As Summer approaches, many of us are planning our summer trips. Traveling with kids isn’t easy for anyone no matter if they are 3 or 13. A lot of parents have anxiety about traveling with kids including me! Will everyone on the plane stare at me because my three-year-old didn’t get her way, will my babies ears pop causing him to cry, will I have enough room in my seat with a baby on my lap? The list could go on and on.
My family lives across the country in California and every time my dad brings up coming to visit them, I feel my anxiety rise. But he always says “You can just suck it up and come, or not come at all.” Well, the obvious choice is I want to go! Why would I not visit my family or miss out on getting out of Florida just because I am worried about things that MIGHT happen?
My daughter is three and has now been to California at least six times along with numerous other trips both flying and driving. The flight from Florida to California is 5 hours. That is 5 hours of needing to entertain a child on a plane.
Here are some tips that have worked for me when traveling with kids:
- Bring the minimum if you can. Carrying car seats and strollers through the airport is a pain. If you don’t absolutely need them, don’t bring them. I typically carry the baby in the baby carrier to have a free pair of hands. Another option is rent them at your final destination. Babyaway is a great company that you can rent brand new or gentle used car seats, cribs and strollers. You can rent either by the day or by the week.
- Go to the dollar store and buy little toys and trinkets. Hide them so it’s something new to open on the plane. Let them take one out at a time on the plane or in the car. If you want you can wrap them like little presents, but I don’t have any time for that… ha-ha
- SNACKS, SNACKS, SNACKS. Bring all of your child’s favorite snacks. I like to put them in a big gallon size zip-lock bag so then I have somewhere to put all the trash. You are also allowed to bring children’s cups on the plane with milk or water. I usually bring an empty cup because in the past due to the air pressure I have experienced issues with them leaking everywhere. So its typically easier to just fill them up on the plane.
- Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer. I buy a little pack of Clorox wipes from the store and wipe down everything before we sit down including the drop-down table. Planes have so many germs and you don’t want your kids sick while you travel.
- Morning flights. We thought it would be a good idea to do a redeye with my daughter when she was two. Man were we wrong! She was excited about doing something at night time and overstimulated by all the people and lights. Once we were on the plane, she wouldn’t fall asleep and then became overtired that she just cried and cried. Of course, everyone else on the plane was there to sleep. We finally got her to sleep, but we will not be doing that again! If you can book a morning flight. This seems to be the time my kids are in the best mood. I also try to plan it so we get to our destination before nap time or spend the first hour or so on the plane playing and then lay down for a bit and hope they nap before we arrive. One flight after my daughter woke up from a nap the flight attendant gave her a cookie for being so good. She is now under the impression if you sleep on the airplane you get a cookie. So, if you want to set that up yourself with the flight attendant you can. (Yes, this is bribing your child)
- Ask for help. I am guilty of thinking I can do it ALL. But if you’re traveling by yourself and outnumbered by your children, you may need help. Ask the lady sitting across from you that has been smiling at your child the whole flight to help out. I once had a lady ask the flight attendant if her seat could be moved because she “just didn’t like kids” being a new mom I was offended, but I would much rather sit by someone that would be willing to help instead of someone that is going to glare at my sweet baby the whole time.
Overall if you are flying with children the best advice I can give you is RELAX. If they cry the whole time don’t stress out, hold them, it’s a new environment and experience for them and you will likely never see the other passengers again!