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Traveling for the holidays? Travel with kids (and even babies) can actually be an enjoyable experience, with the right gear and enough prep. Here are great tricks and tips that can save your sanity on flights when flying with littles.
Don't Forget to Bring:
Always have baby's birth certificate or passport on hand, even if this baby CLEARLY just entered the world and your ticket has you listed for a lap child. We literally almost got stuck in the airport with our (average-sized) three-month-old because the airline counter attendant "couldn't confirm that he was under 2 years old." (Riiiight.)
Flight approved carseat
If you bought a seat for baby, you'll need to bring an FAA approved carseat. There should be a sticker somewhere on the thing that gives it the proper seal of approval for flying. If not, grab yourself one that does before heading to the airport. (Small rant: I will never understand this requirement. It's a plane, for the love. Either it goes well or it doesn't; the fancy approval sticker will change exactly zero outcomes. Whatever, FAA. We'll follow your nonsensical guidelines.)
If you've got an older child who still needs a booster, the Trunki boostapak is the best travel purchase ever! My son loves his and calls it his "Transformer backpack". He literally sits on it around the house every day, and when we travel, he carries all his own treats and gadgets with him! So many wins right here.
Nothing like trying to lug children AND a million bags through the airport. Having fewer clothes that you can wash might be better than having tons of clothes and tons of stress. Exofficio offers great clothing that dries super quickly for travel. If you can purchase bulky items when you get to your destination (looking at you, diapers)- do so. It's worth purchasing miniature toys rather than lugging around full sized ones.
Many airlines offer priority boarding for families with little ones. It's worth asking, and be sure to get to the gate on time to be the first ones on.
Most airlines allow you to check strollers at the gate, although some have size limits. If you have just one older child with you, the Lugabug luggage seat is a pretty amazing option. You can also try the less expensive Carseat Luggage Strap.
Lounges are everything
Airport lounges are your friend, and depending on the length of travel and time spent in airports, are totally be worth the expense. Lounges in larger airports are an oasis of peace, often with showers, nap rooms, a buffet of free food, TV's and tons of comfy seating options. Some airports have public lounges, which I've found are not worth the cost for what they offer. To get into a private lounge, you can check with the airline you're flying on to see if you can access their lounge (sometimes it's about a certain class seat, other times it's about asking ahead for access). Other ways: certain credit cards offer lounge club memberships as part of their membership perks (one such card is Chase Sapphire Reserve, a generally phenomenal card for travel perks). You can also apply for lounge club memberships through websites like prioritypass.com.
Many airlines offer kids meals and baby food (even for lap infants). They also often offer allergy-friendly options. Check with your airline and book meals in advance if possible.
Nursing/Chewing/Swallowing During Takeoff and Landing can prevent ear pressure problems.
Of course, business or first class seats on overnight flights with kids is the biggest game-changer, with fully reclining seats, tons of privacy and legroom to spare. If that's not an option, all is not lost.
Some airlines offer bassinets for any class for all international long-haul flights. It’s worth asking.
Have all the options for travel pillows to ensure a comfy nights sleep. A compact travel pillow and the forward leaning pillow are both great for constant shifting. If you're holding a baby during the flight, the Zzzband might be just the thing to make the sleep situation better.
But the real game-changer: an inflatable foot-rest, that basically makes a baby bed out of an economy seat. If your little one has their own seat, this is definitely worth a try.
Practice Calming Techniques
From massages to downward dogs, there are a number of calming techniques you can try with your little ones. Not everything on this list of calm-down ideas can be applied to flights, but it's a great start. You can check Pinterest for more portable ideas. The best thing I know of for tiny babies: Swaddling or baby-wearing while nursing and/or Happiest Baby on the Block Techniques.
Minimize Blue Light Exposure
Blue light (which is pretty much all airport and airplane light) interrupts the production of melatonin, disrupts mitochondrial function, and can make you (and kiddos) way more tired and frazzled than you need to be. You can combat this with blue light blocking glasses for kids and adults.
Using Cozyphones and soothing music or audio storybooks for kids can be a great way to calm the kiddos. If your kids are used to sleeping to certain music or white noise, definitely have them on hand when it's sleep time.
Keep kids away from sugar and caffeine.
Because you don't hate yourself, obviously. Do pack loads of favorite, low-sugar kids snacks to give yourself and the kiddos lots of options (flights aren't the best for good treats). For a snack list and other great ideas for keeping kids busy, check out this post on DIY Travel Treat Boxes (hint: you should make these boxes and bring them with you.)
Calming and clarifying supplements and oils can be a lifesaver during long stretches of travel. My top picks are GABA, RescueSleep, and a few calming DoTerra blends: Balance, Serenity, PastTense, and Elevation - Grab roller bottles and a travel case to keep them straight, and you're set. *Supplement and essential oil use depends on age and the specific needs and health of you and your kids. Please do your research before using anything I recommend. Full disclaimer here.
Hand sanitizer is an obvious first choice, but you can do much more to protect yourself and your family. Here are a few ideas.
OnGuard- our family favorite. I use the roller bottle on my feet and spine (and on my kid's feet) throughout travel. I also use the OnGuard softgels if I'm feeling particularly susceptible.
Trilight Lymph Blend: I've found this to be an effective immune booster.
Olive Leaf Throat Spray: This is great for the start of a sore throat or any cold
I use this very judiciously, but if someone nearby is sick and/or has been coughing all over you, wiping around the mouth and nose with a cotton ball soaked in Hydrogen Peroxide can be a great way to kill any germs that might be trying to enter.
Elderberry Syrup: My kiddos get elderberry every night to keep their immune systems supported-and we definitely notice a difference if we stop. To us, it's worth packing (in many layers, in case of a leak.)
For more stay-healthy tips and tricks check out these 6 Weird Stay-healthy tricks for cold & flu season and Keep a cold from getting worse: 5 best-kept secrets.
GENERAL TIPS FOR AWESOME TRAVEL
Because travel is pretty rigid, giving kids as many choices as possible throughout the process can help diffuse meltdowns. On the other hand, recognizing when the contentedness window is closing and heading it off by changing up the routine (i.e. find a quiet area of the airport to let babe run, have snack time, "explore" the plane by walking the aisles, telling stories, or try music, massage, a new toy, or screen time).
For older kids, cooperation is key: "When you cooperate with me, I can cooperate with you. I really want to say yes when you ask me for the next thing. But I'll need you to say yes to me so I can do that. Will you let mommy say yes to you by saying yes to me?"
If your kid needs to move/be walked/bounced/etc, be prepared to be up and moving on the plane far more than the average flyer. Get over the awkwardness of having an audience. Smile and wave at your onlookers. :)
Travel is hard on kids, and the people around you will deal. That's what earplugs and headphones are for. Yeah, it stinks. But don't give in to the extra pressure of their expectations. Parent your people well, meet the needs of your family, and don't worry about whether or not others are judging you for your kids volume/meltdown/what-have-you. They may in fact judge, and it's too bad for them. Don't carry that.
On the other hand...
If you know the expectations will stress you out and/or your kids will likely have a meltdown or two, you can head it off by addressing it (before, during, or after) with the people around you- acknowledge that your kids are there, you'll do your best and you're preemptively sorry if they're disruptive. Addressing that elephant in the room may go a long way in taking the pressure off of you and getting your neighbors on your team if things go awry.
What are your travel secrets? Which of the above have you used and love?
Tell is in the comments below!