I stood in the middle of the Chicago airport as hundreds of people bustled around me. As a military family, we were in need of some serious travel hacks. My son and I just landed after traveling and flying 20 hours and counting from Japan to Chicago. We were exhausted and still had another domestic flight to catch.
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I looked intently at the departures board, trying to find our next gate as my 2.5-year-old toddler sat snuggly attached to my back via an Ergo carrier. In my front was a burgeoning belly with a baby inside my womb. In my right hand, I tightly grasped my carry on roller bag. And in my left hand, I pulled a car seat on wheels, which contained a diaper bag and small toy bag.
If you are thinking that I had too much stuff.
If you are thinking that I was crazy.
Best Travel Hacks for Military Families
I’ve accrued many travel experiences both before military life and during military life. Some good. Some bad. Some down-right horrifying. And over the years, I’ve learned several travel hacks that every military family needs to know.
Ziplock bag it.
Everyone in our family gets an outfit in a Ziplock bag. This makes for easy access when you are in a pinch and your or your child needs a quick change of clothes. This saves you from rummaging through a suitcase to find an outfit. And it offers you the perfect place to contain the dirty outfit. Label everyone’s bag with their name, making it easy for an older child or spouse to find the right outfit bag if you need a hand!
Put socks inside of shoes.
Not only does this save space, but it will save you the time of searching for the pair of socks to accompany your child’s shoes or your own shoes.
Roll your clothes.
Roll everything like a tortilla wrap, and you’ll prevent wrinkles, conserve space, and stay organized. When everything is rolled, as opposed to laying flat, you can see all the different clothing items rolled next to each other and make a quick outfit choice each morning.
Once you arrive, pick up hydrogen peroxide.
When you are traveling, hydrogen is your best friend. It is cheap, incredibly effective at killing germs, contains no fumes, and it isn’t toxic on your skin or your kids’ skin. It’s equally as effective as bleach. So head to your local drug store and pick some up. Spray it on surfaces, remotes, door knobs, car doors, hands, etc.
Use left over pill bottles as organizers.
I always save pill bottles and M-F pill organizers to use during travel. These are excellent for keeping small things in an easy-to-find place. Q-tips, jewelry, hair ties, bobby pins, stickers, crayons, etc. Just use your judgment. You don’t want small kids thinking actual pill bottles are for play.
Put your smartphone in a sandwich bag.
If you are road-tripping or traveling via airline, something is bound to spill in your carry-on. Put your cellphone in a sandwich bag to keep it safe from spills and crumbs. It’s also excellent for keeping out beach sand if you are headed to the ocean or lake.
Pack empty water bottles.
There is no sense in buying water unless you absolutely need to. Pack empty cups or water bottles to fill at the nearest water fountain throughout your travels. Saves money and reduces waste. This is especially great if you are doing airline travel: after you get through security, fill your empty water bottle at the nearest fountain.
Give your kids a business card for their back pocket.
You never know. You just never know. Your kids could wander off, get lost and have no way to remember how to contact you. On the business card, keep your phone number, email and another emergency contact in case they cannot reach you. You can keep this business card in their back pockets, or you can buy them a business card lanyard to wear around their neck and under their shirt.
Keep emergency contact info in your glove box.
Similar to the hack shared above, you never know if something will happen to you. What if—for whatever reason—you cannot speak for yourself and share information. This could be an allergic reaction, a car accident, or something else. No matter what, you want the person helping you to have information on how to get your kids to safe place. If you are traveling by car, keep it in your glove box. And if you are traveling by air, keep it in a lanyard around your neck or in your pocket.
Wear slip on shoes—everyone.
Slip on shoes make life easier for all family members. Going through airport security, getting in and out of the car, leaving quickly from the hotel or house in the morning—all of these situations go smoother when slip on shoes are present for all family members.
Choose your hotels wisely.
We love TownePlace Suites by Marriott because they offer comfortable accommodations for families and they are super affordable. Their fully equipped kitchen is their most valuable feature because it will save you a ton of money preparing meals in your hotel room rather than dining out each meal. They also offer free Wi-Fi (a must for families), a customizable Container Store elfa closet to keep you organized during your travels, and hot breakfast.
Whether you find yourself standing in the middle of the Chicago airport with a toddler on your back, a baby in your belly and enough bags to supply a small army or you find yourself making wiser, simpler travel choices, remember this: military life is one of those lifestyles where travel is an absolute must.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of TownePlace Suites by Marriott. All opinions and text are my own.
Want more on military life?
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