Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Mayhem Mother's Traveling Tips

The holiday season is upon us, which means full fridges, full tables, and full stomachs of food. Don't get me wrong, that is my favorite part about the holidays. My not-so-favorite-part? (Besides the tight-fitting pants and planning a Christmas budget?) Traveling. No, let me rephrase: traveling with kids.

You all know, because you've been there! Traveling with kids is hard. Period. Our kids are ticking time bombs, just waiting to go off at any point at on the travel itinerary, and so are you. You are already around your kids 24/7, but when you're home, you at least have the safety of a closet in which you can hide and binge on any leftover Halloween candy or a spoonful of peanut butter. There is no such thing as a "safe place" for a mom when traveling. You are stuck in the car or an airplane with all of them, and you are expected to keep them happy, well-behaved and quiet. It is no wonder we moms look at vacations and scoff. Vacation shmacation.

I get it, ladies! I married a man who travels for work. He is my hero and provider in the form of a dome-builder, and we are lucky enough to be able to travel with him and stay together. His jobs last anywhere from 6-weeks to 4-months, and jobs could be anywhere in the United States. Sounds hectic, right? Now, factor in three kids 3 and under. Such chaos. Life is constantly changing, and while it can be stressful at times, we try hard to make traveling fun! In all this, I have really started to pick up tips and tricks to make traveling with little kids WAY easier, and I hope that through this series of travel tips, you can find one or two things that may help you when traveling this holiday season!

Tip 1:  Stack it wide, not high

There should be a book written on the art of packing a suitcase. I always freeze up for a moment when I have an empty suitcase in front of me and a stack of belongings that must fit inside. It is like an intricate puzzle to see which item combination allows the suitcase to close. There are so many ways to pack clothes, between stacking them high, rolling clothes into small bundles, vacuum packing your clothes, and more intricate folding methods that should be placed on the same plane as the art of ancient paper folding. While I have only tried three of these methods, I have found that when my goal is to take more clothing and keep it more organized, this is my tried and true: Stack it wide, not high. 

Stacking clothes high is how I used to pack clothes. It seems the most logical way to play suitcase Tetris. You have clothes in folded squares that you need to place into a large rectangular suitcase. The picture below was when we lived in Oklahoma for three months and were packing to come home earlier this year. When stacked high, I could fit about 23 shirts in my suitcase. That is quite a few outfits, and if you are only going on a short-term vacation, this method may be perfect for you! 

HOWEVER, this method may not be for you, if you like to have options! Don't listen to your husbands ladies; we dress depending on how we feel for the day. The same shirt can make you feel confident one day and overweight and drab the next day. You need yourself looking and feeling confident, because you are about to be a mama bear on the road! When you put it that way, I'm sure your husband will agree ;)

This is the same suitcase with the same 23 shirts, and I was able to fit about 6 MORE SHIRTS into my suitcase when stacked against the width of the suitcase. 29 SHIRTS. Not bad for only a third of the suitcase, eh? Not only does this method allow you to pack more, but you are able to see all of your outfits for easy access. No more digging around in those stacked high clothing piles, because we all know what could happen when you take a Jenga block from the bottom of the tower. Say farewell to any form of organization.

Because I had saved space on height, I could also place three pairs of shoes on top of the clothes and close the suitcase EASILY.  I'm sure there are better, more correct terms for this process, but I call this form of packing the "Magic Suitcase Stuffing Trick." 

Airplane travlers, be forewarned: Be careful when flying on an airplane though. Those extra clothes, even if compacted, still can push you over the 50 pound limit for a checked bag. *Me raising my hand guiltily...*

Tip 2: Hotels have cribs. No wait; I don't think you heard me right. Hotels. Have. Cribs! 

With three little ones, it was daunting to carry everyone, our hotel travel bag, AND two pack-and-plays! Did you know that most hotels have a few generic portable cribs (it could be a crib on wheels or a pack-and-play) that they keep for guests? Take advantage of this moms.

We recently went on a mini-vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and we made sure to book a hotel that offered this service. We booked our room and asked to have a portable crib there before we arrived at the hotel, and opened our door to this little beauty. Hotel staff will even deliver a crib right to your room if you've forgotten to plan ahead.

This crib came with bedding and even additional baby blankets to keep your little one warm through the night.  Not all hotels have this service, we have found, so make sure to check with your hotel before you book your room. Bottom line? This service may save you a trip back to the car to get more things. (*cue husband fist pump*)

Hopefully you found these two tips helpful! I have up to 30 more small tips, and am hoping to post a few each week; however, I am definitely no expert, so please share any of your own traveling tips in the comments below!

Don't forget to get packed, get traveling, and get a little mayhem going on!