bring swimsuits for the kiddos because the spitting fountains are the best!

    We try really hard to limit stroller time for our kids. Both our kids have been to London, Paris, Dublin, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, NYC, & Vegas (for a wedding!).
    So we find places where kids can walk, explore & have fun! Even newly walkers got to wobble around cool parks & museums.

    • Sharon March 22, 2017 at 6:10 am

      Love this!

  • Jessica March 22, 2017 at 5:48 am

    This sounds nuts but I always pack a ziplock baggie to put the tv remote control in at the hotel. Those things are disgusting and covered in germs and the last thing I want is to touch it or have my kids touching it!

    • Kelly March 22, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      Hahaha! This made me laugh!

    • Heather March 23, 2017 at 7:55 am

      OMG that is genius! I love that idea! #watchedtoomanydatelineepisodes

  • Jenn March 22, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Two questions. How far in advance do you need reservations to a resturant in a big city such as NYC? Also, do you use a map or some kind of map for getting around by foot?

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 6:07 am

      I try to book reservations for dinner about 6 to 8 weeks in advance. That seems to be plenty of time. And yes, typically we get maps from our hotel concierge. Thankfully, iPhones make it easy too!

    • Kim March 22, 2017 at 6:27 am

      We use our iPhone map to get around the city it’s just easier & you don’t look like a tourist! Haha!

      For dining reservations depends on hot the place you are trying to go to. Sometimes if a place is open for lunch you get to eat fancy & get reservations. We have booked anywhere from day of, 3 months before, or 2 weeks before. 🙂

  • Cara March 22, 2017 at 5:55 am

    Heading to NYC next month. Do you have any shoe recommendations that look fairly cute but are comfy and are appropriate for early spring in NY?

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 6:06 am

      Sketcher’s Go Walks are my fave :).

      • Laci March 22, 2017 at 8:15 am

        What shoes would you suggest for NY in the middle of July?

        • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:27 am

          Sketcher Go Walks 🙂

      • Cathy March 22, 2017 at 10:14 am

        I keep Bainsids, tweezers and such in a zip lock bag and when I go to pack it’s all corralled and all I have to do is put it in my suitcase. I also have another zip lock bag with medicine such as Tylenol, Motrin, allergey meds and such because when we need it, we need it. I refresh it when we get back home and it is ready for our next trip. It just makes packing so much easier. Loved all of your tips!

    • Shawnee March 22, 2017 at 9:08 am

      I wore my Nike Juvenates the 4 days we were in NYC and we walked miles and miles and I never had one blister and my feet didn’t hurt.

  • Eileen March 22, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Such great tips! My family is just starting “city trips” – our first one is next month. I can’t wait! I think the whole family is going to love sightseeing.

  • Courtney March 22, 2017 at 5:57 am

    I completely agree with Amanda (above), this is great information for now and in the future! I know you’ve mentioned something like this before, but do you have Sketchers Go Walks (for when you’re not wearing boots)? And how do you pack shoes (without getting your clothes dirty)? I usually try to put them in zip lock bags or a separate ‘shoe bag’.


    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 6:06 am

      Yes! I love my Sketchers! I typically place my Wellies at the bottom with the soles facing the suitcase so that they’re not touching anything. Trash bags are great for corralling shoes too!

  • Michelle March 22, 2017 at 6:22 am

    We rely on Trip Advisor and TV Food Maps apps to find the best places to eat. Trip Advisor is also great for finding the highest rated things to do. We have found some hidden gems that were not on our “to do” list when we turned to Trip Advisor.

  • Laura Fredlund March 22, 2017 at 6:23 am

    My husband and I are leaving for San Diego, CA for a week just two weeks from today. We’re staying on Coronado Island. Any idea what to pack for California in April? I’m going to download the weather app! Also I’m not sure what to even pack on my carry-on for the flight bc I haven’t been on a plane in over 10 yrs. ? Help!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 6:48 am

      Layers!! I’ve done California in April…lots of layers because it will warm up in the afternoon but be chilly mornings and evenings.

