Remember the previous blog post about our *awesome* recent travel experience?  Even though the entire experience was far less than ideal, we managed to have a very fun and enjoyable flight and I owe it all to the travel activities we brought!  I’ve teamed up with The Baby Cubby for today’s post and I seriously cannot tell you how perfectly timed my relationship with them has been!  So for all of you preparing to travel with young kids for the holidays, get ready for some helpful tips!

The first thing we learned (more like RE-learned considering we’ve actually done a fair amount of traveling with young kids) is that it’s very helpful to plan to be early.  If you’re flying, be at the airport EARLY allowing substantial time for getting through security with baby food/formula, having potty trips before boarding the plane, and actually being able to take advantage of the ‘Family Boarding Time’ (if your airline does that).  If you’re driving, set a ‘Go Time’ an hour or two before the we-absolutely-have-to-be-on-the-road-or-else-we’re-not-going-at-all time.  Trust me, you’ll almost always miss your scheduled ‘Go Time’.  Our recent trip could have been a lot less stressful if we had planned on being to the airport much earlier.

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I’m a sucker for snacks.  I always have some sort of food in my diaper bag and the car at all times so the kids and I don’t go hungry.  I usually have a couple apples/oranges and some pretzels at the ready and I’ll grab a banana and string cheese as we’re running out the door.  Travel days are no exception and no one likes to be hungry.  In fact, as a human race we tend to be so much less than our best selves when hungry that we’ve added the term ‘HANGRY’ to our everyday vocabulary.  And I must say that a hangry baby or toddler is much worse than a hangry parent!  Stock up on travel appropriate snacks and food for the kids and yourself, everyone will have a more pleasant traveling experience.

Remember that crazy super-optimistic-nothing-can-go-wrong-even-though-everything-is-going-wrong side of me that I can flip on like a switch?  Well it’s super helpful for staying calm during travel days.  And you know the phrase, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?  Well, it’s true in our family.  The best thing that I can do as a parent, especially in a stressful situation, is to stay calm and happy.  I can then help to address my kids’ needs and have a more clear mind to solve problems.

Carter was so excited to fly on an airplane, but he was a little hesitant about going through security.  I mean, who can blame him!  It’s overwhelming with all of the security guards yelling at you to take out your computers and seeing the giant machines eating your backpack.  Even though we were late to the airport, had lost my driver license and Scott’s phone, I stayed calm and was able to be a support to Carter.  We pointed out each security guard and I explained to him what their job was.  I did my best to explain the large machines and to answer all of his questions.  By the time we made it through the line, Carter confidently handed his passport and boarding pass to the guard and was almost running to put his backpack on the belt to be eaten by the giant machine!

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Another thing that we did right for this trip was to prepare new attention grabbers for the kids.  This is where my relationship with The Baby Cubby actually saved our miserable travel experience!  I visited the store the morning before our flight and I was able to get a few new things to surprise the kids and get them excited for the trip.  Scott and I like to think that we’re pretty minimalist (I mean, we do live on a 240 sqft. bus 😉) so we’re always doing a lot of research and reading tons of reviews to make sure it’s what our family needs, safe, reliable and, if possible, will serve more than one purpose.  At The Baby Cubby, they do all the research for you, and all you have to do is ask.  They go to great lengths to find the best baby gear and provide it to parents in a fun (and actually useful) shopping experience at their store, where they let you do things like test strollers on a “stroller track” (how cool is that?!).  Also, on their website you can see that they price match (yes, even with Amazon), which is awesome, and they offer free shipping nationwide.

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I was able to visit the store in Lindon, UT the morning before our flight, and I was so impressed!  All of the employees were so nice and welcoming and very knowledgable on all of the products.  I had a billion questions about toys and activities to get Carter and Zellie for our trip, and they offered great suggestions and showed me several tester items in the store that I could try out myself before buying.  I was obsessed with this magnetic maze board in the store, and soooo many other cool things that I couldn’t not have after playing with them!  I also got the backpack for Carter so he could feel included and have a carry-on (since we have to buy him his own ticket now), and besides, Carter was ecstatic over the backpack and it made me tear up just a bit.  I mean look at that backpack… HELLO!! SUPER CUTE RACCOON!

This Jaq Jaq Bird Doodle It & Go Chalkboard is ingenious!  Carter is obsessed with chalk right now (prefers it over crayons, markers, pencils, and paint even) but I hate the nasty mess that chalk leaves.  This chalkboard book comes with “Butterstix” and guys, let me tell you, they are amazing!  I seriously enjoy doodling so much in this little book with this chalk because it’s so smooth, it doesn’t smear, and there’s no chalk dust!  This book is also our newest addition to our Sunday church bag to keep Carter quiet during our worship service 👍👍

I got Zellie a few things as well but she ended up falling asleep on the flight (which is definitely preferred).  She does love her new DinoCar, wooden rattle, and teething necklace for every day play too though!  Carter was entertained the entire time with his new activities so this was a huge win for us since he’s often fights us a good portion of the time out of boredom.

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It’s great to bring new stuff on the plane for the kids, but we find it’s also great to help them get familiar with their surroundings.  Just like we helped Carter to feel calm and comfortable in the line for security, he and I spent a good amount of time going through the items in his seat pocket.  It was really interesting trying to explain this pamphlet to him haha, but I did my best and I was completely honest with him about it showing the plane crashing and what to do in an emergency.  We read this A LOT because Carter was so intrigued by the slides coming out of the plane and I’m pretty sure I was one of the most informed passengers on that flight!

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With a curious and observant toddler I feel like you can never go wrong with a window seat.  Carter loved looking out the window!  And he did a pretty good job of not being overly annoying about opening and closing the shade over and over again… I had to kindly remind him a time or two to stop.  Also!  I don’t know what it is these days about the in-fight snack that they give, but ours was so gross this time!  Carter was actually very disgusted by the weird veggie ranch wheat thin things and I couldn’t get passed the smell.  Do you remember the good ol’ days when it was simple and they just handed you roasted peanuts and pretzels?  Man, I loved that.  So, if you ever get super gross chip cracker things, you can ask your steward/stewardess if they have pretzels and (definitely if you’re flying Southwest) they’ll accommodate you!

Even though we travel a lot, we’re always looking for new activities and tips to continue to make traveling a positive experience for our family!  What are some things that work for you??

*The Baby Cubby partnered with us for this post, but all opinions are our own.  We take great consideration into who we partner because we want to feature products that match our values and we think you will love as well.  Our shared experiences with these products are real and unexaggerated to provide you with honest, reliable information.