It’s finally arrived – the vacation you’ve been dreaming about for years.

Despite the chaos of everyday life and motherhood, you’ve made this vacation happen. And then a horrifying thought hits you squarely between the eyes: you’re going to have to travel with your kids.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Tyra Surprised
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Before you stress out and cancel the whole thing, we’re here to help you. Here are 10 products to make your life easier when you’re traveling with kids.

1. Little Kid Luggage

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Luggage

Instead of trying to cram all of your kid’s clothes and belongings into your already stuffed suitcase, invest in one of their own. This will keep you organized. If they’re big enough, they can easily tote it around themselves. It’ll probably make them feel cool and older than they are, which saves you a stress-induced panic attack in the airport. It’s a win-win for everyone!

2. Travel Crib

Felicity-Huffman's-What-The-Flicka-Baby-Bjorn-Travel-Crib-Light

This is going to be a lifesaver. Who has time to deal with a cranky kid? NOT US. A travel crib is perfect for those long pit-stops and delayed flights.

3. Crayola Travel Tote

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Crayola Kit

A bored child is a nightmare child. Keep your kid busy and out of your hair with a traveling color pack, like this one from Crayola. They’ll be so absorbed in making what they consider “art” that they won’t have time to be annoying!

4. The Brilliant Ride-On Carry-On

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Ride On Carry On Luggage

A stroller and a suitcase all in one? WE THINK YES. Whoever invented this clearly understood being a parent. When you’re rushing to make your flight, you don’t want to have to push around a stroller on top of all the luggage. This kills two birds with one stone and makes us mama’s very happy.

5. Pack n’ Go Mini Mobile

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Pack and Go Stroller Toy

This mini mobile is perfect for anyone traveling with a baby – it’ll keep them entertained the way the Crayola traveling kit keeps the older kids occupied.

6. Portable Diaper Changing Station

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Diaper Changing Station

You know what’s not a great feeling? When you’re traveling and dealing with a poopy diaper, and the bathroom at the airport or pit-stop is going so slow you feel like gouging your eyes out. Having a portable diaper station is critical! You need to be able to take care of your baby wherever you are.

7. Inflatable Bath Tub

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Inflatable Duck Tub

As if kids aren’t picky enough when it comes to food, they also decide to throw tantrums in hotel bathrooms. With an adorable, inflatable bathtub you can avoid meltdowns on trips that leave you asking yourself the questions, “Is Disney World worth this???”

8. Travel High Chair

Felicity-Huffman's-What-The-Flicka-Travel-High-Chair

Since it would be absolutely ridiculous to bring a giant high chair with you on a trip, this harness doubles as a portable high chair and safety strap. Now any chair can become a high chair and you can salvage some remnants of your sanity whilst traveling with kids.

9. Motion Sickness For Kids

Felicity-Huffman's-What-The-Flicka-Motion-Sickness-Relief-Tablets

The last thing anyone needs on a trip is a puking child. If your kid is prone to motion sickness on planes or in cars, this is definitely necessary. It even comes in a convenient travel case because the motion sickness medicine gods understand the plight of a parent.

10. Kid Neck Pillow

Felicity-Huffman's-What-The-Flicka-Critter-Pillow

If your kid is uncomfortable when traveling, then everything is going to go to shit. Hand them a neck pillow that looks like a dog and you’ve basically given them a pot of gold. They’ll have no choice but to fall soundly asleep, and then you’re free to argue directions with your spouse (because let’s be honest, they always refuse to use GPS even though THEY DESPERATELY NEED IT).

Featured image via.

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Hubs and I love road trips. When we had kids we took a break from long car rides because I didn’t want to put myself through the torture that can come with traveling with kids. I mean, why put myself through something I didn’t have too??? But when our youngest turned one, we kind of just jumped right into our road trip adventures as a family. We’ve started slowly, not going more than 5-6 hours away from home. Lucky for us, we live in Des Moines, Iowa which means that there’s some awesome cities and things to do with in that driving range.

