Last week the big girls and I hopped a quick flight to California to see my sister and her family and it was just the best getaway. Yes, our Farmer stayed home with our Elli so that we could have a perfectly relaxing time catching up and maximizing fun. I also noted four easy tips for air travel with kids.

Aside from farming season breathing down our necks and back to back to back trips (where did February and March go?)...We have had the very best start to our 2019.

So how about that quick trip to California? Yes! My farmer offered to keep Elli and It was just brilliant. As much as we missed our Farmer and our Elli-girl it was so fun to travel with the big girls.

My sister lives in Chico (northern California)...and Chico really is such a cute town. It's the easiest trip to get there. We hop on a super inexpensive flight (less than $200 p/ticket) and fly into Sacramento. It's non-stop. From there you rent a car and drive an hour an a half. Easy! But...I will say I have a few tricks up my sleeve that make it even easier.

Tip #1 : Pack Light
If you're traveling as a solo parent...less is more. Wave hi to the bag lady up above! We packed one carry-on suitcase for the gals. I got them each a suitcase for Christmas and it was by far their most-loved gift. And then each girl has a set of packing cubes. I have these for Kaye and these for Sawyer. That way when they go to get dressed they know which design to grab to find their clothes easily. It also keeps them from tearing through the entire suitcase. And then I carried all my clothes and toiletries in a backpack.

I used this one from Osprey. It's roomy and comfortable to wear. I packed two pairs of shoes and three outfits plus workout clothes. At the last minute I took my jacket out and I'm so glad I did. Be cutthroat when packing. Take things out if the return on investment isn't going to pay off.

Theeeennnn...each girl had a backpack to haul around their goodies. We purchased these backpacks for school and they've been great. Exactly zero wear and tear and I'm glad they aren't going to outgrow them in a year. Probably more like 10 years.

Tip #2 : Inside the backpacks 
I'd like to say I let the girls help me pack their travel backpacks, but that's never worked out. No. They are still at the age where they see a random toy on the ground next to their backpack and think, "Yeah. This looks good." So, I'm teaching them all about thoughtful packing and putting some forethought into the process. I also don't pack something if I think it won't hold their attention for at least 20 minutes. (Two 10 minute intervals is fine too.)

Staples : headphones / iPad / coloring books + markers / blank sheets of paper / SNACKS!

My Farmer also found these Tiger Tribe coloring books a few years ago and they've been a favorite of the girls'. They've been through several of the books. We save them for travel, not every day use.

(It was less than a two hour flight, so we didn't need really anything...but we brought the goods just in case.)

I also threw in their favorite blankies, sunglasses, and this time Kaye brought along a couple of reading books and some sight words.

Tip #3 : Smile a lot
I know this sounds so so very very random, but it helped me a ton. I tend to be a stress ball - so when we were directed to the Economy Lot (regular parking was full) at the airport without any time to spare I could immediately feel myself getting worked up. We hadn't even left Boise yet! But then I gals were counting on me! I needed to keep it cool and set a good example. So I smiled. I told the girls everything was going to work out, they just needed to be good listeners and to stay close to mommy. And what do you know...There were no Sawyer melt-downs and Kaye was a great listener and a huge help. I felt totally relaxed. And everything worked out! It totally set the tone for the trip.

Tip #4 : Ditch the Stroller + Check your Car Seats
This is probably a case by case situation, but there was just one of me and the stroller would have been just one more thing I would have had to navigate. Plus Sawyer would have insisted on riding...and she has two perfectly good legs. So, we didn't bring it and we didn't miss it a single time.

Car Seats : Did you know car seats can be checked for free? I wasn't in the mood to schlep them through the airport on top of all the other things I was rolling / hauling, so we threw them in one of Alaska's giant, plastic airport sacks and picked them up when we got to California. So easy.

One other thing - We have this booster for traveling for both girls and they are so so easy and small.

And let me say it one more time - Don't sweat the small stuff. This is my mantra, because people, I'm a sweater of all the tiny things.'s what I do best.

While we were in sunny rainy Chico we kept those girls busy. (Between my sister and me we have five girls and zero boys.) But mostly we just wanted to do nothing. It's been almost six months since I've seen my sister, so just hanging out at the house while the girls played was fabulous. However, in between girl chats we did manage a few outings!

Most notable was our trip to the new Chico Children's Museum. It was loaded with a mini shopping market, a dentists office, a vet clinic, a little barn + garden, a lego wall, a cafe, an arts and crafts area...but the girls' favorite space was the sensory area. It was quite dark inside and you had to be quiet. All the play equipment was white - giant ball bit, swing hammocks and a swing bed, large neon cubes, giant lava lamp-esque things...I can see why the girls loved it. And we loved it was quiet.

We followed the museum with lunch at Parkside. It has cornhole and Jenga set up on their patio which made for more girl chats for time for the girls. And you see - it would not have been possible had we had Elli with us. Yes, we missed her...kind of.

(I'm dying over Sawyer's split jump in the image below.)

The night before we left they took us to Shubert's...which I've been told has the very best ice cream. (Hello - living that miserable dairy-free life over here!) The girls appeased me with exactly 12 seconds to take their "cousin picture"...and it's in this shot that we really do miss Elli. I mean...what's cuter than four girl cousins? Five.

We're so glad to be back on the farm...and I'm not sure there's been a happier baby to see her sisters. (I think our Farmer was happy to see us too...Elli wore him out.) But now it's time to finish up Kaye's Kindergarten year and make sure she's prepared and ready for first grade! Speaking of first grade - I definitely need to start planning out her curriculum. Go ahead and ask me how that's going in exactly two weeks. (Answer : the same as it's going right now.)

If you have any questions about our travels or any of the goodies we use on the regular, don't hesitate to ask! Comment below or send me an e-mail!

Follow along with our travels : 

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