TRAVEL WITH KIDS: 10 tips for survival

Sooooooo, you heard about my lastest wild bit of travel over the holidays.  If not, click here.

Basically, I’m a crazy girl that willingly flies across the country with 3 children in tow.  By myself.  Kind of a lot.  Here are 10 tips of survival, fellow flying parents:

1.  Attitude.  Your mood/attitude/anxiety will set the tone of the trip.  If you make the day into a fun experience and relax, your kids will follow suit.  If you’re flying with a crying baby/kid, try to stay calm.  It’s hard to settle a baby down when you’re freaking out.  They can feel your heart racing so just remember that you never have to see the people around you again.  Apologize and let it go.

2.  Organization.  I could, and probably will, do an entire post on how I organize our carry-on bags for a flight.  Plan for the worst- vomit, blood, bathroom accidents.  Bring extra Ziplock bags for dirty diapers/dirty clothes, trash.  Bring a first aid kit.  Bring a change of clothes for everyone, including yourself.

3.  Pack Light.  Just because you CAN take a carry-on and personal item for each ticketed passenger doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  My 7 year old can handle a small roller-board and a backpack all day.  My 4 year old can’t.  So then I have to carry it, along with my bags…and push a stroller.  Try to only bring what you absolutely NEED and check the rest.

4.  Time Management.  Remember that everything takes a lot longer with kids.  An hour and a half layover may seem like forever on paper but by the time you get off the first plane, take a bathroom break, and get to the next gate, they’re probably about to start boarding.

5.  Expect Problems.  It isn’t a perfect system, delays, cancellations, rude passengers and/or airport staff…try to roll with it.  In some cases you can ask to be compensated.  Compensation comes in the form of flight vouchers to use on a future flight, or meal vouchers that can be used in the airport or a hotel the airline puts you in.  Flight vouchers are valid for 1 year, meal vouchers are good for 24 hours.

6.  Know Policy.  Read your airline’s policies before your trip.  Also, check TSA and do what they say!  Know exactly how many bags you can take, sizes, weight, etc.  Traveling with babies allows you extra leeway- know what you can and can’t take.

7.  Food.  If your kids get motion sick easily, don’t feed them anything fatty, fried, or dairy.  Don’t let them travel on an empty stomach, it can make nausea worse.  Fruits, vegetables, pastas, and breads are great choices.  Keep them snacking and eating every 2 hours.  I pack a few snack bags of trail mix and crackers and put them in each child’s backpack.  I also pack an EMPTY sippy/straw cup with a lid for each child.  I fill it from a drinking fountain after security, on our way to our gate.  Airplane and airport food is super expensive so I try to avoid it if I can!

8.  Activities.  Here’s what I pack in each child’s backpack:  book, pen, crayons, color/activity book, stickers, journal/notepad, and headphones.  If your plane has t.v. you can let them plug their headphones in and they might just watch Cartoon Network for the entire flight.  If not, there are plenty of things they can do with the other stuff.

9.  Clothes.  Here are my rules:  No belts or accessories.  It makes security easier.  Children under 12 can leave their shoes on but you can’t so wear slip-ons.  I put a light jacket in each child’s backpack.  I dress them in shirts with a busy pattern to hide spills.  I wear a shirt with a busy pattern and layer so I can lose the top t-shirt if I need to.

10.  Adventure.  I try to make travel an adventure for my kids.  Show them planes as they arrive and take off, explore if you have a long layover (find the information center- they’ll know about airport playgrounds, food, shopping, art exhibits, etc.), find an empty gate and play games under/over/around the chairs.  Making it magical just takes a little imagination on your part…

Airport Picnic!

Good luck on your next adventure!

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