Traveling with Children

We just returned to Chicagoland from a trip to see my parents/grandparents. While I was not really excited to travel with all three kids – I knew my family would appreciate it. Since we were traveling with all three kids (4 years, 7 month twins) I figured it would be a nightmare. To my surprise – we had a pretty good experience by doing the following:

  1. First thing first: make sure you tell yourself that regardless of whatever comments/facial expressions you get – that they do not mean a thing. People are idiots and very selfish – and they tend not to care about anyone else but themselves – especially when traveling without kids.
  2. Make sure to pack at least one change of clothing for all travelers. We went through 3 out of 5 changes of clothing over our trip due to spit up/accidents/etc
  3. Don’t rush. Rushing only causes more stress for you and regardless of what you do and how fast you do it – people will not see a family as moving fast.
  4. Bring plenty of food. When all else fails, a bottle, a snack, or something tasty might help with the boredom, crankiness of both adults and kids.
  5. Bring plenty of water. Kids and adults can act/think/react better if they are well hydrated. I would just make sure the non-diaper children have a controlled amount so there are not multiple on-plan bathroom trips.
  6. Bring plenty of candy. When all else fails – a lollipop or some lifesavers go a long way to help make kids happy (and also helps with the ear pressure changes).
  7. Bring the entertainment. Our four year old spent almost the entire flight playing on the iPad/watching movies on the iPad. This kept his mind off the fact he had to sit quietly for almost three hours.
  8. Dial back the “no”. On our first flights with Evan, I constantly said “no”/ “don’t” to everything. Don’t touch this, don’t kick that, don’t look there, don’t talk to that person. It was over the top stressful to all. This time around – Cora decided she wanted to play with the onboard WiFi information handout and while I generally would have been saying “don’t touch that” – I let her and it entertained her for over 30 minutes. As long as the kids are not bothering others on purpose – let them do what they need to to get by.
  9. Travel in the AM. We have traveled on the first flight out and on the last flight in. Earlier travel seems to work best and allows the kids to adjust easier for the activities once we land.
  10. Give yourself a day. Give yourself (and your kids) a day to relax before rushing into some planned events. Traveling is stressful and we all need some downtime. Likewise – make sure you have some time the day after travel to just relax and unwind.

Nothing is more important than the first item. For all you non-family travelers, remember as bad or as horrible as a flight you had because of someone’s kid screaming – the parent and the child feel 1000 times worse. Suck it up and invest in some good earphones for the next flight…and consider this: who is a bigger baby: A baby crying because they are stuck in a small space, not sure of what is going on, with ear pressure problems or a big baby who did not get x hours of their day as quiet as they wanted and then complains about it and says nasty things to the parent – who in most cases – would have prevented the screaming/crying if they could.