A few weeks ago, I took three children under the age of 5 on a trip to Maui. It was what I would consider a big family vacation and a true vacation for my part, because I had not taken a vacation since Disneyland of 2010. So after two years of not taking a big vacation I decided to splurge and take the kids back to visit my family in Maui.
When you travel as the lone adult with a bunch of kids, I think you set yourself up mentally for the fact that you need to be vigilant and prepared to account for all the children you have to look after. I can say my vacation planning started in at least 6 months from the date of purchasing the trip for a total of 8 months of planning. However, when things get set into motion, it’s your gear that can make or break you and here are a few items that helped me travel with little ones:
- A Good Backpack such as the SwissGear SA9769 Computer Backpack (Black/Light Gray) or any other type of backpack that can carry either your laptop or ereader or both. Also a backpack that can carry diapers, formula and everything under the sun. I opted for this rather than a diaper bag backpack because the diaper bag backpacks are too small and I needed something to hold two sets of diapers and clothes along with my electronics. I used one from Targus which I can’t seem to find anywhere on the Internet, but I was able to hang my Camelbak Better Insulated Bottle
from it and roll up a blanket to stick in the back compartment. Also when using a backpack, it keeps your hands free for just in case. Also, as I carried the infant carrier onto the plane, I had my backpack on rather than trying to carry something with straps on my arms.
- Specifically for this trip, I purchased a Combi Twin Sport DX Stroller from Babies R Us, along with warranty. If I had known Amazon offered free returns within a year of purchase, I probably would have bought it from Amazon since you don’t have to pay extra for that service. Why I love this stroller?
This stroller has so many benefits when it comes to traveling with both my toddler and my 9 month old. For a single parent, it makes it easy to navigate through TSA and the airport. It folds small enough to go right through the TSA x-ray machine and it folds so easily open or close that gathering myself after the screening process was not difficult at all. Also, when at the gate, folding it for gate check was a snap for me.
I have to give a wonderful shout out to the TSA agents at both DFW International Airport and the agents at Kahului airport. I’m usually the first to complain about TSA but I must say I made their job easier by having this stroller and being organized. They also helped me load the stroller into the machine. I also purchased the Combi Shuttle Infant Car Seat, Hamilton. I was able to take the infant carrier onto the the plane and it fit into the middle seat of the row that we were in. My son stayed in there and was comfortable for the 8 hour direct flight and it kept him secure and safe.
I also used the Gate Check Bag as a way to keep things organized but definitely not necessary. The stroller did have some disadvantages such as: small compartment space under the stroller and just one cup holder that ended up falling off in the airplane baggage compartment. However the cup holder stuck out on the side, making it hard to maneuver through public restroom doors and it didn’t hold a variety of cup sizes. The small storage area would bulk down the stroller which isn’t efficient while traveling and when you get to TSA you have to take all that stuff out anyway. I think I would purchase a which can hold a variety of things like water bottles, and get a The Mommy Hook or Jeep Universal Stroller Hook, 2 Pack to hold packages and bags. At times I would use the The Mommy Hookto hold my backpack. Another stroller accessory I used was the Snoozeshade. I was able to use it in the double stroller if one baby wanted to sleep on one side. It’s definitely breathable and in the Maui sun while walking the pathway on the Kaanapali beach walkway, a definite must to have.
- A Sony DVP-FX750/R 7-Inch Portable DVD Player, Red along with the Motorola Xyboard 8.2 tablet that I received from Verizon Wireless as a part of their special blogger program Verizon Wireless Ambassadors. Entertainment devices such as these were an essential part of the vacation and the air travel. My 5 year old can easily operate the Sony portable DVD player as well as the Tablet, however I wouldn’t let little hands take care of such an expensive device. These items kept my children busy as well as myself with games, movies, music, books and more. I especially enjoyed the Motorola Xyboard tablet because while on the beach I could stream movies from Netflix or read books from via the Amazon Kindle app. Google Play was another app that I used to stream newer movies not available from the Netflix streaming app. The tablet when using wireless has a very short battery life but while on the plane, it lasted for a long time if you were just reading a book. At least 6 hours if using wifi and even longer in flight. I did not run out of battery on the 8 hour American Airlines flight. Also with the Xyboard tablet I could take photos on the 5 Megapixel camera and videos with the HD video camera at the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium and post updates to Facebook and Twitter. When we were trying to find a restaurant to eat at, I could see reviews online and we ended up at Star Noodle Housein Lahaina, Maui. The
steamed pork buns were excellent and the kids loved the garlic noodles.. The steamed pork buns were excellent and the kids loved the garlic noodles. The Motorola Xyboard is definitely perfect for your travel needs and when on the beach. There is no glare when reading in the sun and the picture quality with the 4G network was outstanding. Yes, there is a 4G network in Lahaina, Maui. The Motorola Xyboard tablet weighs less than a pound, which was a relief in my backpack. It is also reinforced with a magnesium-reinforced body and aluminum housing , a water repellent nano-coating keeping juice spills at bay and with Corning Gorilla glass it is scratch resistant. In short, my two year old throwing a tantrum and the Motorola Xyboard tablet did no damage whatsoever to the device.
- Water is essential to have for traveling, but I make it easier with a Camelbak Better Insulated Bottle so it doesn’t sweat or create condensation and it’s easier to carry around without worrying about items getting wet in the backpack. For snacks on the plane, I purchased Buddy Fruits Pure Blended Fruit To Go, Multifruit and Apple, 3.2-Ounce Packages (Pack of 18) squeezable and easier to deliver to baby and toddler as well as easy clean up.
- For toys and other products I actually really like Wikki Stix. Furthermore, there is no better “take along” activity than Wikki Stix to keep a child entertained while dining out, during a special event, or traveling. They are great for keeping energetic kids occupied during long airline flights and car rides. With kits at all price points ($3-$95) and in varying sizes (standard eight-inch or super three-foot) there is truly something to fit every need. The colorful and moldable Wikki Stix can stick and re-stick to the airplane’s tray table, making it easy to keep the pieces altogether. They kept my toddler and little girl occupied and they could be creative. I would highly recommend this toy since it’s inexpensive and reusable.
- For baby, I received a complimentary set of Kleynimals. Let’s just say this is my 9 month old’s favorite toy since he received it in April. Kleynimals – BPA and Phthalate Free Keys for baby is pronounced Clean-Ih-Mals, Kleynimals are a non-toxic, eco-friendly, set of food grade stainless steel decorative keys. Satisfy baby’s desire to play with metal keys, without risking lead contamination, injury from sharp edges, or the germs that cover our keys. Eli the Elephant, Gus the Giraffe, and Leo the Lion are the sweetest keys we’ve seen and are safe little toys for babies 6 months and up. Kleynimals are available at www.kleynimals.com with personalization available. My son basically uses this as his teething ring, his drumsticks and his chew toy. He loves it and I love it since I know it’s safer than my keys. He played with this while on the plane for 8 hours. When he wasn’t sleeping he was playing with his kleynimals in the air, in the car, in the hotel and at his grandparent’s house.
Where ever your travels take you, just know that traveling with children is not that daunting of a task. I did not use Benadryl with my kids (even if the doctor said it was ok) because they are the kind of kids that get hyper on Benadryl. I follow a simple rule of being prepared and if they are fed and clean (diaper changed) then they are typically happy. My 5 year old helped out a lot by knowing exactly what to do in terms of putting her bag on through the x-ray machine and walking through the security screening and holding her little sister by the hand when mommy was busy. Once you go on your first trip, you will feel confident to take them to more places. Don’t miss out.
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