Nishant and I LOVE to travel and when we had our first, we were both on the same page about the fact that we wanted to continue our lust for travel and make sure that the little guy would learn to love it as much as we do! In addition, both our parents live in different countries – one set of parents are in India and the other in Japan! Needless to say, our kids had traveled to more countries in the first year of their lives than I had in the first thirty years of mine! They have traveled to India, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, the Caribbean and done a ton of domestic travel as well. While my four-year-old has always been a champion traveler, my two-year old is still buying into this traveling around the globe program. With each trip, we learn something new and I figured that given school is out and a lot of you probably have travel planned, this list might be a good starting point!
- Keep a sanitizer/wipes handy, I cannot stress this enough! My kids love to play with random stuff like the remote of the TV and the buttons on the seat! Wiping that tray table down is a great idea too especially when you know you will be setting their snacks down on it. Or to wipe those sticky hands post snack and pre snuggles!
- Pack an extra pair of clothes in your carry on for everyone! On our first trip to India post kids, I thought I did great by packing an extra set of clothes for my then 9-month old but before the end of that 22- hour flight, I knew I totally should have packed an extra pair for the hubby and I too! He knocked over his container of yogurt and it made a not-so-safe landing all over my pants. Trust me you do not want to be cleaning off yogurt soaked sticky pants in that cramped bathroom. Thinking back though, it could have been a lot worse, it could have been a massive diaper blowout!
- Pack a mini first aid in your carry on for you little ones! I have had my then 10-month old spike a fever over the Atlantic Ocean on our trip to Japan and although you would think that the stewardess or the plane may have some Tylenol or Advil, you would be very wrong in that assumption. We always pack one in our carry-on bag and a bigger set of medication that gets checked in with the rest of our luggage.
- A baby carrier of some sort is such an essential, especially if you have a young toddler! I loved my ergo and carried my kids in it everywhere! They sometimes needed to be rocked to fall asleep and I could be hands free chugging a drink of my choice while bouncing them to sleep. I have used a Bjorn, an ergo, a ring sling and now that they are older, even a hiking backpack through the airport especially, once my little guys got too big for the ergo!
- My kids love eating their way through flights and road trips (they must get it from Nishant, he is always looking for a snack in my bag, it is like he thinks I am a walking picnic basket!)! I usually do a grocery store run with my boys (all three of them!) and allow them to pick snacks of their choice to take on the plane. It is a great way to break up flying time and take care of boredom.
- We try and pack some small toys or activities to keep them engaged while in flight. My 9 month old, played with the remote of the TV monitor off and on for a majority of our flight to Thailand and that is all he needed to stay happy. (This is where those amazing baby wipes come into play!) We take sticker books, mini etch a sketch pad with the pen attached to the sketch pad with a string (you can get these at the Dollar Store or the Dollar Spot at Target). The Crayola wonder markers and books are awesome too (you can order these on Amazon here! I cannot rave about the wonder markers enough, the markers only work on the wonder pad that they come with and it is all clipped together on its clipboard with a spot to put the markers while you are using it. I don’t have to worry about the markers getting on their clothes (or mine!) or that the kids will destroy the seats with the marker either!
- Don’t be a sucker – and make sure you carry one for them, no really!! Especially if you are traveling with really young kids make sure you have something for them to suck on to relieve the air pressure. This could be a sippy cup/bottle filled with water or milk, a lollipop, and if you are a nursing mama this is the perfect time to nurse your baby or give them the bottle, whatever may be your personal choice.
- Do NOT pre-board, I repeat, do NOT pre board with your baby!! Use that pre boarding privilege to get your spouse to get on and put all the luggage away and get situated. The other one can then get on the plane once all the passengers have boarded the flight. Allow your toddler to spread out and get their ants out of their pants before you get on the plane. IF you are really lucky, they will be tired and be ready to chill once you do board. (I know you thought I sounded crazy when you started to read this one, but trust me you will be happy you waited!)
- If you have the luxury to pick your flights, try and pick one around nap time or better yet bed time for your little ones. We usually pick a flight that allows them to do the first leg over bed time. It gives us a good 8 hours when they are asleep, and that’s half way to India/Japan for us, a huge win!!
- When all else fails, pull out the ace you have up your sleeve. A lot of the air carriers now provide Wi-Fi inflight that you can use and the longer flights have in-flight entertainment with kids shows and movies. If you get really lucky, you can even catch a couple of movies or drink a couple of adult beverages while they nap! But, in the event that you are on a shorter flight and there is no Wi-Fi, pre-load some of their favorite games/movies on your smart device to buy you a little bit more time on the flight!
Bonus Tip# 11: Don’t underestimate the power of your smile and kind words! Your neighbor on the flight, the stewardess on the airplane or the gate agent checking you in could be your best ally! A gate agent once let Nishant walk me right through security and up to the gate by giving him a gate pass (which is unheard of in the post-World Trade Center era of flying). All he did was ask her to take care of me because I was traveling alone to India from New York with my 18-month old toddler while I was 20 weeks pregnant with my second (what was I thinking???)!
So go forth and conquer! Take that trip and make those memories!! What are some of your own travel hacks with toddlers? Also, comment and let us know if you liked this list! Did you know that we absolutely love hearing from you!!