Top 5 Essentials for Travelling with Small Children

We went to Northern California recently to visit my cousin and hang at the beach for a while. When I first proposed the trip to Cory, he became visibly anxious at the idea of travelling with a two-year-old and a seven-month-old. Honestly, I think we hit the sweet spot for travelling since Juniper is still not mobile and easy to wear and Archer is still fairly easily distracted/entertained. The trip went as smoothly as it possibly could have and was even surprisingly relaxing! I highly recommend limiting your travel with small children to comfortable hotels/condos/rentals that provide sufficient fun without having to venture out constantly or with family, ideally family that also has small children. We did both.

In all of the travel I’ve done with one kid or two, short or small trips, there are a handful of items that have made things considerably easier for us. It never ceases to amaze me how many gadgets are invented each year for parents of babies and toddlers. It’s sometimes hard to leave all this (ahem, crap) at home, but very much worth it in order to travel light.

The Ergo Carrier

You would have to raise your children under a rock to not be familiar with the Ergo. Or, maybe I just feel that way because I live in a city full of urban hippies. The Ergo can be quickly and easily sized for either me or my husband to wear either of our kids. This makes it great for travel with two small kids because you can get around without a double stroller, but still quash toddler meltdowns in crowded areas if needed. It also allows one parent (my husband) to easily manage both little monkeys while the other parent (me) takes a much-needed break. Yea, Cory’s pretty awesome.

There are a million different baby carriers out there and it is worth researching to figure out which one (or two, or three) are best for you before you invest. I’ve tried a wide variety and the soft-sided carriers (namely, the Ergo) are my favorite. Here is a great comparison chart of soft-sided carriers. I second her opinion that the Baby Bjorn is the worst and a total waste of money.

Phil and Ted’s Wiggle Wrapper

I keep this in our car in case we go out to eat somewhere that doesn’t have highchairs. It’s especially convenient for travel since you can secure your little one to just about any chair for mealtime, playtime, or just to make sure your roving toddler doesn’t electrocute himself while you are taking a dump. It could happen.

Airlines will not allow you to use it during takeoff and landing, but we have found that it works better than trying to wear your squirmy worm whilst he ferociously kicks your neighbors elbows. P & T advertise that it works for securing them while sleeping, but our littles sleep on their tummies and I’m not sure how you would get your child to go to sleep while secured to the bed in the Wiggle Wrapper.

It’s about the size of a three DVDs stacked on each other and is functional for both our kids on just about any chair. Works for both kiddos, lightweight, and compact, what more do you want?

The UppaBaby G-Luxe Stroller

Unless you are an avid runner or crazed shopaholic, this could be the only stroller you ever need. It’s great for both babies and toddlers and easy to adjust when you switch…noticing a trend here? It’s comfortable for the kiddies with a nearly-full recline, adjustable footrest, large canopy, and padded seat. It’s comfortable for the parents with a good-size basket, cup holder, lightweight frame, and smooth maneuverability. It basically has all the tricked-out features of a high-end stroller on the body of an umbrella stroller.

Baby Food Squeeze Pouches

Do you taste your baby’s food? I do. And when she doesn’t like something, I’m usually not surprised because it makes me want to gag as well. I discovered the Peter Rabbit brand while in California and it is delicious! They do a good job of letting the flavor of their vegetables not be overpowered by the fruit. I try to make baby food at home when I can, but these packets just can’t be beat for travel. Skip the little spoon gadget, (it just over fills the spoon and makes a mess) and wrap up a baby spoon in one of these stellar bibs that easily wipes clean.

Toddler Nap Mat

Our two-year old attends Montessori School and sleeps on the nap mat that I made for him using this tutorial. It fits perfectly in the front pocket of my huge new hot pink suitcase and the familiarity helps to keep him from crawling into bed with us. My favorite nap mats for purchase are the Pottery Barns versions above, but if you know your way around a sewing machine, it’s fairly easy to make one. I love Michael Miller’s flannel prints and used Zoology for Archer’s mat.

