It’s been a YOLO type of year when it comes to traveling for The Bailey Bunch! Since last July we have made the following trips…
- Boston Massachusetts (flight with kids)
- Manchester, Vermont (drive with kids from Boston)
- St. Louis, Missouri (drive with kids + dog from Nashville)
- San Antonio, Texas (drive with kids + dog from Nashville)
- Tel Aviv, Israel (flight with no kids from Nashville)
- Petra, Jordan (bus trip with no kids from Tel Aviv)
- Louisville, Kentucky (drive with kids from Nashville)
- Columbus, Ohio (drive with kids from Louisville)
- Atlanta, Georgia (drive with kids from Nashville)
- Hallstatt, Austria (flight with kids from Atlanta)
- Prague, Czech Republic (drive with kids from Hallstatt)
- Vienna, Austria (drive with kids from Prague)
- Budapest, Hungary (train ride with kids from Vienna)
- Bratislava, Slovakia (train ride with kids from Vienna)
- Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (flight with no kids from Nashville)
- Phoenix, Arizona (flight with kids from Nashville)
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (drive with kids + dog and no hubby from Nashville)
Each of these trips have had moments that haven’t been pretty – they are inevitable with kids! Tough stuff aside, I’m becoming a bit of a self-proclaimed pro at this whole traveling with toddlers thing 😉 I’ve have a lot of friends tell me they don’t know how I do it, so today on the blog, I wanted to share some tips on how to survive a drive, fight a flight and keep sane on a train 😉
SURVIVE A DRIVE
Drives with kids can be long – all extra stops aside! It is however the one way to travel that allows you to go at your own speed and on your own schedule. Plus you have the added perk of packing extra stuff to keep your kids happy 🙂 With no chance of anybody else being affected by a meltdown, I find driving a great way to travel with kids – especially when I follow my own advice listed below!
- Keep Time in Mind – My husband and I make it a point to drive through times that we know our kids usually sleep. While hitting the road first thing in the morning after everyone is well rested is ideal, it’s just not for this phase of life with little ones. We now opt to leave at nap or bed time to assure our kids will sleep for a good portion of the travels 🙂
- Supply Sleep Aids – Be sure to pack your child a blanket and their favorite sleep buddy if they have one. If your child is on the bottle, offer milk. If you have a paci sucker, have several on hand and attach one to the carseat to assure it cant be lost. Have a lullaby CD on hand or download one to your phone (If you haven’t discovered ROCKABYE BABY! yet, go ahead and make the splurge! Your favorite rock bands songs turned into lullaby’s – brilliant! I personally love the Dave Matthews Band and The Beetles 🙂 Pack Melatonin – I found a gummy version that is peach flavored…my kids think it’s a car treat candy!
- Toys! Toys! Toys! – I always keep toys in the car that are within arms reach for the kids, but I add a few more for long car trips. I love to have board books on hand that have touch and feel features or flaps to lift. Magic slate toys are great to have so kids can draw, erase, and draw again. I keep an electronic learning toy by each kid – I try to choose two that both can find entertainment in. Magnetic puzzles are another great option as all the pieces keep contained 😉 I usually hold out on a few of the toys, keeping them on the top of my bag. Pop Toobs are always a hit – as are my favorite toy ever, Melissa & Doug Water Wow Pads!
- Chat – Car rides are the perfect time to talk to your kids! We ask our kids the colors of the cars passing by us and what they see outside, we encourage them to make animal noises, or even point to their different body parts. Sometimes I’ll ask my son to tell me about a specific story we read (The Gingerbread Man or 3 Little Pigs for example…) Kiddos are way more observant than we are, I like to try to see the world through my kids eyes because I tend to miss so much as I get older!
- Children’s CD – So this could sound annoying, but I kid you not, the Sing-Along Favorites CD is actually good! It has all the best classic kids songs that we all grew up with, but are set to current sounding music which doesn’t make it so bad to listen to. Our kids love it and we don’t mind it so much either 🙂
- Electronics Are a Plus – I always hold out on our electronics such as the iPhone or iPad as long as I possibly can! A lot of Apps need internet, and when you can’t connect, it’s a recipe for a tantrum! We’ve recently discovered that charging up our old phones and deleting all of the Internet Apps from them has worked really well for us! We’ve downloaded some of our kids favorite movies to these devices so they can watch them which has been really helpful and allows us to keep our phones in case of an emergency – and in my case, for the GPS!
