With the holidays approaching, so comes travel! Traveling to Chicago for the holidays to see family was a tradition for most of my life. We would pile in the car, Christmas presents hidden among the clothes, praying the snow wouldn't add too many hours to the drive! I grew up pretty used to the hustle and bustle of travel, and with our family in Minnesota while we're all over the world, I'm sure my kids will always be used to it too!
Over the years we have taken long flights (Hello France!) and short flights (MSP-Chicago allllll the time), we've driven the supercharger network doing free electric road trips with our Tesla, and we've traveling into the Alps here in France with the kids in tow. Between layovers, delayed flights and numerous flights with just me and the kids (never have I missed Matthew more!!!!!) I would say I'm a bit of an expert on traveling with kids.
In 4 weeks we'll be traveling from Nice --> Layover in New York --> 2 weeks in Minneapolis --> 4 days in New York (flight just me with the kids alone, eeeek!) --> 1 weeks in Paris --> Nice. First of all, pray for me. Second, here's my secrets to survival.
Toys for Baby
Babies are planes are SO hit or miss. **SIDE NOTE, how tiny is Josephine above?!? Cue me crying over here!** Overall I think little babies on planes are a dream. You feed them, they sleep, and you go back to reading your kindle. BUT they can also be life-runing little terrorists who scream for hours. Like I said, hit or miss. If they're a newborn or closer to one, my advice is the same SO. MUCH. FOOD.
The toys below were great for occupying quite a bit of time, especially before and after takeoff (both my kids are obsessed with Sophie la Girafe, we NEVER travel without her) but my biggest secret is Baby Puffs. Seriously. I don't even portion them out normally, I just bring an entire container and let them play and eat. They're essentially puffed air they're so light, but they give them something to do (trying to pick them up, play with them, etc) they fill up their little tummies and then (silent prayer together) they sleep! Buy some, thank me later, you're welcome.
Toys for Toddlers
Traveling with toddlers is both easier and harder. On the plus side, you can reason with them and they don't cry endlessly. And the down side, the chances they sleep the entire flight are just about zero, and flights can be LONGGGG.
To start, if you buy anything from this list, it should be the water wow pack! For real, I love these. Of course my cool parents found these for my kids, and we've actually worn them out we've used them so much. They're reusable, many many times over, and easy for a toddler to use on their own (hello, 10 minute break to enjoy that ginger ale and stale pretzels!) If you're banking on the iPad to send sweet sweet relief in the form of Moana or endless Paw Patrol episodes, get the headphones below, seriously! Ear buds never work with toddlers (trust me, I wish I didn't know this) and these headphones fit comfortably on little ears. Josie does really well coloring on long flights. I always pack a set of markers, and below are two of my favorite coloring books. And if you haven't tried lace games (another cool Grandparent find!) it's time to try! They're challenging, but age appropriate for toddlers, and hold their interest for a surprising amount of time.
One thing I love doing with the kids while waiting during delays, layovers, and the time before boarding, is read airport books and identify what we see. Really, I highly recommend it! Both of the books listed below make airports seem fun and exciting to kids, and help them learn about the process of travel. Also extra points to ' The Airport Book' for being a great inclusive book representing all different races and nationalities! I've found reading them to be a fun and educational way to play with our girls during an otherwise BORING time.
SNACKS SNACKS SNACKS!
The real hero of air travel
I'm kinda a mean mom about health - I'm that mom who puts spinach in EVERYTHING (it wilts down to nothing and you can't even taste it?!?) and always looks at the sugar content on food. But hey, travel innately means we're going to be eating like crap for who knows how long, so I like to start the trip prepared. Here's how I pack our snack bag without feeling g guilty for FILLING my kids with food.
First of all, if you're not using Munchkins snack cups, you're missing out. Those Baby Puffs mentioned up top? Put those in here and you just made the process twice as slow. They're amazing and you definitely need them if you have a child under 2.
I love everything listed below, and we personally travel with some combination of all of it for every trip. In addition I try to sneak a little fresh fruit in there - Maddie's one true love (other than me, of course) is bananas, and Jos prefers cut up grapes. I also give my kids chickpeas as a snack often, perhaps sounds odd, but try it! It's really easy to snack away without too much guilt when choosing the right snacks!
I hope you enjoyed the post! Please comment with any other questions you have related to air travel with kids! We've been through it all, the good times and the SO SO BAD. Overall, it's no big deal. Lower your expectations, get a good nights sleep the night before, and try not to sweat the small stuff. If you made it there without losing a child, you did great!