With my husband being from California and myself being from British Columbia, we have been traveling back and forth more times that you’d care to count! Currently, we live in Northern California, and it is extremely important for me to see my family back home on a regular basis. Norah is almost 14 months old and has been on 12 airplane rides, from as early as 10 days old and about half of these plane rides I did without Tyler. Traveling with little ones can be a bit overwhelming and stressful at times, and so I have compiled tips that I found helpful! Now, this can be relevant to small babies as well, but I am mostly gearing it towards more mobile kids who are eating some solids.
- Prepare The House In Advance! And by this I mean a few days before you leave, stop buying groceries, eat all the perishable things in your house, start washing and packing the clothes you are bringing, slowly start cleaning certain areas of the house. This helps ease the ‘night before you leave chaos’.
- Give Yourself PLENTY of Time! I know everyone says this, but it’s true. Give yourself time for those blowouts on the way to the airport, unloading and loading everything back up at security, meltdowns, bathroom lines, nursing time etc. Just trust me on this- give yourself time.
- Let Your Child Be Wild! Okay, maybe that sounds a bit extreme. But once you’re at the airport and through security, don’t keep your child strapped into the carrier or stroller. This one I learned QUICKLY! I let Norah run all around the airport, talking to people, walking in circles, climbing onto and off of chairs. Do it all! It may be exhausting for you, but it really helps get her jitters out from being in the car. And once she is on the plane, she is usually ready to sit and play with me, or read a book (and sometimes even have a nap!!)
- Food And Drink! I feel like this is another obvious one for kids. Unfortunately you can’t bring liquids and certain fresh food through security, but bring your own water bottles to fill up at the water bottle station. Norah prefers fresh food, so once we get to our gate, I buy her things like veggie platters with hummus to dip. She runs around the airport expelling her energy, while her hummus covered face smiles at everyone and shows them her celery. I try to have her eat before we board the plane (another reason I give myself extra time), because I find it to be really squishy and messy to try and feed a one year old in such a tight seat. I also make sure to nurse her during take off and landing, if she wants it, in order to help the pressure in her ears.
- Entertainment! We don’t let Norah play with phones or IPads or anything like that. Instead, I will hide a few books, puzzles, a ball and stuffed animal for about a week leading up to the trip. That way, when we pull out something for her to do, it is like new to her!
- Keep The Schedule! This can be super difficult, but I get a grumpy baby if I don’t take the time to respect her nap schedule and go back to the hotel room and let her have a proper sleep. We also keep the same bedtime routine and bring her blankets that she is familiar with and smell like home. I also keep a baby carrier with me at all times, in case she really need a nap or snuggle, wherever, whenever. I don’t keep her out late or push her to the point of exhaustion, be considerate of what they need to do, a happy baby is a happy mommy!
- Staying Green! A challenging thing to do when you’re going on a trip, but like I said above, bringing your own water bottles can make a huge difference! There are so many single use plastic cups at resorts and hotels, it’s such a waste. I bring my own stainless steel straws and utensils and Norah’s bamboo bowl and plate, that way we can purchase food at a grocery store and not need to use plastic utensils or paper plates. We recently stayed at a resort that was not near any grocery store and you had to eat at restaurants. We dined in as much as possible, but luckily they had all eco friendly and biodegradable takeout packaging, which was awesome!
- Minimal But Prepared! This is another helpful one, it took me a while to find the line between being prepared, but not having boat loads of stuff to cart around and deal with. Pack only what you think you’ll need and put as much as you can into a checked bag and check it! Honestly, checking a bag is so worth the money, especially if you’re traveling without your spouse. The only things I like to walk through security with are a baby carrier of some kind, my kid and a small diaper bag- and inside that diaper bag I keep my essentials (passports, wallet, phone, keys), a few diapers/wipes, a reusable water bottle, a change of baby clothes and a couple books. I find that when I have too much stuff that I have to keep track of/drag around, I am more likely to get overwhelmed and stressed out.
- RELAX! Kids can totally sense if you’re all tense and stressed out, they really can! At this point, you’ve done all you can to prepare for a happy journey for you all. Now just relax and try to enjoy yourself, don’t let the little hiccups cause a chaotic trip!