Traveling with children can always be a challenge, but traveling with 6 kids (within 18 months of age!) provides extra logistical challenges. We don’t travel a lot, but we have taken several trips. We have driven several hours, driven 17 and a half hours, and taken one trip by plane. I am going to highlight a few favorites from different ages.
My in-laws are about a 4 hour drive from us, and this distance is a very manageable one! Due to the quintuplets’ prematurity and flu / RSV season, we did not make this drive until they were about seven months old. They had been sleeping through the night for several months by then, so we opted to drive at night. We wanted to avoid stops, so we did their last feeding of the day, put them in jammies, and left in the evening. Our hope was that they would sleep in the car and then transfer to their beds when we arrived without messing with their schedule too much. They lost a little more sleep than I hoped for, but it worked pretty well. We were there well before midnight, so Bill and I didn’t lose much sleep either! I thought this was a great age to visit people! They weren’t very mobile yet, so baby proofing wasn’t a huge deal. They still primarily had formula, and we were able to pack very simple solids. We made all of our food, and we were able to pick easy things at this age. It was a huge help that my mother-in-law grocery shopped ahead of time with a list that I sent and was able to borrow some pack-n-plays so we didn’t have to pack six of them! As they have gotten older, we prefer to make this drive in the afternoon. If they take a nap, then they are extra rested for our visit; if not, it is no big deal. Now that they aren’t in cribs, it is easier to put them to bed if they have seen where they are sleeping first.
When our quintuplets were 20 months old and Mark was just over 3, my parents and I rented a passenger van and took everyone to visit some of my family.
This was a 17 and a half hour drive! We still didn’t let the kids watch any TV at this age; however, even if we allowed TV in the car, I think it would be tough. Those vans are long, so whoever is in the back wouldn’t be able to see or hear, and I can picture the complaints. This was a good age to travel too! They could eat anything and could do most things themselves. Mark was potty trained and could go for long periods, and the quints were not potty trained yet. We packed breakfast, snacks and lunch which we fed them in the car, then we stopped after eating to stretch our legs at rest stops.
Again, it was a huge help that my aunt grocery shopped ahead of time and had borrowed cribs and pack-n-plays for our visit. She even had a twin bed for Mark to sleep in. They didn’t nap well away from home. We tried to plan outings such that the kids would fall asleep in the car for a catnap to get them through the day and then do a slightly earlier bedtime. It worked pretty well. The kids had a lot of fun on this trip! They enjoyed meeting cousins, going to a family member’s farm, going out to eat at their first restaurant, etc. It was a lot of work, and I am not trying to downplay that, but it was fun at this age! This trip was very special to me. We had made this drive when Mark was a baby so that my grandmother could meet him. We were excited to see a lot of family there, but I was most excited about my grandmother meeting our quintuplets and seeing Mark again. We had debated waiting another year. She passed away last February, and it really reminds me not to wait to do things! I am so grateful that we made this trip and that we have the pictures of her with the kids!
This past June, my parents, Bill and I took the kids on our first airplane ride as a family!
I must say that this was a whole new world for me! I flew once with Mark when he was just over nine months old, but that was my only flight with a child let alone children! With my parents along, we had four adults and six children, which I thought was a great ratio! Getting through security was the part that I was most nervous about.
I wasn’t sure if the kids would want to walk by themselves or if they would be intimidated by all the people and gadgets. They were fine. They lined up behind me, and we played “follow the leader” right through. The people at security were great! They gave the kids high fives as they went through and were really friendly with them. I had packed notepads, crayons, stickers, books, baby dolls, stuffed animals and few other goodie type toys for them to play with. They enjoyed discovering everything in their back packs during the flight, although they might have been most entertained by going potty! In many ways, this trip was the easiest we have taken. The kids are all potty trained, will eat anything, are flexible with their schedule, and can do many things like dressing themselves. The only thing that was especially challenging this trip was sleep. The kids all shared a room with sleeping bags which was great!
We didn’t nap them at all on the trip hoping they would be tired and sleep at night, but sharing a room with six sleeping bags is really exciting! It took awhile to settle most nights, but they had a good time and seemed to play fine during the days even with less sleep. Again, my family made the trip so much easier grocery shopping ahead of time, borrowing carseats and a mini-van, and having lots of kids stuff like toys and play dough! We had a great time!
While traveling with a big family can present different logistical challenges, we are definitely looking forward to our next trip, wherever it may be!