A Night in Newport: Part One – The Food

My husband and I recently celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on January 1st. This year, my husband surprised me with a weekend in Newport, just the two of us! We got married in Newport so there is special significance to this location. After some debate, we ended up only going for one night this past weekend…since we’ve never been away from our girls at the same time, we figured we’d start slow with one night away. Technically it was for 27 hours.

I love Newport. It’s the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Even in the winter, it was great. If you planning a trip to Newport, even a day trip, check out where we ate…we highly recommend these spots (maybe not all the specific dishes but the spots are great):

Dinner: The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar – My husband chose this restaurant for dinner because it is one we’ve never been to. One of my favorite things from the weekend was being able to enjoy a 2 hour dinner. We take our children out to dinner all the time, but usually at 5pm for a quick 60 minute or less dinner. We had a 7pm reservation but arrived at 6:30. It was quiet when we arrived, but within 20 minutes, it was packed. A good sign on a freezing cold, windy Friday in January! We started off with a few appetizers, soup and salad to share.

We started with the Tuna Tartare, the Bag of Doughnuts , the Scallop Chowder, and the Autumn Salad.

The Tuna Tartare was a great start and the Ponzu vinaigrette was light and tasty.

 

 

 

The Bag of Doughnuts was interesting. Lobster, crab & shrimp fritters with chipotle-maple aïoli…we felt we had to try them, but we were underwhelmed. They came out of the kitchen piping hot. When I cut into them, I expected to find larger chunks of seafood, but I did not. The aioli didn’t seem to work either. I never met a donut I didn’t like…until this one.
 

 

 

Next. The restaurant’s Scallop Chowder is “award-winning” and it did not disappoint. It was fantastic. Even though it is a cream based chowder, it didn’t feel super heavy. And it was full of scallops.

            

The Autumn Salad was fantastic. Local greens, toasted pepitas, sun-dried cranberries, poached pears, gorgonzola cheese with honey black pepper vinaigrette. It was a great contrast to the creamy chowder and offered nice flavors. I wish the pears were larger but overall it was a great salad.

On to the entrees. My husband ordered the Acadian Red Fish, which was bacon wrapped and oven roasted stuffed with crab meat, served with sautéed spinach and tarragon beurre blanc.

He said the spinach was the best part, which isn’t probably the best compliment….but overall said it was okay. I ordered the Mooring Scampi, pan-roasted lobster, shrimp, sea scallops, tomato, garlic-herb butter and angel hair pasta.

 

It wasn’t great. I think the scallop chowder was SOOO good, that any other scallop dish paled in comparison. I feel like I needed a filet or something totally different. I would not get it again….but I do compliment them on the amount of seafood in the dish. There was a full lobster tail, lots of scallops and shrimp. We enjoyed our appetizers so much, we were just let down with the meal a bit.

On to dessert. I ordered the Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake, served with fresh berries, whipped cream and mint. It was like a flourless chocolate cake, very rich and dense. Not my favorite.

But that could be because of my husband’s dessert. It was a special I think because it is not on the online menu. It was a Limoncello soaked angel food cake with some sort of frosting and maybe some white chocolate. It was DELICIOUS!!!!!  Oh wow, it was amazing. I’d definitely recommend this.

I know I was hard on some of the dishes, but I  am just being honest. I would definitely go back to the Mooring, I would just order differently. If we go back, I’d order as follows:

  • Selection of oysters
  • Scallop Chowder
  • Autumn Salad
  • Crabcakes
  • Lobster croissant
  • Filet
  • Dessert of course ;)

They also offer a season 3 course tasting menu during the week, along with a Paella special on Thursdays that sounds amazing.

Breakfast: Franklin Spa – My husband is a fitness nut and eats very healthy…so when he said he wanted a greasy breakfast, I was shocked! I did a little research and found Franklin Spa. It was a quick walk from our hotel. We arrived at 9:15 and grabbed a table right away. Within 15 minutes, there was a line out the door and people waiting outside. Considering it was about 15-20 degrees out, I was so happy we arrived when we did.

