traveling with kids!

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a few years back i blogged about flying with little ones and also traveling abroad with little ones.  questions around these topics are asked often in emails and my comment sections, so i thought since those posts seem to be pretty buried and we’ve learned a few new things since, that i might share a bit about it again, borrowing from those posts and adding a couple more things we’ve picked up since then.

on traveling on planes with kids:

— when booking your trip, try to find a flight that works well with your kids’ schedule. for example, if you can find a flight during your child’s usual nap time, SCORE! we tend to love the red eye flights especially with our kids because they sleep through them no matter what! and a sleeping baby on a plane is well worth your own neck ache or zombie walk the following day (in our opinion. although truth be told my body is maybe telling me these days i won’t be able to get away with that trick much longer.)

— if you’re traveling with a stroller, check it at the gate so you can use it throughout the airport (don’t check it with your bags). if your stroller doesn’t come with a stroller bag, bring a few extra large heavy duty black garbage bags to wrap it in at the door of the plane (after you walk down the ramp) to protect it from getting hurt or dirty when stored under the plane. make sure to get your tags to attach to your stroller or garbage bags before leaving it at the door of the plane.

— once you get the gate, be sure to go up and check in straight away. they will give you tags for your stroller if you have one and also help you board the plane first which is helpful so you can get situated before all hell breaks loose (just kidding). but seriously, probably the best perk to flying with kids is getting to board early!

— if you’re traveling with a baby, nurse or bottle feed or give them a pacifier during take-off and landing. on our last flight, my ears were definitely feeling the pressure. i can take it but i was worried about how conrad’s ears must have felt if i was feeling it so much.  he seemed to do alright though through nursing. that constant sucking and swallowing motion can help with the plane changing pressure considerably. (for toddlers, you can give them something to eat during this time so they are also chewing.)

— if you’re traveling with toddlers, the iPad can be your best friend! ha! something i never thought i’d say a few years ago. we don’t allow for too much screen time at home, so eleanor and samson are always elated to get some quality time with those special friends, and i am happy to oblige!  find some educational apps or a few new app games (a few of our favorites here and here) or download a new movie for the trip so it’s all new to them and extra special. (and do not forget to charge that thing beforehand!)

— pack a carry on full of new surprises! a new coloring book, toy figure, or little animals. have you seen these water wow books? they are genius and our kids love them. for this trip, josh brought sticky tack and googly eyes to make faces with, which was a big hit. even silly things like plastic bubbles can help. a few plane rides back, a slinky once proved to be extra popular and gave us a solid twenty minutes of playtime! thank you, blessed slinky. be creative!

— also pack snacks in your carry on that are easy to eat and keep their blood sugar up.  we take sliced peppers and sliced apples with us almost everywhere we go these days, since our kids love them and they are healthy and easy to eat. packing a few new snacks or favorite treats can be helpful too!

— when the seatbelt sign is turned off and it’s okay to move around, take a walk up and down the aisles. it’s hard enough for me as an adult to sit still for an hour or two, so i can’t imagine forcing a child to.  and it helps to break up the trip (especially if it’s hours upon hours) to let them get a bit of exercise.

— be communicative with the people around you, if you can. sometimes it’s nice to say hello when you sit down and apologize up front for any crying or spilling or chaos that may break loose at some point during the flight, and let them know you will do your best to keep it to a minimum. we’ve really lucked out the last few flights and have had nothing but great people around us as well as great flight attendants.  it makes such a big difference and helps me feel more calm and relaxed. whenever i’m holding a baby while boarding a flight i get a little bit stressed because i don’t want to impose on anyone with my children. very occasionally you may see an eye roll or hear that snarky comment and you’re like, i know. i get it. i’m trying and i’m sorry. but for the most part, people are really great. and several have offered and been more than happy to help if you need an extra hand for a minute, and they understand you’re just trying to get somewhere too.

traveltips-4

what did i miss? what are your biggest tips for traveling with kids?

have fun and bon voyage!

