This post may be a little late for those of you who traveled during the holiday season, but I could only write it after I had traveled myself. You see, I flew out-of-town to see my parents and siblings for Christmas, forcing my husband and I to do that scary thing that all parents of little ones dread: the inevitable Air Travel With Your Infant And Toddler…dun dun dun!
We’d already flown internationally with Pumpkin when she was a year old, and across the country with her before she could say airline peanuts. But this time around, things would be a little different. For starters, we would be flying with two kids this time.
Okay, things would be a lot different.
And it was the holiday season.
And it would be Pumpkin’s first time flying in her own seat.
And it would be Peanut’s first time flying–period.
If you are about to find yourself in a similar situation in the near future, read on:
MAKE SEPARATE PACKING LISTS FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER 2 WEEKS IN ADVANCE
I was one of those that would pack within 24 hours of my scheduled flight, throwing items will-nilly into my carry-on. I was so young and foolish. Now that I’m a mom, I don’t leave anything to chance. Go through your day as you take care of the kids and see what items need to be packed, what you can do without, and what you can buy at your destination. You’d be surprised how many little details of your kids’ routine go unnoticed. Anytime I noticed another necessary item, I simply added it to the list or if possible, added to the diaper/check-in/carry-on bag. Don’t forget your children’s birth certificates!
WE’D ALREADY DONE THE WHOLE LUGGING-THE-CAR SEAT-OUT-OF-THE-TAXI-CHECKING-IT-IN-AND-CLAIMING-IT-AT-BAGGAGE-CLAIM CRAP. JUST THE THOUGHT OF DOING THAT WITH TWO CAR SEATS MADE ME ALMOST WANT TO CANCEL MY TICKET!
HAVE YOUR LUGGAGE PACKED 2 DAYS PRIOR TO TRAVEL
I know this may be hard to do, but try your utmost to confine your belongings to ONE check-in piece. Also, you’re allowed one carry-on and one personal item, but that doesn’t mean you should. Don’t be stuck juggling your kids and your luggage as you board and deplane. It sucks. We just had my bag, the kids’ diaper bag, and my husband’s camera bag with his equipment, plus our double stroller, which we checked in at the gate.
HAVE A CAR SEAT PLAN
We’d already done the whole lugging-the-car seat-out-of-the-taxi-checking-it-in-and-claiming-it-at-baggage-claim crap. Just the thought of doing that with two car seats made me almost want to cancel my ticket! If you’re late to baggage claim, your car seats will be taken off the carousel and you get the fun task of hunting them down at the claim office…fun! And you can’t leave the airport without them. Oh yeah, and remember you have two possibly crying, definitely cranky, hungry kids with you?
Here are some options:
Buddy up with a mom or dad friend who already has car seats and arrange for a ride to the airport.
If you’re calling a taxi, ask ahead of time if they provide child seats. Allow yourself extra time to install the seat.
Some rental car companies provide child seats, for an extra charge. Consider renting a car at your destination if you have no one to pick you up and/or you plan on driving around a bit once you get there.
If you are staying with family, purchasing child seats online and having them shipped to your destination is another option.
ARRIVE AT THE AIRPORT AT LEAST 3 HOURS IN ADVANCE OF YOUR FLIGHT
Even with the way the airlines are nowadays, flights are almost always delayed, especially during the holidays–and our flight was no exception–but you still need some extra time to navigate the airport with your kids.
IF YOU’RE LIKE US, AND FWB (FLYING WHILE BROWN), GIVE YOURSELF EXTRA TIME TO GET THROUGH SECURITY
Wear no-fuss clothing and easy-to-remove shoes. Your stroller will need to go onto the conveyor belt, so you will be stuck holding at least one of your kids–you won’t be able to bend over. TSA will have you walk through the metal detector while you hold your kids.
HAVE A PLAN FOR ENTERTAINING THE KIDDOS
This doesn’t need to be some super-fancy toy or gadget. Every child is different, so watch and see what interests your child and take full advantage of it. Since we hadn’t boarded yet, we alternately took Pumpkin for walks around the gate, and she was obsessed with looking out the window. She even learned to say “plane”!
MY GUT FEELING THEN WAS THAT SHE WOULD BE MORE TAKEN WITH THE IN-FLIGHT LITERATURE, SINCE SHE LOVES TEARING UP OUR MAGAZINES AT HOME.
Since Peanut was confined to the stroller, we just rolled her back and forth at our seat. As Pumpkin is currently in her Doc McStuffins phase, we thought a brand new Doc boardbook would be a fun surprise for the flight.
We ended up taking it out only when our departing flight was inevitably delayed, leaving us stuck at the gate. She flipped through the pages, and within seconds tossed it aside. My gut feeling then was that she would be more taken with the in-flight literature, since she loves tearing up our magazines at home.
Remember also to change diapers at least one hour before boarding.
IF POSSIBLE, KEEP YOUR BAGS UNDER THE SEAT IN FRONT OF YOU ON THE PLANE
If your child has a diaper blowout or you need an extra blanket, getting up out of your seat to rummage in the overhead compartment is no easy feat, since you will also need to juggle around your infant (lap child).
DEPLANE AS SOON AS YOU CAN UPON LANDING
Get those kids back in their stroller (it should be just outside the plane door) and disembarking will be much easier. Even if they’re cranky, they’re strapped in. Just keep pushing faster. Run to baggage claim and pick up your ONE check-in bag. (Aren’t you glad you listened to me?)
PICK UP YOUR RENTAL CAR/MEET YOUR RIDE
With your pre-installed carseats!
ENJOY YOUR TRIP
Relax, and remember: worst-cast scenario, you can always go down to a local store and pick up supplies and snacks.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to entertain Pumpkin very much on the flight, other than providing her with the aforementioned magazines, telling her we were in a “whoo-car”, and letting her keep my empty plastic cup of apple juice. Peanut slept the whole way–I guess it helped that our flight was at 10 pm and only around 90 minutes!
Any more suggestions for traveling with kids? Share them in the comments below!