Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's a bird, it's a plane...

Traveling with kids is not easy, but it helps to plan ahead. It also helps to be flexible and have a sense of humor when things don’t go as planned. My husband and I recently took a week long vacation to the beach with our two young children, Molly (4) and Ben (1). Here are a few tips I used myself, and some more I learned along the way that I hope you find useful the next time you travel with your young ones!

We flew to our destination so I had to be very careful with our packing. I decided to only check two suitcases and save the $50 round trip fees of having our four-year old check a bag, but I did maximize her two carry-ons that you get to take for free! To make sure there were no complications, I avoided any liquid in our carry-ons, except for a bottle with four ounces of water already in it for Ben… airport security tests the water, but it is okay to bring it on board and it doesn’t hold up the line more than 30 seconds – I promise!

Since it’s hard to explain to a one-year old that they have to wait for the drink cart to come around before they can get anything to drink (that precious bottle was saved for nap time or as a last resort for inconsolable crying), I bought a bottle of juice once we were past security. I recommend bringing an empty sippy cup in your carry-on so your child can easily and cleanly have a sip. Some catalogs sell special sippy cup toppers that come in three sizes to use on different drink bottles, but having them actually fit is a hit or miss. Sometimes it’s a life saver and sometimes it drips. I’ve experienced both.

Traveling at nap time is sometimes a good idea, so your child will be asleep for part of or hopefully most of the flight… as long as they are easy to get to sleep! Our second leg of the trip fell over nap time for Ben and it was a good success! Our first leg of the trip was really good timing – meal time! I love to schedule my flights during meal time because you can bring along a Lunchable or buy something at the airport. Eating is a great way to keep your kids busy on the plane! Also bring along extra snacks because most of the time what the airline passes out are not kid appropriate: ie hard pretzels or peanuts.

Taking off and landing are the hardest (but also most exciting) parts of the flight, but they pose one big problem: your ears pop and hurt! Little kids can’t chew gum, so here are some other ideas I’ve used in the past to help alleviate some of that pain. Infants or younger toddlers can nurse or drink from a bottle. Older toddlers and bigger kids can chew or suck on something. I personally like to crunch harder snacks like Cheez-its when my ears are popping, but Molly was happy with gum. For Ben’s age, I like to give him a sucker to suck and bite on. The best kind of sucker (or so I think) for kids is a Baby Bottle Pop. It has a lid, is not a choking hazard, and they can really hold on to it easily. Of course, Ben has no idea it can twist open and powdery candy comes out… but he doesn’t need to know that for quite a while; Molly didn’t!

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