Ever wondered how to pack and plan for an international 20+ hour trip with young kids?
John and I had the pleasure of not only practicing those travel organization skills but also our levels of endurance and patience as we embarked on our journey to Germany last week.
There are some things we wish we would have known a couple of years ago when we started traveling with Judah. So to all of my traveling friends out there, here are my 7 top tips for flying overseas with kids in tow:
1. PACK SMART. If you’re not a list maker, make one anyway. You’ll have kids, stroller/carriers, and luggage to haul through the airport and airplane, and you want to make sure that every pound that you will have to carry is worth it. Plan what luggage goes under your seat and what goes overhead. Plan what needs to be taken out for security checks and where it’s stored. Make sure everything you might need for the kids is within an arm’s reach.
2. PACK THE ESSENTIALS: Lots of diapers (what you would usually need in that time period x2), extra outfits for all the kids, toys and snacks to keep them entertained (especially during takeoff and landing when you’re strapped to a seat), water bottles for the kids in case their ears hurt and they need to take a sip, any stuffed animals/blankets that will help them sleep (trust me, you’ll be desperate to get them to sleep). Extra tip: Don’t forget your whole pack of wipes at church right before taking off. I had to buy the only available wipes at the airport… 15 wipes for $6.39. That made each wipe very precious indeed!
3. BE PREPARED FOR DELAYS. That’s where the extra diapers and outfits become essentials! If you get stuck somewhere (which happened to us the last 2 times we traveled), try to enjoy the extra time wherever you are. On this trip, we were blessed with friends who came and picked us up at the airport, took us out to lunch, and hosted us another day and a half. We went to Bass Pro Shop, which Judah thought was the coolest place on earth with all the animals (mostly dead animals, but he didn’t seem to care too much).
4. EAT, SLEEP, AND GO TO THE BATHROOM WHENEVER YOU CAN. Seriously. You’ll never know when your next chance of doing any of those things will be. As far as the sleeping goes (and I’m talking about overnight flights), expect NOT to sleep, so if you do get some, it’ll be a pleasant surprise :). Most likely, you’ll be spending your time taking care of kids, trying to get them to fall asleep, and holding them in awkward positions so they stay asleep.
5. THROW YOUR SCHEDULE OUT THE WINDOW. If you know me, you know I like schedules. But with international trips that take up a whole day, trying to keep a routine will be much more stress than is worth it (not to mention the different time zones that throw off everything anyway). Judah missed his nap, got 4 hours of sleep at night, and was up for over 15 hours. Elias only took a couple of short naps in the baby carrier and got a couple of hours here and there. Ideal? No. Did they survive? Yes. And only with 1 minor breakdown. Expect the crazy “I’m-so-overtired-that-I’m-running-in-circles” behavior…which Judah literally did for about an hour, laughing hysterically, army crawling all over the nasty airport floor, and entertaining the whole flight crew that was working at the counter.
6. CHOOSE YOUR AIRLINE WISELY. Enough said.
7. ENJOY! There might be times when you’re completely exhausted and stressed, but there are also those times you can cherish in the midst of air travel chaos… like cuddling your peacefully sleeping child or sitting next to him, playing and coloring elephants. And always remember one thing: God’s grace is enough 🙂