We know from experience that taking the little ones over the river and through the woods, can be every bit as daunting as navigating the parking lot at school. (We don’t know what it’s like at your school, but ours has brought more than one good parent to tears.) We can’t help with the school parking lot, but luckily, we have some travel tips that should make your holidays go a lot smoother.
1. Whenever you can, make sure to build extra time into your schedule. We all know trying to rush a kid is like trying to stop a new mom from jealously eyeing someone’s flat stomach – it’s not going to happen. So, do everyone a favor and work extra time into your schedule.
2. If you are flying, take extra care when you pack your carry-on. Of course, bring extra diapers, wipes (lots of extra wipes, really good for sticky fingers, and any mess kids can make when the seat belt sign is on), and a change of clothes for the kiddo. But, you will also want to make room in your carry-on for an extra set of clothes for yourself. You can pretty much guarantee your little one will either spill juice on you (best case scenario) or wet their pants while they are sitting on your lap. Can you imagine if this happened on a cross-country flight and you had to sit in wet clothes for 4 hours?! It happened to a Sitter mom.
3. It’s always tempting to try and bring everything your child loves from home. However, don’t overpack – trust us, it is easier to travel with less. If you get to your destination and find out that your child absolutely can’t survive a week with out his/her bumbo chair, you can go out and get a new one. However, the favorite lovie definitely needs a spot!
4. One of the hardest things to do when you are traveling with kids is to keep them entertained. We would love to say that we have hundreds of amazing activities that will keep your kids entertained for hours, but we are into reality here at Sitter! If your travel experiences are anything like ours, by the time we get the car parked, checked in, and through the airport, we are exhausted and our patience is pretty slim. We pull out the books, we try and be that awesome creative family that puts together a travel journal, we have the surprise bags that all the travel blogs recommend, then we finally resort to iPhone apps. This is about the time the plane is ready to pull away from the gate..… The rest of the flight, we give in and the kids watch episode after episode of Dora The Explorer. Download a couple of new apps before heading out on the trip. And, make sure to download your video library from the cloud onto your device. Nothing worse than getting onto the plane and realizing that you can’t access The Incredibles from your Amazon Video account because it’s on the cloud.
5. A big “DON’T” when traveling with kids, don’t bring wind up toys. Wind up toys make awful inflight entertainment. Basically, anything that makes a “tick tick tick” noise is not a great idea on a plane. Wind up that toy and watch everyone around you look around in panic and nervously reach for their call button before they realize oh, its just that family with a kid and a wind up toy.
6. No matter how often you feed them, kids need to eat again! Seriously, its like you just finish feeding them and they are already eyeing the next meal. Pack as many snacks as you can possibly fit in your bag. Goldfish, granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, graham crackers, and an emergency stash of cookies or gummy bears for the most desperate times. Ideally, we recommend avoiding sweets when traveling -tired kids in a new location = “Welcome to Meltdown City” where the local time is never close enough to bed/nap time. However, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and there is nothing that shuts a screaming toddler up faster than a cookie.
7. If you have a runner, you might want to brand them with your phone number. You can buy ID bracelets for this – but a Sharpie is a lot less expensive!
8. If you happen to be an avid traveler with one of the parents achieving premium status on the airlines, take the free drink tickets they send you in the mail. If things get rough, hand the drink tickets out to everyone around you. If you don’t have free drink tickets and the kid’s gone super sonic, offer to buy the person next to you a drink. Most of the time, they don’t take you up on it, but simply the gesture will ease the tension.
9. Always pack a water bottle. Make sure it’s empty before you get through security. Fill it before you get on the plane… then spike it. Not with vodka, but with Rescue Remedy. If you haven’t tried Rescue Remedy yet, it is an all-natural herbal stress relief remedy. It works wonders on kids and adults. It’s completely safe – it just provides a nice calming effect that takes the edge off.
10. Two things that take up no room in the bag but should be on everyone’s packing list: patience and humor. With patience and humor, you’ll get to your destination in one piece. And, remember: the secret to a great vacation with kids is stitches, a thief, and a ham and cheese.
Happy travels to all you parents out there – you got this one! Now, we’ll leave you with one of our favorite quotes:
“Whenever I travel I always forget something, I forget how much I dislike traveling with kids.” – Jim Gaffigan