In the two years that we’ve been road tripping and have many trips under our belt, we’ve learned a few things. Here are some tips that may (or may not–maybe you’re a more seasoned road tripper than I, which means that I would love to hear your road trip tips) come in handy for this summer’s road trip(s) with the kids:

1. Bring extra clothes, a few towels, clean supplies (we have a container to Clorox wipes that stay in our minivan at all time) and baby wipes.

Speaking from experience, you never know when someone might get car sick. You DON’T want to rush to the nearest rest area only to go through all of your luggage to find an extra set of clothes only to realize that you have no way to clean up the car seat (a shout out to our fellow road trippers, a trucker, and my quick thinking husband for being able to give Harrison’s car seat a good scrubbing when the above scenario happened to us).

2. Add at least an extra hour or two to your drive time (example: 6 hour road trip, plan for 7 to 8 hours).

Plan on numerous potty breaks, snacks, diaper changes, issues with the DVD player, a fight over the Kindle, getting out to stretch legs/run around. The list goes on and on. On our recent trip to the Wisconsin Dells, our 5 hour trip took 7 hours because of energetic children. Thankfully we had numerous park playing options along the way.

3. Speaking of Kindle (or an Ipad), don’t bring it.

In our experience, it either causes fights amongst the kids (we have one that they share) or there’s some kind of issue that we need to pull over for, adding more time in the car. The last few trips we’ve left it at home and things actually went much more smoothly.

4. Lay out the car rules beforehand.

Ours include: no raising your voice (we call this light voices), hands to yourself, keep your stuff to yourself, Mom chooses the movies that are watched (way less fighting), stay in your seats and buckled at all times, know that if you need something your needs may not be met right away because we’re all buckled into our seat belts. These simple rules have made car rides much more bearable.

5. Pick a time that’s good for the kids to leave for a trip, not when it’s convenient for you.

The best time for us to leave for a trip is early to late evening. Just in time for a snack, one last potty break, and then bedtimes. The kids don’t fall asleep especially easily in the car, but once it’s dark out, we put on a movie without sound and let them fall asleep while Hubs and I drown ourselves with coffee. We’ve tried leaving at different points in the day, but this has been our most successful time. If we leave in the morning the kids are too energetic. If we leave mid-morning or lunch time, we usually get a couple of easy hours in the car thanks to nap time, but then have to deal with re-energized kids who need to get out A LOT to stretch their legs (aka-terrorize rest area playgrounds).

6. The portable DVD is a lifesaver.

After too many fights and issues with bringing our Kindle along on trips, we’ve relied heavily on the DVD and have found success. I typically don’t let my kids binge watch TV but I have my rules when we’re on a trip: one educational movie or show (they tend to lean towards a Leap Frog DVD), one Disney movie, and one “real life, action movie.” Gives them a great variety and I don’t feel incredibly guilty for playing movies our entire ride.

7. Have things for them to do.

Some of our go-tos: Magna Doodles or Doodle Pros, Water Wow, and Melissa and Doug Travel games. The license plate game is great for older kids or we simplify it for the younger kids and play “Find all of the red cars.”

8. Bring blankets and pillows.

My kids love to ride in comfy clothes (pj’s or gym clothes), no shoes, covered in blankets, and pillows to hold. We’ve also found this helps with the hotel stay and falling asleep at night and feeling comforted. A favorite blanket (or three if you’re my kids) and a bed pillow are a must for us.

9. Bring a cooler and snacks.

Having drinks and snacks readily available reduces the amount of stops you’ll have to make (or money you’d spend). I like to pack a cooler full of water bottles and small bottles of milks for the kids. For snacks, I always pack bananas, crackers, one treat (usually fruit snacks), string cheese, apples, and carrot sticks. That seems to get us through both the drive to vacation and back home, plus some snacks for the hotel room.

10. Read books.

I keep a bag full of children’s books up front with me. When the kids start to get restless or too loud, I read the books to the kids. Sure my neck and back hurt afterwards from contorting my body, but if it keeps the kids from screaming at each other then it is well worth it.

