Travelling with kids can be great or can be a complete nightmare. Everyone dreads being that family with the screaming kid(s) so here are some tips and tricks that have worked well for me over the years.
Do a drop and park
Have your travel partner drop you, your kids, your luggage, your everything at the curb then go park the car. While they park you can stuff the car seats into bags, get everything in order, and NOT have to walk through the parking lot/garage. When you arrive at your destination do the same in reverse. You or your travel partner go get the car while one of you sits on the curb with all the things and waits. This is my #1 secret to how I manage to get into the airport. If I didn’t use this strategy I’d still be in the garage fussing at my kids trying to pile all the luggage on my person to get it to check in.
Check your car seats
Airlines let you check car seats for free so why not take advantage and not have to lug those things around during layovers. You can buy car seat bags or let the airline bag them up at the counter. Worried about your little one not being strapped in? Purchase a FAA approved harness and lock the little one down.
To stroll or not to stroll
The decision of whether or not to push a stroller through security, around an airport, and on your vacation for me depends on the trip. Think about what you will be doing when you arrive, the ability you have to carry your child, whether or not your little one will walk or whine to be carried, and then make the decision. I’ve done trips with and without a stroller. The first two times we went to visit family in Hawaii my little boy was small enough for me to wear him and I knew the things we were doing weren’t really stroller friendly. When we went to D.C. he was a little older and I knew I was going to be traversing the city so I took a nice lightweight stroller. Sometimes the stroller is more of a hassle and you end up leaving it in the back of the rental car instead of using it, if that’s the case for me I’d rather just leave it at home.
Slide through Security
Just kidding!! You have kids, you aren’t sliding through anything but here are a few tips to make it a little less stressful.
- Take your shoes off in advance. You know you have to…don’t wait until the last minute. OH!! and wear socks. You wouldn’t go to Walmart barefoot so don’t go through airport security without slipping on a pair of socks.
- Pack ALL food items in one place. Use a designated bag, like a gallon ziplock bag or one of the travel totes above, so you can whip it all out quickly if needed.
- Know it’s going to take longer than you want it to. When your bottles and/or food pouches have to get tested the person who has to do the test is likely to be 3 lines over doing other things and is not in a hurry. Get to the airport early so you aren’t adding extra stress to your day if you end up getting tied up in the security process.
- If you travel a lot invest in TSA Pre-Check. $85 for 5 years…it’s worth EVERY penny!
Run your little ones to death at the gate
Don’t sit and wait for the boarding call. Stay up, stay moving, keep the kids awake! You know once you board you will want them settled and quiet so tire them out while you wait. When that 20 something single childless person gives you the stink eye for causing a ruckus, smile and say “better than during the flight”. This also applies to the crotchety old man. Ha Ha!
Fix it with food and unlimited entertainment
Air travel time is NOT the time to stick to the 30 minutes of tablet time or the eat your vegetables agenda. Plug in the device and let it roll for the duration of the flight. When your little one opens his/her mouth stuff an Oreo in there to occupy it. Baby just finished a bottle? Quick! make another now so you don’t have to struggle with it when baby wakes up and is screaming for the next round.
All in all traveling in general can be stressful so adding kids into the mix can make it extra. Just remember, if it gets crazy and you can’t keep everyone calm and quiet you’ll probably never see the people on your flight again! Bon voyage!
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