It's spring break travel time! If you are one of the lucky ones traveling this spring break with your children, here are a few tips to help make the trip a little more relaxing.
Where possible plan what you can before you leave. Trying to keep your luggage to a minimum? The cost of checked bags can quickly add up when you are travelling with your family. Take only what you will need. If your children are not yet potty trained, then you know diapers can take up a lot of suitcase space, think about buying things like that once you are there (unless of course they'll cost a fortune) Doing a lot of walking at your destination but don't want to carry a big stroller with you pay the extra baggage fee? See if you can borrow a stroller or rent one inexpensively. Pack what you'll use. I'm often tempted to take more clothes for Connor and Reese than they will actually need so now I make a list of the outfits required: Monday shorts and t-shirt, bathing suit and hat, shoes, Tuesday, Wednesday etc. Give yourself extra time to travel to the airport, to check bags and for getting through security. It's nice to have a few minutes to relax (or run around!) at the gate before boarding.
Involve the kids
My kids love the idea of getting ready for a trip. Even Reese who is 1 year old thinks it's so much fun to get her toys and put them in her bag. She and Connor love pretending they are going on a trip and run around the house with their bags. They are proud to participate in the process and at the same time it teaches them at a young age that they don't need to take everything they own. Talk to your children about what you will see and do on travel days: Check in at the airport, security screening, let them know they might have to walk through on their own, boarding lines, sitting in their seat with a seatbelt.
Carry on Bag
Take the essentials and anything you might need if your checked bags don't arrive with you: travel documents including passports, nexus cards, vaccination records, camera, blackberry, playbook, laptop, diapers, wipes, blanket, baby acetaminophen, band aids, change of clothing, snacks, water proof bag for dirty clothing, hand sanitizer and Cares Aviation Restraint System.
Hungry children are not happy children! Make sure everyone drinks lots of water during your trip and take healthy snacks for eating on board. Apples, granola bars, cheese and crackers are favourites with my two. (make sure to consult the rules for taking food if you are clearing customs before you board)
I have discovered that lollipops can be magical for 2 reasons, Connor and Reese will sit still for a long time licking their lollipop which is great in itself but it also helps during take off and landing to prevent their ears from blocking. (and even better? there are sugar free lollipops!)
Long trips can be hard on adults and kids alike. Take things that will help to keep your children entertained. Connor and Reese take their favourite toys on board to play with enroute. In flight tv shows and movies can be a wonderful distraction if you child is at an age where they watch tv. Mine like colouring books, stickers and playing games on the Playbook. They also like sending post cards to family members back home (they don't care if the postcards are from our home airport!)
It's unlikely that parents will sleep during flight when traveling with children, but in my experience a nap sometime during flight is often the case even if it's not regular nap time.
Things can go wrong even with the most prepared plans. If your flight is delayed or your child is unhappy, try to go with the flow and do the best you can and comfort them the way you would at home. Your parenting methods don't have to change because you are traveling-do what is best for your kids. You have every right to travel with your children, so no apologies!
Most important: Have fun!
Do the things that will help make your day a memorable experience. Take the camera and document your travel, take a picture when you arrive at the airport, when you are in the lounge and when you are on the flight. Have fun, you'll be there soon.