11. Map out your preferred stopping locations before you leave.

On our recent trip to the Wisconsin Dells, we had to do most of our drive on highways, which meant less stopping points. We also knew where all of the parks and rest areas are on our routes because you never know when someone might shout out “I have to pee really bad!” ten minutes after you’ve left a gas station.

12. Bringing our at home pharmacy is a must for us.

Tylenol, Motrin (both kids and adults), band aids, Benadryl (or any other allergy meds), etc. have come in handy several times while we’ve been out of town. It’s much more convenient to open up my bag of medicines than having to locate the nearest Target.

Good luck and safe and happy travels! If all of these things fail, at least you’ll have interesting stories that I’m sure we’ll be funny some day.

This post was originally featured on Ashlen’s blog, The Kidsperts.

My family recently drove from Fort Worth, TX to North Dakota. Like, almost to Canada, North Dakota. I’m not going to lie, on the way TO our destination, I rocked. We were ready to go early. We had nutritious snacks and beverages waiting for us in the car. We read stories and played games. It was awesome. We knocked out over 1200 miles in a straight shot of 17.5 hours.

The trouble with driving TO a destination is that you have to drive BACK from said destination. It was a slow fade as the miles crept by, but by Oklahoma the healthy snack preparing, fun game engaging, enthusiastic mom was dead to me. Dead and buried.

What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, you ask? Was it the three over-tired, cabin-fevered little boys in my midst? Partly. Was it the fact that the walls and the floor of our SUV were literally closing in on me because of our overly generous relatives? A little.

Perhaps, it was the time in Kansas or Nebraska or wherever when I had my husband dump the three boys and I off at a McDonald’s while he gassed up the car. I hurried into the large stall with the three boys to take care of my monthly business. For the record, there is no dumber time to be on your period than when traveling 1300 miles with three young boys. Mid-monthly business managing, the Tot began to crawl under the door of the stall. I quickly motioned for the big boys to get him, thinking they would drag him back in by his feet. But, no. The boys flung the door open for the world to see and bolted after him, out the door into the McDonald’s.

Or, maybe, it was after we powered through another 300 miles, piled everyone into a hotel at 10:30, and attempted to get the Tot to sleep. After an hour and a half of being kicked in the face and retrieving countless sips of water, I finally lied to the baby and told him the hotel was fresh out of water. The remainder of the night was spent with the baby’s face ON my face as he slept.

No, the straw that finally broke my back was the floor of our car.  You know how I told you it was closing in?  It literally was.  When we were in North Dakota, a farmer friend asked if we wanted a couple of bags of potatoes.  Sure, we said, not knowing they were 50 pound bags.  Funny thing about potatoes, they can’t freeze.  Speaking of dumber.  Is there any dumber place to grow a crop that cannot freeze than North Dakota?  When we left, the wind chill was -50.  Needless to say, the potatoes froze.  The potatoes then spent the next 24 hours thawing and creating a black ooze that infiltrated the floorboard of our back seat.  It was round about Oklahoma that we had to huck the sacred Red River Valley potatoes in a dumpster (and hope we weren’t captured on surveillance cameras). 

After that, any recollection of my former self was gone.  She was replaced with a stranger that told my children Sure, get some Jolly Ranchers.  Get a tube of Pringles, too.  I don’t care as long as it will buy me at least fifteen minutes of silence when we return to the car. 

I finally resorted to putting things on my husband's head to distract myself from the trip that would never end.
I finally resorted to putting things on my husband’s head to distract myself
from the trip that would never end.

The sweet, accommodating mom from the first leg of the journey morphed into a Hulkulean (Not Hurculean.  I mean I turned green and ripped my shirt) figure that bellowed Put your seat belts on RIGHT NOW!  But, my head hurts, I can’t put it on.  Yeah, well, your head is really going to hurt when we get in a car accident and you fly out of the window and die!  How many times do I have to tell you to put on your seatbelt?  Is it a surprise to you that every time we get in the car, I’m going to make you put it on?  How many stinking times have we been in and out of this dad gum car in the past twenty four hours?  Put your seatbelt on!!! 

After passing the “Welcome to Texas” sign, I eased up a little.  But.  Then, we finally made it to Fort Worth and north Fort Worth traffic.  Oh, I forgot it’s the dad gum 1:46 in the afternoon traffic. 

