As of this year I have been traveling with children for over 6 years. It doesn’t seem like that much time could have possibly passed, but I guess having an 8 year old proves that it did. Looking back I can remember all the major incidents, but I’m glad that I took the time to write down the smaller ones and which things really helped me along the way. As I was wandering around Pinterest.com today, I noticed that I don’t actually have a post where all of my posts about flying with children are listed. So here it is – a list of all the posts I’ve written about flying with little ones.
A lot of people underestimate the power of carry on luggage. They throw a couple of things in there that they think they will need on the airplane and call it day. Well I am here to help you realize your carry on bag’s full potential.
Let’s start off with a story from my recent trip with my husband and three children from Athens, Greece to Los Angeles, California. We got through the physical hurdle of checking in our many suitcases, getting through airport security, loading all of the kids on the plane, getting them secured in their seats, and taking off. Life was good. This is normally the time I start to relax, because the worst is over, at least for a few hours until the kids get bored. Then it happened… the in flight drink service. The lovely plane worker handed Kati (my 3 year old daughter) an apple juice while Travis was getting Ksena’s drink set down on her tray table (note to lovely plane workers… you should probably wait for the parent of the 3 year old to take their drink… just saying’) and she spilled the ENTIRE cup all over herself and the seat. The lovely plane worker proceeded to high tail it out of there leaving us to clean up after her mistake. I wish she would have offered to help, but that was my only service complaint through the entire flight, so overall the service was great. I got out of my seat (I was sitting behind Travis and the girls next to Timotheos) and took down my handy Liz Claiborne carry on bag. I stripped Kati right there in the isle, took out a change of clothes for her, handed Travis a full pack of wipes to wipe down the seat, and placed her wet clothes in a plastic bag. The whole incident took less than 5 minutes, but think about how complicated it would have been if I didn’t have a change of clothes for her (or if the seats had been cloth instead of leather… yikes). I share this little anecdote with you to illustrate the importance of packing a well rounded carry on bag.
Of course there are many other things that can go wrong when using air travel, but one of the most common is having a suitcase go missing only to turn up days later. That is why I also pack a few things for Travis and I along with extra clothes for the girls. The last thing I want to do is go out and spend money on a change of clothes because the airlines lost my bag.
And without further ado, here is the list of things you should pack in your carry on bag:
-One or two empty plastic bags, for soiled clothes… or whatever else you might need them for.
-A change of clothes (including underwear and socks) for everyone in your family. There should be at least two changes of clothes for each of your kids.
-Pajamas for your kids. When you land wherever you are going, you are going to be tired from traveling and you won’t want to deal with unpacking your bag right away most of the time. So throw in a pair of pj’s for each child that way you are ready to put them to bed when you arrive at your destination.
-Toiletries. If your suitcase gets lost, you will still need the basics. I always pack our toothbrushes, a hair brush, and travel toiletries including toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, and deodorant. Make sure you pack these according to airline standards (which can vary by airport). Generally the rule is a one quart bag, and no individual item over 3 ounces or 88 milliliters. It is better to use travel items instead of using small, clear containers because the TSA person will know what is in it, instead of questioning what the fluid is. If you have little girls, also remember to pack hair ties and hair clips. They are small and you don’t want to be without them.
-Snacks. I always bake something special for the plane ride that my family will enjoy. I also peel and cut up carrots and bring pretzels or crackers. You don’t have to bake, but if you do my favorite easy to follow baking website is Joy Of Baking. This time I made banana muffins, yum!
-Empty water bottles. Bring one or two to fill up inside the airport once you get through security. I’m sorry, but I’m just not going to pay $4 for 20 oz. of water, thank you very much JFK.
-Activities to do on the airplane. Now they have those handy in flight entertainment systems that play music or videos and even offer games to play. However, it is still a good idea to bring things to do, because you might end up with a broken remote (like I did… bummer) or something else. So make sure to bring coloring books, toys, and games for your kids, along with a book or iPad for yourself. I was really kicking myself because I forgot to pack a book, even though it was on my list. I have to admit that I was pretty bored when I wasn’t watching Timo or the girls.
