Traveling With Little Kids
There is a time when even the most home-based of parents need to travel. Okay, home-based presumably means they just want to stay put at home, they don’t like to travel. But wanting to travel is not the only reason why people travel – there are times, perhaps rarely, that they just need to travel for some very important reason.
Of and by itself, traveling for people who don’t like to travel can already be such a hassle. Worse, if the travel entails tugging along little kids. The whole experience becomes “double whammy’ for reluctant travelers.
Okay, the couple may have to attend an important family occasion – say, an 89-year-old grandparent’s birthday celebration, or a sibling’s wedding etc. – and there’s really no one at home to leave the kids with. Or what if the kids themselves are the “stars” of the family occasion in another city, on another island or another country? Traveling with little kids can be as daunting as a trip to the moon, particularly for moms.
Globetrotting parent Erica Weber seems to have very well mastered the ordeal. In an article at www.parents.com, she relates what she had been through in traveling to many countries with her little daughter. For all the moments that tested her sanity, there have also been “some pretty amazing ones to remind us why we do this.”
Weber write: “Our daughter, Nala, was born in South Africa, learned to crawl in Monaco, climbed her first set of stairs in a 13th century castle in Ireland, ate her first solids in the tapas bars of Spain, learned to walk in a rug shop in India, and said her first words in the UK. She’s been carried up 1,000 steps in Petra, Jordan, and 700 steps in Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan.”
Looks like real-life experience should have made her an expert. Well, it sure has. The tips she shares on the website are proof:
1. Be prepared for UFOs.
Unidentifiable Filthy Objects find their way onto a toddler like aliens to Will Smith. Guard against probes and germs by always having sanitizing wipes within easy reach.
2. Don’t vaccinate and fly.
What do diaper blowouts, fevers, and rashes all have in common? They’re all usual side effects of routine vaccinations that you do not want to deal with during a travel day. Book vaccinations no closer than one week to an upcoming travel to avoid any issues.
3. Two words about extra outfits: pack them.
You think extra outfits are only for infants and award show hosts? Wrong. Toddlers find new and creative ways to destroy their clothing every day, so never forget that extra outfit (or two).
4. Master the art of negotiation.
While not paying for your under-two-year-old to fly is great, having to sit with her on your lap is not. Ask every gate agent and flight attendant you meet multiple times if the flight’s full and if they can move people around so your family gets a coveted free open seat. Ugh, I’d flirt with the cleanup crew if I thought they had any influence in the matter!
5. Be a Mobile Mama Medical Unit.
No, it’s not the next “CSI” spin-off, it’s the travel first aid kit you pack regardless of destination that covers the whole family, from hangovers (ahem, I mean “adult headaches”) to feverish children. I always carry two during travel: a small carry-on version with travel-sized essentials like Band-Aids, aspirin, paracetamol, etc., and then a slightly larger version that goes in my check-in bag with non-travel sized medicine bottles.
6. Snacks. Snacks, snacks, snacks... did I mention snacks?
Forget toys, snacks are how you keep a child busy and happy during travel. Fruit, veggie, dry snacks, pouches, biscuits, there’s really no end to the snack rainbow that I can pull out of my carry-on at any given moment.
7. Book a night flight and carry a big scarf.
The combination of a lightweight scarf and an overnight flight is what toddler travel dreams are made of. Use that scarf to block daylight or plane light and book overnight flights whenever possible so they can be tired enough and it be
dark enough to sleep.
8. Pack for pressure.
Water, food, pacifiers, passionate conversations about your interests... use whatever it is that will get your tot’s jaws moving during takeoff and landing to help with ear pressure discomfort.
9. Jump up, jump up, and get down.
Have a mid-flight ants-in-your-toddler’s-pants attack? Don’t hesitate to get up and walk around with him. Sometimes a few minutes in the plane galley or a few trips up and down the aisle is enough to distract, refresh, and avoid an impending meltdown.
Grab that coveted overhead storage space and keep your kid off the plane for a few extra precious minutes. How? Send your spouse with the carry-on luggage ahead of you and wait with your Tasmanian toddler in the gate area to burn off a bit more energy before having to sit down.
If there’s only so much of what you can remember from Ms. Weber’s ideas, it should be this: With enough diapers and snacks you can get anywhere in the world! So don’t stress, pack some cookies, and enjoy your next family travel adventure.
People – parents most especially! – always love to share experiences with their family. And what better concept of family than the little lovely creatures who always want to come along wherever mommy and daddy go.
10. Divide and conquer.