To me, Israel will always be my and my husband’s true home. We grew up there, spent our early 20s there, served in the army, and all of our family still lives throughout the beautiful country. Naturally, I take any chance I get to travel back home – no matter how long or short the trip! You also know by now that my kids love visiting Israel, too, as they get to spend quality time with their grandparents and cousins and all of our friends’ children. We love that the kids have developed a true love for our homeland and are just as excited about a trip out there as we are.
That being said…traveling with three kids under the age of six can be exhausting and a bit crazy at times, if I’m being honest! Each of my kiddos has different needs, tastes, and schedules, which makes everything from flying and eating out to day-trips and sleeping a challenge, especially in a different time zone (Israel is 7 hours ahead, FYI).
Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of tips for traveling with children – tips that have become especially useful since baby Romi was born. It's no secret that we love to travel and explore and have adventures together as a family – whether that’s around the borders of the five boroughs or across the Atlantic Ocean abroad. I definitely don't have all the answers when it comes to how to travel smoothly with little ones, but I have rounded up quite a few useful tips and tricks to help solve some of the most common “travel-with-kids” issues. Remember when I asked you beautiful mamas to send me questions via Instagram-story a few weeks ago? Well, I read each and every DM! With three kids in tow, these tricks have been a godsend and I’m excited to share my top five with you! As always, if you have any travel inspo for me, reach out and let me know how you handle your brood when heading on a family vacation (especially when the hubby is already back in the USA and the mama is embarking on a 12 hour flight with the kids!). I’m always looking to learn from my fellow mamas…
1. WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO BRING ON A LONG FLIGHT WITH KIDS?
As all mamas know, each child is unique and has specific interests and needs that vary from sibling to sibling. This definitely applies to my three little ones! They are each so different from one another with respect to their food choices, the shows they watch, even their PJ preferences! When flying (especially when it's the aforementioned really long 12 hour flight like TLV JFK!), I make sure to pack comfort items for each of them to make the trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible - both for them and me ;).
Here are some popular examples: Ipad for the boys; Yuli: headphones, favorite pillow and a trivia game; Ori: socks and his favorite car; Romi: an extra blanket, a stuffed toy, baby snacks. I also like to pack a carry-on full of new surprises, such as a new coloring book, toy figure, or little animals. I encourage parents to be creative – it will make kids more excited for the flight and more likely to behave in their new environment. I also always pack snacks in my carry-on that are easy to eat and keep blood sugar up. we take sliced apples with us almost everywhere we go.
2. HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT PACKING?
The main goal is to pack as lightly as possible! This right here is Noam’s mantra lol! But, let’s be serious for a second… I try to keep to just a few "nice" outfits for each child... clothes that I can mix and match and extras in case of spills and accidents (which are definitely bound to happen at some point during a vacation) are my mama go-tos. I always make sure to pack extra basics (think: underwear, undershirts, socks) as preparation for whatever comes our way. In fact, I pack this way for myself, too. You can never have too many white t-shirts or underwear, am I right? It’s also good practice to pack an extra set of clothes for each child in the carry-on, should a mess be made on the plane or in transit before a destination is reached. Better safe than sorry!
3. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE TIME CHANGE WITH LITTLE ONES?
Noam and I have gone back and forth about this time-and-time again. Do we let the kids stay on US time until they’re ready to switch? Do we force them onto Israel time? When should they eat? What to do!? We finally decided that switching immediately to the new time zone proves most helpful with getting kids settled. Of course, this is challenging, but within three to four days of complaining and half-sleepless nights, the kids are usually all set on Israel time and ready for adventures. And, even as adults, it’s good to take a day or two to adjust and get acquainted with the new time zone so this method is a win-win for our entire family!
It’s also important to keep in mind that this time change can be a big shift for little ones and they might crash at 6PM for the day, or start a new day at 4:00am... and that that’s okay! When it comes to traveling with kids, the best protocol is prepare for flexibility and not feel too tied down to structured schedules, especially not for the first couple of days following arrival.
4. HOW DO YOU MANAGE SCHEDULING ACTIVITIES FOR EVERYONE?
Although Noam and I have explored Israel pretty extensively – after all, we lived there for most of our lives – there are still new activities popping up all the time. I always try to create an itinerary of adventures for us a family, one that everyone will enjoy, from baby Romi to toddler Ori and little boy Yuli. And, us and our families, too, of course! There are so many exciting things for us to do together as a family. Beach days, exploring new animals at the zoo, riding bicycles, swimming, a picnic with a view, exploring the desert, horse riding, are just a few of the exciting things to do in Israel and generally, when on vacation. I try to take advantage so that everyone has a great day out while exploring somewhere new.
5. HOW DO YOU HANDLE MEALS OUT WITH KIDS WHEN TRAVELING?
Of course, kids have their taste preferences and if it were up to most, they’d chomp on pasta and pigs-in-blankets all day long. Noam and I are foodies and we love to try new cuisines and dine out every chance we get, especially when traveling.
We always do a grocery store run and keep lots of healthy snacks and water on hand everywhere we go, but we also encourage the kids to try new food items and bring them out with us for most meals (and if it past their bedtime, we often bring the strollers too).
Expanding kids’ palates will make eating out less challenging and also encourage young ones to try new things and be open to new tastes and flavors! I know it's easier said that done and can be challenging so if we try a new restaurant or cuisine we usually make sure that they have at least one "kid-friendly" dish just in case the options suit us more than them!
Here’s a sixth tip… well semi-tip! Remember to have fun!! Traveling with kids can be exhausting and extra-hard, especially if there are many and you’re in a different time zone. But, the most important thing to do is smile, laugh at the missteps along the way, and be grateful that your beautiful children are with you for the journey!
Let me know where you’re traveling this summer, I’d love to know about your plans!