    • Lacey March 22, 2017 at 11:17 am

      San Diego this time of year, specially by the beach is a lot of the time overcast. Exactly what Shay said, layers! Right now it is cool and drizzly but by the afternoon the sun will be shining beautifully. Coronado is an EXCELLENT place to stay, the beaches are some of the highest rated and it is such a cute beach town with a lot of history. Just watch the weather, some days the cloud cover burns off really quick and some days it stays all day. The iPhone weather app is normally really accurate.

  • Narci Dreffs March 22, 2017 at 6:27 am

    These are some great tips! I agree about the weather! So smart!

  • Rosie March 22, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Loved these tips!! We haven’t traveled since having my son a year and a half ago and this has given me some confidence and ideas of where we could go!

  • Mary March 22, 2017 at 6:40 am

    My tip for traveling anywhere with an over the door shoe organizer and use it for putting your toiletries in. It folds flat and keeps the counters clear of clutter.

  • Alannah Moran March 22, 2017 at 6:43 am

    We visited my sister in Melbourne Australia & the biggest necessity was comfy shoes, baby wipes, tissues & researching the area! Where we stayed I researched every restaurant & site to be seen! With 2 young kids it’s a necessity!

  • Heather Bramlett March 22, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Great tips. We are heading to the beach next month so I can’t wait for those tips.
    Hopefully, a city trip in the Fall!!

  • Brooke Richardson March 22, 2017 at 7:15 am

    This post came at the perfect time! I need some panchos for our trip.

  • Dianna March 22, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Along with daily planning, bring a good city map with you as well. I love laminated maps good for all weather and have made a little collection of them from my travels!

    I am wondering how you manage to drive around foreign cities?! Is it difficult? Do you have any tips for driving/renting cars and then also, finding parking in foreign cities?

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:29 am

      We rent cars and also rent navigation devices from the car rental agencies. We set the language to English and it helps out SO MUCH!!! Finding parking is just like finding parking in the States. It’s not hard!

  • Whitney Pegram March 22, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Such great tips!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Tanya March 22, 2017 at 7:34 am

    These are such great tips, and I use lots of them already like planning your days out, checking the weather, and baggies/trash bags. Thank you for the tip on Open Table…will be using that for sure on our summer trip to Boston/New England.
    The Other Side of the Road

  • Casey March 22, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Hi there! I was wondering how many nights/days you guys stayed in DC and if you felt that was enough. There’s really never enough time inn dC ha but we are looking to go and take our kiddos (9 and almost 6) trying to get an idea of how long we should stay! Thanks so much!!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:28 am

      We stayed there four nights and could have stayed more! We would probably do five or six nights next time.

  • Amy Johnson March 22, 2017 at 7:48 am

    And you just inspired me to go to Chicago this early summer! We haven’t tried a true city trip with the kids before, but they’ve done great on the sorta-city vacation spots. I can imagine not having to take them in and out of carseats for each stop would be an awesome perk to a city vacation! We did San Diego back in early February, and that was the only downfall – we stayed on Banker’s Hill, and we had to drive everywhere, which meant carseats.

    One tip I don’t see is for LITTLE ones (like newborn through 18 months) is to bring a carrier for them. We usually bring a stroller AND a carrier, and we’ll switch it around. I have BIG little babies, so sometimes we’ll start out in a carrier, then switch to a stroller. We DO bring our single big stroller at this point (our older two don’t need to be in a stroller anymore), but sometimes our 3 year old still wants to ride by the end of a day, so then I’ll take the baby out of the stroller, throw him in the carrier (that was stowed in the storage under the stroller) and let him ride so we don’t have to drag him around. If you get a really good one, it really isn’t that much extra hassle, and my babies actually get way better naps when they’re sleeping on me versus in the stroller. (Also, if it’s a little chilly where you are visiting, it’s nice for both of you to have the body warmth factor) It’s also nice for going out to dinner and such to not have to find a place to stow a stroller if you can just put the baby in a carrier and go out the door.

  • Jess March 22, 2017 at 8:01 am

    When touring places in NYC (or any other place) do you buy museum tickets ahead of time? How about something like Broadway shows?

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:28 am

      I do not. I find that we can just walk up and buy them.