  1. My family and I went on a road trip around the US with my 3 month old. My only problem was breastfeeding. I did not have the correct cover and I had to wear specific shirts that allowed me to have easy access when breastfeeding. Do you have any recommendations on clothes for breastfeeding?

    http://pepperexpress.blogspot.com/

  2. These tips are great! Definitely going to have to remember them when I have littles of my own one day! Thanks :)

    Circus & Bloom
    ♥♥♥

  3. Valerie

    I have used my FlyBaby with both of my children when they were little. It has a five point harness and attaches to your waist so it gives you the peace of mind that they are safe and secure. Worth every penny!

  4. Nanette

    yes to all of these! we make sure to book the bulkhead seats! more space, you can get a bassinet for long flights (10 hours for us) and no one in front of you for your kids to annoy. :) great tips!

  5. Mary Katherine

    That picture of Conrad is to die for. He is so stinkin cute! Also looking soooo much like Josh! I don’t have any kids but you certainly make me want some. You’re the best – love your blog and your cute little fam :)

  6. Jessica

    Hi – I’ll be traveling with a car seat/stroller set because our little one will be so small. Unfortunately, my husband won’t be able to go on every one of my work trips with me. Do you have any tips on traveling alone with a baby, car seat and stroller? Thanks!

  7. marie

    I’ve recently travelled with my baby boy and son, and the best advice I usually give is to make sure that you and your kids have enough rest before the long flight, otherwise it’ll be so tiring during the flight. And make sure the diaper bag is well packed !

    http://smittenbyangels.blogspot.com

  8. Kellie

    While I totally get how nice it is to get settled before takeoff, I have found that if you wait until the last possible second to board the better! This works best if there are two adults, but usually my husband will board first and get us settled and I will stay back with the kids and let them run around until it’s last call. An extra fifteen minutes is huge!

  9. Stacy

    When my kids were little, we had luck booking our seats at the bulkhead. Our daughter in particular would be happy as a clam if she could sit on the floor (on a blanket we brought with us) and play with her toys. She was much more cooperative if she didn’t feel like she was being “contained” within the seat. We also tried to avoid non-stop flights–that small break in the connecting airport to let them run around worked wonders on longer trips.

  10. Great list! We travel with our kids a lot and have learned similar things. We ALWAYS have the iPad when we travel. We also buy a new movie they’ve never seen because they will watch and rewatch it on the plane. The only thing we can’t figure out is the best time to fly. We’ve tried it all but our kids tend to stay awake.

  11. We’ve done long haul international with a 7 month old which went amazingly well. We were off to see family so car seats and the like weren’t a problem because we bought one to store there….but now we’re off to the Carribean with an 11 month old and have really been perplexed about the car seat situation. Really really don’t want to have to lug around ANOTHER thing just to get from the airport to the hotel (9 minutes). We’ve now booked a car for a week JUST so we can get a rental seat, how ridiculous. I assume you rented a car and seats or is there some crazy trick I’m missing!?

    Cheers! B

  12. 13bees

    the only folks who are snarky about kids on a plane are the ones who don’t have any themselves. they’ll change their tune when it’s their turn!

  13. S

    Most US airlines do not allow early boarding anymore for families, unfortunately. I’ve found that European airlines still have family boarding policies.

  14. pamela

    this is so helpful! we are leaving for hawaii next week – could use all the help we can get!

    how did you keep them on schedule? when the kids go to bed are you stuck inside?

    how do you manage the crib for conrad or when they were still crawling?
    i worry our babe will just crawl out of the hotel bed.. if we bring a crib i worry about bringing too much gear.

    thanks taza!!

  15. Lexie

    You hit the nail on the head with all these tips! I agree with the earlier commenter about waiting until the last minute to board with kids – sure, it’s total chaos getting settled that quickly, but it’s better than having any additional time to keep the kids happy in their seats. A good baby carrier can be a life saver, too! Like a maniac, I recently traveled across the country with my three littles by myself. My two- and four-year olds were able to ride in the stroller in the airport or walk in front of me while boarding, while I still had two hands to carry all of our things since the baby was in the Ergo.