-Your computer. Obviously you should never stick a computer in a checked bag if you want to keep it safe. You also want to keep it with you so you can avoid it being stolen. My diaper bag has a pocket for a laptop (thank you Fleurville!), but Travis usually carries our laptop in our camera bag which also has a slot for a laptop. In my opinion it is better to get a multipurpose laptop bag instead of a bag that only holds a laptop, that way you can maximize your “Personal Item” such as a purse or baby bag, when traveling.
Those are the super basic items I pack into our carry on bag. If you can stuff anything else in there, then go for it! But remember you don’t want your bag overly full because it will be a major pain to get things in and out. I will be talking about what kind of bag is best for carry on luggage in another post soon, so look out for that. Hope you have a wonderful week.
We just made the long journey from Athens, through JFK airport in New York, on through to Los Angeles with our entire family. A few days later I realized that I had forgotten a very important pre-flight ritual, and the only reason I realized that I had forgotten it in the first place is because I am now dealing with the results.
Whenever we fly, we make sure to take multivitamins for a few days before. Then we pop an airborne while on the flight. This time, I forgot all about vitamins, and now I have a cold, cough, and sinus headache to deal with in addition to jet lag. Thank God that no one else in my family is showing any signs of illness. I have to say that being sick right now is a major bummer, because I should be catching up with family, friends, and the time zone. The worst thing is that it probably could have been avoided. We all know that there are germs on airplanes, and when planes come in several hours late and there are impatient passengers anxious to make their connecting flights, there is more of a possibility that cleaning will not be as through as it should be (which is probably what happened with my connecting flight from JFK to LAX).
I’m not going to recommend that you buy expensive travel disinfectant products (although I’m sure the companies that produce such products would love for me to do that), but I am going to recommend some simple tricks that will help to keep your family feeling well. Besides the jet lag, of course (I’ll tackle that one in another post soon).
5 tips to avoid getting sick from air travel:
1. Take multivitamins. Make sure you all take vitamins before for at least a week before your flight. You need to make sure that this includes vitamin D, which is great for fighting against colds.
2. Get as much rest as possible before you travel. This is another rule I broke because we didn’t know we were leaving until two days before our departure. Make sure that you all get as much sleep as possible and try not to do anything too strenuous before your trip. Air travel is physically exhausting for everyone in your family, as it usually involves lots of walking, waiting, and lifting.
3. Wipe down your seat (if it is leather or vinyl), tray tables, remotes/touch screens, and arm rests with disinfectant wipes. These wipes are not expensive, and this is a small thing you can do that has a large impact, especially with little children because they are constantly putting their hands in their mouths.
4. Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink enough water while traveling on an airplane. You may be tempted to drink tons of soda and juice, but make sure you are staying hydrated because hydration helps your body to operate at it’s best, which means less of a chance of getting a virus such as a cold or the flu.
5. Wash your hands. Whenever you get a chance, make sure to wash your hands, rubbing them vigorously. The friction is what kills a lot of the germs.
I’m not saying that you should be paranoid about germs, but airplanes are confined spaces, and you never how clean they actually are. If you can avoid getting sick while on holiday, then you should.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have some Cold Remedy tea with honey in it, and snuggle under my quilt while Timotheos takes a nap.
I know I usually post on Tuesday, but I thought today called for a special post. We will be getting back to normal schedule on Friday. So here is some food for thought on a grim anniversary in American history.
I’m sure you will be seeing many blogs on the impact of September 11th, 2001 today, on the 10th anniversary of the startling and unnerving attack on the United States of America. Since this is a travel blog, I think I would be doing myself and you the readers a serious disservice if I did not take this moment to reflect on the way that solemn day, 10 years ago, changed the way we travel so poignantly. Specifically in regards to air travel.
