Oh, how I wish it was just over the river and through the woods to our grandmother’s house. For us though, that’s simply not true. Our beloved TuTu lives deep in the heart of the Lone Star state, a whopping 1,200 miles from our Columbus home. Thankfully technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected and even “see” long distance relatives regularly. Even so, there’s nothing like packing your bags and hitting the road leading to the loving embrace of grandma. Below are some observations and tips from our recent cross-country jaunt.
Go for it
It can be hard to find a good time for the whole family to travel. When my husband had an extended out of town work trip, I decided to go for it and take the boys to grandma’s house on my own. I’ll admit, I was intimidated by the idea of 4 hours of flight time on my own with a 1 and 3-year-old, but just decided to hope for the best and make it happen. And, I’m so glad we did!
When it comes to flying with kids, I highly recommend Southwest Airlines. Free checked bags, no change fees, priority family boarding and open seating are all big benefits the airline offers. Another bonus is that Port Columbus has a Southwest curbside check-in so I could offload my boys’ heavy car seats and double stroller before even setting foot inside the terminal. This is invaluable because it is impossible for me to lug all this gear to the ticket counter on my own. A word of caution, if you find a lesser fare on another airline, be sure to check into their baggage and cancellation policies because those can really add up
Amazon Prime always delivers (am I right?). Order online in advance and send necessities to your destination. Diapers and wipes were waiting on grandma’s doorstep when we arrived and I wanted to high five myself for all the space I saved by not traveling with them!
Children, especially infants and toddlers, require many necessities and accessories. Borrowing or renting these items at your destination ease travels and save money. For our trip, we needed a Pack ‘n Play, high chair, air mattress, toys and books. Grandma asked around and got everything we needed for free from friends and even picked up books from her local library for our evening reading sessions.
We had a late afternoon flight to Texas and I knew it would be close to bedtime once we landed. Grandma and I talked in advance to discuss sleeping arrangements and she so kindly had everything set up for us once we arrived. After a long day of travel with minimal napping, this made the transition to bedtime much easier for all of us (although it didn’t prevent the boys from waking up at 5 a.m. the next morning). Admittedly, I typically fly by the seat of my pants, but I’m thankful we had a plan to help my boys get some much needed rest.
Grandma warmed our hearts when she showed up at the airport with a few of our favorite snacks and treats. Then she knocked our socks off when we found her refrigerator and pantry stocked with foods and drinks that she knows the boys and I love and eat regularly. This really was key in making our transition to staying at grandma’s house seamless and comfortable. Food really does equal love.
Overall our trip to grandma’s house was full of special new memories and fun experiences. We’re glad we went and appreciate the lessons learned along the way. Clearly, a lot is left to fate when we travel with kids, but some prior planning can really help set you up for success. Finally, a big thank you to our TuTu for making our visit to her house so heartwarming, pleasant and enjoyable!