Explore. Imagine. Love.

Purposeful parenting amid a world of sugar, screens and schedules.

Introduction to Traveling With Small Children Series


I am starting a short series on Travelling With Small Children.  It will  include:


Road trip!!

  • Road Trip Tips: This will include what kind of things we bring along, how we handle cranky kids, etc.
  • Camping Tips: We camp with small children a lot and have learned a lot along the way.  I talk to people sometimes who are nervous to camp with small children, particularly tiny babies.  We took my second child camping when she was only a three weeks old.  It was surprisingly easy!  I will tell you about it.
  • Healthy Eating While Traveling: What we eat has a big effect on how we feel.  It affects our sleep, our energy, and has a big affect on the trip as a whole, really.  Although eating fun food is definitely a big part of our vacations, I try to make healthy choices as much as possible to balance it out and keep everyone feeling great.
  • How We Keep Our Vacations Super Cheap: My husband is a high school teacher and I am a stay at home mom.  Vacations would not be an option for us if we did not keep things cheap.  But even if we were wealthy, I like the idea of staying frugal.  I will share some of the ways we are able to keep the costs down and how we can afford a vacation on such a tight budget.
  • Flying With Small Children: This can be really intimidating.  And although I can’t give you advice on how not to have the kid on the plane who is screaming (not fun!), I can at least give you some tips that could make your whole experience a bit less stressful.  And less stress can help you be more prepared to deal patiently and successfully with a cranky toddler  🙂
  • And maybe a few others that I haven’t thought of yet!


I love to travel.  Growing up my mom and I would go on a “big” vacation every other year and on the off years we’d go to Yellowstone because it was nearby.  For a single mom and a young girl, we sure saw and did a lot of cool things.  She is the reason I love to travel, the person who taught me to travel on a tight budget, and my inspiration as a mother.  I learned the importance of exploring the world with children, despite challenging obstacles.  She taught me to have curiosity, to use my imagination and to learn.  She taught me to love.


My oldest daughter exploring nature in the Redwoods.

In high school I had a lot of opportunities to travel.  I went on two music department bus trips, traveling to Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and on another trip down to Disneyland.  I went on two Key Club trips- one to New York and Washington DC with a lot of fun stops on the way and another over to Seattle and down to Annaheim again.  My friend and I took a senior trip to Florida with my mom and the highlight of that trip was swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove.  My grandma took each of her 4 grandkids on a cruise when they graduated high school and I got to go to some cool places in the Carribean.  And one of the most awesome trips was a Spanish department trip to Spain.  I got to go with friends from school and my mom and grandma came to chaperone.  My grandma also just LOVES to travel and goes on trips all the times- I guess my mom and I can blame her for all this 😉

Since moving out, being on my own and starting my own family, my trips have all stayed pretty close to home.  We have family in San Diego so we travel down there quite a bit.  We did a big family reunion trip to Texas/New Mexico one time.  I did a college volunteer trip to Arizona once- we stopped at Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas and took a side trip to Mexico, but mostly volunteer at a wildlife friendly ranch helping to take down and put up fences.  A lot of my traveling has been Washington and Oregon…two of my favorite states.  I love that they have big beautiful mountains, lush green forests AND the ocean.  The San Juan Islands, Olympic National Park and the Oregon Coast in general are my favorites.  And I just love Portland as far as cities go.


Playing at a beach in Oregon.

Even though it’s not fun at the time, some of my favorite memories are things that went wrong on trips.  On a trip with my girl friends we had a car break down- smoking a ton- and it was a Friday afternoon so we got stuck in Seattle over the weekend.  We’ve gone the wrong way or tried a scenic route that ended up adding a lot of hours of driving to our day.  We’ve gotten rained out camping and had to spend a day at a laundromat drying all of our sleeping bags and other camping stuff.  With the right attitude and a flexible schedule, those things just turned out to be happy little adventures.  Of course there have been some really not so fun things go wrong- getting stuck in the snow and spending an entire day, not trying to get our car out, but trying to get the dumb tow truck unstuck because nobody would just lend us a shovel.  Running out of gas on the interstate in Orange County in the hot hot sun during rush hour…with two small children.  But even those are good stories now!

san diego 08 004

We stopped to sleep for the night and didn’t realize how much snow there was. Right as we realized we should turn around we got stuck. All we needed was a shovel and we backed right out. But since nobody would stop to help us early in the freezing cold morning as we tried to wave someone down, we ended up getting picked up by a highway patrol who took us to the nearest “town” where our only option was hiring a tow truck…that got stuck. We spent an entire day digging the tow truck out of the snow.

I look forward to writing this series and hope you stop by again to read about some of the things we’ve learned throughout all of our adventures.  And hopefully it can inspire some people to do things with their kids they might be hesitant to do. Or decide that they can afford a trip that they didn’t think they had enough money for.  Thanks for reading 🙂




Author: Explore Imagine Love


4 thoughts on “Introduction to Traveling With Small Children Series

  1. Amber, I enjoyed your blog. I remember your trips/adventures, but didn’t know the “going wrong” details. Thanks for the credit, but I think it was just born in us, and I didn’t want you to miss out on the fun things I grew up with. Love you. Mom.

    • We might be born with a personality that is more drawn to certain activities or we might be naturally more talented at some things than others, but I think nurture is a huge part of what we end up doing with those natural desires and talents. I think a parent who shows their children by example that they can do the things they want to do and how to overcome obstacles is doing a great service to their children. Someone might desire to travel or like the idea of camping, but didn’t have a parent who took them, who showed them how, who taught them how to be frugal, etc. might not ever get up the nerve to GO! 🙂

  2. When our girls were little, we’d “shorten” the long drives by getting on the road super early. Each little one, still in pjs would get tucked into her car seat with her blankie and stuffed animal while it was still dark outside. They’d nod right back off and sleep to the rhythm of the car wheels rolling down the road… usually sleeping in even later than was customary for them. Once they woke up, we’d find a place to stop for breakfast and get them dressed. Then when we climbed back into the car, we’d already have made a few hours on the road, and they felt like it was just beginning. Around lunch time we’d stop at a park, spread out a blanket on the grass for one adult to nap while the other supervised the girls getting their wiggles out on playground equipment. The picnic lunch and parents taking turns napping or on safety patrol meant a couple of hours for this mid-day break, but it was so worth it because the girls almost never got whiney from too long strapped into car seats. In the afternoons, one of us, (usually Dave because he doesn’t get car sick) would wedge himself into the seat between their car seats and read new, unexplored chapter books aloud (purchased just for this trip) to the whole car while the other adult would drive for mile upon mile. It was a magical way to cover long distances with everyone happy.

    • Fun memories! Thanks for sharing Shirley. That’s a great tip. There’s so many ways to do road trips depending on how far you’re going and what you’re trying to accomplish! One time we flew to San Diego to meet Jason’s parents and then did a road trip with them to Texas. With four adults in the car we could take turns entertaining the one year old, driving and sleeping…and we just drove through the night. Made the trip go by super fast. But my favorite way is to take it easy and make lots of stops to see cool things and play at parks.

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