My first flight with a child was when my son was 3 months old. We were flying from New York City to San Francisco and I was terrified. That was almost five years ago and it seems like we have been traveling all over ever since. My husband and I decided early on that having kids would not keep us from traveling—instead they have given us more reason to travel.
We have flown from here to there and taken the train, taxi, bike and car all over the world. Below are a few things that have worked for us when it comes to traveling with our littles.
- Pack as little as possible. What shirt can go with multiples things? What can be dressed up or dressed down? Bring comfortable shoes that are also cute. This goes for everyone. You can always do laundry at your destination.
- Bring a stroller. We have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. Someone always needs to be in the stroller. We bought a $45 one off of Amazon and it has worked great. Find one that collapses flat and is sturdy.
- I always make a bunch of peanut butter and jam sandwiches for my carryon. We all get hungry and airport food is pricey. On a road trip they taste incredible. Also, water bottles with lids. I can’t tell you how many spills we’ve had from the plastic cups the airline gives you. I have the flight attendant put the beverage my kids want directly into their water bottle that has a lid. I even do this for myself.
- Charge those electronics and have them ready to go with comfy headphones for your kids. We have a lot of educational games on the iPad for our kids. They are totally content to watch cartoons but when even that’s not enough the games really help.
- Little activities. I hit up the local dollar store before heading out and fill a small bag of “presents”. My 2-year-old is less entertained by shows so this was a big hit for her. Every time she got restless we pulled out a new surprise from the bag. The surprises included little dolls with hair to brush, little markers and pads of paper, a little slinky, a mini etch-sketch. These things were cheap and so fun for my kids.
- Have a change of clothes for everyone and a grocery sack in your carry on. A lot of bodily fluids can come out at the wrong times. Being able to change your spit-up covered shirt and toss it in the grocery sack is a game changer.
- Hand sanitizer. Rule of thumb—just bring it everywhere with you.
- Have a designated trash bag. I keep it close to me and put every wrapper, wipe, cup, etc. in there. The flight attendants always thank me plus it keeps our area less crazy. In the car it just makes it a lot less gross.
Once you are at your destination:
- Sleep when you are supposed to sleep. Stay awake when you are supposed to stay awake. This will help everyone with jetlag. No naps unless it is naptime.
- Don’t overdo it. On all of our travels we go in with a few things my husband and I want to do and a few things that will appeal to the kids. We always research where the closest playgrounds, children’s museums and ice cream are. All three are a win for our kids.
- If possible get a babysitter while you are out. Our kids go to bed fairly early. On vacation you want to make the most of the time you have. When we know people in the places we are traveling we ask them if they know a good sitter. We can then have a peaceful dinner or see a show without the kids. It is also a great refresher for us.
- Don’t feel bad about needing to give your kids a nap. Our kids are much more pleasant after they have had a rest. We tend to go out in the morning and have the kids nap in the stroller or go back to the hotel for a little rest. Then we go out again in the afternoon. If you don’t pack your schedule super full this system works great.
- Get breakfast, lunch and snacks at the local grocery store. Everywhere else is overpriced and probably not as healthy. Then eat out for dinner.
Whether you are road tripping or flying somewhere this summer I hope these suggestions help! The biggest piece of advice I have is to take a ton of pictures. Little kids may not remember all of the traveling you do but at least you will be able to prove where you went with pictures.