- Snacks and Treats – I always said I would be a mom who wouldn’t let her kids eat in the car – HA! Oh the unrealistic goals we set for ourselves before having kids! It takes having kids to realize that food can most definitely keep kids happy and quiet in the car! I love the Munchkin Snack Catcher Cups – I feel like these not only keep snacks secure, but also almost perform as a puzzle toy with the reward being the snack 🙂 I’ve also found that lollypops are a fantastic treat to have on hand. They last awhile, and as long as your child is old enough, don’t make too big of a mess 😉
- Hydration 101 – It’s important to keep your kids hydrated always, and a road trip should be no exception! Though bathroom stops aren’t convenient, they are a must, so keep giving those babies water! We recently discovered the Klean Kanteen and love this product! I’ve had these water bottles spend blazing hot days locked in the car, and they are always refreshingly cold after! Best news yet, we’ve not had any leaking or mold problems! Oh, and our kids approve of them too!
- Overnight Bag – So this is one I always seem to learn the hard way. I almost always forget to pack an overnight bag! With the unpredictability of kids, weather and traffic, anything can happen! I’ve learned you should always have easy access to a bag you can grab and have everything you could possibly need for a night. I can’t decide what is worse, lugging everything you packed in for a night, or digging through packed suitcases for the few things you need…either way, both can be avoided with an overnight bag!
FIGHT A FLIGHT
Flights with kids are tough! There is nothing relaxing or enjoyable about them! However, they are the quickest form of travel. Parents need to go into flights prepared with their parenting A-game, and some FUN ammunition doesn’t hurt either 🙂
- Prepare Yourself – Know that flying with kids will be NOTHING like flying without kids! This isn’t going to be a flight where you can get some work done or finish the book you’ve been reading. Instead, you need to look at this flight as bonding time with your child. It could very well be some of the most miserable bonding time you have with your child all year, but think of it as bonding time none the less!
- Check Your Pride With Your Bags – There is nothing like a bad flight with your child to make you feel like the worlds worst parent. Seriously, I’ve been there, on Mother’s Day no less! Don’t let the judgement or looks from others break you! If your child cries the entire flight, have peace knowing they aren’t the first one, and they most certainly won’t be the last one! Dress yourself in your most comfortable yoga pants and your best “I don’t care what you think” attitude because Mama, you may very well need it! And remember, YOU ARE A GREAT MOM! You are taking your child on an airplane for goodness sake! Let the adventure begin!
- Don’t Let Them See Your Fear – Our children feed off of us. If you have a fear of flying, don’t let your kiddos know it or see it. This goes for meltdowns too…If you keep calm, there is a greater chance they will calm down. Treat your flight as a fun adventure, even if you are stressed out or scared to death!
- Use A “Bad” Baby To Your Advantage – Confession: I don’t do all I can do to keep my kiddos calm during an open seating boarding process. Sorry, not sorry! Nobody really wants to sit next to kids, let alone crying kids (yes, even you, but YOU have to!) I totally use this to my advantage on non-full flights and it’s often gotten my lap-child a middle seat! And you know what?! I don’t feel bad about that because really, who wants to sit next to a child while in the middle seat?! You’re more doing everyone else a favor! You’re welcome fellow flyers!
- Pack Strategically – You can’t bring everything with you…but you can bring everything you can fit into your carry-on and one personal item…pack wisely! If you don’t think you’ll NEED it for the flight, pack it in your suitcase. DON’T pack things like your entire wallet (you won’t need every credit card and your checkbook for the flight!) multiple shades of lipstick, and the sunblock and bug spray you always have on hand. DO pack things like hand sanitizer and sanitized wipes, extra diapers (Come in real handy in case of a spill! Super absorbent!) and of course something to suck on like a pacifier, bottle of milk, cup of water or juice, a lollypop or piece of candy or even chewing gum for an older child…having something to suck on helps the ears to naturally pop 😉
- Pack A Plethora of Snacks – As I’m writing this post, I just got a text from my brother-in-law stating “As soon as we get to the terminal, “I’m hungry” good thing we packed snacks #thanksmaggie” – ha! Made my day! Seriously though, if you think you are going overboard on the amount of snacks you are packing, throw a few more in there for safe measure 😉 Even if your kids don’t eat them on the plane, you’ll have them at your destination – which is especially helpful if you are overseas and your kids favorite snacks aren’t available! Note: security will allow you to bring milk and water through for children, so go ahead and pack their favorite cups and bottles filled.
