Before having kids, MY Man and I traveled quite a bit. With the pending arrival of our first kid 5 years ago, we decided not to allow a baby to slow us down. And frankly, one baby didn’t slow us down much, if at all. We traveled many times to the Midwest to visit family, several times to Hawaii (5 hour flight from CA, where we lived), and even made the long journey to Thailand and Korea with Lil Pig in tow.
With the arrival of our second kid, despite our desire to continue traveling, we have been less enthusiastic to do so. There’s a lot of gear involved when traveling with kids, but it definitely gets better as they get older. We noticed an appreciable difference for the better during our most recent trip to the Midwest. We’ve picked up a few tricks along the way especially regarding keeping them occupied while en route. which will hopefully help out those of you who are planning a trip with little ones.
1. Pack good (and plenty of) travel toys … light weight, compact, and take things out of any big package if possible. For example: stickers, a baggie of crayons, window gel clings are awesome and cheap, magnetic Bingo, playing cards, roll of blue tape, Leapster, a tablet PC like an iPad, small coloring books/activity books. Visit the Target dollar area (usually right at the front of the store) and the toy section, which has travel versions of many games like Chutes and Ladders.
2. Bring an empty sippy cup and ask the flight attendants to put drinks in there.
3. Snacks. I like to pack them in small plastic containers. I often pack fruit like grapes and cut up strawberries and put them in baggies (double bagged) since the kids can eat them without a fork. Also good: goldfish, fruit snacks, wheat thins, cheese sticks, salami, fruit roll ups, dum dums/gum (for take off and landing) and frozen go-gurt which will not only help keep things cold, it’ll thaw out and make a nice treat.
4. Buy a lightweight car seat for traveling. We bought the Cosco brand. It’s a lot lighter (and cheaper) than the Britax we use on a regular basis at home. We also bought a luggage roller which can be attached to the car seat with bungee cords if you prefer to roll your car seat around.
5. I’ve heard some people bring a bag of candy to pass out before the flight takes off to the passengers around them as a preemptive I’m-sorry-my-kid-is-crying gesture. I’ve never done this, but I’m sure it can’t hurt.
6. If you can’t get a seat in economy plus (more leg room) ask for the last row on the plane. If your kid likes to get up a lot as most toddlers do, this is the best place to be. Most flight attendants are lenient with little ones.
7. Get an Ergo baby carrier. It’s expensive, but I promise it is worth every penny and useful for a couple of years. Unlike the Bjorn, the Ergo provides a great deal of support so your back will thank you.
8. Always pack ear bud-type headphones. We have these. They’re compact and won’t be too loud in a kid’s ear. If you’re lucky you might end up on a flight that has DirecTv. It’s usually not free, but for $6-8 it could be worth it.
9. At the airport, sit near the windows so your kids can watch the planes (and play with the window gel clings, if you happened to bring some).
10. Manage your expectations. It’s possible your child(ren) will have a melt down. Travel is hard on kids just as it is on adults. Lots of water, ice cubes will help keep them hydrated. And for you, remember you can always buy an alcoholic beverage if all else fails.