  • Brittany March 22, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Overpacking is BY FAR my biggest vice when it comes to travel. Thanks for these tips.. I can’t imagine what I’ll be like when I have kids (But what if an earthquake happens? Or a sinkhole? Or a hurricane? Or all at once? Must be prepared!!). One thing I always try to remind myself of is: If I’m not traveling to a third world country, I can probably buy anything I forgot when I get there. It’s so hard, though!!

  • Lindsay March 22, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Great tips! I am an event manager and walk constantly! So I have tons of cute flats for that. But, I’m working a golf tournament for 10 days this April and looking for cute / comfortable shoes that are golf course appropriate. I’ll be in golf polos and skorts the entire time. Any recommendation on those type of shoes? Thanks!!!

  • LIndsay March 22, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for the tips. Planning our first two week Europe vacation and already getting overwhelmed with what to pack but not wanting to overpack since we are going to multiple stops.

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick March 22, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Love all these tips! My tip is to make sure you have plenty of storage in your phone before you leave each day! The worst thing ever is when you go to take a picture and your phone is full!! It is the worst feeling ever when you go to snap that perfect picture and it won’t take it. ???

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Great tip, Amanda!!!!

  • Sharon s March 22, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Packing cubes. For so many reasons. Organize by city, if multiple destinations, or by clothing item or by day or by person.
    Comfy shoes, Skechers oh yeah
    If an adult no kids trip do it without travelling companions. We have other couples we travel great with but we have made a rule that when it’s a city trip it’s just us. We generally condense a city trip to three or four days and we know what we like. Too much time wasted deciding what to do and making everyone happy or wasting one doing something you really don’t want to do.
    Ask locals great restaurants or the best attractions we recently visited St Augustine and our b and b hosts were a wealth of information. Concierges and even other tourists u meet at breakfast etc

  • cheryl March 22, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Zip lock bags and bags for dirty clothes is a must. Love your blog.

  • Nicole Ghea March 22, 2017 at 8:40 am

    These are great tips! Our family loves city vacations also. Always so much to learn!
    I have a question about motion sickness with kids. I know you have said that you suffer,as well as one of your kids from motion sickness and I was wondering how you help deal with it. Our family is going on a cruise in April. My kids have done a cruise when they were younger(6 and 2) and were fine but my now 6 year old, gets car sick driving long distances and am concerned about him being on a ship. Any suggestions you have would be great!! I’m hoping he will be fine but want to be prepared for the worst!

  • Jay March 22, 2017 at 8:43 am

    My best friend’s mom gave me this tip- Pack your kids’ oldest clothes… the ones about ready to be donated. Instead of packing them to go home, just leave them behind. Many cities, especially, have donation boxes all around.
    Same for undies and socks… pack the old stuff, throw it away instead of bringing it home dirty. Leaves room for souvenirs!

  • Natalie March 22, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Great tips Shay… what shoes or boots are you wearing in your picture on your instagram to DC? They don’t look like uggs.. love them.. thanks

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:27 am

      The first two days, I wore my Uggs, the second two days, I wore those little flat boots I bought over the fall (because the weather was warmer).

  • Ali March 22, 2017 at 9:06 am

    I have a quick question regarding strollers! We are planning a big disney trip this year and my husband and I are going back and forth on the topic of strollers. We will have a 5 and 7 year old when we go and we are trying to decide if we should bring a stroller for them. I have never been to disney before so I dont know!!! HELP!! Thanks so much!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:26 am

      That’s a tough one. I think I would bring an umbrella stroller because you could always just keep it in your room if you needed it. I would attempt the parks without one, but you would have one for backup!

      • Nicole March 22, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        I would suggest renting one. Kingdom Strollers is great! They will deliver to your room and you can just leave it once you leave and they pick it back up from your hotel. It’s a lot of walking and they seem to get exhausted so much faster. And I love it because you have a place to hold your stuff throughout the day. I personally would do a bigger stroller (as opposed to umbrella) especially with a 5 and 7 year old. I think a jogger would be a lot easier to push around carrying more weight. And strollers aren’t allowed in restaurants or lines, so you have to park it anyways. So having the smaller one will not be an advantage as far as that goes. Stroller parking is so easy there! But worst case scenario, you can rent a plastic one from the park you are in. They are just more expensive and not nearly as comfy. Biggest advantage of the umbrella stroller is when you take the buses. You have to fold them up when you get on.
        Sorry for the long post! But hope that helps.

