When we think New York, we think of the infinite things to see, do and eat. Whether you are a fashionista, a food enthusiast, an art junkie, or a lover of Broadway - there is something for you.
Traveling with little ones can feel overwhelming with the unpredictable schedules, long packing lists and impatient kids. But traveling can also be fun and exciting for kids of all ages with all the new experiences, sights and most importantly, family time.
Lani and Lauren are veterans when it comes to traveling with little ones and last month they gathered everyone up for a trip to New York!
Let’s talk travel…
We all know this isn’t your first family vacation but we have to know. What essentials do you pack in your bags and what do you leave behind? Do all the kids get their own bags? Tell us the secrets to making the prep time as painless as possible for all the moms out there.
LAUREN: I have one rule when I pack - I don't bring more than 1 suitcase for all my 4 kids. I try to order or get supplies (diapers, wipes, etc.) wherever I am going. Otherwise I only pack what outfits my kids need (and at the end of the day, they end up wearing the same thing over and over...). When I only had one child, she got her own bag with the cutest outfit changes (like 4 per day...). Things change once you travel with a full crew of toddlers! My other tip - be organized! I pack about a week in advance so that it's done and I'm not stressing the night before. I also always pack a carry on with a change of clothes, medicine, and a few other essentials in case their suitcase doesn't make it! I also pack for myself in advance ... I hate doing anything last minute!
LANI: I am the worst packer ever, and now with a kid it only makes it worse. I have no idea how Lauren does it, I am convinced they all share underwear lol. I typically pack myself in 1 large checked bag, and then squeeze all of Marc's and Xander's stuff in another large checked bag. Only tip I have that helps reduce some bulkiness is that I usually order diapers, wipes, swimmers, snacks to the hotel in advance, so I don't need to lug it all with me.
How do you keep the kids entertained when you travel? How do you feel about screen time as a distraction, and how much is too much?
LAUREN: When we travel I don't worry about limiting screen time - it's really all about survival! I always stock up on crafts, games, activities but I also make sure to put a few new games or movies/shows on their iPads to keep them entertained.
LANI: I agree with Wren. Marc and I were so hesitant to introduce screen time to Xander before the age of 2, but then we had a 10 HR flight to Hawaii for the Xmas break and it was our life saver!! #iPads4Life on flights, anything to keep your lil one happy and entertained. We try to limit screen time during our daily routine, so he doesn't become reliant on it, but like anything in life, everything in moderation right?
What are your go-to snacks to pack for the kids? For yourself?
LAUREN: One of my kids is celiac, so I pack a lot of gluten free snacks from some of my fave brands (Made Good, Annies, Simple Mills) I also always pack fruit, veggies, pizza bagels and bring my son a few gluten free meal options. Also candy as back up (lollipops, gummies, etc.) for meltdowns/bribery!
For myself I try to pack nuts, Kind Bars ... things I can eat quickly but that will fill me... when traveling with kids who knows when I will get to eat, pee, etc.
LANI: On travel days I try to pack mess-free snacks. I like to keep things clean and tidy, OCD styles, so I try to avoid messy snacks/liquids. Crackers, cheese strings, apples, cereal, and raisins are my go to. Let's be real though, you can never avoid messes with kids, but a girl can try!
In terms of snacks for moi...Non-pregnant Lani gets unsalted almonds, and gum! Pregnant Lani gets salted almonds, licorice, Xander's Ritz crackers, and who am I kidding, a bagel and cream cheese!!
Now let’s talk New York…
What are some of your favourite places to take the kids?
LAUREN: I love NYC with kids! Some of my fave places ... Central Park Amusement Park (only in the summer), also Central Park Zoo! Gazillion bubble show (it's really amazing!) and definitely go see a broadway show (I recently saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Frozen) and then they get to see Times Square. Cool Mess is fun (make your own ice cream), Dylan's Candy Bar and my girls love the American Girl Store (make an appointment if you are booking "services" for the dolls - cue eye roll). If your kids read the Eloise books definitely take a trip to the Plaza.
That all being said, sometimes some of the best things in NYC are spontaneous. I took my daughter last year with her friend. We went to Eataly and took out some food and ate outside in this little public area across the Flatiron. There was a Facebook Lego group meet-up (random!) but our girls had the best time eating pizza and watching/ helping them build!
LANI: Central Park Zoo was a hit. He loved seeing all the different animals, and running around from 1 exhibit to the next. Also Central Park Amusement Park was fun, because there were a handful of rides for toddlers, and he loved watching his cousins play all the games.
Marc's sister lives in Connecticut, so we also always try to get some family time in to see her and her kiddies. We like taking the train because Xander can move around vs being trapped in a car seat for 2 hrs, while enjoying the view from the big windows.
What about some good kid-friendly museums/art-installations?
LAUREN: I went to the Kids Museum which was a great rainy day activity. The MET and MOMA also has kids specific tours.
LANI: With a 2 year old, it's more about the simple things in life. We did a lot of searching for rocks in central park, and spotting yellow taxi cabs on the busy streets of NY. Maybe next year when he is a little older, we'll hit up the American Museum of Natural History to check out those dinos!!
What are your go-to kid-friendly restaurants?
LAUREN: I don't usually go anywhere kid specific ...I find we end up eating anywhere around where we are. Room service always is requested for at least one night!
LANI: Samesies, I basically just copy what Lauren does with her kids lol.
What are your favourite spots to hit up when the kids are asleep?
LAUREN: My bed ;)
LANI: Noo come on Wren we are more fun than that. We love Avra Madison for dinner on the Upper East Side - their fresh branzino is next level good, and the zucchini chips + dip are not to be missed. Carbone, because why the hell not, best Italian in the city. We also usually go to Quality Meats, because we tend to stay in that neighbourhood, and they have a good wine list and steaks.
What are your go-to stores for the kids? For yourselves?
LAUREN: In Soho, there is a Uniqlo, the Converse store, and Melissa (those amazing shoes for girls!) all on the same block. I also love Crew Cuts (JCrew for kids) - there is one on Madison.
For me, I love love the shoe Department at Bergdorf's... I have a shoe obsession and that is the best place to give into it!! I also love the Reformation store and Intermix in Soho.
LANI: For Xan, I've ordered some great stuff online from Little Giants Giant Shorties, they have really cool pieces for little boys. I've never had a chance to get to their flagship store in Brooklyn, but it's definitely on my to do list next time we go :)
Intermix is my jam in NY. Their assortment is so well curated in NY, especially in the Soho store- Laur and I always do well there! I also love Otte, it's a NYC-based retailer, and there are several locations around the city. Brand roster is amazing, and I am always so impressed with the sales staff and their customer service.
Highlight of the trip?
LAUREN: Spending time with the fam, grandparents, cousins! Nothing better than having everyone together ;)
LANI: What she said ;)
Number one advice for traveling with kids?
LAUREN: Try to be flexible ... when we travel I don't care as much about bedtime, naps, eating healthy ... let go of your rules and try to enjoy!
LANI: You gotta go with the flow. Traveling with kids can often be unpredictable, so don't sweat the small stuff, and just try to relax and have fun. I find we always end up having the best time when there are no concrete plans and we decide to just do something spontaneous ;)