So after surviving our second international trip with 2 little ones, I thought of so many more things I want to pass on to fellow or future internationally traveling parents. Hence, PART II of surviving air travel with kids!
1. CHOOSE YOUR AIRLINE WISELY! This is a repeat from the first post on this subject and was confirmed in many ways on our 25 hour trip from Stuttgart to Spokane… I don’t want to publicly recommend or NOT recommend airlines, but if you’re seriously interested, email me.
2. KNOW HOW YOUR KIDS FALL ASLEEP. Sounds weird, but this was an important one for us, as our boys barely ever fall asleep anywhere but their own beds. So having them fall asleep on us and/or on an airplane was quite challenging. It’s an advantage to know how they best fall asleep outside of their beds before you travel… do they prefer being held? Laying by themselves? A stuffed animal or blanket? The stroller? A baby carrier? Walking around? For Judah, it meant forcing him to stay in his stroller, covering him up, and walking in circles until he gives into his exhaustion (on the airplane, it’s always a battle with him). For Elias, it meant strapping him into the Boba carrier, covering his face, and rocking him until he sleeps.
3. RESERVE A BABY ROW. A baby row is the first row behind a wall, which means more leg room and the possibility to attach a baby bassinet if you have an infant who could sleep in it. Depending on the airline and how full the flight is, you might or might not get the baby row, but it’s worth trying calling the airline ahead of time and then asking again at check-in. It’s nice being able to put your sleeping baby down, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
4. PACK A TAKE-OFF-AND-LANDING BAGGIE. This mainly applies if #3 is in place and you do get the baby row, as you can’t have any carry-on luggage in front of you for take-off and landing. So having a little baggie with some “essentials” (snacks, water, some toys that’ll entertain them for a while, wipes…) for those times when you and your kids are strapped into your seats and not allowed to move is VERY helpful. I just started doing it this time and it was really nice just pulling out the baggie before take-off rather than rummaging through my bag trying to figure out what we would need for those 30 minutes of not being able to get out of our seats.
5. WIPES. Have them handy anywhere and everywhere at all times :).
6. GET READY FOR JET LAG. Fighting jet lag can often be more exhausting than the trip itself, as it could go on for weeks. Have a plan of what the new schedule will look like and what you will do when the kids are wide awake at 2.30 AM (like Elias last night). What we’ve decided to do over the last years is to try to get the boys back on their regular schedule as soon as possible within reason. “As soon as possible” means doing what no one likes to do: waking sleeping children and forcing them to go to bed when they fight it like crazy! “Within reason” means extra long naps to catch up on lost sleep, allowing them to fall asleep in our bed, adjusting the schedule day by day, etc.
7. PRAY FOR UNDERSTANDING NEIGHBORS. What could make your trip even more challenging than a lot of other factors are the people who are seated next to you on the airplane. You can tell whether or not they have even an ounce of empathy for a family traveling with little kids. Pray that you’re next to someone who does :).
Happy travels :)!