4 Holiday Packing Tips For Families

Four Holiday Packing Tips You Won’t Want to Miss!

Traveling over the holidays can be stressful and super exciting all at the same time. Here are some of my long-learned travel lessons for families traveling this holiday season.

  1. Start as soon as you can! Holidays are a busy time and will fly by faster than you know, so if you have travel planned pack as soon as you can! Obviously, this is hard if you need some of the stuff but if you live up north and are having a beach vacation get to packing!
  2. Make a list and check it twice: Just like the big man in the red, fur-trimmed suit, you need to make a list and check it twice! This will make packing so much easier for you and will ensure you do not forget anything super important.
  3. Packing CUBES for everyone: These are travel game changers and make it so easy to pack for a family. Read more about why I love packing Cubes here: Packing Cubes- The best invention for traveling with kids
  4. Delay Kit: Winter weather can sometimes delay or even cancel some air travel plans so be prepared! Set aside a “Delay Kit” to put in your carry on. In this kit should be an entire change of clothes, two pairs of underwear and small airline approved size toiletries and deodorant.

Doing these four things have significantly helped me out when traveling around the holiday season. We hope you and your family have a wonderful 2018 holiday season and a safe, joyful family vacation!

Six Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos of Your Kids

9 Things You Won’t Want to Forget When Flying with Preschoolers

Don’t Get Caught on a Family Road Trip Without These Things!

4 Tips for famlies packing


Six Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos of Your Kids

1. Lighting is key: This is true for any type of photography, whether it is on your phone or an SLR camera. Finding good light will make or break an image. In my opinion, natural light is the best, especially when traveling. The only time I would say otherwise is if you are in a dark or dimly lit location such as a restaurant or historic building. Then use your off-camera flash (attachment) and don’t point the light at your children directly; bounce it off the ceiling or wall for a more natural look.


Pro Tip: If you do not have an off-camera flash you can take a white business card or
note card and use a rubber band to tie around your on-camera flash facing it up. This will bounce the light from the flash upward and is a very cheap alternative to an off-camera flash. The difference in your lighting will blow your mind!


2. Rule of thirds: This is a basic photography (or artistic composition) rule that everyone should try to follow. Envision the image as a grid of three lines of three rectangles (some cameras even have the option to show a grid in your viewfinder). The focus or subject of the image should always be in two-thirds of the grid. See examples below:


3.  Don’t try TOO hard: The best photos are the ones where you capture the moment! Things like your children taking in an epic view, experiencing new food for the first time, and all the awesome moments of your travels and family adventures. Try not to pose them too often and just capture the magic as it happens. Sure, making sure the light and background are good is important, but once you have them where you want them, start snapping!

4. Get high and get low: Try different angles to shoot from. You will be surprised how different a photo will look when shot from up high or if you get down low (at the child’s level) and shoot. This will take your photos from typical to incredible with just one easy adjustment. Stand on a chair or ledge, sit down or even lie down on the ground.

5. Plan ahead and coordinate your outfits with the location: This is something I’ve learned over time. Make sure to scout or Internet stalk the places you plan on visiting. Identify where you want to take photos and make sure when you pack for your children that you are picking things that will vibe with the look of your location. This will also make you more prepared when you arrive. Having a game plan is key to taking great photos of your kids while traveling.

If you want a packing tip that will change your life, read our blog on packing cubes: HERE

6. Pay Attention to what’s behind them: When shooting make sure you are paying attention to what’s in the background behind your subject. If they are standing in front of a large pole, make sure it does not appear to be coming out of their head! On the beach, I’m always running into the problem of other people bending over in the background to pick up shells, no matter how early I wake up to take photos! So just be aware of everything in the picture and if you can adjust your angle or move to a better spot, then do it. There is nothing worse than an awesome picture of all four kids smiling only to see that it looks like they have a stop sign growing out of their heads!

There are so many more things you can do to take better photos, but these six simple tips will make an immediate impact on the quality of your family travel photography. Most importantly, enjoy your trip and snap away!


Don’t Get Caught on a Family Road Trip Without These Things!

Some people may consider my willingness to drive long distances solo with my two girls, ages 4 and 11 months, “crazy” or even “risky.” Yes, it is not the first idea that comes to mind when I think of vacationing with my children. However, sometimes it is the only option for whatever the reason­­ — financial, timing, distance, etc. So, I do it.

Since I’m no stranger to road trips with kiddos I figured I would help you out and provide some of my road warrior wisdom. These tips can be used for single-parent road trips or family road trips alike.


Extra Set of Clothes for Everyone: Like all adventures with children of any age, having a change of clothes is important. Not only do I recommend having a change of clothes, including underwear, socks and shoes for the kids, but you need one for yourself as well. I can’t tell you how many roadside emergencies that ended with me covered in something I did not want to be covered in. Having a backup for everyone will be a lifesaver.

A Roll of Paper Towels:I think this one is obvious but I will be the first to say there were several times I was caught without a roll of paper towels on a road trip and regretted it! These are helpful for the big and little spills and the dreaded car sick moments.

Magic Marker Coloring pads: I use these for travel on the road or in the air. They are mess free, small, and entertaining for your kids. Also, when your child has finished with them you can toss them and have one less thing to add to your travel clutter.

