Traveling with kids has become our new normal and has basically become all we know anymore when to comes to traveling. Our goal is to do our best to make beautiful memories and enjoy our kids before they are grown. Yes it is a lot of work, stressful, and requires a ton more stuff but overall so worth it!
It’s very important for us to spend time being together outside of our M-F without interruptions or having to share our time with anyone else. It really is so different hanging out for the sake of hanging out and with the purpose of having a good time. It’s so good for our souls and no better way to make unforgettable memories than on the road sight seeing together exploring new places. We always return exhausted needing a vacation from our vacation but with full hearts, recharged in a different sense and inspired to keep working hard so we can play even harder.
We planned our Spring Break trip back home to visit family and added some extra days playing and adventuring in the desert. It was all so short and sweet but we are so happy we did!
We flew out of Seattle because it was more economical to fly out of there than Portland and when you are staying in hotels for multiple nights it’s nice to save whenever possible and that way too we got to see the other set of grandparents and cousins even for just an evening.
We left for Seattle on Saturday and arrived to San Diego on Sunday just in time to celebrate my brothers birthday that day!
We stayed at his place in Little Italy located at the heart of downtown just a short distance from the airport and the waterfront. We got to spent quality time with my parents, my sister and our niece – the girls had so much fun together!
When we first arrived Penelope was not so sure about the bright thing in the sky because it had been a good 9 months since we had seen it. It was so weird to be back because it was our home for so many years and both our babies were born there with so many memories and now we were simply tourist visiting. Our goal is to come back at least once a year to visit family but also so our California girls grow up knowing where they came from and continue creating beautiful memories there.
Spending time with my parents and my beautiful little sister Alma was really important to us, especially for our daughters to spend time with their tia and abuelitos. It was so good to see Alma! My sister means so much to me and is so special in all of our lives. She is the one who taught me what it is to love unconditionally, to appreciate the gift of life, to make the best out of everything that I have been so blessed to have and not take anything in life for granted. Even though Alma is developmentally disabled and non verbal but with one look she is able to communicate so much love. I miss seeing her so much!
I love seeing my mom with her granddaughters because they bring her so much happiness. She has a total of 4 and it’s seriously the sweetest thing ever!!
Isabella doesn’t get to see her Tio Abe very often but the bond between them is the sweetest and it was so special to see her want to be held and snuggled by him. He’s such a great dad himself and awesome older brother to us all.
The following day we took the Coaster to Carlsbad for a day trip to the beach and a lunch date. The ride up was beautiful and a reminder of how special of a place Southern California is and not to mention what a perfect sunny paradise it is. No wonder it’s so crowded – so many people want to be there and I don’t blame them.
There really isn’t anything better than waking up with the ocean view from my brothers place (peek right through the buildings and palm tree) with both my girls super fascinated looking out the window happy as two little clams.
How cute are these girls with their daddies?! Love them all so much! How did I get so lucky? Penelope was introduced to My Little Pony’s during this trip and since then has developed a big love for Applejack who she was so lucky to bring home (the orange one:).
It’s been so fun watching these primates grow up – so special.
Here we are in Carlsbad doing what we do best – tourist :).
On the third day we picked up our rental car and loaded up with snacks and off towards the desert we went! About half way we stopped to stretch our legs, diaper change and a visit to In-N-Out for some yummy lunch – a total must, plus the girls took an amazing nap the rest of the way to our next destination.
How sweet do they look sleeping?! Nothing better than sleeping kiddos that’s for sure.
Second stop Joshua Tree! It is such a very special place for my husband and myself because many many moons ago during the summer of 2005 we stumbled upon the park by accident and what was suppose to be a day stop there before heading out turned into 3 days and when we left we knew it was a place that we would later visit for many years to come and that has been true! And now we get to bring our kiddos there – it seriously makes my heart burst with happy feelings.
We entered the park in the late afternoon the first day and let the girls run around and climb on small boulders while we smiled at each other and smelled the wild fresh desert air. We played lizards and laid on rocks for a bit when we first arrived until they woke up from their naps while we watched a couple of young guys setting up to go climb and we thought to ourselves oh the good ole’days!
Penelope had been to the park a couple times before as a little one and Isabella as a 3 month old, but nothing beats seeing the smile of stoke from your kids once they are almost old enough to understand how amazing a place is. This little lady LOVED it and just thought how neat all the Joshua Tree’s and boulders were! This is probably one of my most favorite photo’s of her – I mean look at the smile and Moana necklace! Oh my heart.
The next morning after staying the night at a hotel not too far from the park we entered back in for a few more hours before unfortunately having to head out to our next stop. I took a mini little hike without the kiddos while Andy stayed with them back at the car and it was exactly what I needed. To move freely and at my own pace, gosh you almost forget what that is like when you are constantly walking with two little monkey’s crawling at your ankles. The air was cold and crisp and not too many people out and about yet so I was beyond thrilled to have this little stretch all to myself.
We did another short family hike as a family and got to see the biggest lizard sun bathing on the rock just as we secretly wished we could be doing right in front of the spot where we picnicked. The girls of course thought it was the neatest thing! We ate lunch on a gigantic rock before heading back talking about how we must come back after this quick hello and camp with the girls, stay a few days and maybe even bring some rock climbing gear like back in the day but for sure be back again before too long.
