Tips for Your Trips
To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live. -Hans Christian Andersen
Ah, travel.... it opens our eyes to different cultures, reminds us of our insignificance in a vast and teeming population, and allows us to escape the stress and daily obligations of our ordinary lives, if only for a short time. But just like every other part of a mother’s life, children are the catalyst that, for better or for worse, inevitably changes the travel experience. Traveling can seem a whole lot less appealing and romantic when you add to the mix a tired, frightened, and overstimulated toddler.
A few weeks ago, we embarked on our first airplane trip since having our son. He is 20 months old, extremely energetic, independent, always on the move, and not easily swayed once his mind is made up (you could say strong-willed. I don’t know where he gets that!) Needless to say, the prospect of taking him on an 8-hour trip in a cramped and foreign environment filled with strangers brought a cold sweat to my brow. In the weeks leading up to our trip I collected all the travel tips I could find, prepared to the utmost of my ability, and hoped for the best. And I am happy to report that everything went better than I could have hoped for. As I said before, this was our first time flying with our son, so I do not pretend to be a travel guru or have all the answers, but I’ll share what I learned, and maybe it can help someone else.
Our trip was an extended one, so we took our son’s car seat along. Originally, we planned to check the seat, but a family member recommended we take it on the plane with us, and it wound up being the best idea. He is used to being confined in his seat and sleeps well in it, and as he was far too big for a bassinet, it was the best solution for sleeping. It was rather unwieldy to get through the airport and onto the plane, but it was worth it to have it for the long overnight flight.
Gate check the stroller. A friend clued me in to this fantastic option which allows you to keep your stroller with you up until the second you board the plane. Just make sure you get it tagged at the gate before boarding, then you can leave it at the end of the jetway and someone will make sure it gets on the plane. Not only did it save us from having to carry our child the whole way to our gate, but we also stuffed the storage basket underneath with our backpack, laptop bag, and jackets (until we boarded, that is.)
If your ticket includes a checked bag, I would recommend doing what we did and not bringing any carryons (beside our backpacks). It's one less thing you need to drag to your gate. Even if you need to pay for a check bag, I would venture to say it’s worth the extra money just for less hassle.
Have you heard of melatonin gummies? I’m not a scientist, but at the most elementary level, melatonin is the hormone our bodies make to help us fall asleep. And thanks to some genius somewhere, we can now take this in pill form, or gummy form for small kids, for those occasions when relaxing and falling asleep is more of a challenge than normal. (Note: It’s not recommended to take on a regular basis.) Our son happily and unwittingly devoured the proffered gummy about an hour before boarding the plane, and by the time we were taking off, he was out. Thanks to these gummies, he was sleeping through both takeoff and landing.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, just a few of the things that I found the most helpful. Besides this, there is the obvious: have lots of snacks, water, and of course toys/entertainment, especially if you don’t have an overnight flight like we did. Double and triple check to make sure you have the essentials like pacifiers, favorite blankies and lovies, etc.! Lastly, be prepared for any scenario and try not to stress if your kids act terribly. You wouldn’t be the first parent, and most people are pretty understanding of little kids. I wish you all the best for your summer adventures. Happy travels!
Author: Chelsey Weiler