One of our main family goals for 2018 was to travel more. And I’m just going to keep it real y’all, we don’t just mean traveling with our kids. Our children are 9, 6, 4, and 2 at the time of this writing. Nobody wants an extended car trip with those ages. Plus, I can’t imagine paying for 6 tickets for the flights! Today, we talk travel tips and answer some questions you asked on social media.
Also, if you prefer to watch this on video instead of reading it, check it out below!
Stacy: Just to be clear, when I say more travel – I really mean just Barry and me. This is a chance for us to not just be mom & dad – not just business partners, but be MARRIED. Travelling as a couple is fun because of the Houston date night things you can do. Sometimes in life, you are just roommates. Life is busy and it’s hard to connect with one another. We have the wonderful gift of Barry’s mom who LOVES to watch our kids.
Barry: She tells us that she loves it and wants to do it more! We are blessed that my mom lives about 45 minutes away and she constantly asks to watch them more. …And it isn’t like we aren’t there as a family regularly – we’re there just about every week all together. Here’s the thing: Stacy and I hadn’t traveled alone together since 2007, but this year our goal was travel. So far in 2018, Stacy and I have been to Hawaii, Washington (state), Idaho, North Carolina, parts of Virginia, and Utah. Stacy has been to Washington D.C. and Salt Lake City on her own. I have been to Texas and northern Virginia on my own. Plus, we’ve also taken a few shorter road trips with the whole family. In other words, we ARE traveling a LOT more in 2018. 🙂
What are your tips for driving with small children?
Stacy: We are fortunate to live close to many of our family and friends. We don’t usually drive more than 3-4 hours with the kids. But I’ve talked to friends of ours who have to take longer trips and they said they travel at night. They put everyone in their pajamas and put them to bed in their car seats. If you can stay up all night or if you and your spouse can take turns driving and resting this might be an option for you. But Barry and I are just not night drivers. I can’t see well because of my bad vision, and Barry gets pretty sleepy driving in the dark. So while this doesn’t work for us, it might be an option for some or y’all. Especially if your kids are really small.
Barry: We have tried to leave a few hours before their bedtime. This way, they fall asleep and we can get a few hours in before stopping at a hotel for the night. And then try to wrap it up the next day. You can always give them lots of snacks and breaks. But I think the biggest key is to try and make it an adventure. Also, advice I need to take better is: don’t get annoyed when you have to stop for 87 bathroom breaks.
How do you handle air travel with kids?
Stacy: We have never flown with our children. But as a somewhat-frequent flyer what I can tell you that I truly believe you should just do whatever you have to do to make it work! I’m being serious. You are on this plane with 150 of your “closest friends” for the next few hours. You are trapped on an airplane with children for those same hours. I am not above bribery, candy, iPad, movies, using Sleepytime Spray, Melatonin, etc. You have to do what you need to do to make it work. Otherwise EVERYBODY will be miserable.
Barry: We’ve all been on the plane flight with a poorly-behaved or unhappy child. Obviously you don’t want to be that parent if you can help it. There’s also those times where there is nothing you can do – kids are just going to be unhappy at times, and they generally show it by whining or complaining. I have learned this: if you are on a flight and there is someone nearby with a crying baby or tantrum-throwing toddler – try to be an encourager! Do not be the guy (or girl) screaming, “Shut that kid up!” I’m pretty sure the Mom or Dad would absolutely “shut that kid up” if they could, so encourage instead of criticizing.
Who does the packing in your family?
Stacy: I pack for everyone except Barry. I am not an excellent packer or anything, it’s just part of my mom job description. But I’ll be honest, it seems like I always forget something and pack too much of something else.
Barry: I pack for myself because I’ve traveled for years. After those years of practice, I am pretty good at knowing what I need and what can stay home. Don’t laugh, but I’m actually the nerd who has a printable packing list. On my computer, I keep a spreadsheet on the specific trips I take. There is one trade show, which has tantalizing Trade Show Displays, which I’ve gone to for the last 6 years and I know what to bring for that specific trip. Having a spreadsheet helps make sure I don’t forget anything. If your spouse isn’t the type who loves to pack or always forgets things, you might want to help them out.
Stacy: For the kids – y’all need to check out my crate packing system for kids. This doesn’t work on an airplane for obvious reasons, but we really like it for car trips. It is probably my life-saver for traveling with the whole family. My kids each have a family color for everything and that coordinates with their crate (Annie is pink, Andy is green, Eli is blue, and Ruthie is purple). All their clothes, shoes, toothbrushes, etc. pack in the crate. It’s efficient and easy for us.
Do you call each other when you’re running late?
Barry: We communicate EVERY TIME we travel. The first and last thing I do in a plane – when taking off and landing – is text with Stacy. I always tell her I’ve boarded and text when I land. And I’m constantly communicating anytime there is a change or delay.
Stacy: I personally love the Marco Polo app. I use it all the time, not just when I travel. But I especially love having it to use while I’m driving. It’s a video walkie talkie app and I just love sending video messages to update Barry and my friends. Marco Polo is my jam.