Next and last stop was Vegas! Yes Vegas ha ha! So many people were with their kids in Vegas, I promise we weren’t the only ones. We were flying out of Vegas so we figured take a little trip through the desert and end pool side for a few days in the city that never sleeps.
We stayed inside the most beautiful real castle! Ok not really it was more like a dark dungeon that smelled like smoke unfortunately but from the outside it was spectacular and both girls, yes even the littlest one Isabella was so happy to be staying there. On the plus, the pool was very family friendly and nice but unfortunately on our second day there was a wind storm that passed through at 70 miles per hour and it was so crazy blowing everything around so wildly causing a hazard zone at the pool. We literally had to evacuate the pool dodging beach chairs flying in the air – it was nuts! Better luck next time we hope!
I’ve had a couple people ask how do you travel with two little kids? The answer is simple, we just do regardless of how much work it is. But of course there are some tips that are a must for us in order to have things go smooth as much as possible.
First is pack light – the less you carry the better you’ll feel when moving around. This trip we decided to not travel with a pack-n-play or carseats. We instead got two queen size beds and each parent slept with a kiddo so my husband and Penelope got a bed and I slept with Isabella. We rented car seats with our rental car which saved us all the lugging around. We also only brought to carry on backpacks that we each shared with a kiddo to minimize bringing more than we needed.
Second bring only the necessities and the special things that your kids can’t live without such as: pacifier, teddy, favorite stuffed animal, white noise, two favorite bed time stories, sleep blanket or sack and a few favorite small and light toys. Whenever we go on a trip we have Penelope bring her own little backpack that she can carry with her with all her favorite little trinkets, stuffed animals and toys – she loves it!
Third travel during their scheduled nap. For example we made sure that both our flights were around their nap time or close to it (if we got up really early they’ll want to take their nap the same time difference but it will be a different time during the day so we just adjust to that if that makes sense) or start driving at their nap time etc. This helps guarantee less crying and fussing from them during times where they have to be restrained like “seat belts” of any sorts.
Fourth it’s their trip too so make sure there are activities they can participate in. Visit playgrounds or kid friendly locations is a must!
Fifth pack a travel size hand bag cooler and stuff it with all their favorite snacks. Every couple hours they must eat! Hungry kids are no fun at all. We packed mini carrots, pretzels, apples, orange slices, granola bars, grapes, cherry tomatoes, trail mix, dried fruit and of course water and milk. We travel with those little Horizon milk boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated – they are the best! We would also stop and buy a steamed milk (kids temp) at Starbucks when we would run out and know that Isabella was due for her milk (morning, lunch, bedtime).
Sixth don’t forget the baby gear such as a stroller or baby carrier! We always travel with our Ergo Baby Carrier and when really little, the Solly wrap but this trip we forgot the Ergo and it was horrible! As you know an 18 month old is so squirmy and wants to always be on the go so when in airports or walking around in public you need to strap them down. For us baby wearing has always been our number one choice because it works best. Unfortunately this trip we forgot it and had to manage. We did our best but once we got to Vegas we luckily were able to find a light weight stroller at the local CVS of all places! It was the silliest looking thing Sponge Bob of all things, but it worked great and gave our arms a break. Now that our oldest toddler is almost 3 1/2 she is able to walk everywhere with minimal asking to get carried but she’s still little so they ended up sharing the stroller. It worked great for times when they needed to nap and we weren’t going back to the hotel until bedtime. They are both pretty predictable with their nap so even though Penelope usually doesn’t take one anymore when she needed too we gave her the opportunity in the stroller.
Seven I don’t really know why I am numbering these except that it’s helping my brain remember so there is no order to this. Next I would say don’t set high expectations because things will go not as planned and when they do it’s the best feeling ever. Expect messes, oh yes pack lot’s of baby wipes and hand sanitizer – you’ll need lots! Also, don’t forget your baby’s toiletries like tear free shampoo, diaper rash ointment, sun screen, sun hats, bandaids, antibacterial ointment, nail clippers, hair brush because there will be more than one occasion when you will use them and be so glad you did.
Eight don’t forget to pack your things too. This trip I totally forgot undies, socks and bras ha! I was so on top of packing for the kids that I totally forgot my most important essentials! Good thing there is a Target wherever you go!
Nine we travel with Rick Steves bags like these ones here. We each carried one and shared one with either kid so that way we don’t get the girls clothes mixed up (even though they are basically the same size now) and it’s quicker to dress them that way knowing who’s what. These bags are great too because you can carry them on (we checked them on the way back to make it easier on us) and wear them as backpacks. We also travel with a Skip Hop diaper bag and stuff it with the essentials but we are in the search for an adult size backpack that will serve great as a “diaper” bag as the littles get older but still need us to carry most of their stuff. Ideas?
Ten have fun! I know that sounds so cheesy but it’s true, don’t worry about anything and just enjoy the uninterrupted time together where there aren’t any house chores, work or dishes getting in the way but just each other and quality time.
Here we are on our last day flying home. The best feeling in the world having both our babies snuggled up against us, gosh we adore them so much! They are seriously the best crew. Love traveling and simply doing life with them.