Tips for Traveling with a Big Family (or Kids in General)

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I grew up in a big family and whenever we traveled, we always drove to our destination. I have good memories of road trips, but now that we have a bunch of our own kids and a our own business we find that we usually don't have the time to drive. We fly. But we also have five kids! And when do you ever see families of seven flying? It's rare. It's not easy. But it is doable. 



We have several trips planned with the kids this year so I thought I'd share our tips for flying with a lot of kids. I'm sure we'll learn more as we continue to travel, but here are my tips for traveling with our kids ages 8-3 months. I've got ideas for packing, flying, and more below.

PACKING
- Pack for each kids with color coded packing cubes. This way you can pack multiple kids in the same bag, but their items don't get mixed up and can easily be transferred from suitcase to drawer. 
-As you pack keep a list of what else you need to buy or add to each kids' bag. Then grab those things and double check the list before you leave.
- Pack a family toiletries bag. For us as a family of all boys this includes kids' toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair gel, a comb, kids shampoo, sunscreen, bug spray, deodorant, and kids Tylenol and band-aids, Keep this bag packed in between trips so that you always have it ready. 
-Pack your own toiletries bag that stays packed between trips. This has been a game changer for me and makes my own packing so much faster. 
-Start packing the kids' bags three days before you leave. This allows you time to pick up anything you don't have and ensures that the clothes you want for the trip stay clean and ready to go. It also makes the night before the trip so much less stressful.
- Some mommas pack each outfit for each kid in a Ziploc so they stay together. I prefer to just pack clothes that all mix and match so its easy for them to pull something out and wear it. I just make sure each kid has enough tops and bottoms to wear for the length of stay. 
-Don't forget to pack (and charge) external chargers for all of your devices. 
-If you travel often, make a master packing list for each kid and the family to make packing easier next time.

FLYING

-Have each child carry their own backpack onto the plane. Inside it pack their own snacks, 
 headphones, activities, an empty water bottle or sippy cup and even their special blanket. I also packed a pack of wipes in every backpack so I had plenty with us and because all of them needed one at some point. 
-Grab a new activity or book for each kid to open on the plane. Target's Dollar Spot has lots of great ideas. 
- Look into the TSA Pre-Check. I haven't done this yet, but I hear this makes getting through the line at security so much easier and faster. 
-Gate-check your stroller and your infant car seat if you have one. It's so helpful to have your stroller throughout the airport. 
-If you check your other car seats, put them in giant,  thick garbage bags. This will protect them as they get banged around with the luggage. We also bag the items that we gate-check. 
-Pay attention to meal times. Don't forget to pack or pick up lunch or dinner if your flight falls over those meal times. I always forget meals still need to happen even if we are catching a flight!
- Be strategic about who sits with who. I usually put the tough toddler with Dad, the baby and the easy kiddo with me and the two oldest kids together. But we've also had to switch it up when attitudes were needing a change. 
- Have the bigger kids chew gum during take off and landing. If you have a baby, feed them on the way up and down to help their ears pop.
-If you formula/bottle feed, bring water in bottles on the plane and mix formula in during the flight. 
-Pack an extra outfit for baby- just like any other trip out of the house. A blow out is guaranteed at some point. 
OTHER TIPS

-Say yes to help. If someone offers to help, say yes. Let them open a door for you, carry an extra bag or help you check-in. 
- Rent the largest vehicle possible. At home we drive a minivan, but on trips we rent Suburbans. We always need the extra space! 
- Pack kids melatonin gummies. These can come in handy on the first night at the hotel or even on a super long plane ride. They are really low dose and help a kiddo chill out and sleep when their senses are overloaded in a new place. 
-Don't have high expectations about eating out. It's impossible for us to go to breakfast with kids before lunchtime, so we always stop at the store and get breakfast food and snacks once we arrive. We also often eat at our normal fast food places for lunch like Chick-fil-a or Wendy's. 
- Use the laundry facilities if you have them while traveling. We often stay at Airbnb's so we have a washer and dryer we can use. I did one load on our last trip and it really did help. We also came home with less dirty laundry to do as I unpacked. 
-Plan down time for everyone to rest during the trip - especially if you have little ones. 
-Expect that things won't go as planned, but that they will go well. Traveling with a big family always has it's surprises, but usually we can handle them just fine. 
I'd love to hear your tips for traveling with kids! Leave them in the comments below and lets help other families make traveling with kids a breeze!

2 comments

  1. I love this! I have 4 kids and have used a lot of the same tips when flying with them. One thing to add is that I pack 1 complete outfit for each person and put it in their individual carry-on backpacks. Most of the time I don't need to use them, but the couple times a kid threw up on me or spilled a drink made it so worth it.

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