Friday, June 8, 2012
The Logistics You Need to Know Before You Travel With Little Kids
Traveling with little kids is an art form. Really, there should be a PHD course because there are so many things you need to remember to have a smooth trip. The first time we traveled, we quickly realized there was so much we didn't know, including that babies need a lap pass to travel with Mom! I wished someone would just make me a manual on everything I needed to know and remember. Of course, there are no guarantees. You never know when there might be delays, bad weather, etc, and some things you can only learn through experience. If you are planning to travel with your little kids, here is the manual I wish I'd had: 14 things you need to know before you travel with little kids:
Logistics for the plane:
- If you are taking a lap child, have you called ahead for your lap child pass? Most airlines will require this so calling ahead will save you time at the airport. They just need to know the name and date of birth of your child. Most airlines allow children to travel free if they are under 2. Keep in mind that if the flight isn't full, Southwest Airlines will sometimes allow you to bring the infant carrier on the plane, even for a lap child, so it might be worth it to bring the carrier to the gate and ask if it's a full flight so that your little one can just sleep in their carseat next to you if possible.
- Do you have copies of birth certificates? Not every airline requires this, but some do. It's better to be prepared.
- If your child is over 2, consider taking their car seat on the plane with you. I highly recommend this, especially for children between 2 and 4, because it forces them to stay strapped in and you won’t be fighting them the whole time. Trust me, they will want to get down on the floor and play around and bump into the seat in front of them. If they are contained, you will have a much more peaceful flight. However, keep in mind that carseats need to be approved for air travel. There is usually a small sticker behind the car seat that says that it is FAA approved. Also, keep in mind that if your car seat is extra wide and large, it might not fit very well. We used an Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat, Saturn, and it fit just perfectly, but if your car seat looks much bigger than this, that could be a problem.
- Consider bringing a carry-on bag that contains everything you can't live without or easily replace, such as: Your baby monitor (You will feel much more comfortable sitting on your patio at night while your kids are asleep in a strange place if you brought your baby monitor), the chargers for the baby monitor, any DVD chargers you might need, your child's blankies and special sleeping buddies, etc. It might seem like a pain to have to carry this through the airport, but we've had our luggage lost more than once.
- Take empty kid-friendly water bottles in your carry-on bag that your child is already used to sipping from. If you have any liquid, it has to go through special screening at security, which takes extra time. If you put empty bottles from home in your bag, it won't delay you, and then you can buy water bottles once you get through security and fill up your child's water bottle. If you don't bring their special cup, you're stuck with the water bottles you buy, which can very easily leak and a wet kid is never a happy kid.
- Even if your child only uses a pacifer in bed, consider bringing one on the plane. They will be more likely to doze with their paci, and it might also help with the discomfort in the ears caused by the altitude of the flight.
- Find a way for them to watch TV. Buy a small DVD player. Or, if you have an iPad, download their favorite shows and movies. Even an old iPod might work. This is one time where watching TV won't hurt them and it could make it much more pleasant for you and the people around you.
- If you do choose to bring a car seat, consider getting this snazzy little device for it.
- Our is a GoGo Babyz Kidz Travelmate. and it literally turns your kids into a roller suitcase. It's a great way to get them around the airport without a stroller. Our daughter loves riding in her car seat around the airport! If you just want to check your car seat and not have to mess with it through the airport, the J.L. Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag is a good option.
- Make sure you do some research before you leave so that you can get your bed/crib rented. Almost any tourist destination will have companies that specialize in renting any baby equipment you could need, such as full cribs, high-chairs, and even baskets of toys so that your kids aren't stuck playing with the expensive, break-able coasters in your rented condo. Most of the these companies will deliver the cribs and set them up before you even arrive. Some hotels also offer Pack and Plays, but if you want a full crib, you're better off renting one.
- Another option is a toddler travel bed, which a small mattress that inflates and can be placed on the floor. We have a Tuck-Me-In Travel Bed with Removable Mattress KIDS - $99.95 made by One Step Ahead and it has worked really well for us.
- If you decide to bring your baby monitor, don't forget a thumb-tack. Sometimes it's hard to find a place to hang up the baby monitor in your hotel or condo. Obviously, it's important to make sure that all the cords are tucked away and it's up high enough so they can't reach it. Having a thumb-tack allows you to hang your monitor on the wall and tuck the cords away from your kids.
- If you don't bring your car seat on the plane and plan to rent one from the rental car company, make sure you call and reserve it in advance since they do run out occasionally.
- When you get there, make a quick lap around the place and put away anything breakable. We have even moved the coffee table when it's sharp and glass and looks like a prime target for head-splitting. Make the condo as comfortable and safe as you can for while you are there. You can move everything back later.
- Does your rental place have stairs? Make sure you find that out before-hand, and if needed, try to rent a baby gate if your kids are at that age. Sometimes the rental place will even provide one for you.
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