01 Mar Our 4 Suitcases: Tips From An Expert To Make Traveling With Kids Super Smooth
Every couple of months or so, my family embarks on some crazy adventure. Whether it’s a road trip from Texas to New York or traveling to see the grandparents in Puerto Rico, or strolling down the San Antonio Riverwalk, I love traveling with hubby and the kids. Of course, this is not for everyone. Traveling with our rolling circus is exhausting sometimes. It takes a special set of skills (much like in that ‘Taken’ movie), a ton of patience and five times the energy that normal (sans-children) travel requires, but there are some secrets to make travel with kids as pleasant as humanly possible:
Full tummies make for smooth sailing:
It should be pretty obvious that kids can become bona fide jerks on an empty stomach, but having a hefty meal can ensure a longer, deeper, exponentially more awesome nap time (for baby and parents). Also, if you’re like me, you’ll fancy a Mary Poppins-esque handbag full of snacks. But beware! If you pack the bag with a bunch of candy, you’ll be sorry. Nothing gets a kid more hyped than skittles and a giant engine. The Air Marshall could make an appearance. Tip: I also like to bring an empty reusable bottle to fill as soon as we cross security.
Find your family’s rhythm:
For some parents, it works to travel with kids overnight so that sprouts sleep through it. For others, it works best to have them wide-awake so they don’t get too cranky. I’ve flown at all times with the kiddos, and what works for us is for those two to carry their own crap (thus, early to mid-day is best in our case). If you want to play it safe, play around a bit with their schedule, e.g. let them skip a nap and time it so that they’ll sleep (or not) however you need them to. NOTE: It’s happened to us that our dolls’ programming goes to hell at the airport, so for some kids, it’s a crapshoot. Don’t be too disappointed if your kid completely blows your plan. Just try to have fun and don’t get too hung up on your original expectations.
Pack light, for goodness sake!
I don’t think I’ve checked a bag on my last 7 trips. I’m not a fan of breaking my back on the belt on top of paying $25+ per suitcase. Instead, I have a carefully calibrated system to account for all the stuff we’re bringing on 3-week trips via Carry-on Lane. I take advantage of every square inch of luggage space, bring a suitcase for baby if he or she is paying for a seat, hubby’s memorized all the airline guidelines for strollers and baby stuff, and my 2yo flies in her car seat (as in onboard). Other than that, we’ve seen posts about ‘Travel with Kids Packing Checklists’ and we like to swing it with about half of it. Also, our toddler team is highly trained in airport procedures, and since they are cute as a button, they typically let us breeze past the security checkpoint (if you haven’t travelled in a while, you may not know that kids don’t have to take off anything at the security area, #winning).
Kids get the hang of it sooner than later:
If you’re hesitant to get back on that plane with the little monster(s) because your last trip seemed like a one-way ticket to hell, don’t be. Kids are increasingly more relaxed their second time around and so on. At least mine are… if yours get worse, sorry buddy. Of course, that’s easy for hubby and myself to say; our kids have more flight miles than most adults I know, but it’s shown us that children are able to develop a special sensibility to the process and expect all the parts of the journey with less anxiety (and hopefully more sleep). With our homeschooling and our blog,
If you’re hesitant to get back on that plane with the little monster(s) because your last trip seemed like a one-way ticket to hell, don’t be. Kids are increasingly more relaxed their second time around and so on. At least mine are… if yours get worse, sorry buddy. Of course, that’s easy for hubby and myself to say; our kids have more flight miles than most adults I know, but it’s shown us that children are able to develop a special sensibility to the process and expect all the parts of the journey with less anxiety (and hopefully more sleep). With our homeschooling and our blog, Noni, we make sure that these experiences are as fun as they are educational.
Don’t lose your cool:
My life motto is ‘the only way to teach is by setting the example’ so when you’re on the plane, waiting at the terminal or picking up your luggage, make sure to work extra hard to stay cool and collected, especially if your kids are watching. We all get tired, antsy and frustrated, so how the heck can we expect a five-year-old to show composure if you’re about to throw an adult tantrum yourself? I for one am scared of flying, but I would NEVER let my oldest see me sweat during takeoff and landing (Dad does an excellent job of creating diversions when needed).
Always try to have fun!
You may have already forgotten it by the time you’re waiting for your Uber at your destination, but you actually love your kids. So if all these plans fail, make it a point to have fun, try to relax and play games during the process. Cut your kids some slack, reward your spouse or travel companion for his or her efforts and just flow with it. If kids want to talk to the flight attendant, let them. If they throw a tantrum for wearing a seatbelt, don’t be embarrassed; you’d be surprised at the number of parents grinning in close proximity, remembering their last rodeo. If your kid cries all through the flight, make sure to nurture and care for him or her; after all, flying can be scary.
Make the most of the experience, keep all things in perspective and enjoy the journey. While you’re simmering in your parenting failures, remember that a lot of kids (and adults) will never get that experience. We are the luckiest ones.