As if traveling alone isn't hard enough, add 3 kids, 3 car seats, a husband, myself and all of our luggage. Did I mention luggage? Holy luggage!
The number one thing I recommend when traveling with this many people is a good packing list. I have a running packing list that I add things too and modify it on my computer as we take trips or vacations. I have one that's camping specific as well. It helps me stay on track. This year I forgot NOTHING! So yeah, the packing list works for me.
Each kid (ours are 7, 5 and 3) uses their own backpack for travel. What's in the backpack? Their kindle fully packed with movies and shows. We stayed up until 11pm the night before making sure everyone had enough stuff on the kindle. Tip: If you plan to watch in flight, you need to DOWNLOAD the shows, wifi does not work for the kindle well and then shows cut out and kids freak out. Save yourself some freak outs and trust me on this one. We also pack crayons, paper, stickers, tons of snacks and a small bag of legos. I also recommend tossing in some sort of "lunch" if you are traveling when snacks might not satisfy for your kids. We usually pack a PBJ for everyone, adults included. They were gone by 10 am! Their lovey is the last thing that gets tossed in the morning that we leave.
A word about Pinterest and you crazy moms... which includes me! In the past, I went all out Pinterest crazy. See My crazy travel board on Pinterest. I'm sad to say that most of that stuff lasted 30 seconds before it got tossed on the floor. While there are a ton of great ideas, save yourself the headache and the clean up.
We usually rent a minivan for travel. This time we didn't due to price constraints. A minivan was $900 more than a full size car... that was WAY out of our budget so I thought we could make a full size car work. Thought is the key word there! With the amount of luggage that we had to fill the trunk and the car seat situation, this did not work out as well as we had planned. We opted to travel with two Harmony booster seats and one Harmony Defender. While they are very slender seats, the boosters with the way the seat belts were situated it was difficult to get everyone buckled in safely and securely. I would not do this again in the future. As a note, the defender is an excellent seat. We really love it for every day use. Our other go to seats are for home are the Britax boulevard and the Britax Frontier. For sure, research your car options and figure what works best for you. We ended upgrading to an SUV and that was no better for the car seats than the full size vehicle.
We ended up staying at the Ramada Plaza Inn. Our room had 2 beds and we ordered a cot. Turns out that kids can't tolerate sleeping with a sibling (seriously!) so they would rather sleep on the floor. Which we allowed to happen because it was a choice they could make or they could sleep in the bed. Turns out sometimes the floor is better than sleeping with a sibling *insert eye roll* The location is about 10 minutes from the Portland area that we wanted to explore (more about that in blogs to come). The nice thing about the hotel was the patio, which we utilized each nice after the kids went to bed. Our "courtyard view" was an excellent view of the parking lot :) We didn't mind thought because we had a little "date night" on the patio chatting, looking at pictures and hanging out. It was nice because it allowed us a little space and time to decompress without bothering the kids. The kids LOVED the pool, which was nothing fancy but they still had fun. No free breakfast or anything fancy, just a basic hotel.
More about the rest of our adventures to come... stay tuned!
tags: maine, travel with kids, travel with toddlers, camp no limits, vacation planning, vacation, Ramada Plaza Hotel, rental car, Portland Head Light House, Higgins Beach, Old Orchard Beach, 3 car seats across
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