Traveling With Children
Posted November 15, 2013 by Prairie Wife - 1 comment
Not to brag or anything, but I am an old pro at traveling with children. I’ve got three 20 plus hour road trips under my belt. And almost monthly we travel two or more hours with our kids around the state of Wyoming. With Ma and Pa living over 1,000 miles away I have made over a dozen plane trips with varying amounts of children, and in multiple stages of pregnancy. Due to The Cowboys work schedule I usually end up traveling on my own with all the kids. With the holidays coming up most people are going to be hitting the road or the skies with their kids at least once. As a service to families everywhere I thought I would offer up a few tips for how to travel with children. Now, these are lessons learned through experience. And you should know now, that even the most prepared mother cannot make a two year old girl stop screaming for the entire two hour flight. Especially when the toddler won’t even open her eyes to look at the candy…I am so sorry if you were on that flight with me.
Travel by Road
1. Pack a small bag of toys and books for each child a few days or even a week ahead of time and set it out of the way. Keeping the toys out of sight make them almost brand new when they see them again, I usually also add a new toy on the sly. My older kids pack their own, then you can say it’s their fault when they complain they don’t want to play with them anymore! Don’t forget to set them by their car seats when it’s time to go!
2. God made technology for a reason. I totally believe in using DVD players, iPads, iPods, and LeapPad products. We rotate between technology time and toy bag time, and also switch devices between kids.
3. We make a special last resort bag and keep it up by us in the front. It has that annoying kid’s songs DVD you hate but they love, bubbles, gum and candy. This is for emergency purposes only, we actually have never had to break into it.
4. Pack a cooler with healthy snacks and lunch fixings. You will get sick of gas station food and most towns have an easily accessible park. We take the time to have a picnic and let the kids run around and it usually buys us a solid hour of calm and quiet. A word of warning…if you make homemade granola to take along, go easy on the wheat germ. Too many bathroom breaks can really cut into your travel time.
5. If you are traveling with a teething baby or toddler bring an extra sippy cup (they will throw at least one and it will roll to places unknown) and buy jerky, it will keep them happy and busy for hours.
6. Plan on stopping every 3 hours or so. Someone will most likely have to pee or eat, so just plan on it, if you can make it longer great!
7. Pack a stroller or sling, you never know when you might need it!
Travel by Air
1. Book the earliest (meaning time of day) flight possible. Really it is the best plan. If you have to drive 4 hours to the airport like us, simply drive down the day before and enjoy the thrills of the big city. Most hotels have “free” long term parking when you stay there and a shuttle that will take you any time you need. The airport is almost empty at 5am and it makes keeping track of your children a ton easier! Buy a few breakfast bars and some juice for them to nibble on in the terminal. Plus, they are so groggy they basically just sit there and often fall asleep on the airplane. When you land they are rested and ready to go, and you can take a nap while Ma and Pa hang out with the kids.
2. If you can don’t take a stroller. Ma and Pa keep a cheap one at their house for us to use when we travel. When I have a baby/toddler I simply strap them to me with a sling and I have both hands free to hold onto the other kids and our carry on. I feel so much safer having the littlest one tied to me and not trying to maneuver a stroller and bags and my purse around the airport.
3. If you can don’t take a car seat! Once again Ma and Pa keep car seats at their house for us. I understand that this won’t work for everyone. Keep in mind I usually fly on my own and handling luggage, car seats and four kids just isn’t an option. When I travel down to TX to visit my sister Texas Two Steppin’ we ship them ahead of time (most people have an extra seat or two). If The Cowboy is traveling with me we simply check them if we need too, it is usually free. You can also put them in a big duffel bag and check them as luggage (this worked better before the baggage fees) for easy carrying in and out of the airport.
4. Pack a special airplane bag. We have a child size rolling suitcase we use only for hotels and airports. Cowboy J has been dragging it around since he was two, leaving my hands free for my purse and other kids. We only let them play with the toys in it when we travel so it keeps thing fresh. All the toys in it are non electronic and quiet (color wonder markers, soft dolls, cars, and action figures). No batteries to worry about.
5. Stash gum and gummy worms in the suitcase for the taking off and landing. Remember to nurse or feed your baby a bottle during these times to help their ears adjust.
6. Once again God made technology and headphones for a reason. I bring the iPad and iPod and have the kids switch between screen time and toys. I also have kid’s books on my Kindle so they can snuggle and get story time.
7. Put an extra shirt for you, and an extra baby outfit and some plastic bags in your carry on if you are traveling with a baby!
8. In the unlikely event that you are traveling with a small child with a stomach bug (I am thinking of the horrible Thanksgiving of 2010) put them in pull ups and pack a bunch of towels and plastic bags. Simply set the child on your lap with a towel draped over them. They can get sick on the towel and you can throw it in a plastic bag and reload with a fresh one. I know this sounds terrible but we couldn’t change our tickets! This also works in the car.
All in all go easy on yourself; whatever is miserable now will be a funny story later. If you happen to see a harassed mother traveling alone with a whole crew of kids be patient with her, she’s trying her hardest to make it a pleasant trip for everyone!
Categories: Life As It Happens