    Every time I travel with my kids, I find myself saying that even though it went as smoothly as I possibly could have hoped for, it was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. There’s no way around it – it’s so much work! I admire you and your family for doing it so much!

  16. Lucie

    Hi Taza,

    Thank you for those tips! Would you mind sharing how you manage jet lag with the littles? Thank you!

    Lucie

  17. Georgia

    No kiddos here, but being an avid traveler and a pediatrician, I feel for you guys! I’m not the imposing type so I typically don’t offer a hand with kiddos (don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable) but maybe I will next time :) travel on- your kids are fortunate to see so much of the world at such a young age!

  18. Patricia

    Awesome tips! Although I have to say I wouldn’t be apologetic about my kid(s). If the people around you cannot understand what is like without you having to explain it to them, then there’s nothing you can say that will chamge the way they react to it.

    I have one question though, I’ll be traveling with a baby to Europe and it’s my first child, so I’ve never done it before. I’ve seen that the airlines provide you with little bassinets sometimes. Did you use that when you traveled to Italy? Or did you have E and S sleeping on your laps?

    Thanks!

  19. hanna

    You’re super woman! –Hanna Lei

  20. Heide

    This would really come in handy for people with kids. Sometimes I travel with kids crying on planes and I can’t really sleep or relax with the noise but I can’t tell them to shush because it’s normal for kids to cry.

    Stay Wonderful Always,
    Heide
    http://heidepadilla.blogspot.com/

  21. Kim

    We have 2 little ones and we Always wait until the last minute to board. Sitting in those seats 30minutes longer then needed isn’t smart in my opinion!

  22. Iva

    little Conrad looks so much like his daddy!

    thank you for the helpful tips!

    xo

  23. Elise

    Conrad is like Josh’s little twin!!!
    Your holiday looked lovely, so nice to read about.. Thanks for sharing xx

  24. eleni

    I am bookmarking this right now. Flying to London in 2 weeks with my son, Georgie. He’s four and it will be his first time. It’s so strange because I am excited and terrified all at the same time. But if you guys can do it with 3 kids, I can!!!! Thank you for the tips.

  25. Sana

    This was such a helpful post thanks so much!
    I was wondering what headphones work for your little ones? I have a trip coming up with my almost 2 year old and I can’t seem to find ones snug enough or small enough to stay on her head:(

    Thanks again!

  26. Christina

    Hello,
    I have been following your blog and I feel that you always present family life in a very honest and delightful way.
    However, in view of the flight tragedy in France and the babies on board that lost their life a couple of days ago, I thought publishing this post right now was a bit insensitive.
    It’s great advice, but I would rather read about it at a later date.
    Thank you for reading this!

  27. dawn

    Such great tips, and I’ve enjoyed the comments too. I love those water books. My son is 6 and now when we travel we load up on audio books (Magic Tree House has great ones) from the library – he borrows our iPod (such a treat for him). Reduces screen time so makes me feel better about long hauls. We also load it with music (the Kidz Bop cd’s are the songs he likes without the language).

  28. betty

    what abour jat leg for bebies?

  29. Laura

    How do you manage to look so calm, put-together, and dare I say relaxed?? We do a 12-hour flight a couple times a year with my daughter and its HARD every time. I’m already nervous about when we have more kids! We just had a five-hour flight (+ 3 hour delay both ways) that was our hardest experience yet. She cried, I cried… ha!