My husband opted for a sweet, anti-oxidant packed breakfast (funny considering he was the one wanting a greasy diner type!). He started with a bowl of granola, yogurt and berries, then moved onto a berry topped buttermilk waffle. He said both were great.

      

I, on the other hand, went for the true diner fare. Two poached eggs, over corned beef hash and english muffins, topped with some Hollandaise sauce. Oh and don’t forget the potatoes on the side. It hit the spot but I was only able to eat about half of it. The portion was large.

 

I would definitely go back to Franklin Spa…it was a great spot. They don’t have a website so if you are interested, here are their menus (they even had a kids menu!).

       Lunch: Diego’s – It’s pretty hard for my husband and I to pass up Mexican food. It doesn’t matter where we are. So our little trip to Newport was no different. Diego’s came highly recommended to me by a friend who summers in Newport. We visited a few years ago with my in-laws and decided to stop back again. We had such a big breakfast, we just needed a snack, so this was the perfect choice.

We sat at the bar which we obviously never do with kids so it was a fun departure. I also ordered a “fun” drink, which I never do…typically stick to wine or champagne. I sought advice from the bartender who recommended the Franklin Bog, which consisted of fresh cranberries muddled with lemon, fresh ginger and apple liquor, topped with ice, Triple 8 Cranberry Vodka and a splash of ginger ale.

It was delicious. Such a great flavor combination. The fresh ginger was a great addition that did not overpower the other ingredients. I would definitely order this again. My husband ordered club soda with a lime…no offense honey, that drink doesn’t warrant a photo!

We decided to just get some snacks and ordered the Braker’s Guac and the Crispy Pulled Pork Ancho Springrolls.

The guacamole was delicious and miraculously, there were the perfect amount of chips to scoop up all the guac. The spring rolls were forgettable. But we’ve been here before and had a full meal and everything was great so I definitely recommend this spot. I recognized some of the waiters and many have worked there for a while…so ask them for some popular favorites if you are looking for suggestions.

 

If you’ve been to Newport, what are your favorite restaurants? We go all the time and are always looking for new spots to try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portsmouth, NH: A Fun, Family Day Trip

My husband and older daughter

My husband’s family lives in Seattle. We are lucky that they visit often, and much more often now that we have children. We know they want to visit our daughters more than us, but it’s okay, that’s how it should be. Whenever they visit, we always like to take a day trip to a little New England town. Some of our favorites include Rockport and Newburyport, MA and Newport, RI. My mother and father-in-law visited last week to meet their new one-month-old granddaughter. While I was feeling well-enough for a fun day, I didn’t want to drive too far or do too much….I’m still adjusting to life with a 2-year-old and one-month-old, am still a little sore from my c-section, and let’s face it…a little sleep deprived.

So after receiving some great suggestions from my Facebook and Twitter friends (which included Lenox, Deerfield, Provincetown, the Vineyard, Chatham and Mystic, CT), we opted for Portsmouth, NH. We chose Portsmouth because it was relatively close by and was a great choice for a quick day trip.

We did a little research before we left and hit the road about 8:30am. We arrived just after 9:30, hitting no traffic at all. Most of the streets offer 2 hour metered parking, but we opted for a parking garage that charged $.75/hour, which is a steal compared to Boston rates.

The Friendly Toast, Portsmouth, NH - Great for breakfast

We started the day with breakfast at The Friendly Toast. It was awesome! It was a large, eclectic space and the food did not disappoint. We arrived a little after 9:30am and only had to wait 15 minutes for a party of 6 (well, sort of. 4 adults, a toddler and a newborn). They sat us at a large booth with lots of room. There was so much to look at on the walls, my little one was constantly entertained, as were the adults. And the classic rock music was awesome. I learned that the song Lola is sung by the Kinks. Our waiter was fantastic as well. The space inside was a little tight, so we opted to leave our stroller in the car and carry our baby in the bucket carseat…they had a booster for our older daughter. Since the garage we parked in was right around the corner, this was easy!

