After our recent overseas trip to visit family in England, I once again realized how incredibly difficult it is to travel with children. What is already an exhausting journey is multiplied 10-fold when you are joined by young travel-mates. I thought I was prepared for this adventure, but there were some things I didn’t think of that I wanted to pass along in the hopes that it will help someone else! Here are a few tips that I have either tried, or wish I would have tried!
(1) Take snacks with you – this is obvious, but I would recommend finding some snacks that you are allowed to take on board that actually provide some sustenance to your kids. I packed a ton of suckers, but thankfully my mom packed a travel bag for the boys with yogurt raisins and a surprising favorite, beef jerky. Snacks were at times the only thing that would calm them down and I felt terrible constantly feeding them pointless sugars.
(2) Give them their own suitcase or bag to be responsible for – we tried to limit our carry-on luggage this time around, but we did have my son’s small suitcase on wheels that held our extra clothes. He was in charge of pulling this through the airport, and not only was it adorable but it gave him something to do that distracted him from wanting to be held.
(3) Pack a car seat – If you need a car seat at your destination, take yours with you! The first year we traveled with our oldest, we requested that the taxis taking us to and from the airport have a car seat. The ones they provided were very outdated and the cab drivers had no idea how to install them. Needless to say, I was very nervous while in the car and we decided never to do that again!
(4) Pack extra clothes – there has been more than one occasion where our luggage was delayed or “misplaced” and we were left scrambling for a few days, washing the same clothes over and over, as well as purchasing new clothes to hold us over. I now make sure one of our carry-on bags includes extra outfits for everyone, just in case. Also, when you have children, there is always the chance the clothes they are wearing will be destroyed and it’s nice to have extras if you need them!
(5) Remember sanitizing wipes – I recently read that your tray is the dirtiest part of the airplane. Which is gross, as this is where your food goes! I brought along wipes and made sure to clean off the trays as soon as we sat down.
(6) Pack refillable cups – after our apple juice was sent flying, I decided it was time to pull out the water bottles I had packed and use those for the remainder of the flight. I asked the flight attendants to fill those during drink service and no longer had to stress about spilling.
(7) Try to stay calm – the first time I flew with a young child, I was so worried about what everyone else was thinking. If he made the slightest noise, I would try to quiet him down and it just made me so much more stressed than I needed to be. This time, I just focused on my boys and their well-being and it made for a much happier flight. When my 21-month old was crying, I focused on comforting him and remembered that he was exhausted, instead of worrying about what the people around me were thinking. That being said, you shouldn’t let your child run wild and do things that are purposely disturbing others, like kicking seats or throwing food.
(8) Look for free seats – when flying with a lap child, an extra seat is like gold. The first time we flew with our oldest, the man checking us into the flight let us know that he switched our row so we could have an extra seat for the baby. Laying him down in the seat next to me while he slept almost brought tears to my eyes, as it was so difficult for him to sleep in my lap. This time, we kept our eyes peeled and before the flight had even taken off, my husband had checked with the flight attendant and found a free row of seats for half of the family to sit in. The flight was so much more enjoyable for everyone with a little extra breathing room.
Hopefully these tips will help make your life more convenient as you travel to your next destination. If you have any more ideas, please include them in the comments below!