How to Answer "Are We There Yet?"

A family traveling at the airport.
Missi Vagt offers suggestions for family travels.

The most efficient way to travel from Point A to Point B is in a straight line, but that’s rarely the route trips take. In reality, travelers move in squiggly lines and often relish the experience more because of it.

And what’s the squiggliest of travel experiences? Easy answer: traveling with kids.

Missi Vagt, owner of Plymouth-based Sand & Shore Travel, has been there and done that, so much so that she has developed what she coined her “Busy Mom’s Worry Free Travel Checklist.” The list evolved through hours of research, information garnered from a company she partners with and from personal experiences.

The number one concern on her list is the stroller, which not only helps parents of young travelers navigate airports, it helps them navigate vacations. Vagt notes that strollers can often be gate checked, meaning you can leave your stroller at the door of the plane and retrieve it when you exit.

A car seat can be an even bigger concern, literally. “Have you seen some of these car seats? They can be the size of a Volvo,” Vagt says. “In reality, it’s another large piece of luggage.”

If you’re going to pack your own car seat, Vagt recommends checking the seat, in its original packaging, with the rest of your luggage. Another option is to bring the car seat on the plane. A word of caution: Car seats are not allowed in exit rows. In fact, installing the car seat in a window seat might be the only option. Check first, as different airlines have different policies.

A final car seat option is to rent one once you arrive. If you choose this option, be prepared to hold your baby through the airport and throughout the flight. Wraps and cloth baby carriers that allow you to “wear your baby” make this a lot easier. Vagt recommends that if you don’t normally carry your baby in a wrap, practice at home first.

Down Time

Mindful distraction is the answer to, “Are we there yet?” To keep kids entertained on planes and in cars, Vagt packs individual backpacks for each of her travelers. Inside, she’ll include age-appropriate activities (stickers, coloring books, magnets, small craft projects and soft cover books). She adds that tablets and headphones are givens, but not enough.

What does she pack in her own backpack? “In my backpack, there’s nothing but food and snacks, and no one is allowed to look inside,” Vagt says. Vagt’s backpack is a hit throughout the trip. “It’s not just for the plane,” she says.

Forget About It

Vagt is deliberate in how she packs for a vacation. Considerations include what the week will look like and what everyone will be doing and wearing. Her number one rule is to not overpack. “You learn what you need to bring and pack it correctly,” she says. “If I forget something, I’ll just buy it, as there are Costcos and Targets everywhere.”

And yes, rolling your clothes does save space.

Is there a single item travelers tend to forget? “Travelers pack their phone chargers but forget to bring chargers for watches, tablets and everything else,” Vagt says.

The one item no one should ever forget? “Patience,” Vagt says. “And grab a big bag. You’ll use it.”

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