Barry: I don’t love Marco Polo. When I’m working at my office during the day, I don’t want to be making videos or watching videos. But when you’re driving it is absolutely a much better solution because there’s no texting or typing. You just press start, talk, and then press stop. It couldn’t be more simple.
How do you afford all your travel?
Barry: For 2018, travel is a bigger number than pretty much anything besides saving on our budget. We do not spend a lot of money on vehicles, housing, eating out, etc. We are saving a lot of money because we want to be able to retire very early.
Stacy: We do without a lot of other things. We have really old vehicles. My van is used, dirty, and although it’s not a piece of crap, it’s not a spring chicken. Barry’s car is not a piece of junk either, but it’s definitely seen better days. We live in a small, older home. And we also are very good at selling stuff. When we decide we need some money, we look around to see what we can sell. Have we occasionally had to buy things back? Maybe… I think I can remember 2-3 things.
Barry: Yes, exactly! We try to have a no junk policy in our home. Anything laying around that we don’t need or use, we sell. That’s a great way to afford extra things or travel. I encourage everyone – look around your house and see what you don’t need or could possibly sell for money. If you’d rather have cash than that particular thing, what are you waiting on?
Stacy: Also, this is not intended to brag in any way at all, but Barry and I are workaholics. My friends might laugh at this because they know it’s so true, but Barry and I truly love to work. We live fairly modestly. We work our butts off! We run multiple businesses, and enjoy the challenge of growing a business from the ground up.
Barry: Generally speaking, we are up by 6:00 am and we work until 9:00 pm almost every night. “Work” might be in my office, in my shop or doing things around the house to share with you guys, but it’s still work. We try to enjoy our travel and getaways as much as possibly because we truly think we’ve earned some relaxation from all our hard work.
Are you nervous when you travel?
Stacy: One of my goals for this year was that I wanted to teach myself to travel and not freak out. I wanted to be able to go on my own and not be a nervous Nelly. I’ve work hard on it this year and to be honest – it’s like I’m a new person. I can navigate the airport, new cities, hotels, parking garages, rental cars – I have grown so much by stretching myself to believe that travel is not so scary. I taught myself this year – and I’m still teaching myself! – to be confident in new situations with or without Barry. It sounds weird, but I want to be able to know that I am capable of traveling on my own if I need to.
Barry: It’s amazing to travel with someone who knows how to travel versus traveling with someone who doesn’t. I work pretty frequently with people who travel for a living. It’s amazing how efficient they are! They are on time, efficient in security lines, knowledgeable about coordinating rental cars and meal schedules. It’s amazing the difference it makes in your travel when you have someone who knows what’s up. No one wants to be the person who is stretched too thin, late to everything, disorganized, and always looking lost.
What is your favorite luggage?
Barry: I had always been in the mindset that you should buy a cheap suitcase because it’ll just get beat up anyway. It was something I didn’t want to waste money on. But I found a really, really great – I mean awesome – deal on a Travelpro Rollabord Suitcase. Oh my goodness. I LOVE IT. And they really, in the scheme of things, they aren’t all that expensive vs. the garbage suitcases you can find elsewhere. While I am not a big fan of spending a fortune on luggage, I am a fan of purchasing a good, high quality piece of luggage that will work well for the type of travel that you do. Be picky about the luggage and the bags you use. If you travel a lot, your life will be so much easier. And keep in mind, good doesn’t necessary mean expensive – just make sure it is designed to suit the type of travel that you are doing. Reading Showkoo luggage reviews online will help you choose a high quality luggage. As a testament to this: we recently traveled with an insanely expensive suitcase that we won. It was our second time flying with it. And guess what? When we picked it up from Delta, it was TRASHED. Even the person who gave it over to us at the counter (they wouldn’t even put it on the carousel!) apologized and wrote up the damage claim form herself. Expensive doesn’t always equal good.
What about packing the car?
Stacy: One thing I do need to get better at is packing the car. For some reason, I am not very good at using the space well, and this is especially true in the car. I don’t quite understand how and what shapes and sizes work best and how to pack efficiently. I think I can pack a bag pretty well but the car is a whole different story.
Barry: I’m the opposite. I LOVE packing the car. My favorite thing is to load in everything and pack it like it’s a puzzle. I will pack and unpack the whole car repeatedly – whatever it takes to get things situated just right. One follower described packing the car like playing Tetris and that’s exactly it! I enjoy and love getting the car packed in a neat and orderly fashion.
Wrapping it Up
Stacy: Hopefully this answered a lot of y’all’s travel questions. But one more tip… don’t forget to grab a souvenir. I like to hit up local coffee shops (or Starbucks if I can’t find one!) and bring home a mug or coffee cup to remember the city by. Make your own travel tradition!
Barry: To end on a final tip… always pack snacks. Traveling is so much better when you’re not hungry!
Do y’all have any thoughts about travel? Comment below if you have travel questions we could answer!