    Granted I think she’s at a particularly tough age — 15 months, so full of wiggles, and ZERO impulse control… but I have to agree that night flights are probably the way to go from now on. As much as I HATE the zombie walk the next day, it sure beats having her wide awake and wanting to wreak havoc :)

  30. Jessi

    This is so great. Here are some extra tips that I’ve found:

    This is going to make me sound like such a brat (I promise I’m not), but I don’t apologize if my kids are having a hard time, hahaha. I’m as nice as you can be and I try to accommodate other passengers and I show compassion to all around me, but instead of apologizing I thank people (even if they don’t deserve it) for being understanding and patient. The babies of course are not doing anything wrong, the grumpy folks who judge are, haha. I mention this here just to explain that it helped take a lot of the stress and pressure off me as soon as I decided to stop apologizing for the kids being kids. It just sort of shifts the situation and keeps you in control of something.

    Also, it’s worth mentioning that most hotels provide pack and plays if you reserve one ahead of time. Might just want to bring your own sheets for it.

    It’s also easier, if you can, to just take a cheapo umbrella stroller instead of one’s nice regular stroller. It’s easier to lug around, doesn’t matter if it gets dinged, and worst case scenario you can just leave it on your trip before coming home if you’re sick of lugging it around.

    If you have diapered babies, remember to bring some baggies to put the dirty diaper in to help contain the smell in the small space of the airplane. My favorites are scented baggies in the baby section at Dollar Tree, 100 for $1, can’t beat that. Or just a good ol’ ziplock works great, too.

    Make sure to bring an extra pair clothes on the plane for the kiddos, too, in case there is an accident and they aren’t comfortable.

    Good head phones for the babies makes a difference, too. Ear buds tend to fall out easily and don’t cut out all the airplane noise. The ones you have on Samson look perfect, I want to get some!

    That’s all I can think of for now, gotta love traveling with babies!!

    Jessi

  31. Annie

    Great tips! I agree with the nursing during takeoff/landing, and the giant pack of snacks! I also wrote a post recently about traveling internationally with a baby (just one though!)… Feel free to take a look!

    The MAMA Gazette: Plane Rides with a Baby

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  33. Anne

    These are all great tips!I would add that if they’re really little, skip the stroller all together and just baby wear them through the airport! Really nice when you’re traveling without a spouse and don’t need one more thing to lug around!
    The Hills Are Alive

  34. Sinead

    Fair play to you for travelling such a distance with three little kids! That last picture of Samson with the headphones is absolutely adorable!

  35. sarah

    So this comment is not about traveling, but I have noticed that you don’t ever wear shorts, even in the summer time. Is this because you can’t find any that you like or another reason? I only ask because I can’t usually find shorts to my knees that I am crazy about and would love some recommendations.

  36. Marianne

    Okay, this is totally random but with the new season of dancing with the stars I keep thinking about how cool it would be to have you performing! How do we get you on that show?!

  37. Avy

    They let you take your Donkey all the way to the gate? We travel frequently and have never been allowed to gate check it because it is so massive, even when folded in its case. Do you bring a different stroller instead?

  38. Anne

    You should have Josh do a “A dad’s guide to dressing nicely and practically”. It would be so cute!

  39. Shannon

    so funny that I don’t think conrad looks much like anyone in your family. although he’s always smiling so that’s a giveaway. he’s a cute little stinker!

  40. yoreney

    My husband and I love to travel and we drag our two kids everywhere since they were babies so they’re used to flying by now. I even did a 30+ hr flight with my 2 kids when they were 3 and 1 yo. It was very tiring, but doable. You’re article and pointers are spot on. a few suggestions for other mommas worrying about traveling with kids:

    – if your kid is over 1.5yo, skip the stroller. It’s always a good idea to let them walk their energy off in the airport so they’ll be tired and sleep in the plane. If you worry about being late, let them sit on top of your carry on and drag normally. i taught both my kids how to hold on and it’s been a lifesaver. alternatively you could buy a ride-on carry-on (chair that is buckled onto your carry on). or if your kids are too small and you need to bring their car seat to where you’re going anyway, buy Go Go Babyz travelmate. This thing allows you to attach and wheel their carseat and use it as a stroller in the airport.

