Two parents, a baby, and a preschooler....traveling with little ones
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We will be traveling for the holidays, and I thought there would be no better time than to come up with a traveling checklist and some items to take on the plane/car to keep little ones busy. I also thought I would share some traveling tips. It helps me mentally prepare for our trip, which will be our first time flying with two kiddos. My youngest will only be 4 months, so besides a few soft toys/teethers and feeding essentials, there is really nothing I can do but hope for the best! I will include some other items I pack in the diaper bag, just in case luggage is lost (that has definitely happened to us numerous times).
I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I spend more time packing the kids’ bag than I do my own. Overpacking the carry-on might be my weakness, because I have a fear of losing our bag. But, do you know how useful it is when you miss a connection and can’t fly out until the next day! My husband puts EVERYTHING in a checked bag, and it drives me nuts! Guess who was happy I jam packed the carry on! This is especially important with kids, because you want to keep them on somewhat of a routine with familiar items. (Side note: check out Sebastian Maniscalco’s stand up routine on traveling in the airport - HILARIOUS!)
Ok, here’s my tips to keep your sanity (Writing these out helps me to remember this when I feel like I may be getting frustrated):
Set low or no expectations: I’ve learned from experience, that if I set my expectations too high, I’m usually let down by something. I just always anticipate that we will wait in line at some point. If you pack well, you should have something to keep your kid entertained if you have to wait in line. I remember flying into Jamaica, we waited in the Customs line for I don't even know how long. My husband HATES lines. And after a long flight, a long line feels like the worst thing ever. Make sure at least one parent keeps their cool! Kids feed off of negative energy and it will only make matters worse. Voice your frustration later in private. Oh, and if you have a baby it is almost guaranteed that they will have a blow out diaper mid flight, because why wouldn’t they? Changing diapers on the airplane is SO FUN!
Arrive early, but not too early: You don’t want to be rushing through the airport with two kids, a car seat, a stroller, and your baby hanging off you in a kangaroo pouch. That just sounds like a headache and a terrible way to start the trip. Try to check in online the day before. I’m not going to get into ticketing, because I have found that every airline is different and I’m told different things each time (see tip #1). Look into parking at the airport. I’m willing to spend a few extra dollars on parking, if I can save a headache trying to get to and from the car. Also, don’t get there 4 hours early. Just don’t. I don’t think I need to explain that.
Snacks: These are essential. If your 4 year old is anything like mine, he wants snacks all day long. Not meals, just snacks. I usually forget to bring my own empty water bottle (I also don’t like water from the fountain), but pack your kids’ water bottle. Again, this is something else my husband doesn’t think of, and will just purchase the $10 bag of trail mix that is equivalent to a handful of nuts and the $6 bottle of water. No thanks.
Hand sanitizer/Sanitizing wipes: I am kind of a germaphobe. And I watched a news special where they were investigating the dirtiest spots on airplanes. You know the tray table, well they should all probably be burned. It grosses me out. Especially bringing my 4 month old baby on the plane, I will be sanitizing everything. If I could bring an aerosol can of Lysol, I would. I’ve also included the Monkey Mat in my checklist. It is an amazing product invented by some moms (of course) that folds up into a teeny tiny bag. This is especially useful if you have a long layover. The kids can play or sit on this instead of the floor. Just wash it at your destination. People probably think I’m crazy, but it’s much cleaner than putting your baby on the floor.
Activities: My 4 month old is not quite old enough for toys yet, so I’m hoping she will just nurse to sleep (I throw out nap schedules/routines for the travel day). However, preschoolers need to have a lot of things to do. I’m not trying to be a hero and have a bunch of Montessori style activities (1. I’m not that creative, 2. I’m kind of lazy when it comes to that, and 3. I would just rather buy them).
So, I usually pack an assortment of activities that range from wipe clean books , magnet game tins , a composition notebook with triangular markers , and paint with water books . And you guessed it, Melissa & Doug is my favorite for these kind of items. I found some items at Five Below, Amazon, and TJ Maxx/Homegoods.
I also found this cute and free Travel Airplane Printable by Fun With Mama. She has a great blog with lots of ideas if you want to get a bit more creative. I’m going to put this printable in a binder for Jack and laminate the pages. Tip: You can either laminate or even put them in a sleeve protector and use dry erase markers on them to use over and over!
Always, always, always bring that iPad or tablet FULLY CHARGED! And don’t forget the power cord!
One more thing….I plan to Amazon Prime diapers and laundry detergent (free & clear) to our destination!
*As you can probably tell by now, I keep it real. I tell it how it is, and don’t really sugarcoat. I love positive people, but that is just not always realistic. In life, there are frustrations, and it is OKAY to be bothered or frustrated by something, like lines. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. My kids have tantrums, your kids have tantrums. It is OKAY! Don’t we all teach our children to voice their emotions? Humor and sarcasm is my outlet! And traveling is usually stressful - hence setting little or NO expectations! Happy Holidays! Let’s cheers to no lines, getting upgraded to first class, hitting no traffic, having no blow out diapers, and fully charged technology!
Here is my checklist! I hope you find it useful! Please feel free to pin it and share it….