I’m talking three kids. Three total people? Please, that’s child’s play. Traveling with three kids (and a dog), however, is no easy feat.
Every summer, we head to my MIL’s place on Martha’s Vineyard, and despite recently adding Austin to our crew, we’re still planning on making the drive and ferry ride to get there sometime before Linds goes back to work.
Packing lists are helpful but it’s kind of like formulating a wedding guest list—someone or something is going to get axed. At least in the case of travel, no feelings are hurt.
Here’s a look into what we place an emphasis on while traveling with three kids in tow.
Pack ‘n play – Convince your parents and in-laws to invest in one. It’ll save you a good 3 square feet of storage room in your car, which is huge when you’ve got other kids’ stuff to worry about. It beats having your newborn/small child sleeping in bed with you.
Stroller/baby wrap – We have two strollers: an umbrella stroller and an Uppababy Vista. Despite spacial constraints, and even though Nolan and Graham have no issues walking on their own, the Uppababy is the likely choice. Austin is too small for the umbrella stroller, which is where the Uppababy’s bassinet comes in handy. But because he’s generally pretty well-behaved and calm in the wrap, we may forgo the strollers altogether and bring a few wraps. For some reason we have three different types.
Toiletries – Linds brings her toiletry bag with the toothpastes, toothbrushes, Q-tips and whatever else she has in there.
Suitcase/duffel bags/beach bag/backpack – The suitcase is key because its got some structure and helps form a solid base while loading the car. Linds gets the suitcase. The rest of us have our own duffel bag, Graham, for some reason, has the largest—so maybe we can cram his diapers in there as well. Their stuff is small, and my stuff isn’t really important (a few pairs of swim trunks, shorts, T-shirts, underwear, one pair of sneakers). They can also be smushed to fit wherever you need them to fit. The beach bag is big and contains all the sunblock and towels, so we don’t have any of that in our individual bags. It can also be tucked behind one of the front seats. I always bring my backpack for phone chargers, snacks, wallet, keys, binkys and any other loose ends we need easy access to.
Books – Vacation doesn’t mean a break from routine, not when you have kids. We have our fun, but the boys still enjoy reading books, especially before bed.
Cot – Nolan started sleeping on a cot years back and really took to it, so a travel cot. He might have outgrown it, but I think it’s great for Graham. I have no idea how he’ll stay in it since he fell out of the lower bunk the other day, despite there being rails on both sides.
Booster seat – Graham still uses one, and we always forget it. Sure, it’s helpful because he can barely reach over the table while sitting in a chair, but it’s awkward to pack and will likely be “forgotten” again. Austin eats off the boob, so that saves space.
Sand toys – See “Pack ‘n Play.” Beach tents, sand shovels/pails and beach toys are all left on island for use when we actually get to the island.
Life vests – See above.
Diapers/wipes – We usually try to condense both into one box, in this case it’ll be size 4 and 1 diapers and a few sleeves of wipes, which are the lifeblood of every parent ever. They’re so versatile and come in handy especially on the beach when sand gets everywhere. Unless your 2-year-old doesn’t care about eating sand. We bring them anyway.
Stuffed animals – Each kid has a bunch of stuffed animals they love sleeping with, but we usually try limiting the traveling animals to two a piece, both held by each kid as we drive.
Lollipops – We’ve gotta have something to bribe/reward good behavior.
Dog crate + supplies – Sure I feel a little bad leaving the dog in the crate for a few hours while we’re out enjoying the sun and sand and Flying Horses, but it’s not like the house isn’t air conditioned. Besides, he gets a few walks a day (reminder: I need to find his leash) and would much rather sleep on the couch than chase a stick. It folds up flat and is usually the first thing packed.
It seems like I’m organized, but it’s really all Linds. I basically pack my bag and maneuver everything around to fit in the car. She’ll also likely drive because she hates having the dog on her lap for three hours in the car. I do, too, but he was a present from my parents, thus my responsibility.
*I didn’t list swimsuits/clothes/swaddle blankets/etc. because those are all placed within each individual’s bag.
What do you think? Did I leave anything off the list?