Travel Tips with Kids
Today’s tips are designed to make travel with kids — especially air travel – easier. More seasoned parents have probably learned these tips “on the job.” So, these are best for new parents or those who haven’t travelled much with kids. But, these guys are gooood so save them, pass them along, do what you will but don’t delete because they’re gems and for all types. Happy Travels.
Always bring an umbrella stroller — no matter the kids’ ages. Even if nobody sits in it, you can put bags on it. Plus, they check it at the gate. When the kids are older, make sure they use backpacks as carry-ons. Frankly, make sure one of YOUR bags is a backpack because it’ll make it easier boarding without a bag on your shoulder hitting everyone. Those aisles are narrow when you fly in economy or as I call it, steerage. Don’t get one of those air-travel car seats, they don’t fit in the aisles and when the kid grows a little taller, they just kick the seat in front of them and people start creating mental voodoo dolls of you and your kids.
Now the TSA is SUPER annoying about everything and it might not allow beverages through but they do allow milk and formula in baby bottles. They just test it for explosives after it goes through. I always travel with what seems like gallons of milk in baby bottles for my son. I’m not sure if milk makes it through in sippy cups.
Make sure everyone has slip-on shoes. Kids’ crocs are great for travelling. Pack jackets because 9 times out of 10, you don’t need them and they’ll just get in your way. Always bring an extra set of clothes for kids in your carry-on. If you don’t have the space, dress in layers. Trust me, once your kid barfs on himself or you, you’ll be so glad to remove a layer of clothes or change the kid. Sippy cups even for older kids because second down from being barfed on is having juice fly all over you.
When you’re travelling in a communal vehicle like an airplane, bus or train, your job is chief entertainer. And like any good magician, you’ve got to have a LOT of tricks in your bags for your restless audience. Before you even think about boarding an airplane, purchase DVDs and a portable DVD player ($100-150). Sony makes decent ones — get the warranty because your kids will break it somehow. Even if you’re anti-TV, purchase this as a gift to the passengers around you. Remember the “hold” button. It freezes the operational buttons so kids can’t accidentally fast forward or stop the DVD. Oh and a DVD player is like a laptop to the TSA so you need to give it its own separate bin in security.
I tend to save the portable DVD player for in-flight because my son gets so upset when it’s time to put away electronic devices. Some stewardesses — a.k.a. flight attendants, sorry, I’m old school and a bit of a Francophile so I prefer masculine/feminine names — are smart and let you keep the player on until the very last minute. Others are like electronics Nazis and make you turn it off even before they’ve closed all of the over head bins. If you don’t want to purchase a DVD player, or if you want more tricks in your arsenal, iPod touches and iPads are amazingly helpful. They have games and you can watch movies. Remember to download stuff ahead of time. Although, some planes now have WiFi on the airplanes. Thank GOD!
If you’ve got a wee little one, remember that breastfeeding and bottles is the activity you need to be doing for take-off and landing. I’m not saying starve the kid but arrange the feeding schedule around these activities as best you can. Gum or Starburst for older kids. What else to bring? Every arsenal that’ll fit in their bag. Kids books are usually compact and not too heavy. Polly Pockets for girls — they’re small and they’re entertaining. For boys, Matchbox cars, Thomas the Trains or small figurines. Obviously, bring pacifiers if that soothes your kid and remember, travel is the time to indulge, not teach discipline or teach lessons.
After you disembark, stand in the ramp way and assess that you have ALL of your belongings. If you leave your bag on board a plane, it’s a nightmare to recover it after you’ve left security. And if yours is the last flight and you left your backpack with your car keys in it? Forget it. It’s gone for at least 24 hours.