Last week I attended a 3-day conference that ended on Saturday night. I had to be up at 4am the next morning for a flight to Detroit. Needless to say, I took the opportunity to take a serious “power nap” and felt like a NEW WOMAN after the 3-hour flight. BUT…if I hadn’t been “prepared” (ear plugs, eye mask, blow-up neck pillow thingie), I might have felt a little differently.
You see, there was a woman traveling with 2 small children (bless her heart!) who were NOT happy during most of the flight. My heart really went out to her. I didn’t do A LOT of traveling with my kids when they were small…but I did it enough times to know it’s STRESSFUL!
So, I decided to reach out to my friend Reagan for some sage travel advice. Reagan has traveled EXTENSIVELY with her two boys (now 7 and 5) ever since they were tiny babies. I knew she would have some great ideas….because basically she’s an amazing person AND an amazing Mom. :-)
She didn’t disappoint. Here are Reagan’s tips for keeping your sanity when traveling with little ones:
- Have a bag/backpack for each child. I call it “The Arsenal”. DVD player, books, crayons, favorite toy. Headphones are good for the plane and car if they are watching a movie.
- I add snacks in their bags as well as carry some of my own just in case. I bring whatever will make them happy at the time. I don’t try to do the “healthy thing” when we are on the plane or long distance in the car. Sometimes candy just works.
- I bring an extra change of clothes and undies in a big ziploc bag. That way if the clothes they are wearing get wet or pukey, I can zip them up and not smell them. It’s good to have this for each child too, because when one kid throws up, you know the next one will smell it and hurl right after. :)
- I ALWAYS have wipes. They will be used about 50 times a day.
- I take the “sick” bags that are on the plane and put them in my own car. Just two days ago, my youngest got carsick driving from our house to Salt Lake City because he didn’t eat breakfast, and I grabbed the bag just in time for him to use it. Way to go Gunner!
- Depending on how old the kids are, I like to talk about the expectations of the trip. Where we are going, fun activities we will be doing, who is going to be there, how we need to behave. They get excited about all that lies ahead and they remember their manners more. If we need reminding a few times, then I start to threaten and take away favorite toys. Such a bummer when you don’t listen.
- Deep breathing helps YOU if your child is in a full blown panic on the plane.
I find that when I smiled and said sorry to people they were more understanding. I ALMOST resorted to buying a Starbucks or McDonald’s for the people seated around us when when my baby was 2. He was a nightmare on the plane. But now he is 7 and is the best traveler ever. They grow up SO fast!!! The hard part is over before you know it.