Summer time is coming, the time where traveling ensues and in my case, escaping Ramadan and the Hot hot desolate desert. We will be headed on our dreaded trip back to the States. Before my family disowns me, I only mean this in reference to the 20+ hours of traveling. This got me thinking of the many trips we have taken and all the things I have learned about traveling with two monsters. Eh hem, I mean kids. So I’m sharing what little I know from my experiences; after all we moms need to stick together.
Traveling with kids is like herding cats…
I will preface this now. Whether you are on a short flight across a few States or a long flight across the pond, your sweet faced babies are going to be super annoying. To you, to the others on the flight, and to the once seemingly nice flight attendant that has to come by 28 times after your kids hits the call button. She no longer likes your kids. Everyone WILL hate you once you un-board, you WILL get sympathetic looks from the sweet grandparents in the back or the unfortunate souls that are suffering right there with you with their own little gremlins. Eh hem, kids. See here’s the thing. What I hear most from Moms is “Oh I just know they are gonna cry and be loud.” Just tell yourself right now to get over that. Don’t worry about that because it most certainly will happen. Trust me thats the least of you worries. Try having one kid explodes his diaper and the other spill juice all down YOUR seat and sit in orange juice for 16 hours.
I’m not trying to scare you I promise. In fact, my kids have been really good on flights. We have been flying since they were barely hatched. I hear a lot of parents talk about waiting to travel because their child is too young. Im telling you now, don’t wait, pack your shit and get on a plane! I can’t stress enough that traveling while they’re small is not only easier, its necessary. Once they are at the age where you have to pay for their seat, they are too much of a pain in the ass to take anywhere. Babies eat, they poop,and they sleep. Toddlers need constant attention, they want to stand up, they want to go to the potty (oh wait! No I don’t have to pee after you’ve already carefully positioned me over the toilet), they need juice, they need a new movie, they can’t sleep, they need to pee again, they are hungry, they hate pasta, and they refuse to wear a seat belt. Thats only half of it. So travel now my friends, it only gets more expensive.
Okay so here are some travel tips I have learned along the way:
1. Make it interesting for the kids. Excite them with visions of planes each night before you begin your journey. Kids are excited by the slightest form of transportation, so at least they may not cooperate the whole time but they will be excited to see a bus or jet.
2. Book the bassinet. (for kids under 1, check your airline for height and weight restrictions) After you book your ticket call the airline immediately to request a bassinet seat. Here is another perk of having a baby while traveling. The seats that house the bassinet have more room and tend to be closer to a bathroom so if you are traveling alone you won’t be leaving your kids a mile down the aisle to tinkle. Once you arrive to check in, ask for the bassinet seat to make sure you have it. At your assigned gate go to the front counter and ask again if needed. Keeping in constant contact with the airline is helpful to snag those coveted seats. Its nice to have that leg room and to be able to lay the baby down so you can scarf down some uninteresting food on your tray, but mostly that glass of sexy chardonnay.
3. Checking your car seat. What to do with stroller? *(see note) Here’s what we do. At check in, we check our car seats (free of charge, check with your airline). You will need them only when you land in your destination. We have tried the car seat on the plane (if they have their own seat) but it’s a pain. If you have the bassinet seat, your problems are solved. For the stroller, it will be tagged at check in usually and you are able to use it until you board.(except that one time I traveled alone in Paris, you suck Paris airport.) You will hand it over just before you enter the aircraft, they will bag it ( show them how to disassemble) and put it underneath the plane for you.If you have more than one piece make sure they bag it together or have both pieces tagged at check in. Some airlines/airports have it waiting for you right outside the aircraft, while some send it to extra baggage for pickup. Those airlines/airports are assholes, but I digress. Emirates-Dubai is one of those, however they provide a free stroller in the airport for toting around your tots. Please ask the attendant at the gate before boarding where you will locate your stroller afterward.
*We also have a stroller we sometimes use on shorter flights called BabyZen which is a compact stroller that can be bagged up and carried on as a carry one. Super awesome. I recommend it highly.
