How To Keep Your Sanity When Traveling With Children

Remember back in the day, when going on vacation meant that you'd actually be, well, vacationing? What it meant for me, essentially was:

Wake up at 10 a.m.
Get into bikini. Put on cute cover-up.
Find the perfect spot by the pool, and tan. Order a drink. Swim. Drink. Swim. Tan.
Relocate to the beach. Swim. Swim. Tan. Drink. Swim.
Go shower so you can go shopping before the stores close.
Get dressed, and decide which pair of shoes (out of the 50 you brought) you'll wear.
Shop. Shop. Shop.
Back at hotel, take off all the tags from the new purchases, and make them look 'not new' so customs, who has you on their 'hotlist' as someone who spends too much money in other countries, doesn't think you shopped too much.
Go out for dinner.
Go out for drinks.
And do it all again the next day.

This is of course when I was not traveling to Greece, where a lot more walking and sightseeing was done. Europe is all about doing the tourist thing. The list of reasons I will not take my kids on a 10 hour plane ride to Greece until the youngest is 3 years old is long, and is a whole other post!

Fast-forward to life with a child. It was daunting, at first, to even go to the grocery store. Everything had to be well thought out ahead of time - diaper bag packed, baby fed, baby's diaper changed, apply makeup, find purse, change baby's diaper again, feed him again, go to the grocery store. Phew.

So, the idea of traveling with my child came up. I was missing Florida. I needed the sun, the sand, the beach. I needed to see palm trees, and to be on vacation. So, since hubby was working, my mom, my sister and I, along with Christos, went to Florida. Christos was not yet 2 years old - and I was pregnant. Oh yeah. Traveling with an almost 2 year old while pregnant was... actually, not bad.

My tips for traveling with a toddler?

Take a short flight. No longer than 3 hours, and you'll all keep your sanity.

Bring a portable DVD player with your child's favourite DVD's.

In your carry-on bag, bring new books and toys to occupy your child.

Travel with family. The more, the merrier. Seriously - as many extra hands as you can get to come with you!

Try to take as many cute pictures as you can while on vacation.

Also? Bring lunch to your child in the hotel room. No need to sit and wait to eat at a restaurant. Who wouldn't enjoy a burger and fries in bed?

Now, taking a trip with 2 kids - a 6 month old and a 3 year old - became a bit more challenging, but still totally do-able.

My tips?

Nurse your baby on the plane. He won't even realize the plane has taken off, and he'll sleep almost the entire time. Also? When you travel with a baby who is breastfeeding, you have more room in your suitcase for shoes!

Take your husband, your sister, her husband, and your parents with you. You're good to go.

Make sure to stay at a child-friendly resort, where they provide things like beach toys for the kids to play with.

Okay, moving on to traveling with a 1 year old and a 3 and a half year old. Try to pack light. I had to pack less shoes than usual so I could pack things like formula and diapers. Oh, the things I sacrifice!

Don't worry about leaving your baby half dressed after a diaper change on the plane. It is hard enough changing the diaper of a squirmy baby on the plane to begin with! And don't worry if he walks up and down the aisle of the plane, talking to everyone he sees. They don't mind at all. He's happy? You're happy, all is good.

Make sure your children have enough soothers to last them the entire trip.

Leave the flat iron at home, and go 'au natural' with your hair. It's okay, really.

Again, pick a child friendly location. I recomment the Atlantis in Bahamas - you'll never have a dull moment, and with 5 children's pools to choose from, the kids will be happy all day long! This pool had a HUGE play structure in the water, with slides, and buckets of water, and so much more! (Note - my hair is straight here, because it's the day we arrived. As if I'd have time to straighten my hair with 2 boys in one hotel room with me!)

Nap time can be enjoyed under a palm tree in the shade. That way, someone can always stay close to the baby while you swim!

Did I mention bring your parents? My dad is such a great grandfather - traveling with them made this trip more enjoyable.

And of course... after the kids are happily tucked in and asleep, you can have a few drinks. And actually realize that you're totally enjoying vacationing with your kids!

And then you start planning the next trip all over again...
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Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

Great post Loukia!

We have done the over the Atlantic flight with our kids several times. On the way there, it is no problem at all. We generally get a flight that leaves around 9:00pm and arrives in Europe early in the morning and the kids sleep the whole flight.

The way home is more challenging because the flights are generally in the middle of the day. We try to get them to take a brief nap, but make sure we have lots of books and DVDs.

Scary Mommy said...

A vacation with the kids really needs a new name, because a vacation it is not!

And I totally agree with your tips- Love this post. :)

Chelle said...

I love it! We were laughing this weekend in Florida how different it is to just go to the beach...ha!

Love your tips, too! And the pictures are great! Your boys are too adorable!!

anya said...

It takes me months to get ready for a vacation with the kids, but it's so worth it.

Lady Mama said...

I can't wait to do a vacation with both kids. But not for at least a year. We took our oldest son to England (9 hour flight) when he was 6 months old, and it was a total nightmare. He screamed for 3 hours solid.

Love the pic of your son eating burger and fries in bed!

Scattered Mom said...

I like your hair curly!

But then again, this is coming from someone with straight hair. :)

We didn't travel much with Jake when he was little-it was just too much for him, and after a few interesting restaurant experiences and no sleep, we decided to wait.

