We made it. Eight hours and 45 minutes from door to door yesterday and we are back in our own house and fighting through the attention withdrawals that always come with the territory when we return from Wisconsin.
After surviving another two flights yesterday, here are some travel tips that have made my life easier:
- Pack light...and heavy. Bring as little as possible on the plane with you (there's enough to juggle without extra bags) but don't skimp on the toys/books/food to help distract the wee ones.
- Board last. Or at least toward the end. Unless you have a baby you're trying to get to sleep prior to take off, pass on the opportunity to board early and enjoy the extra time to roam free before being cooped up.
- Keep 'em confined. Using carriers through security is the way to go. From tiny babies to toddlers, it's the best way to stay hands free to get everything on the belt without having to worry about escapees.
- Plan for delays. It's terrifying to think about but it's better to be prepared then end up at the airport for several hours without enough diapers or baby food.
- Entertain, don't soothe. My babies are not great plane sleepers (except when they were teeny). They'll power through naps or bedtime, much to my chagrin. After many flights trying to get crying babies to fall asleep, I've realized that it's easier to try to entertain them through thre exhaustion than attempt to get them to sleep. Exhausting for me? Insanely, but much less stressful.
- Bring a stroller. Plan on bringing your most travel-friendly stroller (compact but with decent storage) with you to the gate (they'll check it there for free). It's handy to have a place to strap your little one into (think trips to the bathroom) and it's a necessary pack mule for everything you need to carry (diaper bag, coats, carrier, etc.).
- Make peace with germs. Before I had babies, the idea of letting a child roam around the airport on their hands and knees was repulsive to me. I got over that real quick when I realized those little ones need to use up some energy before boarding the plane. Roam free, crawlers!
- New is exciting. Save toys to reveal on the plane. Buy new or hide old ones leading up to the trip so that these distractions are new and interesting. Some toddler-approved options for your consideration: Magformers, soft cover books, magnetic play board, stickers/sticker notebook.
- Bring a garbage bag. Sounds random but it's amazing how much trash you accumulate on a flight. And if you're not prepared, you end up with junk everywhere. If you forget one, grab one of the TSA bags outside security (most airports have them).
- Breathe. It's impossible to internalize at the moment but flights are short and people are generally very sweet about cranky babies. It'll all be over soon no matter how long the crying lasts so breathe through it, friend.