The last time I traveled, I was distinctly aware of this particular change as I was going through security from Budapest to Athens. But let me backtrack for a second to what it was like to travel with children before 9/11, and for that reflection, I have to think about my experiences as a traveling child, since I was only 17 when everything in the traveling world changed.
Before 9/11 women with young children would have not been so commonly subjected to the same “extensive” search in front of their children that I experienced on our last trip. When I was traveling with my parents, I never witnessed a security person digging into my mother’s bra looking for a weapon. I had to explain to Ksena, last time we were traveling, why the woman was digging around in my bra (sorry if that sounds crass, but that’s just the reality of what happened). Before 9/11, you could carry your toddler through the medal detector. Not anymore. You have to let each of your children walk through one by one, only after they have removed all of their jackets and shoes.
For those of us who traveled before 9/11, these differences can be distinct and offensive, but for my children, they will never understand what travel was like before someone decided to use a commercial aircraft as the worlds most destructive non-nuclear missile. They will never think it is abnormal that you cannot take water through security because it might be a chemical. They will never question why they are not allowed to carry a nail file, or a large bottle of lotion onto an airplane.
But as I watched clips today with my husband, and remembered that day 10 years ago, I am reminded of why traveling has changed, and why so many of us don’t object to these extensive security measures. As Americans, our perspective changed that day. It was no longer something that happened to other nations we didn’t understand. It was personal, and it definitely called for everyone to think about security measures in a different way. Although sometimes we might find it irritating or intrusive it isn’t worth the personal, or public risk, and so we deal with it. I have to admit, I don’t like being frisked or asked to eat out of an open jar baby food. It’s not the funnest experience to have to strip my kids of their jackets and shoes every time we go though security, or have my car seat tested for bomb materials. I tolerate these things because I am concerned with safety, and I love to travel. Traveling is part of who I am, just like being American is part of who I am. Since 9/11 both of those definitions have changed in my life, but I hope that you won’t let fear or irritation stop you from traveling.
In closing today, I would like to quote a letter from former President Lincoln to Lydia Bixby, who lost five sons in the Civil War as my own note of comfort to all of the people that lost loved ones that day, and in all the days since in the war on terror. It is the same letter that former President Bush read this morning at ground zero.
“I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
On our first cross continental flight with our kids, things did not go as smoothy as I wanted. I knew that there could be a better way, but I wasn’t sure how to accomplish that. Naturally, I started researching! I originally found a product at One Step Ahead that I thought would be helpful, a cart that you put your child’s car seat on so you can use it as type of stroller. Carrying two car seats through the airport was definitely something I wanted to avoid doing again. But the price tag was purely ridiculous! For $80, I would expect a lot more than a car seat dolly.
Then on Amazon I typed in, “car seat luggage” and found a strap that uses your rolling carry on as a dolly for your car seat. I was amazed. A quick type of my ebay login and $12 PayPal dollars later, I had ordered something I thought would be amazing. It operates using the LATCH system that all new car seats in the United States have (if you have a car seat that is not from the US, check out the TOTEaTOT below). The truth is, the Traveling Toddler Car Seat Travel Accessory is pretty amazing (although they could have shortened the name… wow), but recently as I was perusing the Amazon reviews I came upon a highly useful one by “Jessica.” This is what the review says:
“I showed my husband the picture of this item because I thought it looked pretty darn smart. Well, two minutes later he had the carseat attached to the rolling carry on WITHOUT an added purchased strap. You still use the seat hooks from your car seat – both side clips and the top clip. Put the top car seat hook under the top handle of your luggage & the side ones simply around the sides of the luggage. Buy a $0.50 metal ring from a hardware store & clip the car seat hooks to it & tighten all straps. Voila! We tested it with our kiddo in it & she giggled as we wheeled her around the house. Perfect.” Read more