Since we were traveling for the last week, the tips listed below made my week run a lot smoother, so I thought they’d make a good Manic Monday!
Air Travel has changed a lot in the last few years. With more rules, regulations, and restrictions, it feels like making traveling with baby, or kids, simple and easier is nigh impossible. So, below, I’ll share the things that make it easier for our family. And, I must say, we’ve made getting through security with a family of 5 run like a well oiled machine!
1. Check with your airline about food allowances for babies. I discovered that sterilized water for baby’s bottle IS allowed. You may be asked to taste it, and may be pulled aside for a deeper search, but you are allowed to take water in the baby’s bottle. Baby food is allowed, but I recommend brand new store bought jars or pouches. If they can’t identify this lump of goo in your Tupperware cube, they will most likely make you toss it.
2. Take enough food for the time of your travel plus 2-3 extra feeds. You never know when you are going to get delayed, something will spill, or baby will suddenly be extra hungry. If you breast feed, don’t worry about keeping baby to his normal schedule. I’ve found some element of demand feeding is usually needed. But, fight the temptation to over pack. Chances are you’re going somewhere that will have places you can buy food, formula, diapers, etc once you get there.
3. Take a change of clothes for baby and yourself in a carry on. It only took one time of baby’s diaper exploding poo all over me and baby to learn this one.
4. Wear slip on shoes. In the States, everyone is required to send their shoes through the scanner. Tying and untying is a waste of time. In Europe you only have to remove your shoes if you are wearing boots of any kind (including work boots for men) or thick heeled shoes.
5. Pack one or two new toys/books, or toys he hasn’t seen/played with for awhile to take on the plane so they will hold his interest. This trip, I hid his favorite 2 toys for a couple of days before we took off, so when he saw them on the plane he was super excited to play with them. For older kids, if they have handheld video games, or are watching a movie on a device, please make sur they wear headphones! You want to be respectful of those around you! The same goes for baby toys that play music. I save those for home, or pack them in the checked bags.
6. Take a stroller that collapses with one hand. You must remove baby from any apparatus (stroller, sling, carrier, car seat, etc) and send it through the scanner. It saves time and effort if you can do that with one hand (since you’ll be holding baby with the other). We have swapped strollers with friends several times in order to do this.
7. Take cash. If all else fails and baby is inconsolable, buy drinks for those around you. They’ll care a lot less about your crying baby.
8. Relax. take some deep breaths. Traveling stresses me out. Every time. But, as the thermostat of my family, the more relaxed I am, the more relaxed and happier they are.
On a recent family trip to London, one thing stood out to my children above all others. Bigger than the London Eye, more impressive than the Crown Jewels, even more memorable than the mac’n'cheese at the Hard Rock Cafe.
We walked everywhere. And we walked for ages, and ages. At least in their little minds, and to their little feet, we did. Now bear in mind, we live in a small village in rural Ireland. There’s just not that much within walking distance, and if you do walk somewhere, you are likely taking your life in your hands because there are either no sidewalks, or they are really, really narrow. So, needless to say, we drive
just about everywhere we have to go.
Now, I have to say, they were real troopers. I was worried about how they would fare navigating the underground, hopping on and off buses and trains, being schlepped here, there and everywhere by their well-meaning parents who were going to “show them some history.” However, there’s apparently something highly exotic and exciting about getting to go somewhere with no seatbelt and standing up! Exotic and exciting aside, there was often just One thing they wanted to know:
Are we there yet?!?
I couldn’t blame them, really. Sometimes the question was asked out of excitement. Take, for instance, the Crown Jewels. Having watched the royal wedding, and nearly every Disney princess movie known to man, they were giddy with excitement about seeing the queen’s crown. So, the hour long tour we took before entering the jewel house was, to them, nothing short of medieval torture. Other times, it was asked from sheer exhaustion. Like when we walked for over half an hour in the wrong direction towards our dinner destination, only to have to retrace our steps and cross the city and then still have to wait nearly two hours for a table.
In either case, every time they asked the question, I tried to point out all of the great things we were seeing along the way. But they just weren’t interested. They had their eyes on the “prize”, and nothing was going to distract them.
It was sometime during one of these lovely little exchanges with my wee cherubs that it hit me like a ton of bricks. I might as well have been a pot trying to get the attention of my two little kettles. My entire life flashed before my eyes (only not in that weird pre-death sense).
A good chunk of my life has been spent riding the “are we there yet?” underground train. I hop on the train, wait for that one thing – an engagement ring, the wedding, a baby, that baby to sleep through the night, etc. – and then surface just long enough to see my destination. Then I submerge again until the next thing. In the meantime, how many wonderful things do I miss out on along the way because I just want to be there?
I think, if only I can get there, I’ll be happy and can enjoy the journey. The only problem is, there never feels like there! There will always be another there. Another tooth to break through, another grumpy teacher to deal with, another pound to lose, another medical battle to fight.
Meanwhile, I’m missing out on life. You see, it was in those two hours waiting for a table that we had some of the best conversations with the people we were with. It was on those long walks between sights that I got to hold my daughter’s hand, or carry my son, and listen to their stories and questions and songs. The best parts of my vacation happened between all of the “must sees.” I need to take a lesson from London and experience and enjoy the journey as much as the destinations along the way.
What about you? What is your “there” right now? Are you missing out on things you could be enjoying?