We ordered the following:

  • Coconut cake (me) – one large pancake filled with coconut, chocolate chips and cashews, topped with a coconut sauce. Awesome. Very sweet though so if you don’t love sweet, it may not be for you. I would get again, but would ask for sauce on the side. And yes, just one…one was huge..about the size of a small pizza. I took a bit before I snapped this picture. I may try to recreate this at home so keep a look out for the recipe.

Coconut Cake

  • Hansel & Gretel waffle (my husband) – gingerbread waffle with pomegranate molasses. This was our least favorite dish of all. The pomegranate was VERY overpowering.

  • Mexican Mashed Meal (father-in-law) – spicy mashed potatoes sopped with chorizo and friend eggs. My FIL gave it good reviews but beware, it did have a kick to it. He couldn’t get over the fact he was eating mashed potatoes for breakfast ;)
  • Breakfast Burrito (mother-in-law) – she ate half, my husband ate half and both enjoyed it. The potatoes on the side were delish.
  • Kids Chocolate Chip Pancake (my 2 year-old daughter) – shaped like Mickey Mouse…enough said :)  And yes, one ear is missing in this pic…I couldn’t snap the picture fast enough.

The service was great and we’d definitely go back again. And…I just found out there is a Friendly Toast closer by in Cambridge! Awesome. 

After breakfast, we set off to stroll the town. We found numerous shops – some vintage/consignment shops, shoes stores, and toy stores. There were many coffee shops and restaurants…too many to sample from in one day.

For lunch, we ate at the River House. Service was quite slow, but the food was fine…nothing spectacular, but good. Pretty basic seafood and basic fare. I got the seafood chowder/lobster roll combo which was available in two sizes, small ship or tall ship…I of course got the tall ship. My husband got a broiled haddock sandwich. The chowder was very good and full of seafood, I highly recommend it. There was a changing table in the bathroom which was very helpful as well.

Now on to the important stuff…shopping! I bought my first ever antique purchase at Carter Antiques on Market Street. It is an antique school desk and chair. I think I got a pretty good deal on it, but then again, I have no clue when it comes to antiques so who knows :)  I paid $60. I didn’t buy it for the value…I bought it because I like it. And actually, if it has no value, that’s fine b/c then I may paint it one day! We’ll see. My in-laws know a lot about antiques and they thought it was a good purchase. I also wanted to buy an old prescription shelf unit thingamajig, but at $800, it wasn’t in my budget :)

And speaking of antiques…I also bought a “vintage” leather Coach bag at Second Time Around. I’ve never bought anything from a second-hand store before but I spotted this cute little bag and snatched it up. It’s a deep green color but appears grey at times. I’m also not really a Coach fan but this is so simple, you can’t go wrong. And, Coach sells new version of this for $298, so considering I paid $30 for it….I feel like it’s a good deal!

My in-laws, my daughters and I taking a break

We also made some other purchases, including, shirts, flip-flops and onesies….and of course ice cream, as you see from the photo. My daughter couldn’t stop eating her “vanilla with sprinkles” long enough to smile for the picture.

It was a gorgeous day to visit Portsmouth and we look forward to going back again soon!

Day trip in New England: Rockport

Rockport, MA

Being 35 weeks pregnant, we knew we’d be staying pretty local this 4th of July weekend. Staying local doesn’t have to mean staying home. Especially when you live in the Northeast and you have so many amazing options close by. Yesterday, we decided to journey up to Rockport, MA. It’s one of our favorite day trips and thinking back, we realized we went up there last year over the 4th weekend as well.

Early morning view from the beach

We arrived early at 8:30 am and got a meter spot right at the beach. I think we were at Front Beach…but don’t quote me on it. It’s right on Beach Street…very close to the shopping area and restaurants. It’s relatively small but has public restroom facilities that are very clean with changing tables in both the mens and women’s rooms. We set up our area and were set for a while. I’m pretty impressed that we only had one large canvas beach bag and a beach chair to carry…granted we had a bit more in the car!

