11 June 2011

The Plane Trip - a few essentials

We find the easiest way to pack for a trip is to keep every list you ever make when you pack (you are making one, right??). I keep an Excel spreadsheet, with a basic packing list - each member of the family gets a column, and a vertical list of things to pack. Each time we go on a new trip, I copy and edit to meet the needs of the specific trip. After a while, I just have to print "RV Trip for one Week Packing List" (or whatever) and go, fine tuning and adding any revisions or notes after the trip! It's a little work to get started, but once you get that first one typed in, I PROMISE, it will save you time, and save you from forgetting things.

Here are a few things on our packing list for a plane trip, thankfully, this one was a non-stop, 2.25 hour trip, so not a ton of stuff we need to pack for the plane trip itself (although, my boys LOVE to pack way too many things in their TRUNKIs!)

The Packing List: a few things we can't do without on a plane carryon (and this is NOT complete, just some top items not to be forgotten, in our opinion)
  • recloseable bags: for loose pieces, unfinished LEGO building, unfinished snacks, wet stuff, you get the idea
  • extra set of clothes (kids and you): we've gotten away from this lately as our boys are 5 and 8, and tend to have less accidents and spill, so I'm probably jinxing myself by saying this! But totally recommended especially for new parents!
  • Games: Card Games, Watergames, handheld/self-contained games (try not to use that SMARTPHONE, unless really desperate)
  • Toys: we always struggle for games that have longevity on trips, we find the Magnetic GoGames really good, along with the Yes & Know Ink Games, basically something that has variety, and can offer a range of entertainment levels Pen/Pencil activities: one can never fail with some paper and pens, markers or crayons, invaluable
  • Books: either for the kids to read on their own, or interactive books for younger (nonreading) travel companions
  • Multi-Use Craft Tray: THE ticket to not losing your things to the floor on the plane or during unexpected turbulence
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Trunki: it's a legal carry-on size, allows kids to pack 'anything that will fit', and offers something to play on/with during those unforeseen delays!
Remember, the more you have your kids entertained, the better chance you can read your book or magazine etc.

When "Kids Travel Happy" adults can too!!
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04 June 2011

Planning for a flight with kids

Recently, we were planning to go on a trip to North Carolina (our old stomping grounds), and we realize our strategy for flying (which, when it was just the 2 of us, was cheap as possible), has changed now that we have two kids in tow.

I thought we should share a few things to consider about flight planning(some are obvious, but we find it's always good to have a reminder)

Time of Day: what is the best time for YOUR kids. Our experience is that waking our kids up to catch a flight (early AM) works OK, but betting on them sleeping on a late night flight does NOT usually work for us. It's also important to remember that late night flights can be delayed INTO the next day (nightmare!!). Meal times are another factor to consider when flying with kids also - especially with the lack of 'amenities' on flights these days.

Non-stop: always worth it if not too expensive. We love not having to worry about missing connections (especially ones with short layovers), and the earlier in the day that the flight is, the less chance it's delayed.

Price: We'd be lying if we were to say price does NOT play into our decision, but with travel with kids, there are some things worth a little extra. We always consider nearby airports (our kids do well in a car too), as well as the schedules, days of travel etc.. We feel each family should weigh the pros and cons of the cheapest option vs. the pricier ones, or which of the one(s) in between offer a good cost/benefit ratio.

Rental vehicle: We recommend shopping before hand. Once you are at your destination, they have a 'captive' (desparate!) audience. I often search on sites like Expedia.com and Obitz.com; find the cheapest deal (for the smallest vehicle that is still appropriate) and then go directly to that company's site to see if I can get it even cheaper. Don't forget to search for those COUPON CODES!!

With airlines charging for anything extra(so it seems) these days, we are often forced to think about what we have room to bring, what we may be able to borrow (from friends?), and what we can rent for cheaper than/similar to paying for an extra piece of luggage.
For example, we usually bring the bottom part of our kids booster seats (they are 5 and 8), as this lower part fits in checked baggage pretty easily. However, if you have toddlers or babies, sometimes its easier to just add this on to your car rental. We recommend researching the kid car seat laws of where you are traveling to. You can search the web, or try these for starters.....

Other things we try to borrow/rent include kid's backpack carriers (these are bulky). however, we always pack our own Ergo Carrier, as we can carry either kid in this piggy back style. SUPER-handy.

There are many companies that specialize in renting baby gear, whether you are staying at a hotel/motel or a rental home or a relative's home. Check out companies like JETSETBABIES for delivery to wherever is most convenient!

Next post we'll discuss planning activities etc. for the trip itself!
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