Traveling with three children under five can be daunting, but Vanessa Lachey learned that it’s all about consistency, comfort, and control–especially when it comes to vacationing as a family of five. We caught up with Lachey at Holiday Inn’s Chocolate Milk Happy Hour in NYC where she filled us in on her packing tips that ensure a smooth trip for everyone in the family.
Her first piece of advice for traveling with kids? Get your children involved before you even leave the house. “My kids are very vocal and I like to involve them in the packing process. My son is very opinionated so I’ll be like ‘Buddy, I need to bring three swimsuits.’ I’ll put six out, and say pick three. So he feels like he has a choice in it and I’m not just throwing stuff in a suitcase,” she said.
Even more important than picking out their clothes is ensuring they have items that make them feel connected to their home and their daily routine, even when they’re away on vacation. Lachey packs a few of her children’s favorite things, like their go-to doll, blanket, coloring book and even snacks to keep them entertained–and she involves them every step of the way. “Each of my kids has a little suitcase. Cam’s is a little blue one, Brooklyn’s is pink, Phoenix’s is grey, and they each pick, well Phoenix doesn’t because he’s 18 months, but they pick comfort items and snacks so they have some control and they don’t feel like they’re just being thrown into this experience, and that’s what works for me.”
While it’s easy to get swept up into the fun and forget about your daily routine, consistency is key–especially if you’re traveling with young children. “With the baby, I bring their sheets because for them it’s the comfort of home. They know that pattern on that sheet, so when I put them in the cribs they see the same sheet. I bring their travel sound machine so they have the same sound and the same aesthetic visually and then we do the same routine. I read them a story, we ask them about their favorite part of the day, I sing them a song and then they go to bed. So there’s consistency and that triggers comfort and sets the expectation of what’s going to come next and it has made it easier for them to adapt.”
And, once the kids are tucked in, Lachey and her husband like to enjoy some one-on-one time together. “Day to day when we’re not traveling, we make date nights,” she said, acknowledging how hard it can be when you’re taking care of children and working to carve out that special time. “You have to work at it because at the end of the day you’re exhausted, but once you get out, it’s like, ‘I love this.’ It really helps to decompress and connect with one another and have an adult conversation.”