Playing in the sand

My husband and daughter

We stayed at the beach for 2 1/2 hours. Westarted noticing our daughter was getting cranky which means she is hungry and tired, so we packed it up around 11, hit the restrooms, dropped our beach stuff off at the car, changed, pulled out the stroller and walked down toward all the food and shopping. Within 5 minutes, our little one was passed out! Perfect timing. My husband and I were able to grab some lunch and sit and relax on the water for a little while. I had an amazing lobster roll from Roy Moore’s, and my husband grabbed a hot dog from Top Dog, two of our favorite spots. I also grabbed an elephant ear from The Fudgery…it’s irresistable. Then we hit up some stores and walked around. After a quick nap, our daughter was up and ready for her lunch, followed by some ice cream. We were packed up and ready to hit the road by about 1:30.

It was an awesome day and an awesome day-trip for the 4th of July weekend. Here are some tips for making a day trip to Rockport fun with the family!

  • Pack everything you need the night before. Makes the morning much easier.
  • Leave early to beat the traffic – We were up at 6am (our 2-year-old daughter is our alarm clock). We were out the door at 7:15 and arrived by 8:30. We made it up there with no traffic, in great time, and we found awesome metered street parking when we arrived. We kept feeding the same meter all day…If you try it and get ticketed, sorry…but worked for us!
  • Some meters are 2 hours, others are 4 hours…so there are great options. Bring change…they take quarters, dimes and nickels.
  • Have a realistic plan. We know our daughter is great til 11am or so…then she needs lunch and nap. So we planned the day accordingly.
  • Again, being realistic, if you have a 2-year-old, don’t think you will be able to lounge in the sun for 6 hours…not happening.
  • If your car is nearby, bring only what  you need onto the beach. It makes it a lot easier. Then swap stuff out if you head to shop or eat.
  • Pick clothes for you and your little one that are 1) easy on/off, 2) lightweight and dry easy if get wet, and 3) light-colored for summer.
  • Do your research ahead of time so you’re not driving/walking in circles trying to find the right spots. Luckily, we’ve been to Rockport about a dozen times so we know our way…but do a little research in advance.
  • There are some great dining options, but there are also some really tasty quick eating options. If you get food to go from your favorite spot, walk down the end of Bearskin Neck…there is a little cul-de-sac with some benches and rocks you can sit on. It’s the most beautiful and relaxing spot to enjoy  your lunch.

I hope you find time to visit this great little New England gem. We enjoy ourselves every trip up there and can’t wait to go again soon!

Strollers for traveling

Hello everyone -

I had a great question come to me recently from a mom through Facebook about the best stroller for a Disney trip. She read my post on our first trip to Disney with our 2 year old.

I answered her question, but figured it would also make a great blog post, and more than  just a stroller for Disney, a post about strollers for traveling!

Look for these qualities in a travel stroller:

  • Full or almost full recline position. Where ever you travel, you will likely be out and about exploring a lot and you want your little one to be able to get a good nap in.
  • Full or large canopy/shade, especially since if you are traveling to a sunny destination like Disney!
  •  Plenty of storage underneath stroller for diapers, food, water, etc. and of course stuff you buy :) The more you can store under the stroller, the less you have to carry yourself.
  • Easy to fold. This is helpful at airport security and getting on the plane. Specific to Disney, it is necessary if you drive and park in a parking lot…the little tram you take from the parking lot to the monorail requires you to fold up the stroller.
  • Most importantly, a comfy stroller that your baby will be happy in! Happy baby = happy travels!

I’ve seen many families who travel with a cheap umbrella stroller…and I’ve also seen many cheap umbrella strollers in the trash cans at the Aquarium, mall, Disney and airport. Put two and two together and you get my point.

Here are some strollers that fold and travel easy and I recommend (see pics below):

Happy travels!

My Disney Adventure with a Two-Year-Old

In one word, our day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom was AMAZING! We booked a very last minute trip in mid-March and we are so happy we did. We had a great time and the weather was amazing. 80′s and sunny every day.

Let’s face it, vacationing with a 2-year-old (well, almost, she is 23 months) is uncertain. You never know what you may get from day-to-day, or even hour to hour. I must say, our daughter is a very good, laid back little girl so I wasn’t really worried about her behavior. I was more worried about a day at Magic Kingdom being a waste of money. Not only because of our daughter, but also because I am 5 months pregnant and get tired easily. We knew going in she is young, and she won’t remember this trip…but we decided to go for it anyway.

