We travel, oh yes we do! This past year has been CRAZY. We are not jet setters by any stretch of the imagination (but imagine the fun jet setting could be! I’m sure everyone else is envisioning glamorous and exotic locations, while I’m just dreaming of a private plane with no security lines or small public bathrooms to change diapers. Oh the joy!!!)
OK, back to real life…
We’ve had quite a few family events and obligations that we needed to attend in the past 8 months…enter A LOT of airplanes. I think we are somewhere around 17 or 18 planes now since last March. Ridiculous! And I really wouldn’t call us travel experts, but we have had a lot of friends offer tips, and of course, now that we have done this so many times, feel like we have a handle on it.
I know I look like the ultimate Sherpa in the photo above, but it honestly was the easiest way to get through an airport, remain hands free, and get the Littles where they needed to be. Have you tried going through security lines with diaper bags, babies, strollers, car seats, getting liquids out, etc, etc, etc??? Even with pre-boarding, you have to drop your gear off at the gate, get the kids out of the strollers and somehow get them carried on with your diaper bag in tow….OOOHHHH as much as I’ve done this, I’m tired just writing about it! I would rather just perma carry them.
First off you need to carry your child through security with you (but if they are in a carrier you are wearing, you don’t need to take them out!), and while you’re holding the babe, you need to get everything onto the security belt (shoes included – meaning baby shoes too….) HURRY to get it all in those little trays while people are tapping their feet behind you (even when you’re in a Family Security line, you KNOW someone is behind you thinking, “Could they just get it together, please!”), and god forbid you topple over while you’re balancing on your one shoeless foot doing it all. Sounds fun, huh?!
As I looked through some of our travel photos, I realized that there really are SOOO many ways to get the job done, and it really depends on what stage your kids are at, how long the flights are, if you’re changing planes, needing to transfer kids into rental cars, shuttles, subways, taxis, if it’s night or day, during nap time or play time, if anyone is sick, if your shipping the kids by UPS Ground or 2-Day, (oops, getting ahead of myself)…each stage is just so different even with us. No 2 trips have been exactly the same. But to make things easier on yourself, even if you feel you are the most disorganized person in the world (and TRUST ME, I feel like this sometimes!) grab a few minutes somewhere and think through your trip. If you make a plan, your travel day will be as close to a cake walk as it can be…..OK, a little prayer is not going to hurt here either, but planning is your friend!!
At the stage above, it was much easier for Sherpa mom to carry both Littles (Hayden was 7 weeks, Addie 14 months):
A. That balanced the weight for me, and I was able to keep them quiet (is that even possible?) or if Heaven was watching, asleep.
B. Left dad free to do much more of the heavy lifting, faster, which is key.
When the kids were this young we:
1. Baby Jogger City Mini
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Checked the stroller. It does not count as an extra bag. You can either check it at the ticket counter, or at the gate. We like to travel with the Baby Jogger City Mini. Folds like a dream! TSA doesn’t know what to do with you, they can’t believe how easy it is! See the write up in the Travel Favorites Gallery.
2. GoGo Babyz Travelmate:
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a GoGo Babyz Travelmate to roll Addie’s Car Seat, a Britax Roundabout, through the airport and checked Hayden’s Car Seat, a Graco SnugRide, at the ticket counter. You do not need to buy a ticket for a “Lap Baby” under 2 years of age (“Lap Baby”??? You mean BAG OF CATS baby!) that will be sitting on your lap (Hold on, I can’t stop laughing!!!!). We buy a ticket for Addie if the flight is over an hour and a half. Small price to pay to save our marriage and our sanity. See the write up in the Travel Favorites Gallery on the travelmate, not our marriage.
3. Ergo Baby Carrier:
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I use an Original Ergo Baby Carrier for Addie. This is the backpack contraption in the Sherpa photo. GREAT piece of baby gear to own and is in the Travel Favorites Gallery. I can use it for either child in a back or forward carrying position, it washes well, and the weight sits on my hips not my back or shoulders. It also has a pocket, which is nice to stow keys, money, phone, binky, etc. It takes a little practice to get used to putting them in and out of the back carrying position by yourself, but after a few times, you’ll be the next circus act!
4. BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier:
Hayden is in the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier. Normally I am not a huge Bjorn fan. With my height I find it’s just a pain in the A–, I mean in my back. But when we travel, and when Hayden was this little, it made life a dream. I put the Bjorn on first as I really never had to put Hay down. And then the Ergo went over top. This way Mike could take Addie and run her around the airports and I never had to remove the Bjorn. I will say, if you are going to own one, and I know a lot of moms swear by them, the Synergy is great! It’s the best model for back support, and with the mesh material it keeps you and the babe a little cooler.
