The Holiday Season is nearly here! For many families, Thanksgiving isn’t just the long-awaited (and tastiest) meal of the year, but the *Official* start of traveling to and from the homes of loved ones and friends. While this is meant to be a time for traditions, love, and togetherness; we all know how hard and tiresome traveling with littles ones can be. No matter the distance or how long the trip, the change in routine is often difficult on us all, and can take a toll on everyone's holiday spirit.
In our previous blog, Traveling With Kids we discussed some tried-and-true Road-Trip hacks that have saved our sanity over the years. This month, we’d like to take that a step further and cover some tips for Air Travel that will hopefully help you reach your destination looking a bit less frazzled.
We know countless mamas who are terrified of traveling with their little ones, and we are here to tell you that you can do it! Break the trip down in manageable steps and plan ahead, you may just find it enjoyable to plan. Really. Over the years, we’ve learned some tips and tricks that will hopefully make your holiday travel a little less stressful. Remember, the most important thing is Preparation. So if you take the time to plan ahead, and follow our tips, it will make the world of a difference.
- Try to maintain routine as much as possible. It always helps to try to stay true to your normal routine, and while traveling makes that tricky, there are things you can do to help alleviate and make it fun. If you are flying at night, have the kids wear pjs to the airport. How fun! A sleepover on the plane!
- Walmart (or any other store) can be your friend.- If you are only traveling for a few days, keep it light and pack only the essentials. For things like diapers & wipes, you can always purchase another pack when you arrive, if you run out. Resist the urge to bring your entire pharmacy with you. In most cases, if something does come up, there will be somewhere near you that carries over-the-counter remedies. In many places, stores now offer online ordering, curbside pickup options, and even sometimes delivery!
- Keep the Kids Busy - Pack a backpack of their favorite toy(s) and fill it with a few surprises you picked up at the dollar store. Always bring a charged iPad (perhaps try loading a few new apps they haven’t seen before), kid-approved headphones, and coloring books. Don't forget crayons, or colored pencils. We try to avoid markers.
- Changing Diapers - if you are still on diaper duty, we highly recommend bringing two washable changing pads, along with a few gallon size baggies for accidents. Don't forget an extra pair (or two) of onesies in your carry-on.
- Stroller - With kids under five, a stroller is a game changer. Not only is it useful for the long airport gate walks, it can hold carry-on luggage as well. Most airports allow you to gate check the stroller, so it is available for you immediately at your destination. Check your airline’s website to review their policies regarding strollers.
- Wear Layers - It’s always good to layer up on clothing to battle those inevitable messes (or spills) and temperature changes. Planes get rather chilly, but your destination may not be. Be sure to save room in your backpack for your layers, or ensure you can tie them around your waist.
- Snacks - It’s essential to bring snacks in your carry-on to keep kids busy and also cover you if you get delayed. We like to pack squeeze pouches, granola bars, non-mushy veggies and fruits like celery, carrots, sliced apples, as well as nuts. We also splurge a little and allow the kids to buy one snack item once we get through security. For infants, you can pack milk or formula, just expect to have the bag searched since it is a liquid. Babies have a liquid allowance on all major US airlines.
- Travel neck pillows - For your younger kids, they love their neck pillows, because it allows them to sleep more comfortably on the plane. For the adults traveling with them, we love them because they make it easier to spot them while walking through the crowded airports! Many child-sized neck pillows, like these from Amazon, are available in fun prints and bright colors, sure to please even the most fashionable kiddo.
- Gift of Time - There is nothing worse than rushing to catch a flight with kids in tow – it just throws everything off from the start. No one needs that added stress. The biggest piece of advice (along with planning as much as you can in advance) is to add an extra hour to your routine. Having the extra hour to get through traffic, the security line and anything else that will inevitably pop up, is definitely worth it. Give yourself time. You can always spend any bonus time you get exploring the airport or showing your kids airplanes up-close!
- Traveling with Kids does not have to suck! - A fun way to make traveling a little extra sweet for your kiddos, and maybe even avoid some tears, is to pack a surprise lollipop for take off. The pressure change can sometimes be uncomfortable, or even painful. Similar to the old “chew gum” trick we’ve all heard, the added jaw movement and swallowing helps to keep plugged ears to a minimum.
With a little planning and preparation, your trip will be better than imagined. All in all, you know your family best, plan accordingly. Remember that your stress and anxiety about travel does not need to be your baby or family’s. If for some reason, your trip doesn't go as planned, at least you created memories, hopefully a few funny stories, and new tips for your next traveling adventures!
You’ve got this, Mama. Bon voyage!