This past summer, I had the privilege to travel with the three kiddos by myself. It was a long international flight. Everyone I spoke to beforehand told me I was crazy. It’s something they would never do. But circumstances were as they were, and we all made it in one piece. So with that experience behind me, I wanted to share my best tips for traveling with kids by air!
Tip 1: Pack Light!
For myself and three kids (ages 2, 5, and 7), I packed two luggages: a large hockey duffle for the big kids, and a large regular suitcase for myself and the little one. I calculated exactly 5 outfits for each in the luggage, plus one in their carry-on and one they were wearing, for a total of 7 complete outfits. For our two week trip I knew we would do laundry twice, or even three times, but I was fine with that. Other than that, we brought minimal toiletries, swim gear, and one extra pair of shoes. I knew that if we were in a pinch, we could always go to the store!
Tip 2: Carry as Little as Possible!
For the airport, I knew it was imperative to be walking around as easily as possible. That meant that I had a backpack carry-on with essentials for myself and the toddler. The big kids each had a small back pack with their own items (change of clothes, toys, devices, and snacks). I also had a stroller for the two year old to sit in, that I would carry on. Everything else was checked!
Tip 3: Bring food!
With kids in tow, it is essential to always have snacks. Our initial flight was a red-eye, and though I could have expected that the kids would sleep and I wouldn’t need food, that was not the case! The two year old, in particular, was snacking on and off for many hours. Especially with changing time zones and erratic sleep patterns, I always prepare with a lot of food. When traveling all together, we usually have a separate food bag, to make it easy to go through security (that’s the bag they often check by hand). In this case, I had our snacks in a clear ziplock within my bag.
Tip 4: Screen time.
I am not a proponent of screen time for children, not at all. In our day to day life I make it a point to minimize screen exposure. It is not a part of our routine, and we are quite strict about keeping it that way. My experience has been that our children are poorly behaved after any amount of television or mobile device play. That said, once we board the plane, all bets are off. It is a total bonanza.
Tip 5: Expect the worst, hope for the best!
As with all things in life, your attitude is what matters. I had no expectations of sleep on our red-eye (that was good, because I didn’t get any). I anticipated the toddler being whiny and out of sorts (yup, yup, yup). And yet, I knew that when all was said and done, the important thing was that we made it to our destination. What’s 12 hours of being extremely uncomfortable, compared to so many other worse things that could happen?