There is really only one stress-free way to travel with kids. No, I’m not talking about a specific mode of transportation. No matter what way you go, you’re always going to find some bumps along the road. But, take comfort in knowing that there is a lot you can do to prepare your family for your travels ahead of time that will make the trip a lot more bearable.
When your kids are screaming in the middle of a flight, when you’re in the middle of nowhere on the interstate or during a dinner out during vacation, you’ll need to be prepared. Babies and toddlers are beautiful creatures. They are easily distracted. Their little world can go from an epic meltdown to lollipops and rainbows in a matter of seconds. It’s all about the distractions.
However, if you’re digging through your bag for over a minute looking for something to distract your child, they are bound to get even more upset and you will have wished that you could find that one thing quicker than ever! It all comes down to organization and thinking ahead.
I can’t emphasize how much easier it is to organize your child’s things when you have a bag that has many pockets and a place for everything. Pack it with care and test yourself to see if you can remember where everything is and always put things back in the same place. Pretty soon you’ll be able to blindly reach into your bag and grab exactly what you need, never even looking at what you’re doing! Multitasking is an essential attribute of parents. Am I right?
You’ll obviously need the basics like snacks and drinks. And if you’re going on a long journey it may even be good to bring a few new or special snacks for your toddler (just be aware of potential allergies). Be sure to bring plenty of drinks, too, especially for a baby who is drinking from a bottle. I know when I’ve flown or driven with a baby, it always helped meltdowns to have an extra bottle or two, even if it was just used as a pacifier.
Speaking of bottles, if you’re flying with a baby who drinks formula, the best tip I can pass along is to bring an empty thermos through security. Once you’re past security, find your nearest coffee shop and have them put hot water in your thermos filled halfway. Then fill the rest with room temperature bottled water until the water is the perfect warmth for baby. Now, once you’re in the boarding process, taxiing, take off or even flying, you won’t need to wait for a flight attendant to help get your bottle water. Note: When babies suck on things like a bottle, breast or pacifier, the air pressure doesn’t bother their ears as much. You can simply make your bottle in your seat with the warm water you already have in your thermos. The same trick is great on a long car ride when you can’t stop at a restaurant for hot water.
Next, you’ll want to bring some of your child’s favorite toys and even some new ones! I always find it helpful to choose toys that can easily be washed in warm soapy water or with antibacterial wipes. You know they will be on the ground in 2 seconds flat.
Bringing snacks in little containers is always fun, too. They can duel as a snack container, a rattle or using it to mute your voice when you feel like being silly with an empty container.
When all you have is yourself and your luggage, you need to get creative and be the blockbuster in your child’s eyes. It’ll keep them focused and happy.
I can remember just a few years ago when I was on a plane flight alone with one of my babies. He was just under 1-year-old and the flight was only two hours long, but as soon as we got on the plane I could tell he was about to fall apart. I literally spent every minute of the two hours pulling one thing out of my bag at a time, entertaining him for 2.79 seconds with each item. Needless to say, it was an exhausting flight, but we made it through with flying colors.
No matter what, just know that you’ve got this. You’re an amazing parent for preparing so well. Nothing is perfect and traveling with a child is never easy. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking, because most likely they will be thinking, “They are so brave” or “I feel their pain, I was just doing that a decade ago!” There’s a lot of love out there and so much world to be explored with your family.