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This Simple Hack Makes Flights With Kids SO Much Easier

Here’s how to stock your fridge from the airport tarmac.

There’s a lot to worry about when you’re flying with kids.

If they’re little, as a parent, you’re pretty much required to stuff your carry-on with trinkets and treats, all in an effort to keep your kid or kids quiet enough that the other adults around you won’t be too annoyed. When they’re a little older, it becomes all about whether their tablets are charged and if they (or you) actually packed the right clothes, lest their suitcases just be full of stuffies and Legos. It’s a lot, and that’s not even including the stresses of carrying car seats through airports, worrying about transport both to the airport and at your destination, and having to tackle whatever time change bedtime nightmare might arise.

All of that is to say traveling with kids is no easy task. As a mom of 4-year-old twins, I’ve fought the battles every time we’ve taken the kids to Texas or Ohio to see family or packed up to trek through Europe. I’ve gone through countless packing cubes and paid for more expensive flights just so we wouldn’t have to take some late-night trek that would mess up sleep schedules for days to follow. But along the way, I have figured out one very important trick that, honestly, has made all the difference. 

My Life-Changing Travel Trick, Revealed

Simply put, it’s this: Order your groceries from the tarmac using an app. Set the delivery time for around when you’re due home, and you’ll be able to fill your fridge in a way that’s so stress-free it’s unbelievable.

This works if you don’t have kids, of course, but if you do have kids, it’s immensely valuable, not just because then you won’t have to worry about having bananas for breakfast the next morning or whatever meltdown might arise if there’s only water and not milk for dinner, but just because then it’s done. You won’t have to drag your tired legs out into a grocery store, and you can get right back in the swing of home life quickly.

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How Do You Order Groceries Online?

There are a number of ways to do it, actually.

If you’re in a larger metropolitan area, there are several apps that do on-demand grocery delivery, including GrubHub, Instacart, Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Amazon Prime Now. Typically, you can choose which store you want them to shop from, and they’ll send someone out to stroll the aisles based on whatever items you put on your list. They’ll deliver your groceries to your house in whatever two-to-three-hour window you choose, which means you could even pre-set your delivery from your vacation location based on the idea of when you get home–but if you run into a flight delay, things could get a bit hairy. I prefer ordering from the tarmac once I land, especially since we typically fly into LAX, and getting out of there and getting home can take a little bit of time anyway.

If you’re a Walmart shopper, you could also use Walmart+, which offers unlimited grocery delivery from your nearest store. There’s a $35 minimum order—a practice that’s not entirely uncommon—but if you’re doing an order to fill your fridge or that’ll get you by for a few days, you should be able to hit that with no problem.  

If you’re not willing to wait on a delivery driver and you parked at the airport, you could also choose the drive-up option at Target, Walmart, or at your local grocery store. Here in LA, for instance, you can order on the Vons app and they’ll bring it out to your car when you pull up. The same thing is true for Target—which I imagine most moms know at this point—and since it’s Target, you could also get whatever else you need for the house and life, whether it’s a new pair of shorts for your kids’ soccer season that (surprise!) starts tomorrow or a cool, inexpensive pair of sunglasses to replace the ones you dropped in the ocean while on your vacation cruise.

Are There Drawbacks?

There are a few drawbacks to pre-ordering groceries, but I think the ease of the process makes it worthwhile.

First, because you’re not the person doing the actual shopping, you’re going to get what you get. That might mean you end up with six very green bananas when you prefer yours to be a bit riper, or it might mean you end up with Yoplait yogurt because the store was out of Oikos. You can choose to avoid substitutions when you order, meaning if the store is out of Oikos, you’ll just get nothing, but if you’re not super picky, you’ll be fine.

Also, it can be a little expensive. If you’re ordering through a store app, you can sync up your frequent shopper card to take advantage of rewards and online coupons and sales, but if you’re using something like Prime Now or GrubHub, you don’t necessarily get that convenience, meaning you’ll be paying full retail—or at least the sale price that’s available to all customers, whether or not they’re rewards club members. It’ll add a few bucks to your bill, but for me, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Another added cost can come from service fees, tips, and other surcharges added on if you’re going the delivery route. Those are parred for the course if you use the apps—ordering a burrito online costs more than if you got off your butt to go get one, and the same is true for groceries—but if you poke around online, you can usually find coupon codes for a few bucks or percentage points off your order, especially if you’re a new user of the app. Also, if you’re on one app—DoorDash, let’s say—and you’re not coming up with any coupon codes, check out another app, like Uber Eats. Most send people to the same stores, so there’s no shame in shopping around.  

Just Try It. We Swear It Works.

If there’s any part of you, parent or not, that thinks this sounds appealing, then you should give it a try. The rewards far, far outweigh any of the risks or hassles and opting for timed grocery delivery takes one big thing off your to-do list once you get back from your trip. It’s a game-changer and a life-saver, and we promise it works, so just try it. You’ll thank us.