We stayed outside of Tampa at my  mother’s condo and drove to Disney for the day. It’s a 75 minute drive so not too bad. We got up early and reached the parking lot at Magic Kingdom by 8:30am. After the parking lot shuttle, monorail and quick stop to buy tickets, we were in the door before 9am.

Note: you have to fold up strollers to get on parking lot tram shuttles…so if you bring your own stroller, keep that in mind. Luckily we brought a cheap, umbrella style stroller that’s easy to fold up…but a bugaboo would NOT be a good option in this instance. Also, don’t stuff all your belongings under your stroller as soon as you get out of your car if you stroller doesn’t fold well with stuff in it.

We entered the park and immediately saw Daisy Duck…and a very small line! We decided to start our day off seeing how our daughter would react to meeting the characters and she loved it! I think we waited 5 minutes max and it was worth it. Our daughter, who may I add screamed at the top of her lungs with the Easter Bunny last year and wouldn’t make eye contact with Santa, gave Daisy high-fives and a hug.

After a nice stroll down Main Street, we headed to Fantasyland. We grabbed a FastPass for the Peter Pan ride, and then waited in line for Dumbo. We waited about 25-30 minutes for this ride, surprisingly the longest wait of the day. Our daughter did well in the line until the very end when she was just so excited, she wanted ON immediately! She loved the ride….she giggled the entire time and her face just lit up as we went around and around. We’ve been working on teaching her “it’s your turn,” and “now it’s someone else’s turn,” which came in very helpful waiting and getting on/off the rides. We saw a few kids who could have use this lesson.

Note: Depending on how your child behaves, if you are concerned about his/her patience waiting in lines, bring distractions! Whether a small toy, book or an iPad to watch cartoons, bring something to entertain if you are worried. Also, keep your child’s water bottle full and keep it with you…it gets warm in the lines.

After Dumbo, we hit up Cinderella’s Carousel. I think we maybe waited 5 minutes for this and she loved it just as much as any of the other rides. At this age, any and all attractions suitable for them are exciting so if it means riding the Carousel 5 times, so be it!

After the carousel, we were able to redeem our Peter Pan FastPass. I think we waited 10 minutes (as opposed to the regular wait of 45 minutes!). Even though my daughter had no idea who Peter Pan was, she loved it and was so entertained.

After Peter Pan, we decided to walk through Liberty Square where we bumped into Donald Duck. Since we met Daisy, we figured we had to meet Donald. Again, it was a short wait, less than 5 minutes. My daughter LOVED Donald. She gave him high-fives, and a big hug. The look on her face warmed my heart and just made me realize the trip was totally worth it.

At this point, we were past naptime…but as we passed the Country Bear Jamboree, we realized a show was about to start and there was no waiting. So we ran in. I was not sure what to expect in this show, but my daughter loved it…she smiled the entire time and clapped along with the music. The bears pop in and out of the act and every time one was leaving, she’d yell out “Bye bye bear!”

After the show, she ate some lunch. Then we put her in the stroller and she passed out in less than a minute. It was perfect timing and my husband and I grabbed some lunch and sat down to relax for a bit. We found a great little spot back in Liberty Square overlooking the water where the RiverBoat runs. It was quiet and there were benches and shade. Perfect! We also grabbed a FastPass for the Winnie the Pooh ride since the timing to redeem it would be perfect for after nap time. While she slept, we walked through Tomorrowland and some shops on Main Street.

After nap time, we got some ice cream. A funny moment of the day was when my husband was ordering ice cream. He’s quite the fitness buff which makes this funnier as well. He went to order what he wanted, I told him to get our daughter a small vanilla in a cup. He then asked me what I wanted and I yelled out “Brownie Sundae with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce!” It was just out of the blue and somewhat not like me so the look on his face was pretty funny!

We walked over to the front of Cinderella’s Castle to catch a show that was going on while we ate our ice cream. I didn’t think my daughter would like it, or sit still for it, but she loved it. She clapped her hands and danced to the music…she even forgot about her ice cream, which melted during the show.

