Traveling with children shouldn't be stressful...although it can be. There's a way around it though so don't don't give up on those vacation plans of yours just yet. My daughter was just a little over one month old the first time I traveled by plane with her. We flew from Florida to the Dominican Republic to visit family. I went in over thinking mode as soon as we booked our flight and then in over packing mode the week of our trip. It turns out that it was such a smooth trip as it was a vacation. I'm sure that a lot of it had to do with Jahzel being a newborn that slept most of the time. I quickly realized that traveling with a young child, stress-free, was just a matter of mind and being prepared.
My son's first flight was at eight months old. What a different a few months in age makes from the first time my daughter and son traveled as babies! On the way there, to the Dominican Republic again, it wasn't so bad because we choose the earliest flight so he slept the entire time. On the way back home, however, we choose a much later flight with the intention of making the most of our last day there and not only was he awake but he was letting everyone know that he was.
So if you're debating on whether your little ones are ready to take their first trip by plane or just need a refresher for your next trip with them.These tips may come in handy...
Just book it
The idea of traveling with children may be holding you back from booking a vacation as a family. You may be waiting for your kids to be a little bit older but if you have the opportunity to travel, book your flight. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned but you can certainly set yourself up for a smooth flight if you research and prepare. Give your children the experience to see another part of the world!
Do your research
Check the airport and airline's website to verify if any of the requirements have been updated for things like carry-on and security so that you can plan accordingly. Be sure to check the flight status 24 hours in advance for any possible delays and if you can, check into your flight online. You can also print your boarding pass in a kiosk when you arrive or pull it up on your phone (most airlines have an app) as a shortcut to get to your assigned gate faster.
It's likely that the younger your child is the more you will need to have on hand but I've learned that it's much more convenient to pack just enough of the essentials for the flight and a full day's worth. Once I arrive at my destination I pass by a pharmacy or supermarket to stock up for the remainder of the trip. I also prefer to opt out on taking my own car seat. It's much easier to rent or borrow one from a relative, if it's family that you're visiting. Don't leave the stroller behind though, it's a mom must-have when travelling.
What you wear depends on your destination, of course. I tend to travel to warmer places like the Caribbean so my go-to travel outfits is either an active-wear look or just an everyday comfy yet chic look like a simple t-shirt with jeans and comfortable shoes. I always make sure to take sweaters because we always feel cold while at the airport and in the plane. The more comfortable you are the better you'll feel and the smoother the trip will be. The same goes with your kids.
Take snacks and activities
It depends on the time of your flight, but I like to have my kids eat a full meal before taking off. My daughter's a fan of the complimentary snacks the staff passes out but I still take my own because what they have stocked up on our flight may not be something she wants or can eat. It's always a good idea to have extra snacks for possible delays too. Activities vary according to your child's age and interests but you can never go wrong with coloring and activity books with a set of crayons, picture or reading books, and toys small enough to fit in your carry-on bag. Leave the ones that make noise at home.
Let them explore
Airports are usually so exciting for kids, especially the younger ones. There's so much to explore while waiting to board- so put your stroller to use and let them. It's all a part of the experience as well.
Take it easy
When you're a parent who is traveling with kids rushing does no good. As long as you arrive in time and prepared then you'll be able to get everything taken care of and even enjoy the wait before taking off and while on the plane. In times of panic just take a deep breathe and remember that there's only so much you can do when you're in the air. Make the best of it and be easy on yourself.