TRAVELING WITH KIDS
The NEW article below is specifically speaking to traveling with kids domestically. HERE is a more detailed post packed with information around traveling with your baby internationally or for longer flights.
I remember how nervous I was the first time we took Charlie on a flight at five months old. It was an overnight flight to Ireland and I was most worried about the pressure affecting him. What if I had a baby that was screaming the entire flight and there was nothing I could do? I soon realized planning and having the right tools in place is all you can really do and there is no reason to worry about something that is pretty much out of your control to a certain extent. Think about all the parents that have traveled before you and survived….I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s hope!
Parenting: Something I think that is important is that if you have two kids each parent is responsible for one. Figure it out before you go away but traveling this way was much easier for us. Ray and I did this until halfway through the flight and then we switched. Figuring out ways to keep cool and keep your husband cool can sometimes be half the battle. Flying with kids will probably be stressful at times. That being said, mentally prepare for the stress. Kids feed off of our energy so half the battle is keeping as cool as possible. Being on the same exact page as parents can help avoid any unnecessary tension. Come up with a plan TOGETHER.
I covered so much around planning in the older blog post I linked above, but one thing I don’t think I mentioned is how important airlines are when traveling with kids. I recently traveled on a United flight from LA to NYC and I was alone and felt extremely claustrophobic. I don’t know what I would have done with kids. There was hardly any room. When we took our Jetblue flight from NYC to Florida with the kids, we had a ton of space. Makes all the difference. Maybe it was just as much to do with airplane model but it’s something to consider.
Suitcase: I try and pack as little as possible when flying with kids. If there is a washer and dryer where we are going I will pack two outfits a day for three days and then wash anything that needs to be worn again. I’ll also pack a “blow out” outfit for my diaper bag. I gravitate towards jumpers or one-piece outfits that are easy to throw on the kids. I love the top and bottom matching bathing suits for boys because they can wear them around as outfits as well as pre-beach or pool. I also love the Natives. They are the only shoes I need to bring on vacation for both of the boys. I like having as few checked bags as possible so instead of each of us having a suitcase I pack one large suitcase for both boys and myself. I get one side and the boys get the other. All of our clothes and toiletries go in these suitcases. With all of our baby gear sharing a suitcase is great, it’s one less thing I need to worry about keeping track of. I will do this as long as possible. I can’t imagine keeping track of a small suitcase for each child even when they are older.
Stroller bag: Always check with your airline but most let you check a stroller bag free of charge with no weight limit. I use the XL Dockatot bag, (this bag is worth it) and I stuff it with the boys Dockatot and everything they need to sleep. Blankets, swaddle, stuffed animals, noise maker, extra diapers, all the last minute things I need to pack…..the extra pair of shoes I definitely didn’t need :) I also put any carriers and feeding gear in this bag. Even our foldable highchair can go in here. I don’t ever travel with a big stroller so instead of throwing it in the designated stroller bag I gate check it or bring it on the plane and store it in the overhead compartment. I’ve only had one person question the stroller not being in the “stroller bag”. In that case, it’s $30 to check but still worth it.
Carseat bag: I use the $5 red gate check bags you can grab on Amazon for our car seat. We rent as much gear as we can where we are going if it makes sense. If there are any heavy items I throw them in this bag. I taped the slumber pods to the inside on our car seat during our recent trip to Florida. It worked out perfectly as they would have added too much weight to our luggage. Some people like to bring a car seat on board. I’ve heard it can be a great idea for very active toddlers during long flights. There’s this new travel car seat I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY: find it, HERE. You can also throw extra diapers in this bag as well. I prefer to buy diapers when we arrive at our destination.
Carry on bag: I learned the hard way that I really prefer a big bag that has a zipper. That way things are not falling out of your overstuffed bag. Also, put everyone's tickets and IDs in one pocket. In-flight entertainment is the most important. Here is a list of things we brought for Charlie 2.5 and ford 11 months..they didn’t see any of this until we were in the air:
-Paw Patrol headphones
-Many many paw patrol stickers
-i-pad in a rubber/plastic case that sits up. We downloaded many Paw Patrol episodes the night prior to our trip
-Kids water bottle
-Paw patrol coloring book
-A few toys for Ford
-Noise canceling headphones for the baby
Other things in my diaper bag:
-Many of the kid's favorite snacks or things that take a while to eat like bagels
-Wipes & 5 diapers
-Extra pair of clothes for both kids
-Xantex for us …haha j/k
TWO THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW:
1) Formula, breast milk, juice, baby food, and liquid medications in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces are exempt to the 3-1-1 liquids rule! When it comes to baby bottles and sippy cups you are in the clear. Just make sure to remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. Before the TSA worker inspects your milk make sure they change their gloves.
