This past Christmas, I flew out to Colorado to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Colorado. Lo and behold, the hubs had to work so I found myself packing and planning for a solo voyage with my 5 kids aged 3-9. We had our ups and downs – and the downs were pretty gross to be honest (think about everything that comes out of a child’s body – well, it all came out, and not when we wanted) but we made it there in one piece and I’m happy to report that I’m still married and haven’t ruled out future vacations with my kids. With this trip behind me, here are my tips for traveling with kids on airplanes:
1) Pack LIght. I’m an over packer by nature. I start off good and then I start stuffing little bits and pieces of this and that into my bags. Don’t do this with kids. The less you have, the easier it is and you know you won’t even use most of it. This doesn’t apply to changes of clothes for the actual voyage, with which I would not skimp (see below).
2) Bring the right activities. It’s hard to find good travel activities for kids when you’re not content to stick them on the iPad. My best friends have become sticker books, especially for my little ones. With my older boys, I spend some time with them picking out what they really want to read and each gets 1-2 paperbacks, no more. Some white paper and crayons and colored pencils and I’m good to go.
3) Bring only light snacks, but bring ALL your meals. Most airlines don’t provide meals anymore, so you need yours with you. I brought 12 sandwiches, bananas, biscuits and granola bars. Forget the drinks – they’ll just spill, and then you’ll be sorry, plus you can’t take them onto the plane. At the same time, pack very light snacks like fruit snacks and even lollipops to pacify your kids in a crunch. These are great because you can fan these out all day without your kids overeating and getting sick. I try to limit my children’s sugar intake generally, but traveling is one of those areas in which I lower my standards for the sake of simple survival.
4) Bring extra supplies and changes of clothes. You really DO need these, especially with young kids. If they’re potty trained, they’ll poop in their pants. They will throw up – I promise! We’re always surprised when this happens, but it does happen, more often when you’re traveling then when you’re home. So you need the ability to clean them up, change them, and move on…. more than once!
5) Apologize right and left to fellow passengers and keep your cool. Kids are kids and they are likely going to make fellow passengers annoyed. Face it: that prim looking lady settling down with her fat novel is not going to be thrilled when your 3 year old screams and kicks her seat. But if you let her know that you’re doing your best and trying to make your kids be considerate, she’ll likely be ok. A simple apology goes a long way. Let them get upset, but just tell yourself that you’re doing the best you can and that pretty soon, the plane travel portion of your “vacation” (or trip with kids) will be over.
So that’s it from me on traveling with kids. How do you make traveling with kids work? Weigh in below!
Bio: Melissa Lawrence is a wife and Mom to 5 kids aged 2-9 and started her how to video site CloudMom when her 5th child Marielle was born. With over 350 videos for moms of babies, toddlers and kids, CloudMom is a practical Wikipedia-like resource for new parents. Follow CloudMom on Twitter @CloudMom and on Google+!