Are you going to be traveling with children / flying with children this summer? How about traveling with a toddler? Well, we just returned from a 10- day trip with our three kids, including our 8-year old daughter and two-year-old twin boy toddlers. For what its worth, I thought I’d share 5 tips on how to travel with a toddler (or two!) without completely losing your mind! As a mom of twins, I figure that I’m either the best or the worst person to give advice on traveling with children. I’m thinking probably the latter. Moms of twins cut corners – it’s a matter of survival, lol.
If you’ve been reading along here lately, you might know we recently flew from Canada to Atlanta so I could attend the Haven 2012 Conference. (To catch up on Haven, check out Life’s an Adventure: Attending Haven 2012 and Haven 2012: Group Therapy for the Decorating-Addicted.)
It took about 12 hours gate to gate, with a connection/plane change in Toronto. Then, when Haven was over, we drove another 8 hours from Atlanta to southern Florida for a ‘family vacation’, which btw, is a total oxymoron ;-). A week later, we flew back home which took another 12 hours gate to gate. So let’s do the math. That’s a total 32 hours trapped in an aluminum tube of some sort with two crazy toddlers.
Yes, we are suckers for punishment.
And, yes, I lived to write this post!
Here’s how we did it:
1. Lower your standards. There’s no way around it. You’re gonna be ‘that parent’. Might as well own it. Fifteen hours of travel is enough to induce an adult tantrum, so your toddler is gonna get cranky. Now is the not the time to ditch their “soo-soo” (nummy) or to start the 3-Day Potty Training Solution! He’s gonna get annoying, and he might open and shut the blind on his window seat 194 times in a row, not that I have any experience with that ;-). So be it. Don’t worry about providing a balanced diet over the next 10 days. If you’re anything like us, your child is going to live on hot dogs, nuggets and Skittles. And, if he eats them off a plate and not the airplane floor, its been a good day. Better if you just accept it now and move on.
2. Make friends with the crew. When traveling with children, the flight crew can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. I like it when they’re our friends. Enemies are no fun at all, especially when your child is kicking the back of the seat in front of him, or refuses to keep his seat belt on during the final approach. (Again, no experience there ;-). ) So here’s my advice: If your toddler is feeling particularly fresh and charming when you check in, have him do his most adorable song and dance for the ticket agent, and then the flight attendant. Pick the child that’s feeling the most social at the moment. The crew will be putty in his hands – and might even pose for a photo or two, like the incredible ‘Miss Dawn’ (see right)!
3. The “Bag of Tricks”.
Before any trip, I head to the dollar store and create a “bag of tricks” for each of our kids. Basically, it’s just a bag of new little things to keep them busy. (Kids find anything new to be fascinating don’t they?!?) Stuff it with things like crayons, dinkies, trains, plastic animals and stickers. LOTS and lots of stickers. You can kill an entire hour of flight with a pack of dollar store stickers, I kid you not. Don’t fuss over where the stickers get stuck – stuffed monsters, the in-flight safety manual, and mommy’s hands are all fair game. Also, be sure to pack a set of child-safe earphones for each child so you can avail of the in-flight TV. (Don’t expect them to share – trust me, they won’t.) Pack the old-school kind – you know, the ones that cover their ears. Have you ever tried to keep the airline’s earbuds in a 2-year old’s ear? Not fun. Oh, and throw in a straw or two…unless, of course, you would like to wear your child’s drink on your pants all day.
4. Let them dance. Anywhere the mood strikes.
A 2-year old sitting in the same spot for 3.5 hours = monster alien beast. So don’t miss any opportunity for them to burn off their boundless energy. Let them hold your hand and run with you to catch your connection, rather than strapping them in a stroller. (Unless of course, they run like a snail, lol). And, if the mood strikes them, let them dance to Nicki Minaj’s Starships right in the middle of the busy airport restaurant. (Quick refresher from above: “Lower your Standards” lol)
5. Just breathe.
When it seems like it can’t get any worse, trust me, it will. You will snap at your spouse when they don’t deserve it, but don’t worry, eventually you’ll be on the receiving end too. But just take a deep breath, and remember why you took them on this trip in the first place: smiles!
Until next time,
P.S. Here’s what our 2-year olds’ bag of tricks included:
- Crayons, paper, and a new coloring book
- A book of 500 stickers
- Mini dinkies and trains
- A new chunky Toy Story book
- Child-safe earphones
- A lollipop
- Apple sauce (squeeze package) – see, we do feed our kids healthy stuff!
- Hand sanitizer
- Note: Our 8-year old brought her Nintendo DSi, two new books, and a fashion sketch book. She was awesome!