I love to travel. If you know me, that statement wouldn’t surprise you at all. It doesn’t matter where I am going, just as long as it involves me packing a bag, I start getting giddy. Luckily, I married someone who likes to travel just as much I do, although I have had to talk him into a trip or two, (Italy comes to mind. But, once there, he LOVED it.) &, fortunately, we have been able to do our fair share of globe-trotting. However, after the birth of first, we were a bit worried that our little bundle of joy would slow us down. Three years later, plus the addition of another bouncing baby boy, we now have several trips under our belts. & while I’m not claiming to be an travel-expert, I have learned a thing or too along the way. So here are some of my favorite tips & tricks, listed in no particular order.

When flying, check out SeatGuru prior to purchasing tickets. There you can view the layout of the plane, & using their color-coded system identify “superior” and “substandard seats.”

Personally, when flying, I usually prefer the bulkhead. More often that not, it means more leg room & I can put the “little ones” down on the ground to play, without fear that they’ll try to climb under the seat in front of us.

If your flight happens to serve a meal (which is rare these days), request children’s meals for the kids.

When checking in for a flight, always ask if it’s full. Often times, if it’s not full, they can make sure you’re seating next to an empty seat. (Trust me, if you’re traveling with a lap child, this can make a huge difference.)

Generally, when the call for “pre-boarding” comes, I just ignore it. Unless you have alot of stuff that you need to carry one, I prefer to stay in the boarding area for as long as possible. If you’ve got little ones, this is a great opportunity for them to run around & get all the wiggles out.

Packing is always my downfall. Now matter how well I plan, I always seem to bring way too much. Try to pack as light as possible. (I know, easier said than done.) The Universal Packing List is handy little tool. Answer some questions about your trip & enter some details regarding the kind of list you’d like & presto! A customized list is generated just for you! Another dandy helper is the Pack This! pad… “an exhaustive checklist of everything you could ever need.” For those of you with kids old enough to participate in the packing process, I love THIS idea of a visual packing list.

When traveling locally (within the states), I generally pack just enough diapers/ formula/ baby food/ etc. to last a day. Then pick up what I need when I get to my destination. Sure, I end up having to stop at the grocery store, but it definitely helps lessen the load.

However, I have learned from experience, to take any & all necessities (diapers, formula, food, etc,) with me when traveling abroad. (Amazingly enough, not all diapers are created equal. & finding a grocery store at Lake Como can prove more difficult than you ever imagined.) Recently though, I’ve stumbled across the website Babies Travel Lite… they will deliver diapers, formulas, food & more to travel destinations worldwide. Sounds awesome!

Before you book your hotel, be sure to check out TripAdvisor to get the real low-down on your hotel. Read reviews from real people. I have actually changed my mind about staying at certain hotels based on reviews.

When booking hotels, be sure to ask for a crib or an extra cot, to accommodate the little ones. Or, if you want to bring your own, the phil & teds traveller is a great option.

As you probably already know, once your little one turns 2, you have to buy them their own seat. But if your kiddos are anything like mine, sitting still isn’t their greatest talent. The first option is to bring their car seat on board the plane. This idea is good, especially if you’ll be driving in a car later & will evnetually need it. Or, the other option is to rent a car seat, & bring along the CARES Airplane Harness for the flight. Personally, I prefer to use CARES. Often times I’m traveling alone & hauling the car seat along just isn’t an option. The CARES Airplane Harness fits in my travel bag, can be installed in a jiffy, & keeps my little guy in place. Awesome!

Keeping the kids busy, is one of the most important & difficult tasks of traveling. I like to pack each of my boys their own little backpack full of (quiet) toys & books. Some of our favorite items include: mini Magna Doodle, Touch & Feel Books, Eye Spy bags, mini Aqua Doodles (for really little guys that can’t quite grasp the pen, use a baby wipe!), GALLOP! a scanimation picture book, Coloring Books & Crayons, & Chalk Mats. Older kids might also enjoy: Travel Bingo, Card Games, Car & other Travel Games, Road Trip Trivia, Travel Game Board, or any of THESE printable travel activities.

Besides the kid’s backpacks, I take my own carry on. I prefer Harvey’s Carry On. (Considering my great love for all things Harvey’s, are you at all surprised?) It’s the perfect dumping ground for all my stuff: a change of clothes for the little babe (they get dirty sooo quickly) & a spare shirt for me (usually I get dirty too. Plus, if you just happen to get stranded somewhere over night, & they’ve already loaded your luggage, it’s nice to have a fresh shirt to wear.) A few diapers, formula, etc. (if necessary), & no matter what age your kids are… lots of baby wipes. My iPod is always loaded with the kiddo’s favorite music & movies, & I have some kid-sized earphones on hand. Make sure, to bring extra pacifiers, or any other comfort item you kids might love, & any necessary medications, including children’s Tylenol. (Once again, you don’t want to be stranded overnight or delayed without your necessary meds.) Don’t forget lots of yummy treats to keep the kids from getting hungry & always bring a sippy cup. My kids love fruit snacks, granola bars, string cheese, pop tarts, etc. &, I always have a few little extra surprises on hand that I can pull out, in case of emergency.

Although I usually take a stroller of some sort, I always use a baby carrier to hold my littlest one. My latest favorite is the Puj Baby Go Sling. It keeps my little guy close, while keeping both of my hands free. Whatever you choose, a baby carrier can make your life so much simpler. Last year we visited Turkey, Greece & Paris. My oldest sat in the stroller & I “wore” the baby… way better than having to haul a double stroller around.

Hmmm… that’s about it. I know, it’s crazy long, but hopefully it’ll be a bit helpful. The most important thing to remember when traveling is to be FLEXIBLE. No matter how much you plan, you can’t prepare for everything. Planes will be delayed & cancelled. You might get lost, or travel time might take longer than you anticipated. So, when the unexpected happens, just roll with it. Remember, when it comes down to it, it’s not the destination but the journey that is important.

Now go see the world, but don’t forget to send me a postcard!

xoxo, K

p.s. Any travel tips or tricks you’d like to share?

image via flickr.