As with most agonizing situations, it came to an end.  We arrived safely home.  We were suddenly free of the jail cell disguised as a Honda Pilot.  We unpacked, the boys were liberated in the neighborhood with their new scooters, and the drive suddenly didn’t seem so bad.  My coloring faded to a pale green. 

Soon enough, we will embark on the same journey, with the same optimism as the first leg of the trip.  And, hopefully, I will remember on the trip back that this too shall pass…

Soon enough, we will embark on the same journey, with the same optimism as the first leg of the trip.  And, hopefully, I will remember on the trip back that this too shall pass…

This post was originally featured on Jennifer’s blog, The Intentional Mom

We just got home from a 9 day family vacation to Palm Springs. We all survived and made some fantastic memories along the way. It was stressful and relaxing all at the same time. (Is that even possible?) It was exhausting and invigorating all at the same time. (Can that even be?) And there were times when we were alarmingly Griswold-eque. But that’s the beauty of vacations. they teach you so much about your own family dynamics. The good, the bad and the obnoxious.

So once again, I’ve decided to pass along some nuggets of parenting wisdom. It’s your lucky day!!!

Hang In There…

It is a LOT of work getting ready to go on vacation. And somehow it always seems to fall on Mom’s shoulders. There will be moments in the week leading up to the trip when you’ll wonder if it would just be easier to stay home. Hang in there, Mama. Your hard work will pay off once you’ve made it to your destination and pop the cork on that first bottle of wine.

Keep It Simple…

Remember the days of packing an entire bag full of coloring books, crafts, and activities to keep the kids busy on the plane? Forget that! I’ve got one word for you…SCREENS! My advice? Lose the guilt. Who cares that they just spent 4 hours straight playing Minecraft? Can you hear all that silence? I bet the people sitting next to you can. Hey, I never promised my parenting advice will win you the Mother Of the Year Award. But it WILL keep the peace. And that’s far more precious than any imaginary award.

Speak Your Piece…

Having a husband who travels frequently for work might complicate things for you. There’s a good chance he’ll make his way through the airport as if he’s traveling alone. He’ll breeze through security worrying only about himself, while you schlep the rest of your family (shoes and bags and all) through x-ray machines and metal detectors. He’ll briskly dodge through crowds, while you struggle just to make it to the gate with all 3 of your kids in tow. And after all that he’ll stop to buy the kids treats and drinks, despite the fact that last night you spent an hour packing bag lunches and healthy snacks for them. Do not be afraid to kick him in the balls gently remind him that traveling with a family of 5 is not the same as traveling alone and you’d appreciate a little help.

Accept It…

When you’re on vacation with your family you’ll still have to go grocery shopping, make meals, clean up, and do laundry. It’s just one shitty reality of being Mom. There’s no two ways about it. So the sooner you accept that you have to be the maid no matter which state you’re in…the better.

Look On The Bright Side…

Kids will OBSESS about swimming! You could take them on an aerial tram up into the mountains for hiking, to the zoo for the day, exploring in a National Park, or even on a desert safari jeep ride and you will still hear, “Can we go swimming when we get home?” Just go with it. It makes for great bribery (Be good or no swimming!) And at least it tires them out so they sleep well at night.

And while we’re on the subject of swimming: When your kid gets a bloody nose in a crowded pool and his brother decides to announce it FULL VOLUME for everyone to hear…and he swims underwater to get to you after you’ve yelled at him to keep his nose out of the water…and then he sasses you in front of everyone when you tell him how gross that was…and later he sticks his nose up in the air and yells over to you, “Hey Mom, is it bleeding again?”…just don’t panic. There IS a bright side to this situation too. The pool will clear out REALLY fast and you’ll have the place to yourself in no time.

Get to Know the Locals…

Traveling to California? A warning: You just might see a lady carrying her little dog in a Baby Bjorn walk right into the Mexican restaurant you’re eating at. And she might even sit down and share her salsa with said dog. Try not to get too grossed out. Simply get out your phone and post a picture of it on social media so your friends back home will believe you. You can also have a good laugh when one of your friends comments that she looks remarkably like Keith Richards.

