If there is one thing I have MASTERED in motherhood, it is traveling with kiddos. I'm not going to say that we are not a complete clusterfuck. Because we are. I'm not going to say we are meltdown free. Far from it. I'm also not going to say my kids won't kick the back of your seat. Because they will. And after more practice than I like to reallze, they aren't kicking the seats because they are ill behaved hellions. They are kicking it because their little legs jut out perfectly to tap on the seat in front given the 5 inches of space we humans are allocated in the main cabin. Its an infrastructure problem really. Not a toddler problem. Correct them and do your best to explain why, but also empathize with them slightly on this one.
During quarantine alone, my tribe traveled via airplane well over 10 times. Typically when I am traveling with them it is for at least a month's time (so we have 3 large bags, two full sized car seats, 3 backpacks and a stroller) and I am usually solo with 2 kiddos under 5. I can do it and so can you, mama!!!
I've done this travel game since their birth and while it still gives me more anxiety than I've ever had in my life (because I am fearing the same things you are when you seated next to me and my toddler), I have become an expert. And I’m here to share my wisdom. It took time and lots of research to gather that I don’t want anyone else to have to go through, so here it is!!! 🤪🤪🤪
I was gifted so many life lessons while traveling with toddlers. Namely, people are kinder than you think and you'd be surprised to find that chivalry is not dead. You will survive this because kind people will help. But, I thought I'd share my go to tricks in case you find yourself in 5 inches of main cabin space with freedom seeking toddlers as an alcohol deprived, sleep deprived mama that is buckled in for 4+ hours on a rocket ship you can't get off of. And please keep the masks above your toddlers nose or we'll kick your struggling asses off. We are now ready for takeoff. Please enjoy your flight ❤️
1. Pack a Fun Filled Backpack for Each Kiddo -
Pack a backpack of fun small toys and or fun snacks they love ($ store is best budget friendly choice but Target is great too) and allow them to pull out an item every 30 minutes or so. I do this EVERY flight. It gives the kids something to look forward to and keep their interest on, they love being able to carry their own pack full of goods, and if we have any unopened items, they serve as great toys once we get to our destination! Toys that have been great for this are things like kinetic sand, moldable clay, those surprise eggs that have surprise toys inside, super small lego sets, a card game, hot wheels cars, mini momos, mini polly pockets (for girls) etc.
2. Snack Attack -
There have been NUMEROUS times that we have been delayed on a tarmac for over an hour, delayed at the airport, missed flights with no food options open, etc and keeping your kids happy goes hand in hand with keeping your kids well nourished!!! I fill a gallon size ziplock bag to the brim with snacks. Things like jerky sticks, nuts, protein bars, raisins, and dehydrated fruit makes for easy healthy options that also have a punch of protein. But guys. You are on a flight from hell. Give the kids some damn candy and tasty snacks (those low sugar candy packs from Target are great), gum balls, jelly beans, fruit snacks, chips, goldfish etc. They are a great tool for much needed bribery during an extenuating, difficult circumstance for all. And if you travel often like we do, it keeps them enjoying a flight experience instead of loathing it. Just place the ziplock bag in a separate bin through security and you'll be good to go!!!! Another pro tip. My kids LOVE Lunchables and don't get them often. I let them each pick one out and put it in the ziplock also (don't get the one with the drink or you'll get caught up with security). Its their most requested item during the flight!!!
3. Choose Games/Toys that will Keep their Attention-
I used to pack toys and games that my kiddos loved to play with at home, but realized quickly those didn't always translate to an airplane. As mentioned above, Kinetic Sand, Play Dough kits, and Moldable Clay are among the items that my kids play with for up to an hour on an airplane! Also sticker books are amazing..the ones with the reusable stickers so you can play again and again are a go-to! I've also found some great window stickers and toys that can stick to windows that are awesome options if you have access to the window seat (search for em on Amazon). Tiny lego sets are great too. They come in small little bags that are easy to throw in a backpack and they can follow the instructions, take it apart, and make their own creations!! Polly pockets or polly pocket-like toys for boys are awesome and allow kids to use their imaginations for long durations.
4. IPADS and Headphones Charged and Ready to Go -
I always download 1-3 movies on the kids' iPads and have found that getting the right headphones if they aren't accustomed to wearing them is key. Some sets can be uncomfortable, slip off, feel too big/too small, etc and that will REALLY fluster a 3-5 year old BIG time. I had them practice with a few sets at home to make sure they liked them before taking off. I also try to save the movies until after we've played a while. Just like in regular life, if you keep them stimulated for a duration, they will crave a little rest and relaxation. And maybe mom will be able to even relax a little too. Ya right : )
5. Be kind to yourself and to your kids -
I have realized while traveling so often with my kids that they are more resilient than we give them credit for. They will do great. And so will you. But they are also KIDS. They crave all the things that a flight restricts. Touch, exploration, movement, interaction, joy (lol), play, tickles and giggles. We set the bar so high for them to be silent, motionless, unexcited adults during a flight, that we are setting ourselves and our kids up for failure. I do my BEST to make sure my kids are kind while traveling. I make sure they say please and thank you. I explain to them what behavior is acceptable and what is not on a flight and why. But I also try to be kind to them and to myself. To know that its a big ask and its okay if we falter a bit. I always remind myself that I'll probably never see these folks again, so if we have a bad day despite our best efforts, its only a couple of hours in the big scheme of life. Fuck it. We tried. And we'll all be okay. Especially the gal that's pissed off because her delightful nap with her delicious neck pillow and eye mask and bubbling champagne was brutally interrupted by my 3 year old who might have thrown a hot wheels. She WILL survive. You may not. But she will be JUST fine.
Traveling with kids can be brutal. But it has also been the absolute highlight of my life. Showing these young minds the WORLD is a luxury I am beyond grateful for and do not take for granted. Even when its hard. Allowing them to taste the foods and feel the vibrations of other cities and other people outside of our little nest is what LIVING is all about. Even if its a bitch to get there. I also like to remind myself that covered wagon would have been a real mother fucker. And I feel better about our brief time in the air. Hot wheels in champagne flutes and all.
Happy Trails xx,
Some of my fav toys linked below:
When we aren't working hard at the Salt and Freckles the boutique in Los Angeles CA, we are MOMMING so hard at home. As much as we love sharing our love of fashion and clothing, we also love sharing our first and most important job, being moms!!!. So cheers to the gals out there trying to do it all, along with us. Hope this little lifestyle blog helps you pick out a great outfit with a baby (or a few) on your hip.