We have just gotten through another winter which means warm days are finally ahead, and it is time to start planning what to do with the little ones while they are out of school for the summer months.
Before babies, my husband and I were avid travelers, and I mean climbing volcanoes, hiking glaciers, skydiving kind of travelers. So, when our daughter was born, we were not sure on how to resume our ‘normal’. Obviously, we were no longer going on snowboarding trips to Norway, for now anyways, but we could still go to a beach, right? Right!
In the first two years of my daughter’s life, we embarked on 7 international trips and countless other domestic trips. Here are a few tips I have learned along the way in hopes help make your travel days easier:
Take the early flight. The earlier the flight means the less reasons a flight can be delayed. The less reasons a flight is delayed means you are not stuck in an airport all day eating airport food, entertaining children at a gate, and trying to make nap time happen with an intercom system that goes off frequently. If you are travelling with an infant, nap time is a good time to fly since you can wrap them snuggly against your chest and relax.
Direct, non-stop flights at all costs. Non-stop is the keyword here folks. These days most direct flights are actually less expensive. If it doesn’t have a direct flight, honestly, we think twice about going. It’s not worth the 3-hour layovers and the multiple take offs and landings. Talk about a stressful way to start and end your vacation. Plus, it is a win for the environment.
Fly Southwest when possible. You’ve heard of them; you probably already love them and do not need much more convincing but humor me while I put into words why we love them so. Free luggage. What a relief knowing you can pack as many baby items that are in the realm of possibility. Haven’t used your breast pump in a month? Pack it. Your toddler is nearly potty trained so you’re wondering if you need diapers? Pack them. Your baby hasn’t touched their lovey in weeks? Pack it. Wondering if the restaurant downstairs will have a high chair? Ok, well maybe you can’t pack the high chair, but seriously, with Southwest allowing you to bring two suitcases for free you can feel so much more comfortable at your destination knowing you did not have to skimp on space. In addition, strollers, car seats, pack n plays, etc. are free y’al!
Purchase a reusable car seat and stroller bag protector. If you are flying with a stroller or car seat, you need a bag that can protect from the inevitable scuffs and damages that will come if you don’t. My favorite is the Southwest bag that can fit a car seat, stroller, and booster seat all in one large zip bag! You can purchase it directly from the Southwest counter when you check in and is only $17. Other options include this $10 umbrella stroller bag but note most customers have issues with drawstring closures after a few uses.
Do not travel with a sick baby. Don’t. Stop. Do not pass go. Cancel your flight. You know what is worse than a sick baby not sleeping through the night in a hotel where you have none of the comforts from home? You and your partner catching said virus and the whole lot of you missing out on the activities you had planned.
Consider vacation homes or an Airbnb. Now that our daughter is older and sleeping through the night in a regular size bed, it no longer makes sense for us to always book hotel rooms, especially if we are staying for several nights. She still goes to sleep much earlier than we do, i.e. 7:30pm, and I hate being trapped in a pitch-black hotel room with a sound machine for several hours of the evening, scared to even make conversation with my husband. We are always happier if we book a place with a kitchen and living room. We can enjoy our evenings cooking and having dinner together and not rush out of the door in the morning for breakfast. If we vacation with friends or family this is always our go to because it is much less expensive to book a 2-bedroom apartment than booking multiple hotel rooms.
What to pack in your carry-on:
- A change of clothes for everyone involved because poopnamis happen, because luggage gets lost, because you spill wine on yourself.
- Snacks and more snacks. Also, TSA allows you to bring a water bottle/sippy cup/bottle onto the plane for children with liquids inside. This means those still breastfeeding or on formula can have a full bottle on the plane.
- Grab a few new items from the Dollar Tree or Target’s Dollar Spot and let your kids open them up on the plane. Some activity ideas include sticker books, Melissa and Doug mess-free water coloring books, My Quiet Book, mess free playdough.
- This is not the time or place to implement the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation for 1 hour of screen time a day, because when all your snacks are eaten and the new toys are no longer new, you need something to keep your kid in the seat.
No one is mad at you for your crying baby. Is there anything more stressful than when your toddler is throwing a tantrum in public and you are doing everything in your power to reason and calm them down? Let me save you the time and tell you the airplane is the most stressful place. You think the whole plane is staring at you, and you want to jump out of the window. Stop and take a breath because this moment will pass. I have met the nicest people on planes reassuring me, offering to help, or just giving me the ‘you’ve got this’ look. Everyone has been there, and no one is mad.
Flying with kids is not always easy, but it is (usually) worth it once you reach your destination and start making irreplaceable family memories. If you are a seasoned traveler and have a tip to share, please do so in the comments section below. If you are new to parenthood or have yet to travel with your children, I hope you get the opportunity to over the summer and find ways to resume your “normal”. Good luck!
Special thanks to Rebecca P. for her post. Rebecca is part of the Dallas Moms Blog Writers Network!