We also use these when flying see more tips for Flying with kids here:9 Things You Won’t Want to Forget When Flying with Preschoolers

Snack Packs: in a gallon zip lock bag make a snack pack with a variety of things to choose from. That way when your kid or kids are hungry they can choose their snack themselves. This will save you a stop and a headache of arguing that “this is all you have!” or “I don’t like goldfish.”

Car Seat Organizer: These go on the back of the seat in front of your kid’s and not only protect your car seat from little feet but hold all their stuff and keep it organized.

Wet wipes: Yes, most of us have these but if you are out of the diapering age make sure you grab some before you hit the road. They are multifaceted, hand cleaning, mess cleaning, and of course butt wiping.

Beach Towel: More clean up essentials. You just never know when your kid might need to strip down, and having a beach towel to wrap around them, clean up a huge mess, or use as a curtain roadside it is always best to be prepared and have one on hand. I would go as far to say have one for each child.

Puke Bags:  I discovered these while running a Disney race and throwing up on the finish line! These are awesome! I keep one in my car at all times. We don’t always get to it in time but if you have a kid (or adult) who is not feeling well make them hold it nearby just in case they have to puke. The bags I use have a round plastic ring that you put over your mouth with a plastic bag attached. It is relatively mess free and fits right in your glove box!

iPad:If you don’t have in-car entertainment make sure to bring an iPad fully loaded with a few movies games and TV shows. This is only if you have a kid who does not get motion sickness! If your kid has a habit of getting sick in the car, I do not recommend giving them an iPad or letting them watch anything while moving.

Mace: This is more for when I am on the road without my husband, but I keep a small thing of mace with my keys when road tripping. You just never know what might happen so be alert, aware and prepared. When stopping make sure to pick well-lit and populated locations. There are serious risks out there on the road so not being oblivious to those risks will help keep you and your family safe throughout your journey.

I am sure there are more things from an entertainment stand point that you might want to consider bringing, but from a practicality stand point these are things you do not want to forget when planning a road trip with your kids.

More Family Travel Tips: 8 Must-Haves​ When Traveling with BabiesPDX – Airport Play AreaFlyebaby – Infant In Arms Inflight HelpFeeding Baby – On the RoadDo your family photos when you travelPacking Cubes- The best invention for traveling with kids

9 Things You Won’t Want to Forget When Flying with Preschoolers

Flying with preschool-aged children can be a challenge. Well, traveling with children of any age can be challenging, but the younger ones are harder sometimes to keep entertained, or just overall happy from start to finish. I have lots of first-hand experience with this and when prepping for trips haven’t found many useful lists for preschoolers. There’s tons of info out there for babies and toddlers, but what about after they are toddling and just becoming “kids”?

Here are a few things that help keep my daughter (age 4 going on 15) entertained and a happy camper while traveling long distance on an airplane.

1.Magic Coloring Paper: This is small paper coloring pad that when using a “magic” marker unveils the colors of the image in the book. My daughter loves them and they only require the one marker, so less to carry along in your bag. She spends hours making sure she has colored every inch. She has recently been asking me about the words and what they spell, reading them out to me.

2.Window “Stickies”: These are meant for holiday décor but can also be awesome for window seat entertainment. They can spend the entire flight decorating their window over and over — or at least 20 minutes of the flight — and we will take any distraction!

3.Snack Bag: In a gallon-size zip-lock bag put an assortment of snacks for your children to pick from. That way when they say they are hungry they have options and you avoid the complaints of not having what they want. It also gives them some freedom of choice when they can pick from whatever they want, keeping them happy campers.

4.Something New: Get them something new to play with at the beginning and a small reward to give them at the end of the flight. For my daughter, I get her a small toy to open when we take off (nothing big — something from the Dollar Tree). For the end of the flight I get a surprise I know she will be on her best behavior for! With Caroline that is a small LOL or My Little Pony Suprise figurine.

5.Water Bottle: Bring an empty water bottle with a lid for the flight. Once you get through security fill it up with water. Make sure they are drinking on the flight as air travel tends to cause dehydration, especially children. If it is empty have the flight attendant refill it or better yet, have them put some juice in it as a treat.

6.Magnetic Doodle Board: Like the magic coloring pads these are mess free! Easy entertainment on the airplane and while traveling in general. When I first got my daughter’s, I used it as the on-flight toy surprise.

7.iPad or Smart Phone:I know this one can be controversial but I am all about screen time in the right amount and right time, and long-distance travel is the RIGHT time. Make sure you download some preschool appropriate games ahead of time and if you have Netflix or movies you will need to have them downloaded as well since there is not always Wi-Fi inflight. Longer flights will have in-flight entertainment so sometimes I don’t even need to pull out the iPad but would hate to be caught without in a time of need.

8.Anything from the Target Dollar Spot: The Target Dollar spot has some great cheap arts and crafts $1 packs, and other great stuff to entertain your littles at a low cost, so make sure to hit it up before you head out to the airport for take-off.

9.Their Own Bag: Have them pack their own backpack for the journey. Let them pick a few things that you approve, but give them the freedom to decide what they bring on the trip. Just make sure it is all airplane appropriate and that they don’t bring things that are valuable or have lots of parts that can get lost and or left behind. My daughter LOVES packing for trips and will play with everything and “everyone” she brings since she is the one who decided who was coming along on the trip.

Every child is a little different from the next, so make sure to do what you think is right for traveling with your children. These are just some things that have helped us manage long-distance cross-country and international flights with our preschooler.  Many of these suggestions work for long car trips, too.

Do you have an inflight must have? Share with us in the comments.

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