Nowadays people assume that he's crazzzy when we road trip, but Jake is actually an awesome traveler. He sets up shop in the back seat and is content!

Chantal said...

Great post. You guys look so happy... I want the ocean :)

Chandra said...

I have yet to take my kids on a trip that involves riding in an airplane. The day will come, we have promised to take them to Disneyland...I dread it already.

Great ideas however; I will keep them in mind for when that times comes around!!

Pictures were adorable!

Paging Doctor Mommy said...


Krystyn said...

Those are great favorite ones include bringing grandparents! Love it.

Of course, the kiddos are adorable.

Stacie's Madness said...

ah yes. times change.

Christy said...

I love all your tips and your photos! We've traveled quite a bit with ours already (London twice, Florida, Virginia...and have three more trips planned this year) - and I've found that having her on a schedule even on vacation is a big help too!

Paging Doctor Mommy said...

I've left you an award on my blog!

twinmomplusone said...

Ah, travelling with kids, a challenge at every age and NOT a true vacation for me BUT still SO worth it!

We've never had the luxury of family travelling with us though. But planning ahead is what it's alla bout. We are on our way to Greece this August, fourth time with kids. And we've been to Florida or somewhere in teh Carribean every year for teh past 15 years so have experienced travelling with kids every step of teh way. Sure is easier once the diapers and forlmula and strollers are done with :)

LOVE your curly hair btw!!

Linda @ My Trendy Tykes said...


Ah, these days you need a vacation AFTER the vacation just to relax.

Great post, girl.

Connie Weiss said...

Great tips!

We are getting ready to travel 26 hours by car to Milwaukee for a week. I'm FREAKING OUT! I'm not really worried about how the kids will do...I'm worried about my in-laws behaving themselves. They are worse than children!

LOVE the pictures!

Rebecca said...

Fantastic tips!!

We've travelled on planes only a few times (just with 1) and by car a lot. It gets easier each time, but then there's always the unknowns. If they are sick, if they don't sleep etc.

We estimate that we have another 40 plus hours of driving this summer to see family. Yikes!

CaraBee said...

I am terrified of traveling with my daughter. I've flown with her twice and both times were AWFUL.

amanda said...

love all the happy vaca pics!!

and you are sooo right about the nursing thing - on the way up and on the way down!! i am so glad my bloggy friends filled me in on that secret before we flew with beans the first time!!

McMommy said...

Love Atlantis!!! I've never been there with the kids....but I bet they would LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!

You and your whole family look like movie stars!

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

We're getting ready to go away for the weekend tomorrow, but luckily it's a short two hour drive. Plane travels are a different story! One of my favorite travel distractions is to pick up a bunch of Disney paint chips in different colors at Home Depot. They help my son practice his color recognition. You can also play a little game of "Memory" with them.

I SO have the travel bug and your pictures make me want to go somewhere beachy! Sadly, a lake will have to do for now...

H.E.Eigler said...

Fantastic! You look like you had a wonderful time :) We are going on a 13 hour car trip this summer with a 2 yo and a dog. The part I'm most concerned about is staying in the hotel room...she's not good with sleep environment changes. Wish us luck!

BeachMama said...

I love this post! And I totally agree with how much traveling changed after kids, mostly with what I bring for me on vacation. I used to pack a whole huge suitcase just for me, now I share it with three other people and leave all my fun and funky shoes at home.

Anna-b-bonkers said...

Ha, ha! I love it! You nailed it all on the head!!
And I am adding Atlantis to our travel list, sounds like a fantastic place!

You sound exactly like me before kids, right down to the shoes!

Jessica said...

I LOVED this post! I loved the pictures, and I loved the tips. This may sound silly and gooey but it *might* be because you are Greek and your mommy ways are just like my mommy ways (and maybe that is every mommy and I'm just being goofy, but I don't think so), but I really enjoyed reading about how you take your kids on trips. I LOVE going on trips with my children. Something about being out of the comfort of home is cool, even to them.

Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

Ahhhh so jealous. Looks like a great time. We just went grocery shopping and running errands took TWELVE HOURS. I gotta get a better grip on this two kid thing!

Noah's Mommy said...

now that is the way to do it....

heck ya....and can I say...I LOVE your tips.....

now it's just getting all my family members together that I need to work on....

and thank you so much for the well wishes...feeling much better thank you

Summer said...

looks amazing!!!! We so need a vacation...but without kids!!!

Kristen Andrews said...

looks like a great trip and what fab pictures! I love your hair curly!

Elisa said...

Gorgeous pictures! I have a few trips with my girls under my belt, and I think we all develop our strategies... but the most universal one you've mentioned: "when you travel with a nursing baby, there's more space in your luggage for shoes!" Genius :-)

Mommy Moxie said...

I have yet to do a trans-Atlantic flight with my little one, but have done numerous short flights. Entertainment on the plane is definitely the key! That is until they have a diaper blowout and then it's a whole different story...

Happy SITS day!

CK said...

Haha! Great tips! You make it look really fun! Traveling with kids is crazy! I DO remember those days of really vacationing without kids. But you make it look really fun w ith kids too ;)

Kristi said...

Wow, your trips actually make me want to travel with my kids. Although, I've had a much different, and more difficult experience than you in traveling with my babies which I posted about in "How I Survived Flying With a Baby." Maybe it's because I didn't have a big Greek family with me?