Traveling with children can sometimes feel like a three-ring circus. Packing is one thing but by the time you leave your house and arrive at the airport, go through security, and board the plane... you might feel like you've launched a space shuttle. I wanted to share 5 tips that have worked well for us when traveling with our children.
- Be Prepared. Long live the Girl Scouts motto that rings true for parents everywhere: expect the unexpected! I like to pack an extra change of clothes for each kid for the plane just in case something spills or they have an accident. I pack the spare change in a Ziploc bag (with their name on it) and, should we need them, we just swap out the clothes - no worries, no drama! Also don't forget to pack snacks, water, and food. Drinking water and eating, at take-off and landing, helps those little ears to pop with the change in altitude. Full bellies always make for happy campers and help your little ones from getting #hangry
- Pack Reinforcements. For the plane I love to bring new coloring or activity books, a fresh box of crayons, and a new book the kids have yet to see. Should things escalate beyond what good old fashioned drawing can distract from, we also always pack the iPad. Pro tip, we found these great headphones on Amazon that connect together so your kids can share the iPad.
- Involve the kids. If your children are old enough, involve them in your trip. Show them on a map where you are traveling to. Help them get excited for this new adventure you are taking as a family. Show them pictures of your destination, how you will get there (via train, car, plane), the sites you plan on seeing. Let them help you pack their suitcases and pick out their clothes. This adds a level of excitement and takes out the fear of the unknown.
- Take the Last Row. When flying, we always take the back row on the plane; you can walk around if the kids get restless, and you're tucked away enough that you'll avoid bothering (and getting the evil eye) from other passengers. We haven't found a Southwest flight attendant who wasn't anything but lovely - cozy up to your flight attendants, because they love to dish out extra snacks to those sweet little smiles and sometimes offer a moment's distraction at the perfect time. Need more reasons to go for back row seating? You're first to the bathroom, and when you get off the plane your luggage is always ready at baggage claim.
- TSA Precheck. Long lines through airport security can put anyone over the edge, let alone a toddler. If you can, apply for TSA Precheck - it's a 5-year $85 enrollment fee, but sometimes you just can't put a price on sanity. Do the math that's just $17 a year, per person, if you're only traveling once a year - if you travel more often than that, it's an even better deal. Traveling soon and don't have time to apply? Make sure you bring that double stroller friends. It allows you easy access to the expedited family security lines at the airport which move much faster than general security.