- In Flight Entertainment – When choosing the toys you’ll bring on a flight, keep in mind 2 big things, moving parts and noise! While puzzles and coloring books can keep a child occupied for awhile, they aren’t a great choice for flights as pieces can easily get lost. Instead opt to download a few different puzzle and coloring apps on your phone. Don’t pack toys that make a lot of noise…your child making noise is one thing, your child playing with a noisy toy is another…be as courteous to those around you as you can be! This being said, an iPhone or iPad is my number 1 must have for in flight entertainment for my kids…you can keep a kid so entertained with different games, downloaded movies and if all else fails the camera. You do however need to have some backup just in case it’s a phone-throwing kind of day 😉 I like to have a favorite book to read on hand, stickers or a sticker book and some kind of clean writing or drawing option like the Crayola Color Wonder Travel Tote.
- Charge! – Don’t forget your chargers! Some flights have options where you can charge right in your seat. You can also plug in during layovers. Portable chargers are also worth investing in once kiddos come along! Before our trip to Europe, we got the Loop Travel Adapter which is pretty nifty because it not only serves as our adapter (that can be used in 150 different countries!) but also has 2 charging ports! I’m all about one item serving multiple purposes!
- Hello Headphones – At 3, our son has officially learned where the volume button is on the iPhone…darn it! To battle the sound war, we’ve invested in the LilGadgets Volume Limited Wired Headphones for our kids. Last flight, our son was so zoned in on his movie with his headphones that he didn’t even notice the drink and snack service! Added Bonus: these headphones have a Share Port, allowing both kids to plug into the same device!
- Spare Set of Clothes For ALL – I know space is limited, but accidents happen, and not just potty related! Our last flight my husband opened a bottle of Coke that he didn’t see my son shake to be opened…he was happy I had a spare set of clothes for him, and I was happy he had a spare set of clothes because that would have made for one miserable sidekick! Remember, you are one blowout diaper, potty accident, massive spit-up or spill away from having to use that spare set! Plus, luggage gets lost often…it’s nice to know you have spare clothing just in case!
- Medicine Mama – Crying can be a sign of illness or pain, and because littles often can’t tell us that, it’s hard to diagnose. I always start natural, applying Lavender Oil and giving a Teething Tablet. I always carry Tylenol with me, and it has definitely done the trick for us before. I was recently told about the affects of Benedryl. I’ve not ever used it on a flight, but I’m not above it either. While I’m sure this could be considered a little controversial, I think as long as you are using it according to the directions and as a worst case scenario remedy, you should be okay…though I have read that it can have the opposite effect and keep kids awake…eek! Use at your own risk!
- Don’t Get Cocky – So you had a good flight with your kid and everyone is praising your child’s behavior and your parenting skills…don’t let it go to your head 😉 Remember, you’re one bad flight away from judgment and bad looks!
KEEP SANE ON A TRAIN
We don’t take a train too often, but we’ve taken it enough to know that you can’t solely rely on the awefactor of riding a train as your form of entertainment! “We’re riding Thomas” and “Choo Choo, All Aboard” is going to get you about 3 stops max!
- Stroll With Me – I’ve brought my stroller with me on all of our train rides. This allows us to be able to pack a little more in the bottom and is also an extra way to try to keep the kids contained a little longer!
- Tablemate – Most trains to extended destinations have tables – take full advantage! When we traveled to Budapest from Vienna, we packed our breakfast for the trip and ate up not only our croissants and juice, but also some travel time! Double Yum!
- Tablemate Take Two – That awesome table on board allows you to pack different kinds of toys for your kids. A train toy is always a must! I also packed some cars that we had a lot of fun rolling back and forth across the table. The kiddos also loved rolling them up the windows and over their chairs…with a little more freedom to move around, a lot more fun can be had! I found coloring on the train with our Crayola Color Wonder pretty doable.
- Keep It Clean – All of the trains I’ve been on have been pretty clean, but you need to keep in mind that people are getting on and off constantly…this makes me wonder when exactly trains get cleaned? I always brought some Clorox wipes with me to wipe down the table before and after. I also packed a garbage bag because unlike a flight, there is nobody coming around to collect your trash!
These are my travel tips and I hope you find them helpful! I know there’s a lot of info here, but it takes a lot of preparation to have successful travels with kids! Being prepared is the number one thing you need for a trip with kids!!
Be Blessed + Be A Blessing