Traveling with Toddlers
I have traveled a LOT with my kids…
and by myself.
Lots of airplane trips.
So I may not be an out and out expert but…
I do believe if this were an Olympic sport…
I would at least get the Silver.
So I am going to offer some advice…
which I hope will be valuable with upcoming holiday travel.
First, if you are not in good shape or faint of heart…
I think you consider just visiting neighbors and skyping with far away family and friends…
traveling with children is for those with much stamina (and perhaps a little dementia).
And when someone tells you to just relax and enjoy the kids on the plane…
(while they are ripping out the seat cushion and hurling it at the flight attendant)…
I know you are gonna want to hit them.
we DO need to relax…
but it’s so hard…
Switch seats with them for 3 minutes…
they won’t say it again.
For me finding a competent sitter is probably the most critical for my trips. I have tried a couple of avenues:
1) ask your friends/co-workers. I work for a large technology company. If I know I am going to travel with the kids, I will ask some of my co-workers in that area for references. Sometimes they will have a nanny to share or have used one in the past. This has worked very well for me. And it is a HUGE load off of me to know they have been used by a trusted friend/colleague.
2) Sitting services. There are lots. Some have a referral fee as well as a fee for the sitter. That said, they will have done the background checks and can provide references. I personally have used Care.com quite a bit. I have found their sitters to be quite good. They charge a monthly fee or you can do quarterly or annually. If you are going to be using them with any frequency, the rates are much better for at least a 3 month period. These guys have done the background checks; the sitters will also provide references.
I hear that sittercity.com is also very good with offerings similar to that of Care.com
If I am traveling for more than 4 days, I will typically mail a box of key items. I mail it directly to the hotel in my name as guest and ensure its arrival before my date of arrival.
It has been a real lifesaver. I put things in the box that I will need the first night. You can always go to the store the next day but…
if you are traveling with kids it will make your arrival a lot easier.
For me I just wanted to know that I could get through the night with the kids and food/toys. This way you will have occupied kids and happy tummies…
and it won’t cost $38.00 for oatmeal and two bananas.
Some items I suggest to mail ahead:
- Medicine (tylenol, delsym — whatever you may need)
- individual applesauces and mandarin oranges (or some type of fruit)
- 6 pack of juice boxes
- plastic plates or paper plates
- Take and Toss kids’ silverware
- Take and Toss sippy mugs
- you can just throw this take and toss stuff away when you are done (or recycle preferably)
- Stacking or nesting blocks
- not the whole set — just a few. They are light and stack nicely for packing.
- Mini playdoh’s
- color books/crayons
- Magnetic fun sets – my kids love these — small and compact
- Travel peanut butters and instant oatmeal
- microwave popcorn
- Gertie balls – they deflate for packing. All you need is a straw to inflate them – http://www.kazootoys.com/gertie-original-ball.html
- individual cereals — these are great for snacks or a quick breakfast
At the Airport
The Trunki is very cool. You can put a bunch of stuff in this (kids’ toys, DVD players etc). And they ride on it in the airport. Sweet! It has a leash so you can pull them or they can if they want to help out. Then the leash can hook on both sides to act as a strap for Mom to carry.http://www.fatbraintoys.com/toy_companies/melissa_doug/trunki_blue.cfm?source=google&kwid=Trunki&gclid=CKCjxJbMpKUCFQLOKgodrnFujg
Ride On Carry On
This thing is awesome! It hold us to 40 pounds. You can tote your kid all over the airport on this thing. The headrest doubles as a tray for eating. I have also used this in hotels for the kids to eat on. Even hotel suites with tables are usually too high for the kids. This is perfect.
If you do get this, be prepared to meet a lot of people. I get stopped every time I travel with it at least 6 or 8 times.
Kid’s Leash — who cares if people look at you. Seriously these are cute and effective. Kids move so quickly and there are SO many people in the airport. It’s just smart. Get one!
I suggest you women wear pants.
Don’t try a skirt.
Even if it is a long one.
