Monday, May 25, 2015

5 Tips for Traveling with Young Kids Part 1

I sat down to nurse the baby to sleep and thought I'd check out this new show. You guys. I'm terrified, in a good way, and can't wait to see what happens next! I've been an M. Night Shyamalan fan for a while and am really intrigued by this show (but having only seen the first 2 episodes I can't say I recommend it and all that). Needless to say the time I intended to use for writing after the baby went down for his nap was spent binge watching the first 2 episodes (well, 1.25, as it takes twice as long to load anything and because shows or movies constantly start and stop-our internet dumb). Plus, the baby is on a sleep strike, preferring to be held at all times, and so I just had to keep sitting there watching TV.

I just read this blog and had a good giggle.

This article really resonated with me (any other Oregon Trail generationers out there?!). I've always felt like I didn't quite fit in with Generation X or the Millennials but couldn't quite decide why.

I'm always looking for tips and advice that will help make travel with kids a little easier. I'm talking about intense, long distance airplane travel here, not a short road trip (although I'm sure these ideas can apply). I can easily find list after list of toys to pack, activities to bring, or tips for smooth airport and airplane transitions. After traveling with my kids a little bit, here are my top 5 things to know about going the distance with little ones.

1) You can't prepare for everything. You can be as prepared as possible, armed with new or favorite activities, spare changes of clothes, fully charged iPads, and lots of snacks, but there are so many variables and things are always subject to change. In my experience, not one flight has gone according to plan and every single time we've travelled has been completely different. No matter how much planning has gone into a trip there are many many things I simply can't control. I cannot be prepared for every contingency but things usually work out. A 3 hour plane ride could feel like a hellish never ending flight (especially if a certain lovey has been lost en route to the check-in counter-ALWAYS have a spare!), or a 6 hour train ride could be delightful tolerable depending on how tired and well fed my children are. I've been on flights where I had very minimal activities or toys, and flights where I had an entire carry-on dedicated specifically to carefully assembled pintrest worthy activities. I can't say which was easier or better, they were just different experiences.

2) Flexibility. Go with the flow. Things are always subject to change: Flights could be delayed for hours, luggage could be lost, all changes of clothes could be vomited upon, security lines could be longer than expected, etcetera etcetera. When I graduated from high school, my dad took me with him on a business trip to England and we also got to visit our ancestral home (is that a thing?), Scotland. Our mantra during the trip was, "Whatcha gonna do?" because of several unanticipated situations. This is a harder attitude to live by when you have little kids who thrive on routine and eating at regular, 17 minute intervals, but it helps to understand that this is part of the travel thing and just go with it. One way or the other, things work out. It may not look the way you want it to or it might take longer than you'd like, but you'll get there eventually. As they say, its about the journey, not the destination...right? I'm not sure "they" had little kids, but they do have a valid point.

3) Anything goes. When flying, my kids can get away with almost anything in order to keep them happy and quiet. They want lollipops for dinner? Done. Endless reruns of the same Sophia the First episode? You got it, kiddo. Rules and routines fly out the window and its all about minimizing crying and meltdowns. Now I know that everyone is different and just because this is my philosophy doesn't mean it will float everyone's boat. And it also doesn't mean that we don't have meltdowns on the plane, because it seems like somebody is always crying around here. I think that has to do with the ages and developmental stages of my kids (for example, from the time they start walking until about 2 1/2 they want to be moving and exploring constantly), although I've discovered that a stash of lollipops "for emergency purposes only" seems to assuage many a nuclear meltdown.

4) Eat whenever you can. I've learned this hard way, from being stuck on a plane sitting on the runway in the line up for several hours with 2 hungry and bored toddlers, to a 4 hour flight delay waiting for a flight that didn't end up serving food. Keep those kiddos fed with real food whenever possible and save your snack stash for when you really need it. When traveling internationally you may have less options for food and you just don't know what will be available on the plane or if your kids will actually eat it.

5) You CAN still travel with little kids. It can be done, don't let it intimidate you! Okay, traveling with my 3 mini-macs totally intimidates me. But it doesn't (always) stop me. Do I travel as much now as before I had kids? No. Do I hope to be able to travel more frequently when they're older? Yes. But! You can still do it and make some great memories while you're at it. Its not realistic to think that we can see as much or do the kind of activities we're used to doing, but we've still been able to make it work. Know that traveling with little kids is just that, its travel, not vacation. It could potentially and very likely will be more work than if you had stayed home, but it will probably be well worth it. I have amazing memories from a very early age of traveling around with my family, something I hope to be able to give to my kids too.

Tune in next time for some more practical tips on what to pack and to hear how we travel light with a family of 5.

What are your favorite travel tips and tricks? Have a funny travel story to share?


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