There are two gifts we should give our children. One is roots and the other is wings. I feel that one of the best educators is travel. Reading about things is good, but going to see those places is great. Even if this is just to your local museum or historical landmark. Due to the nature of our business (and my obsession with half marathons) we travel a lot. My daughter has been traveling all over the United State since she was 4 months old. I have learned a great deal of things while on these travels. Here are my tips for travel with your young tot:
1. Bring LOTS of snacks. There has been money times where we are delayed and almost miss our connection to our next flight which means no time to get food between flights. I always bring plenty of snacks for the whole family.
2. Children are allowed to be lap children (meaning they don’t need a plane ticket) until the age of 2. Airlines require a copy of a birth certificate at check in to prove the age. Once a child is 2 however you will need to buy them a seat and they do not need ID (unless out of the country and than they of course need a passport).
3. I always bring new toys, books, movies, or whatever I can gather together. New is always fun for a child. Even just a new note pad and crayons or stickers. I usually also download a new movie on our IPad which my daughter loves. I found magnet paper dolls and they are small, stay in the little metal container, but keep her busy for a while.
4. The hardest part was when my daughter was done breastfeeding and with formula, and switched to milk. I would bring a bottle cooler with ice packs, but on an 8 hour travel day it doesn’t stay cold long enough and nor is this enough milk to last 2 plane rides. You CAN bring the shelf stable milk boxes through security. I find these at all grocery stores. They kind of look like a bigger juice box, but it is milk and doesn’t need to be refrigerated until it is open. I usually travel with 5 of these, so when she wants a bottle I just pop one open and dump in a bottle and than discard. No cooler bags and ice packs needed. If your child is still drinking formula, the single serve ready-to-feed bottles are great and the same idea as the milk boxes, no water necessary. Most airlines will not have milk on board and never use bathroom water on a airplane for anything your child will ingest. Airplane water tanks are not clean.
5. When going through security at the airport you are allowed to carry your small child through, but if you have them in a baby bjorn or carrier you should take that off and put it through the xray otherwise they will do a pat down. If you carry a small child through you will go through the standard xray arch, not the body scan. Children under 12 do not need to remove their shoes either.
6. Checking car seats and strollers do not count as baggage and you are not charged the fee. If you want to bring your car seat on board for the flight I recommend the GoGo Kidz. It is like turning your car seat into a stroller. Than you don’t need to lug the car seat and the stroller through the airport.
7. Babies and young children often have problem with their ears at take off and landing. Have a bottle ready to go for take off and landing or a snack like pretzels of fruit snacks. The chewing and swallowing helps clear their ears and unfortunately pacifiers aren’t often enough.
8. Most of us always carry around a change of clothes for our child, but carry a change of clothes for yourself too!!! I have learned the hard way that a leaky diaper or if your child gets a little air sick the change of clothes come in very handy.
9. My personal recommendation to all parents is ALWAYS TRAVEL WITH AT LEAST 3 EXTRA GALLON SIZE ZIP LOCK BAGS! They come in handy for just about everything, such as dirty clothes, dirty bottles and pacifiers, open snack bags. This contains the mess so it doesn’t spread through your luggage.
10. Remember that even the grumpy traveler giving you dirty looks was once a child too. Some times kids cry and sometimes kids sing “It’s a Small World” at the top of their lungs, but everyone will get through it.