If the moving sidewalk abruptly stops moving and your shin length skirt flies up over your head…
you will make lots of friends…
only not the kind you want.
I made quite the impression in Charlotte Douglas Airport.
Men same thing for you…
for so many reasons.
For the little ones on airplane trips under 3 hours, I brought at least 2 sets of clothes.
I suggest rolling each outfit together and rubberbanding them together — so you just grab one when you need it.
Bring yourself at least one extra top in case they spill juice or hurl on you…
(sorry… it happens)
Maybe a pair of comfy black yoga pants too.
Honestly it would really suck if they knock your coffee on your pants 30 minutes in to the flight ….
and you have nothing in which to change.
Travel High Chair
This is a great thing for traveling or even to have for visiting friends. It’s a strap on kind of high chair. Sounds weird but… it’s ultra portable.
Good for hotel rooms, visiting your parents or friends (if they don’t have their own high chair — here ya go!)
And… you can just throw it in the washer. Fantastic!
If you are staying in a hotel for a while, I suggest a suite set up. I personally like the Embassy Suites. I like the room configuration (with kitchenette and separate bedroom).
They are predictable…
do a decent breakfast…
and have an evening reception if you want snacks or even an adult beverage. HALLELUJAH!
On the Plane
On the plane, try to sit by a Grandma type. They are the best; they will try to help you out…
Be afraid if you sit by a business man in a Zegna suit…
he is gonna get pissy.
And honestly if someone asks you if they can help (like walk the baby or even just hold them) LET THEM.
where are they going to go…
you are all trapped in a airplane…
be thankful for the break.
Blanket/Jacket — I really love these.
I like them because you don’t have to bring a coat and blanket — this does both. We use ours ALL THE TIME. You can throw them on in a stroller, wagon, at a ballgame, etc. Sometimes it is just not worth the fight in the morning to get coats on – this stops it. You can just put them right in the carseat -never even have to take it off. EXCELLENT.
If you have a long layover or get stuck in the airport for any time, it is TOTALLY worth it to pay for a day membership to the Red Carpet Club (or Admirals Club etc.) — that is provided you don’t already have a membership.
Most of the time it is 50.00 for the day pass.
They will help you with your seats and reservations.
They generally let your kids in with you for no fee.
They have food and drinks for you all.
There is more room for stretching and relaxing…
and they bathrooms are not so skanky.
I generally bring several toys for the under 5 toddler. I find they help a great deal to pass the time (and keep you from getting booted):
These are great. You can put them on the seat tray.
Don’t think for one minute they are wiping them all down after every flight.
That is just not happening.
Also you can use these at the hotel restaurant or in the hotel room.
I put them down on the hotel coffee table so the kids can use playdoh.
DVD player with kid’s headseat (which target sells in pink)
DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THIS AND THE DVD’S. THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY.
- Bendaroos or Wikistix– those bendy sticky things — they can make stuff out of them and they are small.
- Mini playdoh and/or silly putty
- small little blocks
- Color Wonder – http://www.crayolastore.com/product_detail.asp?T1=CRA+75-2143
- These are great. They are markers but they only write on this paper. Several types at Target.
- Blue masking tape…
- CALM DOWN… I am not putting it on their mouths.
- It’s fun for them to play with and won’t hurt anything. They can make tape balls, make shapes on their seat tray, etc.
Snacks – LOTS OF THEM
- pringles potato chips - individuals
- instant oatmeal
- cheese string (I freeze it the night before and take it out when we leave)
- cereal (put it in a bowl with a spoon and slapa lid on it — all you need is milk)
- gummy bears (the chewing helps with the ears)
- PEZ or Smarties candy (it takes a while to eat and keeps them busy)
- Lunchables (all in one snack — kids love them)
- Dum Dum suckers
these are some things and ideas that work for me. Hopefully you will find them helpful too. I would love to hear other ideas to make traveling with kiddos more fun.
I wish you safe and stressfree travels.
the flight can only last so long…
they will eventually have to land and refuel. :-)