On The Road — Traveling With KidsWRITTEN BY Amber Sabathia
With the summer being the prime time for travel, I look back on my first time traveling with our son to now traveling with our four kids (and figuring out how to make it as least stressful as possible). I’ve learned the best gadgets to bring on the plane to the best ways to overcome travel anxiety. But that first flight was horrifying, to say the least.
It was my first flight with my 18-month-old son. I was six months pregnant with our second child and since it was my first flight as a mom I decided to splurge for a first-class seat. I only needed one seat because my son was a lap child (not thinking that with a baby in my belly I didn’t have much of a lap for him to sit on). My next mistake was planning a flight to Hawaii for my brother’s wedding – a total of five hours on the plane from California. If you have ever tried to restrain an 18-month-old for five hours in one spot with no car seat, you can imagine where this story will end.
I found myself running up and down the aisle, giving every passenger a high-5 and helping pass out the pretzels. We had a potty accident so I was crammed into the small bathroom changing a blowout (if you’re a mom you know what a blowout is: the diaper doesn’t do its job), which is no easy task. Only to end up with a naked child because he ruined all his clothes from throwing up the sour milk that the flight attendant accidentally gave him. I walked off that five-hour flight with my naked son wrapped in a blanket and I swore that that would be my last flight with a child.
But just like childbirth you forget the pain and do it all over again. Only this time you’re wiser, stronger and prepared to tackle any obstacle that comes your way. It was a hard flight to shake, but looking back nine years later I can laugh as I tell my story. Now, I have much more knowledge on traveling, having increased my children and lowered my anxiety. It’s just like riding a bike: You fall, you shake it off and start peddling again. Once you’ve done it, you can always do it!
Less is More: My best advice is to not overpack. The saddest thing to me is when I see a parent traveling with the car seat, stroller, diaper bag, bag of toys, bag of snacks and then the parent has no hands to hold the child! There are car seat/stroller combos, FDA certified for traveling, if your child still needs to be strapped in during flight.
Let them Play: Finding the children’s area in the airport prior to flight or during a layover and letting them run off any extra energy is key to a successful flight. If traveling by car, don’t be afraid to stop at parks, rest stops or a fast food play area. Being trapped in one seat for a long period of time can be hard for a child (even a parent).
Backpack It: Have the older kids pack one backpack that’s not too heavy, so they can be in charge of carrying. Try and bring one electronic fully charged. Don’t allow the child to play till the trip begins (nothing worse than a dead electronic at takeoff). It’s hard to get kids’ entertainment and snacks from the overhead compartments. It’s easiest to put them under the seat in front of the child. With their short legs, they don’t need the extra space. Plus, they are able to get to and through their stuff on their own, leaving one less thing for Mom to worry about (especially when flying with multiple children).