Saturday, May 12, 2018

San Diego- final day + navigating flights/sleeping/schedule/routines with little ones

Good morning! I intended to get this post out yesterday, but then life happened. So here we go today with our final recap of our trip plus all those logistical details that type-A people like me want to know before tackling a cross-country trip with their own family.

Okay- our last day! Ahh, this was our breakfast view a week ago:

In case you missed my first post recapping our trip, we stayed at the Pantai Inn in La Jolla and looooved it. Just don't look anywhere else if you're planning a similar trip. Book this place and call it a day. And sign up for their emails because they do cyber Monday deals on occasion and you could snag a super great rate.

We left our last day wide open with no set plans knowing that the kids would probably want to explore and would likely be worn out from all of the adventure from our three previous days at Disneyland, the zoo, and SeaWorld.

Sunglasses, paci, leaned back with her hands behind her head- living the life

Little observer

At breakfast that morning, Ryan and Natalie met two kids from Shanghai and played with them for almost an hour after we ate, and then they made a play date to meet at the beach for the rest of the morning. I love when our kids have opportunities to meet people from other cultures and was so glad this day was open for them to just play! 
Emily napped while the big kids played.
Natalie's new friend let her wear her Minnie Mouse hat, and Natalie always wears hats backwards. :)
Then we walked across a bridge to see the Sea Lions before heading to lunch.
I have this irrational fear of railings, so toddlers on an old bridge with rusted-looking bars and wider-than-I'd-like openings kind of took away from the coolness on seeing the sea lions down below. But we all survived, ha.

Lunch and gelato to follow!

After lunch, the girls napped in the stroller while Ryan and Matt explored this other cool beach with a cave.
There they are coming out- I was watching them from the top while the girls napped:
Not a bad nap-time view!
We walked back to our room and Natalie woke up right as we pulled in to our driveway. Look at that rested face. :)

Matt got himself and the kids popsicles from our room while we waited for Emily to wake up. And then we all changed into bathing suits to head back to the beach for the afternoon. 
We asked Ryan and Natalie how they would like to spend the rest of the day and they said playing on the beach with Cynthia and Elvis- their new friends from China. :) So I texted their mom to see if they'd like to meet up again and they did!
The sea lions would just swim up onto the beach while we played and then swim back in when the kids started to walk up to them. Definitely not our typical beach experience!
We spent the rest of the day here before heading back for dinner and bed. 
Ryan and Cynthia got each other's addresses so they could be pen pals. So sweet!

Okay, so I wanted to address a few things about traveling with kids that we have learned over the last few years that may be helpful to other families planning trips. If you have any questions about anything I mention or want further detail about anything, feel free to shoot me an email {} or comment below.

*Bring car seats- these are a pain to carry through the airport but SO worth having on the plane. The kids are just more comfortable and have a much higher chance of sleeping on longer flights. Plus they're contained, and it's a familiar way to travel for them.
*Bring a change of clothes for everyone- air pressure does funny things to little bodies. Babies are pretty much guaranteed a massive blowout, hah. I packed an extra shirt for me and Matt and extra outfits for our kids just in case. I also put Emily in a larger diaper and latched it tighter to avoid the up-the-back mess. (Sorry, gross)
*Use pull-ups for your potty-trained kids- Ryan and Natalie both used the airplane potty, but if they pee-peed while they napped or had an air-pressure-related accident, I didn't want to risk dealing with that on a plane.
*Follow regular nap times- I booked our flight on the way there and back during their nap time. On the way there, this was at the 2 hour mark. So at that time, we put away books, toys, snacks, etc. and I sang to them and rubbed their heads to help them fall asleep. There is so much stimulation leading up to the flight, so they're usually pretty tired anyways.
*Pay more for a direct flight- listen, I love a good deal, but nobody's thinking about the money you saved when you're flying all day with kids and you didn't have to.
*Fly Southwest if possible- Southwest offers family boarding right after their preferred members board. They also don't have assigned seats. So we make our way straight to the very back of the plane where it's the loudest and you're right next to the bathrooms. Then we spread out and hope no one sits next to us, ha. On the way there, we were able to get 5 seats when we only paid for 4, and on the way back we got two full rows (6 seats).
*I also love flying Southwest because each ticket allows 2 checked bags for free and each baby gets 2 checked items for free as well. So we technically could have checked 8 bags for free.
*But on that note, think about your walk through the airport when you're packing. We knew we would each be pushing a stroller and wearing a carseat, so we only checked two rolling suitcases (so we could each pull one while pushing a stroller) and each had one carry-on item that we could either wear or have in the bottom of the stroller.
*When you get to your gate, prior to boarding, let them know you have a lap child and ask if the flight is full. If it's not, bring the baby carrier on board. If it is, check it at the gate with your stroller(s). They'll give you a tag for each item and they'll be waiting for you right when you get off the plane. I had a wrap in my carry-on as a backup if the flight was full and I had to wear Emily.