It Gets Better…

Parents of little ones…fear not! It gets better. My youngest is 5 now. You know what that means? This is the first time our family has traveled without a STROLLER! That milestone is almost as big as potty training. Seriously! When we got to the airport on our first day I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. Turns out I was just feeling empty handed without our enormous, clumsy, fonder pot of a stroller to push. Breaking News: No stroller = freedom! Just wait, you guys. I promise your time is coming too!

So there you have it. As is generally the case with my family, we were a loud and obnoxious ordeal with every new adventure we encountered on our trip. We had our fair share of spills at restaurants. The tight quarters of the rental mini-van proved that you can indeed have too much family time some days. And there seemed to be at least one crabby, sassy, whiny child (or adult) at all times. But we had fun, damn it! It’s just our way. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

This post was originally featured on Marie’s blog, Make Your Own Damn Dinner.

School’s Out for Summer, but the Lessons Still Continue

As my husband piles the last piece of luggage into our jam-packed car, I slowly roll call all of my family’s travelling necessities in my head. Passports? Check. Toothbrushes? Check. Bathing suits? Check. Sandals? Check. Reassured that everything is successfully stowed away, I calmly slump in the passenger seat and take a sigh of relief… Ahh, summer vacation.

With all the hustle and bustle of my family’s everyday lives, we collectively look forward to our summer vacations together. I turn to the back seat and look at my three beautiful explorers, travellers, adventure seekers. Radiant smiles were drawn across their faces as they investigated maps and brochures for our new destination. Happiness and pure excitement exuded from their chatter and laughter; not only were they out of school for a couple of months, but they get to spend their time off doing one of their favourite things — travelling.

SEE MORE: Tips For Traveling With Toddlers And Babies

Family holidays can provide great learning opportunities for children, all without a book or classroom in sight! Exposure to diverse cultures, picturesque scenery, fun activities and people can teach kid’s valuable life lessons and broaden their horizons…sometimes without them even knowing it.

New Perspectives: Encompassing 196 countries the world offers a vast cultural landscape. Immersing yourself in a new culture can inspire new perspectives and insights, which can be a holistic learning experience for children. When I took my two kids on a trip to India, we visited Mahatma Gandhi’s Memorial. It was amazing to see, my two little boys learning how the powerful movement of civil disobedience was rooted in India’s non-violent struggle against British rule. Immediately recognizing the importance of the story behind Gandhi, they curiously asked me questions about him, his message, and the battle for independence for the rest of our visit. This experience opened my sons’ eyes to the powerful and inspiring motivation behind the quest for freedom, cultural equality, and the importance of lessons from history.

Adaptability: Along with new perspectives comes new customs, traditions, and ways of life. Travelling can teach children how to become adaptable to their surroundings and try new things. Have you ever tried to cross the street in India’s second most populated city? With no traditional pedestrian stop signs or signals to guide them across, my kids and I were quick to learn how difficult it can be to cross a street in India. They had to adapt to the busy streets in order to discover a safe way get to the other side. This experience taught my sons how the rules and courtesies we take for granted in our own country can be very different in other countries. And of course — to always look both ways!

Stop and Smell the Roses: Travel can require a lot of waiting as delayed planes, detours and other unexpected situations can arise on vacation. Everyday, we are continually rushing to school, work, practice or a play-date; vacations are a time when children can see the value of being patient and living in the moment. Patience instills a quality model of thinking within children. If children recognize that things take time early in life, they are more likely to channel this positive mindset into future goals and aspirations.

Giving: During our trip to India, I took my boys to Kabliji Hospital and Rural Medical Centre. At this centre, my children saw poverty and the fragility of human life firsthand. This experience opened their eyes, mind and hearts to those who are less fortunate then they are. On their own, my boys decided to give their whole piggy bank from years of birthday money ($575 dollars) to the charitable hospital, which sponsored five patients to receive cataract surgery. Children who perform acts of kindness at a young age experience increased well-being and display more signs of philanthropic behaviour as they get older. As a proud mama, I am hoping this experience leaves a lasting impression on my boys and that they continue to strive to help those in need.