It was time for the Winnie the Pooh ride, so we headed back to Fantasyland. Again, with the FastPass, we waited 10-15 minutes max which was great. There were a lot of things to entertain my daughter during the wait. She seemed to really enjoy this ride, but she also seemed to really enjoy strolling around the gift shop after the ride too. She’s pretty easy to please.

We walked around the park a little more and then decided to head out….after all, it was a great day and we didn’t want to push our luck :)  As we headed toward the exit, we realized the parade was about to start and we found a front row seat on the curb. We kept my daughter in her stroller and sat her upright so she could see well. Within minutes, the 3pm parade started and we were right at the beginning of it. The music was great and my daughter waved to all the characters that went by. She got super excited to see Mickey and Minnie and almost jumped out of her stroller.

It was about 3:30 and we were all tired! We had a great day and can’t wait to go back again. Since we’ve been home, we’ve watched some of the video footage we took and my daughter gets so excited….the look on her face brings us right back to being there. We are thinking of heading back in October at the end of my maternity leave! I’m sure it will be a different experience with a 2 1/2 year old and a 2 month old, but I’m confident we can manage.

Here are some tips to make the most of your Magic Kingdom visit:

  • Stroller - Whether you bring one or rent one, plan on using one. Heck, if I could fit in the stroller with her, I would have…Magic Kingdom is a big place. The strollers that they have for rent are very nice, but not really appropriate for an infant, so keep that in mind. Also, they are not huge and do not have a ton of storage, so consider renting a 2-seat stroller even if you have only one child.
  • Realistic Expectations – You have to go into it with realistic expectations. Thinking you will ride every ride and see every attraction is unrealistic. On top of having a 2-year-old, I’m pregnant, so we knew a lot of rides were out of the questions, and we’d both get pretty tired after a full day. We hoped to make it on 2 rides, meet a character and see a parade and that is really all we hoped for….and we managed that and more.
  • Have a Plan – Check out the park and attractions online before you go. What things do you think your little one will like? My daughter has only really watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and knows the characters Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, etc. She doesn’t know the princesses yet, or the other characters from Toy Story and some of the other movies. When we looked at all the options, we decided FantasyLand was the best place to start and we headed there to start the day.
  • Play the FastPass Game – I was pleasantly surprised that they had FastPass at many of the attractions suitable for little ones. Peter Pan’s Adventure and the Winnie the Pooh ride both had FastPass. If you alternate a FastPass ride with a non-FastPass ride, you can usually get through the rides faster.
  • Pictures - I’m sure you’ll have a camera and maybe a video camera. But take advantage of the Disney Photo Pass. There are many spots in the Magic Kingdom (I assume other parks as well) where Disney photographers are staged to take photos of you and your family. Take advantage of it. As we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, we got our first family picture right at the entrance. The photographer handed us the card…and then when we got our photo taken the rest of the day, I handed the card to the photographer and he scanned it so all photos went to our account. The next day, I went to the website, registered quickly (no more than 2 minutes) and then was able to see all our family photos. SO MUCH BETTER THAN 1) having partial family pics because someone always needs to man the camera, and 2) asking a random stranger who may or not even take a good picture. Yes, it is a little pricey, but for a guaranteed great picture of a special memory, it’s worth it. They offer prints, as well as high-resolution downloads ($15 each!).
  • Pack Smart – Let’s face it, we all have the ability to overpack. Disney is NOT the place for it. Most of the year, it’s pretty hot so you don’t want to be carrying around a ton of stuff. And if you don’t want to leave it in the stroller, you don’t want to lug a huge bag or backpack onto each and every ride. We put diapers and wipes in a large ziplock bag and always left that in the stroller. We had one small backpack that we kept our daughter’s snacks and water in, as well as an extra dress for her just in case. I had the camera out most of the day. That’s it. Don’t overdo it.

Traveling with Little Ones

I just returned from vacation which is what inspired this post. I have so many thoughts from my trip, but first let me share this funny story with you.

