The holidays are a common time to travel with kids (yikes!). Having been lucky (crazy) enough to travel a lot with kids I have a few tried and true tips.
1. Plan ahead. Try to time your travels around your kids’ schedule. Don’t take a flight in the middle of your toddler’s busy morning playtime. Fly during meals, since feeding kids is a great way to keep them entertained. Or even better, schedule around nap time if you feel you can get your toddler to sleep with a little snuggling. For older kids, consider a trip to the dollar store for a few new (small) toys. Keep them a surprise and bring them out for emergencies.
2. Carry on. Pack lots of snacks, even treats they don’t normally get (translation: candy bribes). Bring a water bottle for each child to fill after the family goes through security. Pack extra clothes even for big kids. Bring all your medicines you might need with you on the plane. Don’t pack meds in your suitcase – who knows when you will see it again. If you bring all meds in their original packaging, the liquids can be larger than the standard 3 oz carry on size. A few specific things I always bring:
- Ibuprofen (with measuring spoons)
- Benadryl for unexpected allergies and it works great for runny noses too (I like the single dose dissolving sheets)
- Gum to help your big kids’ ears pop
- My favorite – diaper wipes even if your kids are long out of diapers
Of course, please keep all medicine out of kids’ reach, and don’t forget to put it up when you get to your destination. For kids with frequent ear infections, check with your provider about whether prescription numbing ear drops would be appropriate for your child.
3. Remember safety. Travel with your own car seats/booster seats. You know they are of good quality and you are familiar with the installation. You can check car seats with your luggage and most airlines will not make you pay extra. Of note, this also applies to strollers. Hint: for really restless toddlers bringing the car seat onto the plane can help keep them comfortable but out of the aisle. Make sure it is approved for airline travel as the flight attendant will ask to see it.
4. When all else fails, remember Angry Birds. Although I think traveling is a great chance to spend quality time with your kids away from the24 hour a day screen time, at times, electronics serve a purpose. On one trip my son’s ears really started to bother him during landing. I went into mommy mode trying everything in my bag of tricks: gum, drinks, ibuprofen and numbing drops. Nothing worked and he was getting louder and louder. People were starring. Finally we handed him the iPhone to play Angry Birds and suddenly his ear pain completely resolved. Go figure!