Gratitude: Travelling can teach children the value of appreciation and to treasure life’s everyday affordances. Not every child in India (and many places in this world) has access to the Internet, a soccer ball to play with, or even a parent to tuck them in at night. But what many of these children do possess is optimism and a sense of gratefulness for what little they have. Experiencing different cultures can help children recognize what they do have and what you really need to live a happy, healthy and motivated life. Countless studies exist on the beneficial effects of gratefulness, such as an improved sense of happiness, personal growth, better social relationships, better sleep, less depression, less stress, and better coping skills.

SEE MORE: What Kids SHOULD Do On Summer Vacation

The slam of the trunk door snaps me out of my nostalgic daze. I take one last look at my little travellers, reassure them to buckle up and get comfy for the journey that awaits us. As the car engine begins to rev and soft melodies echo through the radio, I look out the window and recite one of Gandhi’s memorable quotations in my head: You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Travel provides children with the opportunity to see the world and reflect on the person they aspire to be, their role as a global citizen, and the changes they want to make on our world.

This post was originally featured on Huffington Post Canada. Photo via.

If there’s one indisputable fact about motherhood, it’s that kids change everything.

The holidays are no exception. When you have kids, you can practically hear the pitter-patter of reindeer feet on your roof. Santa is alive, well and magical. There are tons of cookies, impossibly cute baby outfits and handmade toddler ornaments for the tree.

It’s all adorable…until 5 a.m. on Christmas morning, when your toddler is jumping on your stomach, “quietly” asking in his best whisper-yell if you’re awake and it’s time to check if Santa brought presents. Didn’t this used to be the morning you could sleep in, guilt-free? In your early-morning, sleepy-eyed stupor, you feel like you’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone for a Christmas makeover you’re not really sure you wanted.

By the time 5:30 rolls around and you’ve seen the sheer delight on your toddler’s face as he rips open his presents, you’ve got a smile on your face again. The holidays are definitely different, yes, but that’s OK…as long as the coffee keeps coming.

Here are 6 other ways having a kid changes the holidays. Thank God those little cherubs of ours are cute. Really cute.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Then: You spent the night before Christmas with your significant other, basking in the glow of the glowing tree, cuddling on the couch, giggling and kissing under the mistletoe.
Now: You spend the night before Christmas assembling toys with instructions that were obviously written by Satan.

DECKING YOUR HALLS
Then: You decorated your house from top to bottom with gorgeous, sparkly, breakable things.
Now: You keep those breakable decorations in a box until your kids are past the we-break-everything-just-for-the-hell-of-it phase—you know, like, 25.

SHOPPING TILL YOU DROP
Then: You got ridiculously excited about snagging a deal for yourself in the midst of holiday shopping for everyone else.
Now: You get ridiculously excited that you’ve snagged the last three-foot-tall My Size Elsa doll in the entire Northeast. Mommy win!

TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Then: You stuffed your car with bags of presents and belted out classic Christmas carols on the ride home.
Now: You stuff your car with bags of presents and 8 tons of baby items that you’ll need for one day away from home, then pray that your kid falls asleep for the duration of the trip while listening to A Very Chipmunk Christmas.

MOVIES ABOUT CHRISTMAS
Then: You have warm, fuzzy memories of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, even though you haven’t watched it since you were in the single digits.
Now: You wish those memories had stayed warm and fuzzy, because now when you watch that classic with your little one, you realize that Santa’s a jerk, Blitzen’s an emotionally abusive dad and reindeers are bullying assholes.

SANTA
Then: You overindulged at Santa Con or dressed up as a naughty Mrs. Claus in the privacy of your own ho-ho-home.
Now: You stand on an endless line in a fake winter wonderland till your feet feel like they’re going to fall off, and you’re in serious danger of strangling a way-too-happy elf so you can meet the “real” Santa. And you pay a pretty penny for the privilege of getting your kid’s crying picture with him.

This post was originally featured on Dawn’s blog, Momsanity. Photo via