The weather is warming up, COVID restrictions are lifting, and people are itching to get outta dodge. Despite the majority of their young lives under the shadow of the pandemic cloud, Jack and Nick are surprisingly well traveled in both flying and road trips (two totally different modalities of travel and experiences with the boys. Surviving a road trip from IL to FL is and will be a completely separate post…so much to unpack on that one, pun intended).
Being the champion over-thinker I am, I researched the hell out of “traveling with [insert month here] old babies” well in advance of our departure dates. I wanted to have anything and everything we MIGHT need in case of, well any scenario (shocker!). While our final destinations were far and wide across the Great Plains of the good ol’ U S of A, we were not traveling to any other countries. Suffice to say, anything I forgot could easily be purchased.
Any somewhat normal person would think that way because it makes life easier. Me? Oh no no. I made our lives “easier” by ordering everything in advance, and convincing Ryan to find room in either the suburban or his suitcase (you know there was zero room in mine) for all of the contents of those Amazon boxes that arrived after my deep dive on the internet.
Are you planning to head out on a vacay any time soon with a toddler? Don’t worry, friends. We did the legwork for ya on this one. After packing, repacking, and unpacking, we realized that some items were more useful than others. Here are some of our absolute faves (as in, Ryan even agreed they deserved to be packed to travel with us).
I have a confession, I’m a weirdo at hotels. The comforter and any decorative pillows are immediately removed from the bed upon entering, I don’t like touching the remote control, and I have never taken a bath in a hotel bathroom. So, imagine my panic when I realized that I would have to somehow bathe my babies who were too big for a sink, but not big enough for a shower. The solution? This inflatable bathtub! Not only did this keep their cute little butts from touching the hotel bathtub, it kept them contained too, making bath time a breeze (also helpful when they were still used to bath seats in the tub at home)! When deflated, it packs nice and easy too.
We flew to Colorado with the boys last summer when COVID was still going strong. The boys were too young for masks, but we still wanted them protected. This weather shield basically wrapped them in a stroller-sized bubble and acted like a giant mask for them. Genius. We also use a similar one for our jogging stroller on the reg at home too for the same reasons, and because it’s excellent at blocking the wind, especially on those colder days you have in the midwest. Like the chairs, it’s one of those multi-use items that you makes you think: 1. wow, we’re really getting our money’s worth here and 2. wow, how did the other parents who came before us survive without this?
Our boys think it’s hilarious to throw their water bottles down. Seriously, we’ve ordered so many because they just can’t take their abuse. Is this a fun game on either an airplane or in the car? Nope. I remember a conversation I had with my former principal, who told me that she used a pacifier clip to secure her son’s toys if he decided to toss them on one of their flights, so I started searching. I liked this strap because it was sturdier than a pacifier clip, and could wrap around a decent size water bottle. Now, the boys have cupholders in their carseats, so we don’t use them as much, but they came in clutch on our flight last summer, in the stroller, and even at restaurants.
Remember how I said I’m a weirdo at hotels? Well I can say the same for an airplane. Put it this way, we were wiping down our seats and tray tables before it was part of the COVID protocol. The thought of one of the boys eating off the tray table thoroughly grossed me out. Silicone mats save the day! Peace of mind for me and a clean surface for the boys’ snacks.
While we’re on the subject of airplanes, let’s talk about airports…specifically bathrooms. Picture this: me, sweating, carrying the boys one at a time into the bathroom, wiping off the changing table, putting down our tiny changing mat, doing all but laying on top of the kid to keep him from touching absolutely everything within reach, while also precariously balancing all of my necessities so they didn’t touch any questionable surface either. I COULD NOT let that happen. No way.
Ryan actually discovered this one–the diaper changing mat. The mat is big enough for both the baby and all of the necessary diaper changing items, is MACHINE WASHABLE, and folds up flat as a pancake. Yes, we were those people who changed diapers outside of the bathroom. But don’t worry, we always found a secluded corner…it’s not like we set up camp right next to Mr. So and So dressed in a suit traveling for business.
If you thought for a second that we traveled anywhere (and I mean anywhere, we don’t even leave the house for dinner without a few) without toys, you would be sadly mistaken, folks. Here are the ones that occupied the boys for a decent (aka 5-10 minutes, but really can you expect anything more from a toddler?) amount of time and that were easy to pack. Just click on the link in the captions to add to your cart too!
My parents gave the boys fire tablets for Christmas and they have become a definite fan favorite. Like typical offspring of millennial parents, they expertly navigate the various apps and already picked their favorites. We also love the Imagine Ink books, and the Fat Brain suction loops (both great entertainment in the car and on the plane)!
Amazon really never disappoints, does it. I mean, what can’t you find on there?
Now, let’s be real. Will any of the things listed above prove to be the magic elixir that eliminates the dreaded toddler tantrums? Full disclosure: no. Take it from me, I tried (I guess that’s what can’t be found on Amazon). But, they will make your life a little easier (and your suitcase a little fuller) when you head out on your next vacation.
**This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase an item using the links provided in this post, I earn a small commission.