This week’s theme for Discover & Explore is Vacations, and I am thrilled to have Rachael from Nothing if Not Intentional sharing our first ever guest post on this site. She knows a lot more than me about traveling with kids. Thankfully, I got to read this post before we left for vacation last week, so I could put some of her great tips to use. With a little luck and her great advice, I’m hoping to avoid one of those epic in-flight meltdown stories she speaks of. Wish me luck, and enjoy her wisdom!
As usual, we’d love for you to link up at the end of this post. Please share any resources, tips, and activities you have that relate to vacations and traveling with kids.
If you love Fantastic Fun and Learning like I do (which I’m sure you do!), then you understand why I’m thrilled to be guest posting here today. I write about a lot of different things on my blog, Nothing if Not Intentional, but my favorite thing to talk about is traveling with children. My husband is a pilot, and I love to travel. Not surprisingly, we’re always going on adventures with our two young girls–a baby and a two-year-old. (In fact, I’m writing this from a hotel room while my girls nap!)
1) A child’s fear or nervousness regarding the experience.
2) The parents’ anxiousness that their child will be the one to have an epic meltdown mid-flight.
With a little preparation, I think we can minimize this anxiety and stress.
My oldest daughter is just a few months shy of her third birthday. For toddlers and preschoolers, it’s important to talk about the flight and trip in advance, so the child knows what to expect.
For our last big trip, I made a simple countdown to use with my daughter to build the excitement and remind her that we were gearing up for a trip. You can see ours here.
My husband had the genius idea to show our daughter where we were going on our big world map. Even with a map, does a two-year-old have any idea how far away her hometown is from Jamaica, Guatemala, or California? Of course not! But the map was a visual that helped her to grasp the concept that we were going to be away from home.
Whether or not your child has flown before, take time to remind him or her of what they will see and experience in the airport and on the plane. For toddlers and preschoolers, make pretend tickets or passports and set up a pretend airplane cabin using chairs in your dining room. For older kids, try this “Frequent Flyer” app from iGameMom. And, of course, airplane and airport books are great teaching tools. You can see some of our favorite airplane books and read more about how we’ve encouraged our daughter’s interest in airplanes in this post.
When our oldest daughter was about 18-months old, she’d cry when the plane engines would roar as the plane zipped down the runway. Her daddy gently talked her through what was happening: “The plane has to go really, really fast so that we can get off the ground! Now we’re off the ground. Do you hear that? The wheels are going up! Look over there. We’re in the clouds! The engines are much quieter now.” We also gave her a toy plane as a diversion and so that she could pretend to fly and be in control.
Yes, airports can be busy, stressful places. But you can do it! Arrive early, wear your baby, bring snacks, use your stroller as a luggage cart, and gate check your carseat if you won’t be using it on the plane. You got all of that, right? 😉 I break down the details on how to manage the airport chaos in this post.
If possible, try to fly during nap time. For my girls, naps in the car or plane are always shorter than naps at home. However, even a short nap will help pass the time. We read books, give my toddler her paci (I know she’s too old for a paci–don’t judge me too harshly!), and she knocks out. The baby likes to sleep strapped to me in a baby carrier.
When our girls wake up, we make use of the goodies we packed in our carry-on. We keep a well-stocked travel bag in a closet at home. It only comes out during trips, so the toys and activities are fresh and interesting. Some of my toddler’s travel favorites are stickers, an etch-a-sketch, books (leave the heavy and large board books at home), and Mr. Potato Head. You can see what else we keep in our bag here.
For those of you who are brave enough to fly with babies, I have a special post just for you: Tips for Flying with Babies. (Spoiler alert: don’t use the water on the planes for drinking or rinsing sippy cups! Gross!)
Even with good preparation, your travel-weary kiddo may collapse and force you to deal with ear-piercing screams, an angry tantrum, or a snotty, crying meltdown. I’ve been there. Most of your fellow passengers have been there. Sure, you may see a few people roll their eyes or turn up their music. But, for the most part, I’ve exited the plane after a rough flight feeling amazed by how patient and sweet strangers can be.
Okay, now that you’ve heard my best flying tips, I’d love to hear yours! (Have you had an epic in-flight meltdown?)
Get to Know Nothing if Not Intentional
Nothing if Not Intentional started as a way for Rachael and Nate to share stories from their ten trips to Guatemala. It is now an outlet for Rachael’s writing (she’s a former English major), a place to share tips from their travels (Nate’s a pilot), and a way to hold them accountable as they seek to intentionally raise their two young girls (2 1/2 years and 11 months). You can connect with Nothing if Not Intentional on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. For more travel tips and stories, check out the travel section of their blog.