4. Early Boarding. You get the awesome luxury of standing in the business class line and pretending you actually are of some kind of upper echelon that isn’t “Mom” or “Wife”. The high only lasts for a little once you pass the nice large cushy seats in business class with their stupid little glasses of free champagne on the way to your sardine can. I’ve sat there before. It IS as good as it looks. What a tease, they should hide that luxury where our uncool eyes can’t see it. The great thing here is you can calmly board with your kids before the crowd comes. They will call business class, persons in wheelchairs, and the “idiots traveling with kids” to board first. Tuck your bags away, except for a bottle for the baby and/or something to entertain the kids. I know you want to keep the baby bag at your feet but they WILL make you move it for takeoff. Your instinct is to say “The only way that I would ever let go of my bag would be if you came over here right now and tried to pry it from my dead, lifeless fingers, okay? If you can get it from my kung-fu grip then you can come and have it, okay? Otherwise, step off, bitch.” But don’t, you can get the all-mighty-satchel-of-all-things-important-for-baby and put it by your feet right after the plane levels enough for you to stand. Plus don’t make her
5. Pack Lighter than you think. I do understand that you want to be prepared for the worst, and the worst typically will happen if it can. However, you don’t need 65 diapers and two extra packs of wipes. DO pack wipes even if your kids is out of the diaper stage. They are handy for everything. Don’t bring a bunch of toys, your iPad holds the key to a successful flight and its all in one compact little golden item. Sure, bring the crayons that will for sure get lost in the seat and one of their fav toys, but most things they don’t play with especially one short flights. I always pack a change of clothes for the toddler and two for the baby. Throw in an extra shirt for yourself if your baby tends to vomit like the exorcist. I also bring plastic bags to store vomit clothes. The worst is shuffling through your big bag struggling to find an item.I also recommend a backpack as your carry on. Handler if at all possible! If you would like a detailed list of what I pack email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you my list!
6. Allow for extra time. My husband annoys me with his wanting to be 6 hours early for everything but when it comes to flying early is always better. Kids travel better when they aren’t rushed, have time to look around and explore. The extra time at the gate to let them get some energy out only helps. Some airports have play areas for kids, use them. Not rushing keeps you sane and the babies happy.
7. Snacks aka Bribes. I know they say don’t bring sugar, that only makes the kids more apt to swinging from the luggage rack but sometimes its necessary. I like to bring little individual baggies of fruit snacks or granola and their sip cup. I also bring 1-2 lollipops just in case of a situation where all else fails. Bad parenting or surviving? hmmm
8. Ergo. I carry my baby everywhere when we travel. Its hands free and it can balance the book bag thats become your new baby bag. I swear by the Ergo brand, my friend Dani Shea relayed this useful tidbit and I have ever since thought she was the Mother to look up to. If you don’t have the Ergo, any Marsupial Mom sack will work. Some airlines will let you keep them strapped to you during takeoff instead of using those stupid baby seat belts that are useless.
9. What you need. Well sanity is one thing, but that will go out the window pretty soon. Kidding, no seriously, relax. If you are stress the eff out, your children will stress. Try not to yell at your husband and vice versa, men can go berserk because chances are they are dreading this more than you. YOU are used to being with these kids for exhausted periods of time. Wear easy clothes, like pants that you can pull down with one hand if you have to hold the baby to pee. Slip on shoes are so helpful, if you feel the need to hit your husband upside the head, its accessible. Don’t even worry about bringing magazines or books, you won’t read them. Theres no time, even on a 20 hour flight. So don’t waste bag space. If you really can’t live without, download Oyster app. Its awesome.
10. Kids Meal. It’s not super important but when booking your flight you can ask for a kids meal for you toddler. That way they get something like pasta that they might actually eat. They aren’t always great at doing this even if you ask but its worth a shot.
The main thing is try to remember you are going on vacation. Its not a death sentence. If you can go to a restaurant with kids and survive you can do this. Its just a little longer and you get a vacation at the end, and in my case GRANDPARENTS! woohoo!
I asked my husband if he had any tips for traveling with kids and this is what he says:
1. Bring ear plugs, your own kids are loud.
2. Let your husbands sleep as much as they need.
3. Don’t be afraid to leave the kids in their seats to join the mile high club.
But he’s nuts.
****please remember the FAA encourages use of approved child car seats on aircraft and I am in no way condoning the use of a car seat on an airplane. This method does not work for us but there are other available child restraints that can be alternative solutions. Please have car seats wrapped to avoid damage to your child seat which can hender it’s Saftey value.