      • SS March 22, 2017 at 2:59 pm

        We went when our kiddos were about that age. We went a few years before and bought $10 umbrella strollers the same color and put some sort of ribbon or something on them so we knew which were ours (they sometimes get separated and there is a see of them. We didn’t use something with our name, just a color). I would would say grab them. They get tired from all that walking and if there is a lot of people at the park you can put them in and roll!!! Have fun!!!

    • V March 22, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      We just got back from Disney with our 5 year old. We brought our Citi Mini stroller and it was SO worth it. She was able to hang all day b/c we pushed her around. She never complained. Disney has stroller parking figured out and it was easy to fold up for getting on and off the bus.

  • Liz March 22, 2017 at 9:10 am

    What kind of single strollers do you use? I couldn’t make out the brand on them and they look slightly different. Would love a rec!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:26 am

      Chicco! One is older and one is newer, but they’re both Chicco. I bought them at Target.

  • Megan Butler March 22, 2017 at 9:30 am

    “Words that do not describe me”….hahaha dying. You are so very organized. I grew up with fly by the seat of your pants kind of parents so I appreciate a little planning. This post is awesome. Thanks for sharing friend!

  • Angela Ellingson March 22, 2017 at 9:30 am

    I LOVE these posts so much! Thanks for sharing these awesome tips! I will definitely be referring back. Can’t wait for the next posts in this series… Now onto Erika’s blog to read about ski vacations! 🙂

  • Jenny March 22, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Shoes are always the hardest to decide on. We went to Europe almost 2 years ago and I needed comfy shoes, but seeing as it was my first trip overseas, I wanted to look cute too. The shoe situation almost always drives me crazy! Thanks for all the fun tips. 🙂

  • Shannon Rose March 22, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Great tips! We love to travel as well and cities are becoming a favorite. Two things I never leave home without: a small, cross body purse, and a backpack. The cross body purse is great to carry all day, wherever you go. It’s small enough that it can’t get too heavy, but big enough to carry my essentials: lip gloss, hotel key, passport (if needed), small wallet, iPhone. The backpack is great for several reasons. First, I use it to as my carry-on and slip my cross body purse into it while at the airport. Once we’ve arrived, it is easy to carry on days we’ll be out of our hotel the entire day and can hold a couple bottles of water, camera, snacks, phone charger, sunscreen, and any purchases we’ve made along the way throughout the day. Plus, we can take turns carrying the bag so nobody gets stuck with it all day. All this talk makes me want to get away!

  • Alexis deZayas March 22, 2017 at 9:33 am

    This post has me itching for a city vacation!!

  • Jennifer D. March 22, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Do you have a go to shoe for a lot of walking in the summer heat? Thanks!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Sketcher Go Walks are my favorite!!

  • Christina March 22, 2017 at 9:45 am

    This is a random question – but who takes pictures of the six of you while on vacation (not the selfie pics)?!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Random strangers 🙂

  • Stacy March 22, 2017 at 9:49 am

    What umbrella stroller do you use? We have a cheap one from WalMart but they are terrible!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 11:19 am

      It’s a Chicco! We really like it!

  • Chrystianne March 22, 2017 at 9:57 am

    We did Toronto (which we LOVED!) and Niagara Falls (loved it even more) over Thanksgiving Break and Open Table was A-MAZING! I always research every aspect of my trip on TripAdvisor and you can make reservations on Open Table through TripAdvisor . It was also easy to modify times and even cancel reservations if our itineraries suddenly changed. FYI, if anyone is looking to do Niagara Falls during U.S. Thanksgiving, then you are in for a treat. There aren’t any lines and very minimal tourists. It is not too cold yet and they already have the Festival of Lights up and running. It was gorgeous and we had a great time!

