Tips for Traveling With Young Kids (+ Our Michigan Trip!)

Today, I wanted to chat about the rest of our Michigan trip (if you missed my Mackinac Island post, you can find that HERE) and a few things we learned about traveling with young kids along the way.

The last time we flew to Michigan was when Harlyn was a baby. Since that time, we’ve reduced our number of trips significantly, and when we do go, we drive. We typically drive through the night, which is the best for the kids, but so, so hard on Brandon. It is a 12 hour trip, so by the time we get to Michigan, we’re ready to keel over, but our kids are ready for the day. So this year, we decided we would fly the family up there instead!!

It was a great decision, and gave us the freedom to travel while we were in Michigan. We usually feel terrible if we drive up there, and then drag the kids all over the state. But since we flew, we felt way better about driving to other places.

The main reason for our trip was actually for Brandon’s cousin’s wedding. So we ended up leaving our kids overnight somewhere other than home for the first time EVER. The night of the wedding, we stayed at a hotel while Harlyn and Mav stayed with Brandon’s brother, sister-in-law, and their kids. They had never had a sleepover before!! Despite my nervousness, they did just fine (OF COURSE!).

Because the wedding reception was in Mt. Pleasant, we also got to drive around our old campus. We originally had planned to get out of the car and walk around a bit and snap some pics, but it was a rainy, freezing day, so we drove through instead. We did find ONE place where we could pull over a bit, grab a quick picture without unloading the kids, and that was our 10 second CMU selfie! #fireupchips  It was the only time I’d ever driven through campus since the year I graduated (2008), so it was pretty cool.

We also were able to squeeze in a visit with my grandma and Brandon’s aunt, but we just ran out of time for anything else. We desperately wanted to go to Porter’s Orchard, but the weather was gross and our kids were tired. North Carolina just doesn’t have orchards/pumpkin patches the way Michigan does. It does not compare. And the ONE place we enjoyed in NC was sold and is no longer in operation. Boo hoo!!

We really enjoyed our fall Michigan trip. It was definitely fun for us and I think the kids had a blast too!

Here are a few things we did to make sure our experience was a good one, even while traveling with our young kids.

TIP #1: Watch flight prices

We bought the tickets months in advance, so we were able to find them for pretty cheap. And of course, Maverick is under two, so he flew free. We generally start looking a few months before, and just try different times of day, different days of the week, and different weeks. Then, once we see a flight that is way less than what we have been seeing, we go ahead and buy them. Also, check into the airline credit cards for promotions like credits for flight, extra miles, etc. You might decide it’s worth it to open one up.

TIP #2: Travel by car during nap time

When we were driving all over the earth this trip, we tried to time our travel to coincide with Maverick’s nap times. This really helped things, because he was NOT thrilled about all the car rides. So when we was able to get a quality hour+ nap in his car seat, it was great! And Harlyn, who doesn’t nap anymore, even napped a lot!!

TIP #3:  So. Many. Snacks

This might seem obvious, but go all out for snacks. It was like a snack free for all. Plane, car, they had all the food they wanted. We didn’t even care!! One note though. I read online that giving kids suckers for plane rides can help their ears during take off/landing . We did this and Maverick made a HUGE mess, and it didn’t seem to help much. I think we used 4000 baby wipes for all the stickiness, and his ears bothered him.

TIP #4: Activity Books

We bought Harlyn the magic ink books, the coloring books with crayons included, sticker books…every activity her heart desired. And she used them on the plane, in the car, and at the hotel.  

TIP #5: Bring a stroller and a baby carrier

We bought an umbrella stroller to keep at my mom’s, and we ended up using that more for Harlyn (who is four) than for Mav. Maverick prefers the baby carrier, so Brandon had a kid strapped to his chest at the airport and any time we were out and about (especially in Mackinac!).  But walking fast enough to keep up with adults for hours is hard for a preschooler, so the umbrella stroller was great for Mackinac Island. And when B needed a break for his back, Harlyn walked and Maverick went into the stroller.

TIP #6: Don’t Stress!!!

Do you know how hard it is to travel with young kids? They get out of their routine and it can be really difficult! Overall, our kids did great, but that doesn’t mean that airports, airplanes, and road trips didn’t get a bit crazy. Like when Maverick’s Contigo cup got pressurized, and we opened it and soaked everyone around us on the plane. Thankfully, it was only water. But I mean, how was I supposed to know the stupid cup would explode???  I also had to not freak out over Maverick crying on the plane. Everyone on an airplane knows it happens…I tried really hard to not get all anxious when Mav was upset. It would only make things worse.

TIP #7: Be Flexible

This is a bit like me telling you not to stress. I do stress, and I am not flexible…so who am I to give these tips? But I am trying! We worked hard this trip to go with the flow. Yes, we had places to be, but we anticipated tired kids who were visiting a bunch of people they don’t seen often. So we accepted that our plans might not go exactly how we thought they should. And it led to a much better travel experience.

So there you have it! Do you agree with these tips? Any I missed that I need for our next trip??

Tags: airplanes with kids, michigan travel, travel, travel with kids

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About Me

I'm Meghan. I am an average mom.

I'm Meghan. I am an average mom.

I am a wife and mama of two, just trying to keep everyone decently happy and content. I love scrapbooking, reading, the elusive date night, and iced coffees.
I'm Meghan. I am an average mom.