We try to either book 2 connected rooms or a 2-bedroom suite so that everyone can spread out for sleeping. Since two of ours are in cribs, we can use closets or bathrooms for pack-n-plays as well. It is worth spending more for space, although we have definitely paid for single rooms in the past and asked for possible upgrades (free upgrades) at check-in. I've written about this in other travel posts, but Matt is a pro at free room upgrades. If there's availability, they do it. We've never been told no when there are upgraded rooms available.

On this trip, we were not as spread out as I would have liked for sleeping, but it actually worked out because the kids were so tired. Our girls shared a room with their pack n plays and Ryan slept on an air mattress in the living room. And yes, Natalie woke up Emily (our 10 month old) every morning because she was so excited to see her when she woke up, but Emily either fell back asleep or got an earlier morning nap.

I am really particular about sleep at home, but the thing to remember about vacation is that you're not following your other daily routines like you are at home, and you're also not doing it alone when you're on vacation. So if sleep gets off, they can make it up in strollers or go to bed earlier one of the nights. It all works out.

I am also pretty particular about schedule at home, so I have to let this go somewhat when we travel. The strollers are great for helping with naps and still being able to maximize each day. Because we were on a 3-hour time change, the kids woke up between 4-5:30 each day and therefore needed a little cat nap in the mornings. But this just naturally happened as we would drive to a park or walk around with the strollers. So point is (speaking to myself for our next trip) that all of these little schedule-related things work themselves out and it's best to just chill and be thankful you're on vacation. ;)

The routines our kids are used to at home revolve around what they do when they first wake up, what/when they eat, and bath/bedtime routines.

We try to keep the morning and evening routines the same and flex on diet- partly out of convenience and partly because having things you don't usual have (treats, juice, ice cream, etc.) when we're on vacation is part of the fun.

So on that note, I mentally prep for some meltdown moments from all of the fun and routine changes. Matt and I definitely have certain expectations for manners and behavior at home, but we try to give more grace for these things on vacation since their little bodies are experiencing a lot of excitement and routine-changes at once. And honestly, we've found that they do so much better than we expect any time we travel.  

So now that I've given you about 4 posts in one, let me know if you have any questions. ;)

Hope y'all have a great weekend!!



  1. I'm interested to hear about your routines at home!!

    1. Feels a bit like organized chaos 😜 but I’m happy to share our general routine! Stay tuned.. 😉

  2. Yes, how do you manage schedules? Do you rock each one? Do you let them cry it out? How did you get all three on a schedule for naps and bedtime?

    1. Sorry for just now seeing this! The post following this one give our daily routines- but no rocking and no cry it out! I was never good at that or maybe didn’t want to be good at that. ;) I sing with the girls songs that my mom sang to me and sometimes lay with Ryan for a few minutes. But otherwise I worked on getting Emily to that 1-1:30 nap time like the big kids but waking her up from morning naps. Early on, no naps were over 2 hours, and later on, I adjusted based on what I learned about her sleep needs. So morning nap gradually got shortened so i could have a window where they all slept in the afternoon. Now they all do one nap during that 1:30-3:30 stretch! 🙌🏼 I do wake them up from naps to ensure they are tired for bedtime. Hope that helps?!