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Growing up, I remember watching holiday movies depicting the hecticness that is traveling to visit family for the holidays. “That must be so hard” I thought, breathing in gratitude that all of my family members lived within a 10 minute drive. I lived in RI, the smallest state in the country, and it only took 7 minutes to get to my grandparents house for holiday gatherings. Today, my little family lives a little over 2000 miles away from our loved ones. As closed knit as both of our families are, we make it a point to travel back east every December. This will be our third trip with our two year old (the first was when he was two months old). I’ve learned a few things to make the voyage a little easier so I figured I’d pass it on to those in search of answers.
Pick the best time for travel. Note that the two days before and after a holiday is often the busiest so arrange flights accordingly. Also, try to book direct whenever possible. Avoid the possibility of getting stranded in an airport in the middle of nowhere due to weather delays.
Packing for Travel
Diaper Bag/ Carry On: I usually try and pack the bare essentials in my diaper bag: diapers, wipes, a snack… but if there is a time to be over prepared, it’s during air travel. While I cannot control the overwhelming emotions of a toddler, I try my best to be prepared to diffuse tantrums. After all, I am in an airbus with hundreds of other people. I believe parents should do their best to be considerate.
- Snacks are a must. Don’t depend on vending machines or fast food to satiate rumbling tummies. Hours and hours above the clouds is not the time for foreign foods. Bring snacks you know they love and doesn’t affect them.
- Travel kits of art supplies were recently introduced to me by a mama friend and I think it’s genius. Packs of washable markers (can you imagine trying to wipe crayons off the food tray?) and paper can occupy my little guy for a little while… just enough time to sip some coffee to regain your sanity.
- Another friend told me to pack small new (cheap) toys and bring a new one out every hour or so. The excitement from a new toy can linger a little while.
- iPad – If screentime is ever ok, it’s when you are in an aircraft with hundreds of people. Make sure it is fully charged and loaded with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the Backyardigans, Paw Patrol or whatever show tickles your kid’s fancy. Keep that child occupied!
Day of Travel
Give yourself ample time to arrive at the airport. Check-in and security lines can be dauntilng. Adding a carseat and stroller to your usual luggage mix can drive anxiety. Do yourself a favor and give yourself time.
Speaking of car seats and strollers, we always bring our favorites from Graco. We were gifted the Extend2Fit® Convertible Car Seat by family and it’s traveled with us for every single trip. I love its durability, dependability, and the piece of mind it gives me when we are away from home. Apollo is no longer a lap infant so we will be bringing the car seat on board this time around.
Bringing a stroller has been incredibly helpful during our travels. I’ve flown with Apollo solo before and having him sit in a stroller while I navigate airport crowds has been a lifesaver. But not all strollers are created equal. You need one durable enough to hold your babe as he grows, with the lightweight folding ease of an umbrella stroller. Think: one that you can fold with one hand while holding your babe with the other. The Graco Breaze™ Click Connect™ Stroller is my new favorite. It has all the features of our heavier stroller: multi positions/ lays down, holds up to 50lbs, and durable while lightweight. And yes, you can fold it with one hand! We took the stroller to our recent trip to Cancun and he loved breezing around the airport saying “hi” as strangers walked past.
Once you go through security, let them explore a bit to tire themselves out. Try your best not to let them fall asleep before departure or during layovers. The goal is for them to sleep on the plane if possible. About 20 minutes before it’s time to board, make time for diaper changes. With any luck, you will not have to change your little one again until after you land. Wrangling a wiggly toddler around a small airplane bathroom is no fun!
One great thing about traveling with a kid is that you get to board early. This can also be a curse because it’s an additional 15 minutes on the aircraft. But I use this time to SANITIZE EVERYTHING. I am not typically a germ-a-phobe and very seldom get sick. But when I do, it’s usually after air travel. Try to get an aisle seat if possible. This will make it easier in case your little one wants to go up and down the aisle to explore. If your child is still nursing, do so during takeoff or give them a bottle or something to suck or chew on. This will help keep their ears from popping.
If you are planning for an extended stay, check out the Pack ‘n Play® Playard Jetsetter™ from Graco. It provides all the comfort of home: changing table, play yard, and comfy bassinet in one lightweight frame that also folds neatly into a portable backpack. We are big fans of the Graco line. Their baby line is well thought out with safety and peace of mind up there in the list. They are currently running a 20% off sale sitewide from 11/5/2017 – 11/21/2017. It’s also a great time to pick up some holiday gifts for the expectant parents in your life.
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