We were boarding the plane in Tampa heading back to Boston. Our flight was already delayed an hour so I understand people get a little annoyed. There was a guy boarding ahead of us who just reeked of being from the “northeast.”  Cocky, arrogant…you know the type (I know, not all guys from northeast are like this). Anyway, he sees us walking down to board behind him. He gives us a look because “us” includes my almost 2-year-old daughter. I just laugh it off, because before my daughter was born, I did the same thing…and even still do it now ;)  Anyway, I engaged him in conversation, and while he was nice to us, he definitely made a few comments such as “this always happens to me” and “of course i forgot my headphones.” All comments letting me know he was NOT pleased we were on his flight. Again, I just laugh it off because I really don’t care.

Anyway, so we go to sit down and we are directly behind the guy. He chuckles, as do we. But then it really got good. A screaming baby sits in the aisle next to him. A very hyperactive 4/5ish year old sits with his father in his row…and a toddler sits in the row in front of him. My husband and I cracked up out loud. The guy heard us and turned around and said, “It’s going to be a long flight.”

I laughed because it seemed he brought this on himself. I also laughed because my daughter has always been nothing but great on flights…and that we’d be the LEAST of his worries!

Traveling with little ones is a very hot topic these days. There are Facebook pages setup supporting kid-free flights…there was an article in USA Today and even a piece on MSNBC. It’s everywhere recently. I’m not going to debate this topic because to be honest, as I said, before I had my daughter, I was just like THAT guy. And as I said, even now, when we are seated near a baby, I fear the worst.

Anyway, as a parent, I feel we need to take some of the responsibility on ourselves to ensure a safe, happy flight when traveling with a little one. Yes, I understand that things happen, and little ones have their own agendas at times, but I feel like some parents bring trouble onto themselves when they fly. It’s not THAT hard is it? I think there are some common mistakes parents make when flying that just create bad situations. Here they are and how to fix them:

  1. Too Much Stuff – We’ve all seen the family with 10 suitcases, a huge stroller, more than necessary carry-on bags and stuff falling out of every pocket. Simplify! It will make traveling a lot easier. Can you buy some supplies when you get to your destination? Do you really need the “Cadillac” of strollers for the trip or can you manage with an umbrella stroller? Do you need your own carseat or can you get from the rental car company? Bring what you absolutely need….and not everything you have in your house.
  2. Disorganization – Once you figure out what you need and what you don’t, make sure your carry-ons are organized. Bring a bag with multiple zipper pockets and arrange items in a logical manner. Put all food and snacks together, books together and diapers in an easy to grab spot. Split things up between you and your “other” if you are traveling with one and know who has what. It makes it easier than rummaging through all the bags each time you are searching for something.
  3. Wrong Toys - I see some parents who look like they are traveling with every toy in their house…and every large toy. Is that necessary? Figure out what entertains your little ones, things that don’t require a ton of space and pack them. My daughter loves to color, loves to read, and loves Yo Gabba Gabba. So I brought 10 crayons and some paper. Three books. And an iPad. Honestly, it may sound crazy, but the iPad is the greatest invention for toddlers. I have a few apps that entertain her, and she can watch her favorite show.
  4. Bad Timing - We all know our child’s schedule…don’t you think it is better to try to fly at a time that suits their schedule? If your child is super hyper and rambunctious in the morning, maybe fly in the afternoon or evening, or vice-versa. My daughter is sleepy starting at 5pm. Her nighttime schedule is usually dinner, low-key activity, bath, then we allow her to watch Yo Gabba Gabba as she winds down before bed. We’ve discovered that’s the best time for us to fly. We basically replicate that schedule, minus the bath. After we let her watch 2 Gabbas, we shut the iPad off and rub her back until she falls asleep. Every time we’ve flown with her, we’ve selected a flight around 5-6pm. If we tried to fly with her early in the morning, she’d be crazy and wanting to run all over…it’d never work.

Those are my tips. My advice is based on nothing more than my experience and observations. We often fly cross-country to visit my in-laws in Seattle so we’ve become quite good at the long flights. Last week’s flights to Tampa seemed like a breeze. I’d love your thoughts and suggestions!

Happy flying!