One of the biggest challenges for me as a mom is adapting to motherhood without changing who I am. Motherhood is my greatest accomplishment and my love for my kids is unexplainable, but I didn’t want to lose my identity once I became a mother. When Perry was born, it was important to me to find the right balance internally so I could welcome motherhood with open arms instead of being resentful and thinking I was missing out on something. We had a certain lifestyle before kids came into the picture. We both worked long hours and were committed to our careers but we made sure to take time off and travel the world. Once kids made an appearance, suddenly that wasn’t so easy.
I remember hearing that once you have children, you will completely change as a person and will no longer be able to travel and do the things you once loved. With that in mind, once we became parents, it was important to both Julian and me to continue to explore the world together. To be the best mom I could be, I decided to do motherhood on my own terms and do the things we always loved, but now with our children. It’s important to us to instill a strong sense of adventure in Perry and Dylan. Our first family trip happened when she was just five months old. I hope that by continuing to expose our kids to new places and different cultures, they’ll be able to learn both inside and outside the classroom.
Traveling together as a family has enhanced our lives and brought more precious memories than we had ever anticipated. Last week, we took an unplanned trip to Dominican Republic to get away and enjoy each other’s company in a warm and sunny destination. One of the most common questions I get on social media is if I have any tips for traveling with kids, especially when it comes to international travel. Flying with a toddler and a baby makes parents understandably nervous. I found that traveling when Perry was a baby was much easier, especially when flying because she would mostly sleep and nurse on the plane. As her and Dylan get older, flying is getting tough with kids who each have their own needs and interests. Here are some tips for flying with a toddler and a baby that worked for us.
Tips for flying with a toddler and a baby:
♥ Check passport expirations before booking an international flight! Make sure they’re not expiring within six months. Speaking of passports, get passports for your kids even if you don’t have any travel coming up. You never know what may come up or if you’re booking a last minute trip, the last thing you need to worry about is getting their passports in time.
♥ We typically travel with both car seats but this time, we left the car seats at home and used an FAA-approved child harness. This is a personal choice but I can say it was really nice to not carry our heavy car seats around. The deciding factor for us was that we weren’t renting a car in Punta Cana but instead had a private shuttle with a car seat. Do your research and decide what is best for your family based on your comfort level and travel circumstances.
♥ Pack early so you can relax and rest the night before your trip. It also decreases the chance that you’ll forget something important.
♥ For a lap infant, they’re not forced to sit in one spot so be prepared for a lot of climbing and entertaining
♥ Keep diapers, wipes and a change of clothes readily accessible. Always bring at least one change of clothes! Dylan goes through about seven shirts per day because they get so dirty so I like to put a few in our carry-on so he’s not walking around in wet or dirty clothes. Also, you never know when a blow-out may occur so it’s always best to be prepared. 🙂
♥ For your toddler, make it all sound like one great big adventure, which it truly is! We talked to Perry in advance to let her know we’re getting on an airplane and all the steps involved from dropping off our bags to landing in another country. We’ve found that things don’t go as smoothly if she is surprised or doesn’t know what is coming.
♥ Pay for seat upgrades if you’re not sitting together so you don’t need to worry about last minute switching
♥ Book flights based on nap schedules if possible so the kids will be ready to sleep during take off. We’ve found that if they are tired and cranky, our travel experience can tank quickly.
♥ Ask if the airline offers priority boarding for families so you can get yourself settled
♥ If you can get an awesome family member to drop you off and pick you up at the airport (thanks, Steve!), it helps if they use your car. Essentially, your car seats are already installed and you don’t need to take them in and out. Major time saver!
♥ Use a light umbrella stroller for the security line
♥ Speaking of lines, don’t worry about holding up the line. Worrying about what others around you are thinking will just stress you out. Focus on getting your family through that line and waiting comfortably at the gate.
♥ Bring all the snacks, especially for takeoff and landing to ease ear pressure
♥ For your handbag, use a bag with a zipper so you don’t need to worry about anything falling out. I had an open bag and was constantly checking to make sure our passports were still there.
♥ Change diapers right before boarding starts
♥ Check large luggage and minimize the amount of carry-ons you have
♥ Set your expectations and keep in mind that anything can happen, not limited to blowouts and tantrums
♥ With that in mind, ease into your seat and have a drink or two. Things don’t need to be perfect for you to have an amazing time and create these beautiful memories together.
♥ Bring kid headphones. We normally limit screen time but on our most recent trip, we gave her the option of watching Finding Dory if she wanted to. She used my headphones, which were too big for her ears and kept falling out.
♥ At the hotel, book a suite if possible so there is a separate living room area. We like to put both cribs there. Once the kids go to sleep, we can close the door and hang out in the bedroom area. Otherwise, we’d have to basically go to sleep at 7pm and the kids would most likely take hours to fall asleep anyway if we were in the room.
It seems like toddlers are hungry all day, everyday. I also found that many airports don’t have healthy food available so I like to bring our own snacks to be sure we have everything we need. If you run out of snacks, it can be a serious issue so take note! I also like to give the kids something to eat as we take off and land to ease any ear pain they may have. Here are some snack options for your travel adventures:
〉Baby food pouches-I like these organic pouches from Happy Baby in a clear container so I can see what’s inside.
〉Sliced applies, carrots or grapes
〉Cheerios in plastic sandwich bags
〉Water in a straw bottle
〉These silicone bibs are great and can be rolled up so they don’t take up too much space
〉Your kids’ favorite toy
〉Books! These are some of our favorites.
〉Download the Gogo Inflight app to watch new releases.
〉Inflatable floaties for swimming (for the beach!)
〉Mountain Buggy Umbrella Stroller-it folds up and fits into the overhead compartment so you can use it right up until boarding. I’ve posted about it here before because it’s one of our favorite travel items!
〉Potette portable potty-it’s a life saver! The kids use is on the beach to avoid going back and forth to the bathroom 25 times per day.
〉Small backpack for diapers, wipes and a change of clothes. We used Perry’s preschool backpack instead of a traditional diaper bag. It was easy to carry on my back and have my hands available to hold little hands. 🙂
〉Car seat bag if you have a car seat with you. The car seat is free to check and this bag helps protect it against wear and tear. My sister-in-law gave us a great tip to put diapers in there, which worked out really well (more room in the suit case for cute outfits)!
Next on my travel to-do list:
〉Apply for Global Entry and/or TSA pre-check- This is something we’ve been meaning to do for quite some time but haven’t scheduled a day yet. Do you have one or the other? What was the process like? Let me know below. I would love to get some insight on whether or not it’s worth it!
Lastly, I’ll repeat one of the most important tips above. Have a cup of coffee (perhaps turn that into wine), take a deep breath and enjoy the journey. We’ve had easy flights and more challenging flights but even so, I would do it all over again. I’ve also found that most people are friendly and sympathetic when they see parents traveling with small children. Flying with a toddler and a baby isn’t easy and can really test your patience. Still, there is nothing better than exploring the world with some of my favorite people. If you have any questions, comment below. I’m happy to clarify anything!
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag