Family vacation: travel essentials.

The last four years have been filled with learning experience after learning experience (after learning experience).  Pregnancy, nursing, long car rides, and a mountain of road bumps in-between.  And while the solutions to most of our problems still escape me, we were able to solve SOME of the biggest hurdles in our way.

I’m definitely not the first person in the world to say this and I know I won’t be the last, but after a nice, long, relaxing vacation, I am in need of another… vacation.  Driving is probably one of the more difficult parts.  Flying may be quicker but it definitely isn’t cheaper and I’m not completely convinced it is easier either.  Plus, this may come as a surprise (even to myself) but I LOVE waking up at 3am, pulling two sleepy kids out of their beds, buckling them into their car seats, and hitting the road while the sun is still down.  It reminds me of being a kid myself and it fills me up with anticipation.

We always end up making amazing memories and simultaneously covering LOTS of miles.  Meanwhile we find the solutions we need for some of our problems while working right through the thick of them.

Here are some of the biggest problems we have encountered and the solutions we’ve come up with.

Problem one: Breast milk. You can fly it to your destination on dry ice, you can attempt to keep it on regular ice and check it frequently for any de-thawing, you could skip taking any at all.  Our solution?  Well, after weighing what felt like a gazillion options, all which didn’t offer any realistic answer, we decided on purchasing a car fridge/freezer.  It plugs in and can be set at a consistent temperature, whether it be freezing temps for my breast milk or just cooling temps to keep food.

It was pricey up front but hands down one of our most used vacation essentials and most used product in general, really.  We have taken frozen breast milk on long drives half way across the country twice already and even when we weren’t carrying milk we used it for food.  Camping, days on the beach, or even at friends houses, we bring this cooler everywhere. This year (since I am not taking any frozen milk) I was excited to pack up lots of healthy food options to take with us while leaving behind the worry of melting ice, soggy food, or leaky coolers.

You can check out our fridge here.

Problem two: heat + babies. Whether it’s cold or hot, I swear I am always worried about something weather related.  In the summer it’s the babies getting too hot in their stroller while we are out exploring.  I bought this 10 dollar fan from the now passed Babies R Us a few years ago to help out with that problem and it has become a summer asset.  This guy hooks onto anything and will cool you down with a  breeze for quite a while.  The batteries we used one trip even latest us the entire time, and we used it a lot.  That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t bring extra batteries though…. just in case.

Now I take this little fan everywhere I may need it.  I feel better knowing it’s their if Lu decides she wants to take a snooze while we are out at the pool, the park, or just taking a walk.

I don’t know where the link is to this one, but here is a close one I could find.

Problem three: Too much dirty laundry. Ever go on vacation, carefully unpack your clothes and prepare for the week, only to haphazardly throw everything into a bag ten minutes before check out?  It leaves you in a bit of pickle when you get home.  Most of the time I end up having to re-wash EVERYTHING, even the clothes I never wore, just because it was thrown in ball with everything else.  After doing this some 20(?) times I decided to start bringing a big laundry bag!  It folds up small and stretches big.  It keeps my dirty clothes together and far, far away from neatly folded clean clothes.  Even when I’m throwing everything everywhere at pack up time.

I got this one on Etsy, but you could literally use ANY extra bag you have.

Problem four: more juice!  If you don’t already have a back up battery in your purse or diaper bag than skip the rest of this and just go to the link below and order one.  I can swear on anything, you’ll thank me later.  I haven’t gone anywhere without one in years.  Nothing horrifies me more than being lost with the kids, my phone dying and being stranded with no phone at all.  Or, yup I’m gonna say it, NEEDING to take that picture of the kids doing the cutest thing ever and my phone dying right before I can snap it.

No matter what you use your phone for, it’s all important, and running out of juice is the worst.  I have been the hero more times than I can count because I’ve been packing one of these bad boys. One time I was at a bachelorette party and literally had a line of girls waiting to charge up.  Oh yea, they also quick charge. Oh!  And they aren’t crazy expensive.  Depending on whether you want one extra charge or 20, you can find a back up battery for your needs.

Here’s the one I have.

Problem five: Too much sun for my taste. I am that person who just doesn’t like to be laying out in the sun all day long.  According to family and friends, I’m crazy.  But, I would just much rather relax in the shade and go into the sun when I choose.  I like a home base of sorts.  A place on the beach to set up shop and make home.  My kids are a lot like me in that sense, they both enjoy chilling in the shade and coming and going as they please.

So, we have the Sportbrella.  There are a lot of umbrellas out there, but this umbrella can be positioned like a normal umbrella vertically above you, OR it can be laid on the ground and staked (like in the picture).  When it’s laying down you are blocked from the wind, sand, sun, and also feel like you’re in your own little cozy nook.  A little beach nook.  I’ve put the kids down for a nap under this umbrella and nothing phased them.  Bonus, it’s large enough for multiple chairs to be under even when its own its side!

Check out the Sportbrella here.

You may have known about all of these, or maybe none?  But I hope at least ONE came as a surprise!  If it did, lemme know!