Last month, we took a family vacation down to Florida to visit my parents. We hadn’t been in over a year (which is a long time for us,) so it was a much needed warm break in the middle of a nasty winter.
Our trip included visits to some of our favorite places in and around Tampa. It was strawberry season during our trip, which meant Parksdale Farm had their famous strawberry shortcake and milkshakes. It’s a little bit of heaven right there in Tampa.
It’s safe to say we spent nearly all of our time outdoors. We took advantage of the warm weather. the kids were in my parents pool nearly every single morning and stayed there the entire day. Made me realize these kids don’t need much to keep them occupied other than a place to go swimming.
We always try to make it to Disney while we visit my parents. The kids have been many many times, so rather than doing our usual of Magic Kingdom, we opted for Epcot. It was so much more fun than I remember and the kids had a blast too.
Harlan is a huge Harry Potter fan and has been begging us to go to Universal Studios to see Harry Potter World. We took a day and spent it there and really had a blast. We had so much fun I forgot to take many photos! That’s always indicative of a good time.
We haven’t flown with the kids in a while and this was the first trip we’ve taken that all three kids were capable of handling their own things (which was a very nice chapter of our lives to enter). It was also our first trip on an airplane since Macks has been diagnosed with several severe food allergies. I’ve shared many tips about traveling with babies, and since the kids are getting older, I figured it was a great time to share some of our tips for traveling as they are in toddler-hood and beyond. I also wanted to share with you some things I learned on this trip about traveling with a child with severe food allergies.
- Kid-Sized Backpack: As any parent who has traveled with kids knows, they require a lot of stuff. While it tends to dwindle as they get older, you still need stuff to keep them occupied. My kids are finally at the age they can carry all of the stuff they need while on the airplane. I made sure to get them a backpack that didn’t take over their entire body. These 7AM Enfant Mini Backpacks were the perfect size for all three kids. They were easy to open, had plenty of pockets and were roomy enough to fit everything they needed. And best of all, they carried it all themselves.
- Kid-Sized Carry-On Suitcase: Finally, gone are the days when I have to pack all three kids clothes and shoes in my own suitcase. Because each kid needs an airplane seat, they are allowed two carry-on items. One of them was their backpack, the other was their suitcase with their clothes and shoes. We tried three different brands of suitcases (with three different price-points) for the kids and the Away Kids’ Carry-On and it was by far the best suitcase for the price. It was durable, had so much space, and even came with a portable charger that came in handy while we were at Disney World! We used the suitcase as Macks’ suitcase and it was a bit hard for him to manage, but with a little bit of practice he was able to get the hang of it and push it through the airport.
- Cup with a Lid: good2growWe have so many of these cups in our house and the kids often use them as water bottles because they don’t spill. I brought three empty ones and put them in the kids’ backpacks so that we would not only have something easy for them to use once we got to Florida, but also so we could put their drinks on the airplane in them. There is nothing worse than getting water or apple juice spilled all over you or the kids on an airplane, so I just had them put the drink directly into the bottle and we were good to go! We also used these while at the parks in Orlando.
- Shoes that are Easy to Slide On and Off: I made this mistake on the way to Florida, but quickly learned on the way back. My kids love to take their shoes off on the airplane. It’s difficult to do with sneakers you have to tie. On the way home, the wore sandals (we love these Freshly Picked sandals) and the kids were able to take them off and put them back on all by themselves. Made it so much easier while we were hurrying to get off of the airplane.
- Wipes: It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, you always need baby wipes for something. These wipes not only came in handy when the kids made a mess, but I also used them to wipe off Macks’ seat and tray as soon as we boarded the plane. For all allergy parents, I called the airline right after I booked our tickets to let them know of Macks’ food allergies. They told me to tell the gate agent and they’d put a note on his ticket about his allergies. As we arrived to the airport, I told the gate agent who let us board the plane early to wipe everything down. I also notified the flight attendants of his food allergies who told me they wouldn’t serve any food that Macks was allergic to and they would also let the rows in front of and behind us of Macks’ allergies. I couldn’t be more pleased with the service we received and how seriously the airline (Delta) took his food allergies. They were super accommodating.
- Travel Blanket: Our flight to Florida was later in the evening, so I knew the kids would most likely fall asleep. To keep them warm and comfortable on the flight, I bought them a travel blanket to carry with them. I prefer the travel blankets because they are easy to fold up and carry rather than drag everywhere we go.
- Headphones: I bought these headphones for the kids years ago and they have been the best purchase for the kids. They have two headphone jacks on either side and allow for audio sharing. I originally bought them so both girls could listen and watch the iPad during a flight, but they worked out really well while watching in-flight entertainment. The fold up and come with a bag so they are easy to pack up and carry.
- Coloring Books: While the in-flight entertainment kept them busy on the way to Florida, there was no in-flight entertainment on the way back which was devastating (especially for Macks.) Thankfully I bought these coloring books ahead of time to keep them busy. I bought them one that matched their interests which helped keep them occupied just a little bit longer. Macks’ Power Rangers coloring book also had stickers, which is always a win-win with a four year-old.