Last week we traveled as a family and even though I had other adults with me on the first half of the trip, somehow the kids wanted to be with their mom, ME (especially when they were screaming). The last leg of the trip was just three of us, my one-year-old boy (who is the size of a two year old and moves a lot), my three-year-old girl (who loves attention, especially when her brother needs me) and me.
Including car, trains, and planes we logged over 30 hours of being strapped into a chair and/or confined to a very small space in less than a week. The set up sounds like the plot of a bad comedy movie, but in reality we had a great time, it was worth the trouble and I will do it all over again (and mostly likely I will in several months.)
With this blog entry I’m sharing some tips that work for me when I travel with my children. Feel free to use the ones that you find useful and share with us others that work for you.
For a plane ride make sure you have enough:
1. As healthy as possible “FUN” food – I recommend fruit (apple slices, strawberries, etc.), cookies, crackers, chips, and other finger food. Also a good substitute for lunch if your travel coincides with meal times such as a chicken fingers or a sandwich. Bring enough for the little ones and for you.
2. Diapers and wipes – calculate the number you think you need and double the amount. Once, I ran out of diapers because of unexpected diarrhea and it was not fun. You will need the extra wipes to clean surfaces, your child and you.
3. Extra changes of clothing - for your child and for you. Yes for you. Somehow your child will find a way to make you dirty and unpresentable before you get to your destination (especially if you are carrying him in your lap.)
4. Sippy cups that don’t spill – no matter how well trained your child is, he will find a way to spill his drink. Also Murphy’s law doesn’t fail. If you don’t bring an extra shirt or a Sippy cup you will wish you did. I also love the "snackable" bowls (Munchkin Two Snack Catchers, Colors May Vary) and these portable placemats (Summer Infant Tiny Diner Portable Placemat, Green)
5. New small and quiet games – they don’t have to be new new, but they should feel like new for your children so they will be excited and entertained for a while and you will get a moment of peace. Target has a great section of $1 items that are perfect like mini coloring books, puzzles, toys, etc. There is a 95% chance that your child will drop a part of the game or toy on the plane and you would never find it, so the fact they cost only $1 is perfect. I like to bring crayons, makers and paper. If you do, make sure they are washable (Crayola Ultraclean Broadline Classic Washable Markers (10 Count)) so you can wipe the seat, tray and passenger seating next to your child.
6. Disposable plastic bags – best way to contain the trash you will produce. I always found it impossible to hand out the trash when the flight attendant passes by asking for it. And if you call them to pick it up when you can give it to them, they won’t take it. I love this compact bag dispenser (Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser, Colors May Vary).
7. Imagination and seek for opportunities to teach – this experience is probably very new for your child. How many times a year does he gets to see a real pilot, plane, airport? Make the best out of it and take advantage of it. My daughter loves the Safety Brochures. She calls them “el mapa”. She loves to browse them and I take the opportunity to ask her to find all the numbers, letters and objects. Most of the times they are simple pictures with words in Spanish and English. Perfect!
8. Time - You will need extra time to pass security because it’s guarantee they will check every single bag you have. Plus you will have to do the extra pat down and they will check your hands for explosives (twice) because you are carrying two extra ounces of milk. Don’t fight it. It’s what it is. If you pass security quickly, enjoy the extra time watching at the planes arrive and take off from the gate.
9. Patience and a sense of humor – Keep in mind that travel is temporary. In your long life this is only a very tiny fraction and it will pass quickly. Don't try to control every second, you will be setting yourself up for failure.
For a road trip bring everything above plus:
1. A sand bucket! – It’s not only great to play at the beach but it could be repurposed as an emergency potty. You can also bring a portable training potty (MasterPro 2-in-1 Potette Plus Blue) but a potty can’t be used as a bucket to play in the sand and it’s not so easy to carry it around no matter how portable is it.
Don’t forget to include in your luggage your children's favorite book, some toys, their soap, lotion, diapers, sunscreen, etc. Depending on where you are going you can buy that stuff when you get there but why spend time at the store when you can be out exploring the world!
1. Guilt – don’t feel guilty if your children cry, scream, spill or do something embarrassing. You know that you are doing your best to keep the situation under control and I guarantee there are adults that behave worse than children when traveling. "Keep Calm and Carry On"
Do you have any tips for us? Share your experiences in the comments section!