So I left DC in mid June to take the boys to visit Nanma and Papa Bill in England. I was lucky to be flying with kindergarteners. While a lot easier than toting the younger set, there a still still a few things to consider before heading out of the door.
I am going to sound like one of those hyper organized mummys here, but this is key item number one.
Ask the obvious questions first .Where are you going? Where will you be staying? How long will you be there?
These details are easily overlooked, but provide that mental foundation before abject craziness sets in.
If you are traveling over seas…GET YOUR PASSPORTS WELL IN ADVANCE and check to make sure they are current. You can do things last minute as an emergency, but not without forking out a chunk of change and knocking a few years off your life expectancy. Passport details are best accessed here:
Do you and or the kids need any specific shots or medical care prior to the trip ? Get on it!
Do your kids need doctors appointments for routine care or school physicals for the fall? Get on it!
Do you or the kids have any specific food issue or allergies? Call ahead to airlines and hotels to see what accommodations they can offer and pack snacks and special food items as needed. Get on it!
When did they last go to the dentist? Get on it!
Check out the airline you are using. How much baggage can you take? What specific procedures are there when traveling with littles? A lot of airlines at least will let you board early. Think about the length of the flight too. I have the boys take a back pack loaded with a few new toys and games to play and things to do. Of course an I pad loaded with games is never a bad plan when things go nuclear.
Now that you have answered the above, you should be able to focus on what you need to take. The key is to minimize. Write a list . Determine your essentials. Less shlep = less stress.
The first thing on the list should be the necessaries for your tote: hand sanitizer, babywipes, ziplock bags, rubber bands and a pen and any other items deemed as must haves. I take a cooler bag as my carry on filled with the snacks and what not . Unless you are spending a month in Outer Mongolia, anything you forget can be purchased on arrival. My mum suggested hitting the local charity shop for play clothes when you get to your destination. Nanma genius! Make sure your passports are easily to hand ,saving time during the dreaded check in and security.
Pack things that have double duty. Light weight sweat pants make excellent pjs. Heavy weight pj pants can easily double as sweat pants . Layers are a must . I have found that it is better to pack for cooler weather than you expect rather than warmer weather that never happens , with everyone grumbling about being cold.
Have a rolling suitcase case and carry on for each child. That helps to keep things light while teaching them to be responsible for their own stuff. Check these bad babies out from www.trendykid.com
Need booster seats ? These are a hit as they deflate and can be packed in a suitcase @ www.bubblebums.us:
When traveling alone, safety is the name of the game. You only have one set of eyes and one pair of hands. In a busy airport, one distracted moment can lead to panic and in worst case scenario, heartbreak. While there are some high tech apps available, I have enjoyed making ” dog tags” out of old jigsaw pieces on a string . Each child has one with name, address and my name and cell phone.They can wear these l under clothes. This way, should the littles get lost , they are easily identified. Also helpful are colorful distinctive clothes and bright base ball hats that are easily recognized from a distance.
I have given the boys the talk to include the importance of staying close to mommy at all times and talking through what to do if they get lost. My big rule is that they MUST STAY TOGETHER. I then take a few moments in any situation to point out who to ask if they get lost. I keep reinforcing how to identify official adults and who is safe to stay with so I can find them easily. Reminding them to not talk to strangers or go anywhere with a non official person is of course hugely important!!!
And finally during the trip…….
Feed the kids at the gate while waiting for the flight. This helps keep them occupied and means that they are fed if the are any delays or upsets. Befriend other moms flying. We are all in the same boat and there is safety in numbers. Get to know your assigned flight staff. Need that extra Proseco once the kids are settled? THEY are most definitely your friends! Set an example and insist kids use their manners, talk to people and enjoy their experience. Traveling is a teaching opportunity and one that can increase their confidence. Exposing them to the outside world improves resilience and teaches them when something “isn’t quit right”. Safety is in exposure to risk and things that differ from their norm. Kids love learning. The more they travel, the better they get. Set clear expectations. Make it fun. Make it an adventure. Get them settled and get that well deserved proseco. Bottoms up, my dears!