Our family really has some funny travel stories... Meghan's son Julien leaked through TWO outfits when he was a baby. Jess's daughter Emmy gets EXTREME motion sickness and, on their way to family Thanksgiving in November, threw up all over herself AND her mom.
We've arrived on the other end of flights - frazzled, tired and stressed - with naked kids... and kids wrapped in "togas" made from airline blankets.
Traveling is not always easy with kiddos. But we've learned a bunch along the way - we’ve found that if you’re prepared and have the right gear, the adventure is ALWAYS worth it.
Here are some of our tips for better family travel:
- Your gear is everything. Make sure you use a carryon that fits under the seat in front of you, and that it has lots of compartments for keeping your stuff organized. We recommend this one (obviously). Bonus is that you can pull the clutch for bathroom trips with your little… and use it a purse (with the crossbody strap) to put your ID and tickets in. It stows perfectly inside the backpack.
- If you can, buy the extra plane seat once your baby is over 12 months-ish and use a car seat. We've found babies can be much more relaxed on planes if they are strapped into a comfortable position. This roller that attaches to the car seat is great since the seat is pretty heavy and awkward to schlep through an airport - bonus, our kids love to ride in their seat while it's rolling - so it's kind of like a stroller!
- Wear shoes that slip on and off easily. Bring socks if you aren't wearing them. Anything to make that TSA line easier (and less icky), right?
- If you need a stroller for your destination, bring one that collapses and expands in a snap. We love this one. The Leader Bag looks great hanging off the back too.
- Stuff we always bring:
- Extra wipes, diapers, pacifiers, burp clothes, a change of clothes (or two or THREE) for your kids (and maybe even for yourself) and a wet bag or ziplock you can use to collect garbage and/or wet clothes in. We love these so so much (standard version).
- Healthy but fun snack foods (apples, almond butter, dried fruit, fruit squeeze pouches, carrots, nuts, crackers, etc)
- Headphones and charged devices for both you and your kids. These days, it's more common to have outlets near your seat so bring chargers too.
- Moisturizer and lip balm since plane air is pretty drying
- A lightweight blanket or two - we love ones that can double as a cover for breastfeeding. Kids can snuggle in when they get tired too. We also generally bring another layer of clothes for everyone (sweatshirt, socks, etc) since airplanes and airports can get super cold.
- An empty nursing bottle - you can ask the flight attendant for milk or juice during the flight. This is great for youngsters whose ears are sensitive to the shifting altitudes; the sucking motion can help them equalize (since they're too young for gum).
- A few small activities and plan to do them WITH your kids. In general, gone are the days of watching a movie you've had on your list, or getting tons of work done on a flight. We think this can be a positive thing: take the time to bond with your family and do something together that doesn't involve a screen. We usually split the kids between us or take turns so one parent can rest while the other is doing activities with them. The activities can be as simple as a new page in a coloring book, a sheet of stickers, a deck of cards or a small toy that is rarely played with at home. We bring a few books too and some “smelly” crayons that only get used during travel so they feel special. Stickers are fun for older kids, but I also love sticking tons of them on younger babies - watching them try to peel them off themselves is adorable.
Try to keep calm and enjoy the ride. I know this can sound hard but here are a few ideas… let your kids watch a show if they're getting rowdy, or get them a “special treat” when the flight attendant comes around (an extra packet of pretzels and some apple juice). I also order myself hot tea (or hot water and bring my own tea bag) and put milk and sugar in it. It's not always practical with two young ones climbing around - and generally I try to avoid sugar, so it feels like a real indulgence. I can usually sneak it when my husband is “on duty” or when the kids are absorbed in a book or show. I also bring a paperback book from home (perpetually reading this one). When I can, I sneak in a few pages. If I'm feeling extra spicy, I'll buy a magazine in the airport!
Hope some of these ideas help... and don't forget to use code LEADERTRAVELS for 25% off through 1/1/2018 on select products.
P.S. Featured photo is our beautiful friend and her family, @kandycecervantes
P.P.S. If you know how to keep your kid from kicking the seat in front of them, let me know. Haven't figured that one out yet!