  • JH March 22, 2017 at 10:39 am

    We haven’t done as much city traveling as other destinations, but some things that we’ve found helpful….Make good use of the concierge at your hotel (and tip them well!). Pack one change of clothes for everyone (or at least clean socks, undies, and shirt) in your carry on bag in case your luggage is lost or delayed (same goes for swim suits if headed to the beach). As you said, Open Table is a great app! Ulmon Pro City Maps 2 Go is also a great app – it operates without wifi or roaming, so it won’t use up your data limits if you’re in another country. You can mark and save places you’d like to go, and it has information about popular spots, like museums. Now if only I could find that elusive pair of shoes that will get me through a whole day without my feet hurting lol! (The Sketchers you mentioned don’t fit my narrow feet, unfortunately!) Can’t wait to see the rest of the series!

  • Abby March 22, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a decent umbrella stroller? I’m due in May and have the Uppa Vista for day-to-day stuff but I would like to get an umbrella stroller for traveling. I’ve heard they can be pretty flimsy but surely some are better than others…? I am also looking (on amazon) at the rain covers and see there are a few universal options. Anyone have a favorite? Thanks a bunch for your help! I really appreciate all these tips!!

  • Stacy Tsoukatos March 22, 2017 at 11:03 am

    I always bring meds with me for the kids. Childrens Tylendol, Motrin and Tums. No one wants to leave a hotel room in the middle of the night to track down tylenol at a walgreens. I have never needed it but I always have it. My husband makes fun of me but the one time something happens, mama’s there!

  • Kayla B March 22, 2017 at 11:06 am

    I just returned from a trip in Portland, and I was SO glad to have comfy and waterproof shoes and jackets in all the rain. My added tip would be to make sure that you have a bag that is comfortable to carry. Cute purses are so fun, but like cute shoes, I tend to leave those at home and bring a bag that might not be as cute but is going to be much more versatile and easy to carry, like a slash proof travel purse or small backpack.

  • Kelly March 22, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Great post. Thanks! Shay, does Madeley need a car seat for the plane? My son is two also, and we are about to take him on his first plane trip. The airline recommendation is to use a car seat for children under 40 pounds, but I don’t want to carry one around.

    • Natashajk March 22, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      We didn’t use car seats on planes for our kids. The only time I ever did was when I was travelling by myself with my five-month-old daughter and it was great because I didn’t have to hold her the whole time. And the only reason I could do that was because the flight was pretty empty.

  • Kelly Chen March 22, 2017 at 11:25 am

    I’m like you – I’m not spontaneous or go-with-the-flow. Have you heard of My Maps by Google? I use it whenever I go on city trips! When I went to NYC for two weeks, it was a lifesaver. I pinned all the sightseeing and restaurants I wanted to go to, and I could pull it up anytime for reference. Since I didn’t know where anything was (and didn’t want to double back to maximize my time), I could see directly on the map what was next to one another. You can also mark pins in different colors (one for sightseeing, one for eats, etc.). I highly recommend it. 🙂

  • Stacey March 22, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Ok I’m old my kids are old but I remember one thing that I used to like to do to get the kids dressed and ready to go in the morning and as they reached a certain age they could do themselves…I put each outfit (even included hair bows for my daughter) in a gallon Ziploc bag and labeled it with the day on it. They knew (1 boy, 1 girl) which clothes were their’s and what they were expected to wear etc. This way even my husband knew if one should wake up early and go with him for his morning walk what they were supposed to be wearing, it was really helpful at the time. They are 18 and 22 now.

  • Julie March 22, 2017 at 11:29 am

    I know you have mentioned before that you prepare and talk to your kids about the upcoming trips. I’m taking my 7 year old to DC in April and I have loved reading about your adventure there. Are there any books you read with your kids prior to going to DC?

  • Pam M March 22, 2017 at 11:29 am

    I love, love, love packing cubes. They come in different colors so each person can have their own color, so each person can identify theirs immediately. They also come in different sizes. I’ve used the small ones for general things like band-aids, wipes, etc. They made our travel so much easier once we bought them. It is surprising how much can fit in them, especially the medium and large size. It also helps at the hotel when you can just pull them out of the suitcase and not have to dig all the way to the bottom for something. Love them!

