I'll be the first to admit I'm not a travel expert. I don't have all the travel hacks to save you $$$ but I do have some tips on what's worked for us when traveling. I'll also admit that I was a little out of practice for traveling since our last big trip was in 2018 with a preschooler and infant (yes, 2 kids ago).
I've had the travel bug for the last couple of years and when the opportunity presented itself, I booked the tickets to do some photoshoots in San Diego! But before we could go, I needed to figure out how we would get from Hawaii to San Diego with as few bags as possible because traveling with kids usually means you are packing your whole house and then some.
General Travel Tips:
If you're lucky enough and have kids in carseats/boosters, maybe you can borrow instead of having to lug your car seat with you. Unfortunately where we were going, we needed to bring our own. I had a bad experience with a car rental carseat and I'll never do it again (it was straight up nasty). We did choose to purchase a WAYB Pico Travel Carseat this time (expensive but worth it since we have many years ahead of us as far as carseat use will go). We also had a HiFold Booster, and I purchased those blow up booster chairs and I'm not going to lie, it was so nice not to have to carry the regular booster chair.
Our one pro tip is if you have room in your carseat bag, use that to stuff extra diapers, pack of wipes and blankets you may be taking up with you!
I also hate bringing a stroller with us when we travel but because we were visiting some places that required walking, we opted to bring our collapsible stroller with us. It folds up small enough to carry with us on the plane! We have a GB Pockit Stroller from Amazon (it's going on 5 years and is our longest lasting stroller yet!).
2. Portable Pack'n'Play: We bring our Guava Lotus travel crib wherever we go. It's so much easier for us to have a bed thats familiar for the baby. Depending where you go (and your level of comfort), some hotels/airbnbs may have these available.
3. Check the Weather: When we were planning the trip there was sun and snow in the forecast. Then a few days before thunderstorms! We went from packing for two different types of weather to three!
4. Shipping Clothes/Essentials: If you are going somewhere where there is friends and family and have to order clothes for special seasons (like snow), ship the items to their house instead of trying to pack it in your suitcase!
5. Pack Early and Plan to do Laundry: We avoid hotels at all costs these days. It's so much more comfortable for us to rent a house. We have more space for downtime because naps/rest time are still part of our day and sometimes a hotel room is just too cramped. We always look to stay someplace that has a washer/dryer available to do laundry. It also helps us pack less clothes if we're washing clothes on the trip (and it makes less to do when we get back home and are tired).
I don't know about you but I need a packing list these days. I need to check off that I have the essentials for each keiki and myself (yes the worst is when I forget to pack something for myself). We usually end up at Target the next day to pick up snacks, diapers, and other essentials but having that checklist to make sure everything is packed a few days (if not the week) before we leave is crucial! Everything gets packed and zipped up so come night before, we can throw the luggage in the car and not have to worry that we forgot something!
And just in case you're wondering...for a 7 day trip, we ended up with 2 suitcases (a rolling suitcase and a duffel bag), 1 carry on for each person (travel tote, 3 backpacks, 1 minibackpack), 1 pack'n'play, 2 portable carseats, 1 blow up booster and a collapsible stroller.