We recently took the kids to Playa del Carmen for a wedding. We had a wonderful time and one of these days, I may recap one of our vacations. Regardless, I spent a great deal of time before the trip planning and worrying about what to bring or not bring, and generally flying with the kids. When we do it again, this is what is coming with us:
1. Wagon. Bring it. Leave the stroller at home. You would not believe how easy it was. I did receive some push back from the airline on our return flight, but once I demonstrated how small it was once folded and light it was, they allowed it.
Disclaimer: The wagon does have a large label that says “do not use with children”, as in, do not put your children inside of this wagon and use it to haul them around. I read it. I understand the risk. For the kids off-and-on, for the luggage, for the “stuff”, it was perfect. If your children do not understand that they need to remain seated when moving, perhaps bring a stroller too.
2. Ipad. (or tablet). Bring it. I am not a big screen time person. I hate it. I’ve protested. But in a pinch, it works. Its lighter than all-the-other-stuff. You can play games, watch movies, look at pictures, listen to music, on one device. I would pack the travel games, Water Wow books, coloring books and retractable crayons, and other assorted small toys. I say pack because even on vacation we try to have down time in the afternoon. Having the games and coloring books in the room helped provide some activities for when one or some of the kids were napping.
3. Reusable water bottles/cups. The kids all have Nalgene bottles. We dump them before security and refill them on the other side. I’d fill them on the plane, but then I didn’t have to worry about someone spilling their drink in their lap.
4. Music. I downloaded a bunch of random music off Amazon Music before we went. The kids actually listened to music off my phone more than watching a show on the iPad. Perhaps the novelty of it. Perhaps because it filtered out the background noise on the plane.
Dad’s headphones, Mom’s music.
5. Gate Check Bags and car seats. We used bright red gate check bags that I purchased off amazon for the car seats. We didn’t gate check the car seats. With four kids we aren’t insane. I could not imagine dragging four car seats (or even three) through the airport. But we used the bags for the car seats, and all the other stuff that wouldn’t fit in our luggage. On most airlines checking a car seat is free. The car seat is in the bag. They cannot prevent you from also including diapers, wipes, blankets, and other assorted kid-stuff. I did not put anything in the red bag that I would have been greatly upset were it damaged, just in case. Luckily we didn’t have any problems. We did not bring our car seats. They are way too heavy and too expensive to replace. I purchased the most light weight car seat I could find. Again, if it were damaged, we’d be out the money, but call it the cost of a rental.