OH MY GOODNESS!
First of all, we have to apologize for not being able to post a word for the past few weeks (Who knew 4 weeks can pass by so fast?!!) As you know, we had our family reunion in Israel (Mom is still there! Yup!). It was so fun! We visited new places, went shopping, cooked, ate (a lot! Thanks to our host also named Ruti), celebrated shabbath and Pesah. It was such an incredible experience for me. It was surreal as well. I still can’t believe I was there. I loved it and I would love to go again in the future. We missed so many places that are now in the future to-do list.
Anyway, We are finally on the track again, so to kick that off, I want to share with you some things that I take into consideration when I am travelling with my 3-year old little tornado, so that you prevail and your traveling experience can be as peaceful as possible.
The photo below was taken 2 years ago (my first flight ever)
I remember how I was feeling that day. So scared and overwhelmed. I just wanted everything to be quick and smooth, and arrive to my destination safe. I was wondering all the time if I would be able to move efficiently in an airport by myself, for the first time and with a baby! Oh My!
Going through security was the first challenge because I had to get off my shoes and also fold the stroller plus, hold the baby while going through the scanner. Thanks God there are always good people willing to help and one female officer hold my son while I was unfolding the stroller. It took just a few minutes but for a travel newbie like me was pretty daunting.
Passport control. What can I say about that? I was travelling alone and I didn’t know I needed a permission from my husband to travel with the baby, so, I was stopped by an immigration officer. I had to wait a couple of minutes until a supervisor or someone with “higher level” came to me and I had to convince this person I was going to meet my husband upon arrival. Whoa! Some of my friends say I was lucky!
Boarding was the easy chunk of the flight because I was just carrying the baby bag. Now…Being on a plane for 2+ hours with a 10-months old baby was another story!. The crew was very kind and always trying to accommodate me, but soon I realized I was completely unprepared. It was a short flight (considering that now I have been on a few 8+ hours flights), but for me it felt like an eternity. I didn’t even know what a lap baby actually meant! Yup! Surprise! On top of that, my little buddy spent half the time pulling the arm hair of the man seated next to me. I felt a bit embarrassed but this man seemed to enjoy it, so at the end wasn’t that bad. My biggest concern was when my baby was crying and I didn’t know how to keep him quiet and happy. This experience taught me some things:
1. See the moment in advance and practice before your trip
It may sound weird what I just said but visualizing the whole process beforehand has worked wonders for me. For example, before I travel I usually practice my stroller folding, so that I can see if it needs oil somewhere and avoid delays and awkwardness on the line.
2. Always have on hand enough “healthy-and-travel-friendly” foods and snacks
I remember that first flight I just mentioned. In terms of “food” I brought just some baby food including milk and I decided to have the classics blue chips, cappuccino and water during the flight. BOMB! I was bloated the whole time. Lesson learned. Now, I always bring an empty water bottle with me and also healthy snacks like bananas, grape tomatoes, nuts and seeds, digestive cookies or pretzels with coconut butter or natural nut butters, protein shake (I like Premier and Muscle milk) and protein bars (my favorite so far is Met-Rx Protein Plus Chocolate Fudge Deluxe Protein Bars but almost any high protein bar would work. Just look for the ones that are high protein and low sugar. These are processed food anyway so proceed with caution).
I also try to have grapes and apples because they are very handy (easy to transport and pretty much mess-free). Also, string cheese, and maybe (just maybe), if I find a good one in my local grocery store, I would carry a fruit juice, if not, I’ll just stick to water. A good idea also are homemade travel-friendly muffins, sandwiches and/or wraps.
What about sweet treats? Well, for me, it doesn’t matter if it is M&Ms or healthier counterparts like raisins, dates or cranberries; I try to avoid them as much as possible because there are too sweet and you want everything but hyperactive kids on board. If you are going to carry some fruits with you, that is probably all the sugar your kids and you will need.
3. Take Kids to the bathroom a couple of time before boarding
Keep in mind that when you are traveling with kids is better to arrive at the airport with pleeenty of time (and when I say pleeenty, I mean it!) so that you can have peaceful eating time plus “last-minute-visits-to-the-bathroom” without stressing out about losing your flight.
4. For long flights (5+ hours) bring a tablet or and old smartphone
I cannot believe I am saying this, but for me is true. I have read many blog posts on this topic and most of the people say basically “pack tons of activities (like little toys, books and don’t forget rewards) but for me this hasn’t gone very well. For my first over-5-hours-flight I packed tons of stuff for my son to be entertained (Obviously, I wanted to be prepared!). And what did he use of all of that stuff? Nothing! It was a pain because all of that stuff took precious space from my luggage, and honestly, searching for toys during flight and getting them in and out your carry-on or handbag can get messy and you can lose something important. After that experience I have been trying to pack lighter and lighter every time so now I prefer to have a tablet (I have this one) on hand instead. I have downloaded all Dr. Panda games that work while travelling (most videos (if not all) and some apps in the Kindle fire just work in United States!) and my son enjoys them. I find them very entertaining and educational. The tablet is very handy specially if you are travelling in one of those cheap airlines because they usually don’t have a screen and, if they do, you can just watch the flight tracking map which is not kid-friendly.
If you don’t have a tablet you may use an old smartphone. Head to Google Play or Amazon Underground and arm it with your preferred kids-friendly apps. There are very good ones that are absolutely free, specially if you are using the Amazon Underground (I love Dr. Panda Apps!). Keep in mind that if you have the Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet, it comes with plenty of apps pre-loaded, just download them beforehand in case you cannot connect to wi-fi
5. Have easy access to extra clothes
You want a change of clothes (or two) plus diapers (for infants may be 1 for every hour, and for toddler maybe 1 for every 2 hours) in a place where you can take it out in an instant in case you need them. I usually have a change of clothes plus diapers and wipes in the front compartment of each luggage (including personal item), just in case. If I need a piece, I just open the overhead-bin, open my carry-on front compartment and grab the piece I need without having to take the whole luggage out (carry-ons can get heavy, and sometimes you don’t even have enough space to move freely so, keep that in mind)
6. If you can book your flight at night… better!
On the flights I have made during the night is another story of course. Not saying that they may not get irritable or cry, but they will sleep on their natural schedule so it will be less problematic.
On the other hand, if your flight is short, you can contemplate the idea of traveling early in the morning. We did this on our recent flight to Israel. We were heading to the airport at 3.30am and got on that plane by 7:30am. By the time we seated our baby was so tired he felt asleep for almost the entire flight! When we finally landed, he was in a good mood, very happy and curious about this new place 😀
7. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your trip
Every human being should be drinking at least half its body weight on ounces everyday. If you fall in the category of people that don’t drink enough, start drinking this amount of water at least one week before your trip (the sooner, the better). Also, remember to bring an empty bottle for each family member so everyone can be well hydrated at all times (and less susceptible to tantrums! Win win!)
8. Last but not least. Don’t rush in your way in or out
So guys, this is it for today. Is there anything I missed? Please, let us know in the comments section below so I can add it to the survival list!