5. Apple iPod touch:
We did not need for the first trips, but the last few have all been short hour to an hour and a half. Enter my sister’s favorite gadget, the Apple iPod touch. We actually use Mike’s old phone with the sim card removed, but the Apple iPod touch does the same thing. You can load it with your Little’s favorite TV shows, (Little Bear rocks our world), kids games, their photos (like family member pictures), and music. Your Little will be entertained for HOURS! I keep this in my diaper bag too and pull it out for “emergencies” at stores, restaurants, etc. Easy to pack, charge and use. My sister actually realized my nephew was learning the alphabet from some of the kids games he was playing. There are a lot of great age appropriate kids apps available. GREAT babysitter!
6. Benadryl Children’s Perfect Measure:
This tip I know we have all heard, but promise me you’ll speak with your own doctor first. I spoke with Addie’s pediatrician before taking a trip for Christmas last year. I wanted to be sure I was covered in case we needed to use it for any reason. He was very clear on the appropriate dosage for her weight and age. Now that being said, I never travel without it. Children’s Benadryl Perfect Measure, Pre-Filled Spoons are awesome! I can throw just what I need in the bag and throw them away as we use them. Each single use “spoon” comes individually wrapped and allows me to “squeeze” just the amount I need for each girl. These are also super helpful to carry in your diaper bag if your kids have allergies, etc. So much easier than spoons or infant dosage syringes. (Now if only they had an adult Xanax in a perfect measure…one can dream.)
7. Target $1 toys or just cheap toys:
This is another great tip from my international traveling sister. Head to Target and buy tons of $1 toys. They can be anything, as long as the Littles have not seen them before – they love them! Wrap them up like little presents (cellophane and a bow work great – it makes noise!) and pull them out along the way. The Littles are almost more excited about the wrapping than the toy. This is key to eating up travel time, make every toy last. I’ve had great luck with magnetic doodle pads, play cell phones, musical keys, slinkies, etc.
8. Pack-n-Play Sheet:
I never take a Pack-n-Play. I’m sure it’s easy, I’ve just never had to and there is enough luggage as it is. I either call ahead to the hotel and ask for 2 cribs/Pack-n-Plays, or call the rental home and see if they have them available. Or if your staying with a friend, ask if they can borrow one for you. But I do take my own Pack’N Play Sheets. I have no problem using the sheets provided, but rental homes often don’t have crib sheets, and hotels often use a folded flat sheet. My kids are such movers and shakers that they get all wrapped up in the sheet. So I just bought 2 basic Pack-n-Play sheets that I take with us now.
My FAVORITE thing to do is order up supplies with Diapers.com. With checked bag charges so high now and strict weight limits, not having to pack things is important. Shipping is free with any order over $49. You’re CLEARLY there if you need diapers and formula. And they ship anywhere you want them to! The prices are a of couple dollars more sometimes than the stores, but they often have sales and specials, and you can mail in manufacture’s coupons. Not having to take an extra suitcase (and pay the fee) and having everything waiting for you is PRICELESS. I always order diapers, wipes, formula and baby food. Then depending on where we are headed, I might also order sunscreen, shampoo, lotion, & snacks. Try them out. First time customers get $10 of their first order, enter the code “MYFAV10” to receive the discount!
10. Take a backpack. I usually pack my diaper bag in my suitcase, and use a backpack for the airport. Mike carries it on his back, again leaving us hands free. Key.
11. You do not need car seats in public transportation (taxis, buses, subways, etc). Just something to note, do with it what you will. We travel to San Francisco often and do not take car seats, nor purchase Addie a plane ticket because of the short flight. Bart and Taxis for us. However, most rental car agencies have car seats you can reserve and if you are a AAA member, they will drop a car seat off for you at your arrival city.
12. I book most of our tickets online with the airlines. Southwest Airlines, I set my calendar reminder for 24 hours before the flight to check in for an “A” boarding pass. In Southwest’s case, you do not pre-board until after the “A’s”, if you have an “A” you board with them. I’ve been told you can add your infant to your ticket when you check-in online, but I have never seen it. We stop at the ticket counter and add them. Don’t forget proof of their age. We travel with passports. All other airlines that we have flown, you can add your lap baby to your ticket either when you book or check in online.
However, I very rarely check in online as we need to stop and check bags anyway, so it doesn’t help me. More times than not, if I have checked in online, I lose the CAREFULLY SELECTED SEATS I’VE CHOSEN! You don’t want to see me ticked off, trust me on this! When I book tickets, I try to be as close to the front of the plane as possible as the “sitting and waiting” is the hardest on the Littles. We want to get ON and OFF quickly. I also book a window and aisle if they are both traveling as lap babies to give us some extra space, or a window, aisle, aisle if we buy Addie a ticket (car seats have to sit at the window). When we check in at the ticket counter, we ask if our middle seat is occupied or if the flight is full, or can they place us any better. Early on when I was ignorant to it and checked in online, when it noted we had lap babies, our seats would get moved to window, middle, aisle and be at the BACK of the plane…..are you kidding me?????
If you actually made it to the end of this EXCEPTIONALLY long post, I’m thrilled! You are probably a select few! Thank you for your patience! I hope this post helps. I would love to hear any travel advice or tips that you have as well, and I’m sure other readers would too. Or if you would like any specific travel advice. I’m happy to offer suggestions. Please share or ask below!
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