    – hotels do provide cribs (or pack n play) for free as long as you notify them beforehand, but if you don’t want to use theirs, buy KidCo Peapod tent. I used it with my kid when he was a baby until he was 2.5yo, and we were even able to use it when we were living on a fishing boat. very handy. I still have it now (5+ years later) and the kids still like to play with it.

    – If you’re going to stay at your destination for more than a week, find out if there is a local shop that rents out car seats and strollers. Carseats from rental companies are usually crappy and more often than not past their expiry dates.

    – If travelling with younger babies on international flights, ask for a bassinet seat. the seats are located on first rows, and the bassinets are free of charge, although you do need to make sure your baby meets the requirement (different airlines different rules, but usually your baby should not exceed 40lbs if I’m not mistaken). Ask early as you book your flight, and keep making sure with the airline representatives that you have the seats, as there are only a few on each airplanes (less than 20 on a boeing 777, i think). travel agents will be extra helpful in getting you these seats, but even so, ask again when you check in at the airport.

    hope this helps.

    PS: i’m not paid by any of the products i mentioned. i bought them and they worked and i’m a happy momma. :)

  41. Alex

    Just got back from a trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives with our 4 year old and 1 year old that included a total of 7 flights. Craziness. On the flights where we were able to get bulkhead seats, the kids really appreciated the extra room on the floor where they were able to play. Also- a lot of airlines have toys and gifts for little kids- which made out kids feel like little celebs- so always a good idea to ask if these are available. Other than that, my best piece of advice is just breathe deep and remember that no flight lasts forever (even if it feels like it will in the moment!)

  42. Angie

    Hi Taza:)

    I’ve been following your blog/Instagram all the way from South Africa for years:)

    This comment is not on the topic of this post but I needed to ask and I wasn’t sure where else to post. I’ll be coming to New York later this year and your little guides have helped immensely. With regards to most the restaurants your family enjoys eating at, I wanted to know if reservations need to be made or are most of them “sit upon arrival”?

    Apologies if this is a little confusing, just wanted to clarify:)

    Thank you,
    Angie x

  43. fran

    all you say sounds very good to me and it seems to be great fun travelling with 3 kids… but what kind of secret tip have you if your kids DON’T like the things you bring or if they just don’t want to do anything you suggest? my kids are mostly wonderful, independent and funny but there are some few moments when they turn into little cheeky devils. i often wonder how nice and virtous your kids are ALL THE TIME? come on, there must be s.th. you can tell us about conflict management…

  44. Xio

    When I discovered your Blog, I knew that one day I would use your advice or your experiences for my pregnancy experience. Guess what! Today is the day, I am pretty much going back to your first pregnancy in the search of feelings, advice or anything (pregnancy style :p) that I can relate to or maybe use it for my experience!

    By now you are a big pro and I have never felt so thankful for this blog!!!!

    I don’t know if you read this but I guess is worth the chance!

    :)

    Oh! what about music? Did you change your music “style” during pregnancy? something more instrumental?? Or u where with the flow?

    Thanks!

  45. Meagan

    We travel all the time with our three kids. They are now 7, 5 and 2. But We’ve been travelling with them all since they were babies. The older they get the easier it is. A few things that I’ve found that worked was:

    1) boarding – we’re the opposite and like to board last, the less time the kids have to sit still the best

    2) toys/snacks – I’ll pack a magic surprise bag where one new toy, activity or snack comes out every 30 min. I’ll buy small little dollar store toys, colouring books etc that they’ve never seen. And then we set the timer on my phone and every 30 min something new comes out. Sometimes if they’re distracted we’ll hold off, but rarely do we pull something out earlier than the 30 minutes.

    Besides that all your suggestions are what we do too…gate checking the stroller, new games/movies on the iPad, and scheduling flights around nap/bedtime – we love redeyes too! Another silly thing I do is make sure my kids are in comfortable but cute outfits with their hair done – just to give an overall super adorable appearance. I feel like others are willing to be more patient with us when my kids look cute. It’s silly…but I feel like it helps.

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