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Let’s face it: Traveling can be challenging enough on its own, but throw in some munchkins and you’ve just significantly upped your travel ante. As a mom to twins and military spouse whose family moved four times in five years (with two of those being overseas moves), I’ve become quite the pro at traveling solo with kiddos at all stages. Here are my top five tips to help make travel with kids a little easier.
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1. Plan ahead. While last-minute travel may have been fun before kiddos, with little ones in tow, you’ll want to plan ahead and anticipate every possible meltdown-causing scenario. Make sure you have a layover long enough to get a bite to eat, go to the bathroom, change diapers and let the kiddos stretch their legs. Trust me, you do not want to be running through the airport trying to make a connecting flight. Also, make sure to select your seats ahead of time to ensure you are seated with your children. You want to avoid having to bribe strangers to switch seats with you because not everyone is willing to do so.
2. Consider the temperature. It may be sunny and warm when you leave home, but the weather where you are going may be significantly colder or vice versa. Think about what it will be like when you land and make sure you are prepared for it. Likewise, it seems airports can either be frigid or just a tad bit too warm. Make sure to dress your little ones in layers and bring a light jacket and small blanket for the flight in case it gets chilly.
3. Provide entertainment. For smaller kids, bring one small “gift” to open per hour of travel (I’m talking matchbox car, Lego mini figures, candy, etc.). These don’t have to be big or expensive things. Just take a trip to the dollar store and load up on some goodies there! For older kids, I would suggest purchasing new apps and new movies right before the trip. You’ll also want to make sure that you have earphones for each child. Trust me on this one!
4. Pack smart. I cannot stress this enough. Make sure to pack an extra change of clothes for your kids and you. Between spills, bathroom accidents, spit up, layovers and lost bags, you’ll be glad you had those extra clothes. Pack them in your carry-on in a plastic bag so you can put the soiled clothes in the bag when you are done.
5. Bring smart supplies. Baby wipes – do NOT forget them. Regardless of the age of your kids, something will need to be wiped off at some point! Also, pack a small first-aid kit with aspirin for you (or a neighbor on the plane), Band-Aids, Dramamine, etc. With infants, you’ll want to pack one diaper per hour of travel plus a few extras. And if you are traveling with car seats, I would suggest getting car seat covers and stuffing extra diapers in with your car seats! Also, if you have little ones, I suggest taking a smaller stroller to check at the gate before your flight.
>> Don’t forget the healthy snacks! Click here to learn how to eat healthy while traveling.
Most importantly, just relax, have fun and remember you aren’t the first person to travel with kids, nor will you be the last. If the people around you can’t understand the challenges of traveling with kids, well, that’s their problem, not yours.