Travel Parenting: How DO you do it, Micaela?

Oh, Micaela.  You must be some kind of superwoman.  You’ve been living in various states of homelessness for 6 weeks now.  You’ve traveled over 7,000 miles, over an ocean and up and down California.  You packed up a home in Korea and are slowly but steadily unpacking your belongings in your new home in California.  How do you do it?

Hush now, sweet friends.  I’m no superwoman, and your accolades are unnecessary.  I have simply found (through painful trial and error) a few amazing tools that make all this travel not only do-able, but oftentimes even enjoyable.  I’m happy to share them with you, if only you will quiet your resounding applause and listen for just a moment.

1)      Packing cubes.  Where have these been all my life? I’ve been traveling with kids for nigh on 8 years and only this year did I find these miracles of God’s creation!  Oh, you think I’m kidding, but I am sooooo not kidding.  See, these nifty bags are bags that you pack and then throw in other bags in order to keep things organized.  Amazing!  Still confused?  Here’s how we use them.  We have 4 different colored sets of bags.  The girls share one color, the boys share another, and Kevin and I each have our own.  We pack our clothes and shoes in them, then toss them (Really!  You can toss them and the stuff in them doesn’t come unfolded!) into the larger suitcases and voila! You will be hailed as an organizing maven by all you encounter!  My one complaint is that they can get pricey for a family of 6.  Fortunately for us, my beloved sister in law Vanessa saw fit to buy sets for our kids, so it worked out in the end.


2)      iPads.  Have you ever given an iPad to a toddler?  They figure it out in about 30 seconds flat.  And they love them.  iPads are excellent for keeping any age child busy, and I love that I can control what they can access via passcodes etc.  Warning: fighting over the iPads sometimes makes me want to throw them out the window of a moving train (I really did contemplate it for half a second) but that was only about, oh say 30% of the time, so it still worked out as a win.  Full disclosure: train windows don’t open these days, so that factored in my decision as well.

3)      Goodie-bags.  Critical.  Critical, I say.  Get a small bag for each child.  Fill it with crap.  Er, I mean, fill it with really exciting (cheap) stuff like those kids’ meal toys that are ruining the earth, discarded-but-new-to-you library books, and travel sized games or activity books.  Timing on this one is essential, though.  Wait until you are nearing your threshold for patience and then – WHAM! -bust those babies out and sit back.  You’ve bought yourself a minimum of 7 minutes of uninterrupted quiet.

4)      A “Travel Parenting” Attitude.  Attitude is everything.  (Well, almost everything.  Don’t forget about the packing cubes.)  Under normal circumstances, my kids don’t get a lot of sweets or items with artificial food coloring, and we try and keep a pretty consistent bedtime.  But when we’re in travel mode, I let a lot of things slide.  Like, a lot.  The other day I found myself pouring my boys a bowl of Fruit Loops and organic milk into paper bowls at 5:30 a.m.  The Travel Parent part of me had to laugh at what the Everyday Parent part of me might say if she was watching.   Shhhhhhhh.   I won’t tell her if you don’t.

5)      Coffee in the Morning, Wine in the Evening, and a Whole Lot of Prayer.  I don’t think this one needs a whole lot of explanation.  But if you’re anti-caffeine or a teetotaler, you’re going to need to lean more heavily on the last.

The best part of this whole trip was taking the time to be the “fun mom” who finds lessons in identifying the crops passing outside our train window, or counting cows and goats and wild pigs on the road.  Plan as much as you can, and then sit back and let the trip be an experience in and of itself.  You won’t regret it.  Don’t worry.  All good vacations come to an end.  Hang in there and enjoy it while it lasts.

Joining up with Hallie at Moxie Wife for her Five Favorites link up.  Click on over and see what the other lovely ladies have got for you.


  1. Timely advice, thank you!
    Joy recently posted…7 Quick Takes #138My Profile

  2. Okay, those packing cubes look AMAZING! I’m definitely going to be adding those to our travel arsenal in the future. And amen to iPads. They are crucial to our long road trip success with the little ones. Mine is well protected with a toddler-proof case and loaded with games for toddlers through 2 graders (not to mention Netflix!)

  3. Love the idea of those travel cubes! We’re actually about to take our first flight with the boys, so I’m glad I found your post. It will be a double whammy for us– not only getting our boys to survive a flight but also getting them to not destroy my cousin’s wedding. Let’s just say sitting still is not my toddler’s favorite thing to do.
    Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose recently posted…Five Favorites (Vol. 1): For MomsMy Profile


  1. […] I read this post from Micaela just before we left for our trip. I didn’t have the time to order the bags she […]