  • Kari March 22, 2017 at 11:37 am

    This isn’t a question about cities but it is about vacations…. we love Disney and are entertaining the idea of doing a Disney cruise. We want to do it next year when our son will be 5 (perfect age) but daughter will be 1 1/2. Do you think she’s too young to go? Will it be too difficult at that age? Thanks!!!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      Ha! You’re asking someone who took babies all over the world, my answer will always be “take her!”. That being said, Disney is known for their kids’ areas. They are SUPERB! She would love it there and you would feel great about leaving her.

  • Laura Dille March 22, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Ummmm is no one dying to know about the Shulls’ private West Wing tour?! Shay! I got on here so eager to hear more! Can’t wait til you finish your D.C. post!! 🙂

  • Annette March 22, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Thank you for the great tips! What portable phone charger do you recommend?

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Ugh, what is mine called?? It’s little and silver…I need to go find it and look at the brand.

  • Brittany Hensley March 22, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Yes to the baggies..every size is great because ya never know how big or small you’ll need. Small snack size for beads/toys/snacks, and gallon sized for spoiled yucky clothes. It happens. Great tips!

  • Kristen March 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Hi Shay!! I am a longtime reader, but first time commenter. 🙂

    I was just wondering if you would ever consider writing a blog about the benefits of using a travel agent rather than trying to plan your vacation yourself? Also, what are the costs with using a travel agency? I’m sure there are a ton more questions I should be asking but that’s all I can think of now. And as I am typing this, I’m thinking to myself that you probably have already done a post on this before and I just need to check your archives.

    Thanks so much! Really love your blog…it’s the first thing I check every morning! My in-laws used to live in McKinney and every time we would visit we would always go to Spoons and I would secretly hope to run into you there. I literally ran into Shaeffer walking out of Homegoods on one visit and almost peed my pants…true story. I still kick myself that I didn’t say hello. Just stood there like a major weirdo, with my mouth open. I also wanted you to know that I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed/thought about all of you in dealing with Manda passing away. My heart breaks for you all. Lots of love from Oklahoma!!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Ah! This comment made me so happy!! I hope I run into you too!! (And looking for me at Spoons is a safe bet!) I would say 99% of our clients just do not want to plan their own trips. They want to go somewhere but they don’t have the time or energy to do it. We, of course, offer special deals, incentives and take care of every little worry/problem that might happen. We handle it all!

  • Kelly Wolf March 22, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    A lot of the tips that I have were already mentioned, just a small addition would be to bring a small purse, wristlet, or a cross body bag. You don’t have to lug around your (mine is huge!!) normal purse, with everything in the world packed into it. – – Question: For the renting of car seats, is there a specific service or do most rental places have them? Do you have to be renting a car to rent the car seat too? We are planning to go to Ireland next spring.

  • Laci March 22, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    This post could not be more appropriately timed as we are leaving for NYC in two days! Love, love, love your travel tips! Thanks Shay!

  • Peg March 22, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I travel a lot with wIth my husband on business trips so I often have some free days or hours by myself in different cities. I’m big into walking/running so always take an older pair of my running shoes so I don’t mind leaving them behind and filling that space in my suitcase with new purchases. I just assume that whoever finds them in my hotel room can use them a little longer or pass them on. I also have a mini Baggallini that I carry when out on my runs for phone, hotel key, and cash for the day. And yes to bandaids, baggies and comfortable shoes. Love weather app too!!!!

  • Joanne March 22, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    I would add Baggus; they are not only adorable but super helpful if you need another bag while shopping! I always carry two sizes in my purse; they are machine washable and cuts down on waste. Another must have for our family is a tube of aquaphor for drip lips, noses, etc! It’s super healing!

  • Joanne March 22, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Ah! I meant to say Aquaphor for DRY lips!!!!

  • Heather Henderson March 22, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Love this post. I don’t have kids anymore but your tips are great for everyone. I found a bag from Patagonia that is great. It can be a backpack or shoulder bag. It’s neutral enough my husband doesn’t mind carrying it. Here it is Also when I come home from a trip I buy anything I think would be helpful for my next trip. That way I don’t forget or have a mad rush to find what I need while trying to plan a trip. Thanks again for this post.

