Planes, trains, boats and automobiles. Traveling…it’s the necessary means to get to your desired destination. And with your little ones in tow, it can often feel like a necessary evil and add unnecessary stress to your trip. With two kids under 5, we've learned a few tips that always help make the trip to Grandmas or Hawaii feel a little bit more like fun than work.
Get them excited about the trip and prepare them. Talk about where you are going and how you are going to get there. Maybe have a special backpack or roller bag that they can help pack and carry on the plane.
Start making a packing list ahead of time, so you can make sure you catch some “nice to haves.” For us, it’s a travel size sound machine…the kids can sleep anywhere with that thing! Save your list and refine it for your next trip. I’m no longer buying a pair of swim goggles every summer.
Know your airport and time your arrival (and take into account weekends and holidays). While some people like to get to the airport way before their flight, I know that my kids do better with less time waiting around.
Know your kids and time your flight when possible. My kids are early birds, so I prefer morning flights when they are happy, eating breakfast takes up time on the flight and there is less chance of delays. Is your layover during nap time? Might want to look at other options.
TSA Pre-check has been huge. Shorter security lines, no fussing with shoes, laptop, etc. and walk right through.
Pre-load the iPad with movies and games. Make sure it’s charged and ready to go. I know, I know…I’m that mom. I’ve tried to bring books, coloring books, small toys or games, but I find that it’s a hassle pulling something out of the backpack every time they’re bored and want to change activities and they’re constantly dropping their crayon or toy piece…and really, how many times can you read that one book?! Sometimes…I will break down and buy a little toy at the airport which will entertain them at the terminal and even a few minutes on the plane.
When flying with kids, I like my hands free and less things to lose when you’re distracted. I have a backpack and check everything else (which I never do when I’m without kids). I carry TONS & TONS of snacks, our water bottles (which I fill at the water stations after security), change of clothes for each of the kids & a shirt for me (after one of them spilled coffee all over me before a 5 hour flight), iPads, kids headphones, hand sanitizer, wipes and a light blanket.
While we all know that traveling with little ones turns your “vacation” into a “family trip,” I will say that the airplane ride on my family trip now includes a glass of wine, a good book!