It’s easy enough to get a pack and play from hotels for the baby, but our two-year-old is way too big for travel cribs and way too squirmy to sleep with us. It’s much easier to stuff his nap mat in the suitcase than to pay for a room with an extra bed or make arrangements for an extra bed at someone’s house. It also doubles as a play mat for both kids instead of having them spread out all over the floor.

Regardless of what you decide to pack (or leave behind) when travelling with small children, the most important thing is to just get out there. I’m proud to say that we conquered a week-long out-of-state trip with an infant and toddler and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There are a million and one tips on travelling with kids but, ultimately, the more you do it, the easier it will be. So have faith in your kids and go book yourself a ticket!


Sugar Cookies with Royal (pain in the ass) Icing

For Archer’s 2nd Birthday, I had the brilliant idea of making sugar cookies and trying my hand at some royal icing. Well, actually, I had the brilliant idea that my friend Randi make them for her son’s birthday first and then I would learn from her mistakes.

I’ve had sugar cookies with super cute decoration at baby showers, weddings, in my Greenling Box, and again at Jackson’s birthday (Thanks, Randi!) and they always seem to have a taste that is slightly off. Except for the ones from Sweetish Hill that Greenling sends me, it often tastes like there are chemicals in the cookie. So, what better dessert to try for my son’s birthday, right?!

Basic, (somewhat) fresh ingredients

I decided to go with Alton Brown’s recipes for sugar cookies and icing since he hasn’t let me down yet. The cookies came out great aside from the fact that they were not uniform thickness, so some were slightly more crispy than others. Sugar cookie perfection is found by pulling them out of the oven at the precise second they are done, so uniformity is kind of important. Upon mentioning my flub to (the fabulous) Lauren, she clued me in on the rubber band trick. You just put thick rubber bands on the ends of your roller until they equal the thickness you want. Then I went and found these. Either way, I’ll be closer to perfection next time.

Prep Work

After two batches of cookies were baked, cooled, and miraculously saved from probing 2-year-old paws, I made two batches of royal icing. It’s little more than wet sugar and food dye that hardens as it dries. The trick is to plan exactly how you are going to create your masterpiece on each shape. And maybe don’t make three dozen cookies in three different shapes your first go-round. For decorating tips, I found these two posts to be extremely helpful. Don’t zoom through the instructions. They’re detailed for a reason. Seriously, you need to plan ahead.


The beach balls were probably the easiest since they are only flooded with no detail work. The two tutorials I followed show you how to flood the whole cookie one color and then detail on top of that with various tips. Squeezing that icing bag was giving me hand cramps, so I’m all for a simple design created from one outline and multiple flood colors. When outlining for a flood, just go ahead and use a #3 tip. It’s the most readily available small round size, it’s a helluva lot easier to squeeze icing out of the larger hole, and it allows you to get a nice, thick layer of flooded icing on your cookie. A #1 or #2 is going to give you hand cramps, limit your sugar intake per cookie, and generally rain on your cookie parade.

Our Masterpieces

Did I mention that this will require some serious time investment? And because the icing dries fairly quick, you can’t just stop and start willy-nilly. I suggest you try to find a friend as awesome as my friend Lauren (you probably won’t, but go ahead and try) to sit there for several hours decorating the cookies for you while you try to get the toddler down for a nap and convince (unsuccessfully) the baby to stop shrieking and play with her toys so you can get your sugar high on. Er, I mean, create museum-worthy masterpieces out of sugar.

The Spread

After you’ve spent an absurd amount of time creating cookies that as gourmet as straight sugar, butter, and flour can get, and are loaded with who-knows-what chemicals in the dye, you’ll still have to provide a variety of snacks that cost twice as much and take no time to throw on the table. No one can live on sugar cookies alone. According to this photo, they can live on guacamole alone. Maybe next time I’ll skip all the complications and just smear guacamole all over the table.