  • Melissa March 23, 2017 at 12:38 am

    Do you wear the Sketchers Go Walks with laces or without? Wondering which is more comfortable or are they the same. Thanks!
    My advice would be to pack all bathroom items in separate baggies so if one spills, they don’t get all over your other things. 🙂

    • Mix and Match Mama March 23, 2017 at 4:49 am

      I wear the ones without laces.

  • Erin Murphy March 23, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Hi! I LOVE your blog and especially these travel tips. Which umbrella stroller do you recommend? Thanks!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      I have a Chicco!

  • Alisha March 23, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks for all of the great tips. My husband and I travel a lot and three tips I use all the time are…
    1. Buy shower caps from the dollar store (they come on packs of 4) to put on the soles of your shoes so they don’t get your clothes dirty oryour suit case, especially after city walking !
    2. Use mini pill containers for jewlrey, keeps it very organized.
    3. Use packing cubes, makes everything so easy to find if you group by category. Our last trip to Europe we wouldn’t have survived with out our organized cubes. Also you can throw a small cube into your pack for rain or snow items.
    So Excited to read everyone’s tips!!!

  • Felicia Nguyen March 24, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Shay
    I am like you ..a family of 6 and I pack for my trips like you too…suitcase by the days…instead of each of us a suitcase…but I wanted to see how u pack them in a suitcase.. I would LOVE if you do a post of how u pack and pictures of the content of your suitcase…do u roll the clothes?? Or do u fold them n stack them standing up etc…pack the shoes and your toiletries.
    Love reading your blog

  • Amylynn March 25, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Your trip organization is inspiring to me – I will have to take notes for sure!! I don’t know what it is about me… In day to day life and more so, especially my house I am VERY organized. However, when it comes to traveling I have always leaned to the extremely spontaneous side. I might make a mental list of things I want to do, but it doesn’t usually go far past that. For instance, when I was 18 I backpacked Europe (from Portugal to Turkey and back) with a group of friends for over 30 days. Before I left, I think we had about 3 things “nailed down.” And this goes for just about every trip I’ve gone on, which like you has been quite a few! I just love waking up and finding what the day might bring. But I’m still a “newlywed” with no kids so maybe that will change one day…
    Keep the travel tips coming?

  • Kim March 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Can you clarify something- how do you get from the airport to the hotel with little kids if you didn’t bring your car seats and you are not planning on renting a car? 🙂 I’m assuming taxis do not provide car seats…

    • Mix and Match Mama March 27, 2017 at 8:27 am

      We use a car service! They meet us at baggage claim. So easy!!

  • Madison Lanford March 28, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Hi Shay,

    I had a city travel question come up as I am planning a weekend trip to Chicago in May. It seems like on your trips you usually fly in first thing in the morning and then have a full day of sight-seeing planned. Ours will be the opposite, we will fly home late Sunday night but plan on using the full day Sunday for more sight-seeing. That being said, what do you usually do with your luggage when you arrive before you can check in to your hotel? Ours will be the opposite, we will need to check out of our hotel but still want to use the day for sight-seeing! Do hotels allow you to store your bags before check in?

    • Mix and Match Mama March 28, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Hotels are always great about keeping your luggage stored for you while you continue your trip! Just ask at the front desk :).

  • Kathryn Waeghe March 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Hi! Thanks for posting! We are heading to Norway next week! I know this is silly but what phone charger and poncho do you order off of Amazon. I have read so many reviews for everything I was hoping to cheat and just steal your brain power since I hadn’t thought of either! THANK YOU! We are staying the night in Flam based on your review from last year! Can’t wait!!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 30, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Oh goodness, I don’t know. The poncho would have been whatever was the least expensive.

  • Jenna March 30, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    I have never regretted packing a small roll of paper towels! I also pack disposable cutlery. We moved to Europe from Virginia when our girls were 3 and 9 months and they are now 5 and 2.5 years old. We have travelled all over Europe, and these items are crucial. Ever been given one barely there thin napkin for two kids? No worries when bringing your own paper towels! And the cutlery is helpful when getting food to walk around and trying to split things with little ones 😉