#1 Absolutely Most Important Thing to Remember When Traveling with Kids

Image via www.fsis.usda.gov

You might have noticed it’s been a little quiet around here the last few weeks.

That’s because school is out and the ChecklistFamily has now entered into its regular summer-programming of slightly-too-ambitious-traveling.

We just returned from a 10-day, all-four-kids-no-paid-help, marathon trip to the East Coast. In 10 days, we:

  • attended a wedding
  • spent a night with Diddy’s godmom in her amazing, 220-year-old house
  • visited my parents
  • visited my fraternal grandmother, an easy 20-min drive from our basic homebase NYC hotel room (zoned for 4 people, so we had to keep sneaking in separately with our kids so no one would boot the 6 of us out onto the INCREDIBLY HOT AND STINKY streets)
  • visited my maternal grandmother, a friggin’ LONG 3-hours-each-way drive from that hotel room
  • visted MrBig(Ideas)’ mother and stepfather
  • attended a memorial service for MrBig(Ideas)’ oldest true friend

Next on the agenda is a three-night stay with-all-four-kids in a rental in Solvang for the Fourth of July. Thankfully — and eternally gratefully — this whole thing is being organized by my amazing friend I-AM-SAHM, whose family we are vacationing with. (Yes I know I just finished that sentence with a preposition. It’s summer. Leave me alone.) Anyway: she found the house, she organized the itinerary, she is a basic rockstar and I am thrilled for this trip, really. Except that it’s next week and I haven’t even unfinished packing from the NYC Marathon. Still, this will be more fun than that because this time we’re traveling with REAL LIVE CHILDCARE HELP!

After that, MrBig(Ideas) and I get a few days to ourselves when we fly to Boston for a wedding, sans-four-kids. This involves paying THREE CAREGIVERS ridiculous sums of money to watch the brood while we’re away (damn you, people with helpful family living nearby or willing to fly into the breach on these occasions! I am ETERNALLY JEALOUS!). And originally we were supposed to be going to Vancouver for a few days, not Boston. But still, time off together without kids is generally a joy and I recommend making time for this sort of trip when you can, whenever you can.

After THAT, we load up the minivan with all-four-kids-plus-dog and drive out to NW Colorado for the entire month of August, to stay at the family ranch with my parents. Who, while maybe not the sort of grandparents who are willing to fly into the breach to provide childcare, are nonetheless the sort who are happy to hire camp counselors to run a custom-at-home camp for my kids and their cousins. I am very grateful for custom-camp. That’s why we go for ALL of August. And I way prefer driving with my kids to flying with my kids — and do hope to blog about that in a few weeks.

Still — what all this traveling this should demonstrate to you is that things are gonna be kinda quiet for the rest of the summer because I’m not here to write much — or I am here, and I am constantly packing — and also because, for some insane reason, the “schedule post” function of my WP theme is all buggy and doesn’t work and I haven’t had time to figure out a work-around yet.

But the whole point of this post was to tell you THE #1 ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER WHEN TRAVELING WITH KIDS, which I remembered upon returning from the East Coast Marathon the other night:


There is nothing worse than waking up the morning after you get home and having to feed your kids leftover goldfish from the airplane for breakfast. I know because I just did it. We totally organized the newspaper stoppage, and the dog sitter, and even taught our babysitter to use our ridiculously complicated alarm system so she could bring in the mail and check on the cats every few days. I even got her to clean out our fridge.

Know what I didn’t do?


Big fail. I am now adding that to all my travel-lists. Go add it to yours!

FLYING WITH YOUR BABY / BROOD — Part 1: Plan The Attack

This post is one of a 4-part series on Flying with Your Baby / Brood.
Part 1: Plan the Attack!
Part 2: Packing. Packing. And More Packing!
Part 3: Coping with Carry-ons
Part 4: Travel Day! A Curb-To-Curb How-To

* * *

My friend Executive Supermom once told me that she told her extended family that she did not intend to board an airplane with her daughter, then 8 or 9 months old, until she was at least 5, and therefore they would have to suck it up and travel TO the Executive Superfamily if they wanted quality Executive Superfamily time.

She has always been INCREDIBLY GOOD at saying NO and setting clear and reasonable boundaries with people. (more…)

Sarah Kate Levy

Once upon a time I wanted to be a novelist in NY. FOUR KIDS LATER I'm a
screenwriter in LA who blogs about parenting, partnering, and the decline of civilization / my home.

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