Saturday, March 1, 2008

Traveling With Kids - A Response for Rosie

This is a response for Rosie but since I'm constantly annoyed by my own overly long comments I'm posting it as a general post. Both of my two children have been born since we left our home state so we have had our fair share of kid travel. To date with one or more children we've done two transatlantic flights, four transcontinental flights, four cross country road trips, and more flights from Illinois to Utah and back then I care to remember. Travel with children is a balance of brining enough stuff to be entertained but not so much that you can't move through airports, security, and to waiting vehicles with ease. Here are some things I've learned...sometimes the hard way.

1) Some of the hardest moments can be just getting up to and away from the plane. Nothing like twenty or so extra pounds of squiggling weight when you are trying to get through security. A stroller can definitely come in handy. Since the kids were very small though we've opted out of using our whole travel system and instead gone with an umbrella stroller. It's a lot lighter, takes up less space on the receiving end, and there just isn't anywhere for things to hide which keeps the security for the most part off our back. If you don't have room for a stroller definitely bring a wrap or carrier so that you can keep your hands free. Also the airport doesn't advertise this but you can ask at the ticket counter to get a pass for a love one to go up the gate with you. The extra help can be invaluable trying to maneuver through security. Also don't assume because you have a baby they won't select you to do a more thorough search and yes they will still make you take your shoes off so pick easy slide ons.

2) Like Bridget mentioned lots of snacks is key. I like to bring grapes, crackers, cheese, cheerios, fruit snacks, small things that you can pull out when times get rough. With a ten month old though most of these options probably aren't even open to you. Make sure you have enough formula or milk unless your breast feeding and then make sure you have a cover that you feel comfortable with. The stewardess will often bring you water but don't expect them to be especially helpful. Sometimes they are but you don't want to have to count on it. For those people with kids that are eating keep in mind that lap babies don't get meals. Shoot sometimes even kids with tickets don't get them. When we flew to Germany the stewardess wouldn't bring us a meal for our son because she thought he was a lap baby. Then when we proved to her we'd paid for his ticket she said they had run out of meals. Oops.

3) Entertainment is very important. Now that our son is older we've discovered what a life saver a portable DVD player can be, especially on cross country trips but they are kind of big and for cross Atlantic flights they don't have enough battery life. I think this is when Ipods with video would come in handy. Regardless though most cross flights have movies. Bridget is right though. New toys your child has never seen are a must have. We used to wrap them because that added even more excitement but keep in mind that if security goes through your bag they will unwrap them. We're flying home this month and I've already gone to the dollar store to pick up some new toys and nick knacks to keep the kids entertained. What the toys are held in can also be exciting. Our son likes holding his toys in a little back pack. Our daughter loves playing with little purses. Also never underestimate how enjoyable non toys can be. Our daughter loves chewing on a toothbrush. That can entertain her for almost an hour. Our son loves playing with my ipod, turning it on, turning it off, trying to put the headphones in his mouth. The works.

4) Make sure to pack a couple extra outfits and possibly even an extra shirt for yourself. Also have enough wipes and diapers to keep you going (my daughter loves to pull on wipes and diapers so they also make decent toys). I also like to bring a diaper mat. It helps on airport floors. There really isn't much you can do about changing diapers in the bathroom. They are just small and crowded. Work on your balance :)

5) Make sure to be early to the airport. There is nothing like losing your aisle seat when you are about to fly over a whole day. Also you can use the extra time in the airport to let your daughter walk or crawl around before getting on the plane. When your going to be trapped for so long you need every extra second of energy burning.

6) It helps to make friends on the plane. If possible talk to your neighbor and make friendly as much as you can. You never know when you could use the extra help when you need to go to the bathroom or when you need the friend if your child is screaming at two am. They might still be annoyed but at least you had a few good moments.

Finally I got this from a friend that travels to Argentina twice a are never going to have to see these people again so no matter what happens as soon as you get off the plane you'll be free. As for the single motherhood month let me know if you have any ideas. My hubby is going to be in Jordan for two months this summer and with the price of buying four tickets we just can't afford for us all to go. I'm a little anxious on how this two months is going to go.

1 comment:

Rosie said...

thank you SO much. I knew that there had to be someone (apparently multiple) who has experience with all this. I had no idea about the companion pass, so I'll definantly try to use that. I'm lucky enough that when I change planes in New Jersey, I don't have to change terminals (as least as far as I've translated the Newark airport map and key correctly!). Super helpful! If I come across any great single mommy tips, I'll let you know. =)