Planes, Trains & Automobiles with Kids
If you're like me you're in a constant state of wanderlust. Daydreaming about remote parts of the world and where you'll venture off to next. Since I was a wee one I've always had a sense of adventure and always ready to hit the road or sky. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are long road trips with my dad. I'm a California native and my dad is from Kansas. From the time I was 2 years old, he would take me on adventures from Cali to the mid-west and everywhere in between.
I've been the "on-the-go" type for a few decades now. I've traveled 1/3 of the United States (17 states), Mexico, Canada, Asia and Europe. And everywhere else is on my list!
One piece of advice that always sticks out in my mind from people is, "travel as much as possible before kids, because once you have them you'll never do it." Another thing I've learned along the way, don't listen to every piece of advice you get, except from me of course. haha!
I'll admit it is easier to travel sans kids, you have freedom to party till the sun comes up and be completely carefree. If that's the kind of vacation you're looking for and you are a parent, leave the kiddos with the grandparents and head out. But, if you're like me, and take your kid with you everywhere keep reading.
Traveling with my husband and daughter is incredible! My daughter will be 3 in a couple months and she is a well traveled tyke. My traveling sidekick has been on 9 flights, taking her first flight at just 5 months old.
*Charlotte's first flight - February 2016
For most, the mere thought of traveling with an infant or toddler is daunting and borderline terrifying, but I assure you it doesn't have to be. Over the past few years and several flights later, this is what I've learned works, doesn't work and how you can conquer traveling with a mini companion.
There is no doubt about it, kids cry. So don't get yourself worked up about if or when you baby cries on an airplane, it happens. The best thing you can do is stay calm and tend to your little one. I figured out a few tricks to soothe Charlotte on our adventures in the sky.
Soothing a crying baby while flying:
1. If you're still breast/bottle feeding give your little one a feeding right at takeoff & landing. The suckling motion helps to alleviate pressure build up in the ears, which can be very painful for anyone, especially babies who don't know how to pop their ears. *Pro tip - give a sippy cup or a chewy snack for older kids.
2. Bring a favorite cuddle baby, preferably one that plays a soft lullaby to calm tensions and have a familiar buddy.
3. Pack a favorite blanket to get cozy for a snuggly nap.
*Charlotte & I on a solo flight, wrapped in a blanket with her baby doll behind her.
Those are my top 3 must haves for traveling with an infant. As kids get bigger and more active, they need more things to keep them entertained. As Charlotte got older, I found that I needed to bring more gadgets for her to stay calm and quiet.
Entertaining a toddler on a flight:
1. Download movies on an iPad or your phone before leaving home. I always download movies to our iPad from our Netflix account that way we can still watch them in airplane mode. I like to download 1 movie for every 2 hours of flight time. Minimal screen time on a plane, forget about it!
2. Snack, snacks, snacks! Did I mention snacks? They keep them occupied and quiet. On our 5 hour flight to Hawaii, Charlotte nearly ate an entire container of Happy Baby Puffs. Not all snacks have to be unhealthy. *Pro tip - pack new snacks that will peek their interest.
3. When the seat belt sign is off, take them for a walk up and down the aisle once or twice. It's good for everyone to stretch their legs and the kiddos won't get too stir crazy.
As parents we tend to focus so much on our kiddos that we leave ourselves on the back burner, don't forget to take care of you while traveling.
Self-care traveling tips:
1. Indulge in a pre-flight, during-flight and/or post-flight adult beverage. Because no matter how well mannered your little one is, traveling with one or ten is exhausting. Treat yo' self!
2. Pack a reusable water bottle. As delicious as a vacation daquiri may be, they are not very hydrating and hydration is key. A reusable water bottle will pass through security, you can fill it up at a water fountain pre-flight and save cash along the way. Win/win!
3. Most mom's are already on this trend, but just as a reminder. If you need to catch up on sleep, catch those Zzz's when your little one does. Don't underestimate what a good nap can do for a traveling crew.
*Post-flight cocktails, cheers Mr. Tran!
Another interesting fact about my travel style, I'm a minimalist packer. I refuse to check a bag, even when traveling with a kiddo. I've definitely figured out my favorite travel gear and here are a few of my favorite things:
Mommy & Me Travel Gear:
1. Mia Toro hardshell carry on suit case. This suitcase has split compartments. On one side I store shoes & hygiene items that can be zipped up. I pack all clothes & diapers in the open side and secure everything down with the elastic clasp. After using travel gear item #2. *Pro tip - wear your chunkiest shoes on the flight for extra luggage room.
2. Diapers take up way too much room in a suit case, which is why I never travel without some compression luggage bags. Compression bags are life changing if you only pack 1 suitcase for yourself & your kiddo. You read that right, 1 suitcase for the 2 of us!
3. My secondary carry-on bag is my Ju-ju-be Super Be tote, where I keep all our must-needed items during the flight (water bottle, milk cup, snacks, iPad, blanket, soft baby, etc).
*Ju-Ju-Be Super Be tote in the background. Easy access for essential items.
4. Forget American Express, we never leave home without our Ergobaby 360 carrier! This carrier has been a lifesaver while traveling. *Pro tip - wear your kiddo during flights to keep them extra secure.
*Charlotte & I in Time Square rocking the Ergobaby 360 - May 2016
5. A light weight stroller is key. We've had great success with the Summer Infant 3D Lite stroller. It's easy to maneuver, fold up and only weighs 12 pounds.
*Charlotte suspiciously enjoying her cookie in her Summer 3D Lite stroller
6. Wipes. It's no secret parents use diaper wipes for EVERYTHING! You're going to travel with them anyway. Keep them in your go-to carry on bag. *Pro tip - whip them out before departing and wipe down ALL the surfaces.
I hope all these tips and tricks will make your summer getaways a little less stressful. The most important thing to remember when traveling is embracing the moment, even the crazy ones. Happy travels friends!
*Tran family on vacation in Oahu, Hawaii - February 2017
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