2) Things you can keep on: Children age 12 and under can keep their shoes on while going through security. You can also keep your baby carrier on with a baby inside as long as it doesn’t have a metal ring.
PRE-CHECK/GLOBAL ENTRY: Do your self a favor and get your kids registered if you are traveling internationally. They will have to do an in-person interview just like you need to do one as an adult. For domestic travel, kids under 12 do not need to register to be able to go through TSA pre-check with you.
OUR SET UP: We had our Babyzen travel stroller which I had Charlie sit in (best stroller ever), I wore Ford in our Artipoppe baby carrier (we have the cheapest one, which is still expensive but doubles as a wrap and carrier because it’s so soft and light. Only negative is you can’t face the baby out) and I had one big bag with the kid's items which Ray held. I told Ray that even though his bag was small to check it. LESS IS BEST. Also, a great tip is not to put any loose items under your stroller or in any stroller pockets when in the airport. Keep everything in one bag. It ends up being a huge hassle when closing the stroller.
When we had one baby, I would bring our stroller and store it in the overhead compartment. The flight attendants might stop you and say you have to gate check it but that’s not the case. It fits in the overhead compartments even on the small planes. This stroller was expensive so I like keeping it close by :) Now that we have two kids, I really stick with the LESS IS BEST rule and gate check it.
TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH BREASTMILK
1) Make sure you stay super hydrated while traveling.
2) If you will have to carry a very large quantity of milk through the airport I highly recommend looking into Milk Stork, HERE They will ship your milk home from anywhere in the US.
3) You can carry on breastmilk and freezer packs. This will be checked by a TSA officer. I froze my milk and put it in a soft cooler with ice packs and it held up fine for a short flight. I threw it all in a backpack.
4) Checking the milk could be easier but I think I would be too nervous something might happen to it after all of that hard work. I personally would rather carry in a backpack. Just remember to proactively tell a TSA officer during screening.
5) I had two plastic bags. Bag for clean pump products and a bag for used pump products) Bring a little soap in a small container and wash parts on the go. They also make small sanitizing bags you throw in the microwave which is also great for travel.
I’ve never traveled with a pack n’ play. When the kids are in the pre-crawling stage I use a Dockatot. You can place it anywhere. It’s the best on the go sleeping tool. Now that Charlie and Ford need a confined place to sleep I always rent gear. I’ve never had a problem finding rentals and it is usually pretty cheap and easy. Other items I’ve rented….car seats, walkers, mini bouncers, and highchairs.
We had a seat for Charlie as you need to purchase one for kids two years and older. It was really nice having an entire row for our family. I put Charlie in the window seat and set him up with Paw Patrol. We downloaded episodes and it actually held his attention for most of the flight, that and the snacks and stickers. ALL lifesavers.
I sat in the middle and Ray sat on the end and we both shared Ford. We kept Ford occupied with toys and food. We did have one really stinky diaper and I honestly wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I ended up changing Charlie while he was standing on the toilet seat cover in the tiny bathroom. I took a poll on Instagram and some people said it was socially acceptable to change them on the seats and other people said NO WAY. I think it’s fine for a wet diaper but I felt most comfortable changing the baby in the bathroom.
LET’S TALK ANXIETY: I received many questions around what to do to ease your mom anxiety while your kids are acting up on the plane. Honestly, I think in my head prior to traveling that I hope for the best but meltdowns are very possible and I actively imagine myself keeping my cool. I also remember that even though this seems like hell not to get too embarrassed. Most people on the plane were children, have children, had children at some point or have extended family that are children. They know you are not trying to disrupt the plane. Once in a while, you might get a rude person but most of us have been there. Remember that.
JETKIDS BY STOKEE
We tested out the JetKids Bedbox on our recent trip to Florida. I knew I wanted to try it out the moment I saw it!. It’s a small carry on suitcase for kids that doubles as a fun object to ride through the airport and it turns any airplane seat into a bed. I think it’s such a wonderful idea, especially for long trips. Though we loved ours I think one thing I would point out is it does add one extra carry on bag to your luggage. Though it is approved for kids age 2+, I would recommend it to families with kids age 4+ OR at whatever point your kids can be responsible for pulling their own suitcase through the airport. Definitely check out the website, HERE.
This is another very innovative product. It’s a very user-friendly travel tent that pops up over cribs and pack n plays. It’s great for travel when you need more privacy for your baby. We can not share rooms with our kids because they won’t sleep so this is a perfect baby product for situations when your kids need to sleep in the same room or you have to sleep in the same room with your kids. Set up and take down was super easy and it really does create the perfect sleep environment. It’s very dark and we put our noisemaker right under the bottom. We set it up before the kids went into the tent. My only recommendation is to use it at home a few times before you travel so you kids can get familiar with the product and get them excited about it. We will be using these all summer. A mom I know just used two on her vacation and gave very positive feedback. You can check out their website, HERE.