On the Little One: Bow Tie Outfit
To wrap up my week long posts of our vacation, I thought I would share a few tips and tricks that I have learned for traveling with a baby and toddler. I am no expert on the subject, but after approximately 20 flights with the little one (many of which I did without my hubby) I have learned a few things I wanted to pass along.
1. Dress Them Cute
I know this sounds ridiculous. Who wants to get up even earlier to catch a 5 AM flight to get a sleepy toddler dressed in their best? I get it….but it makes a huge difference. When our little one is in his PJs we get so many bad looks from other travelers and when he fusses or cries it’s even worse. However, when he was one we bought him this bow tie outfit for his birthday and ended up having him travel in it a few weeks later because I had packed all of his clothes without thinking. When we went through the airport people we so much nicer to us and him. Tons of people waved to him, smiled at him, talked to him, took pictures with him, which didn’t happen much when he was in his PJs. On one flight he was crying and teen age girl walked up to me looking annoyed and literally said “At least he’s cute”. Now we have multiple bow tie outfits and we always have him wear them when he travels.
2. Leave the Stroller at Home or Check It In if You Only Have One Child
Strollers are a pain to take through airports. Sure you can strap the kid in and move fast if you can maneuver through traffic quickly, but for me it is much easier just to carry him from gate to gate. We he was little I just used a carrier.
3. Use a Back Pack as Your Carry On
Hands free is key to managing a toddler in crowds. Traveling got way easier when I gave up the traditional suitcase carry-on and opted for a medium size back pack instead. Back packs can easily fit enough diapers and wipes for a day, change of cloths for the little, extra tee for you, a few toys, a few books, a sippy cup and simple snacks.
4. Keep the Carry On Contents Simple
I like to over-pack and plan for everything. This does not work when you are trying to travel with a toddler on a plane. I constantly have to remind myself we will not starve in an airport and that their is lots of entertainment he will prefer on the plane over the toys he has played with for weeks. Also keep in mind, if you miss a flight and get stuck in the airport for a day, you are bound to run into other parents. Ask them if they can spare just one diaper for you.
This is what I pack in our carry on: diapers and wipes (enough for 1 full day), spare outfit for the little one, spare tee for me, 2 new books (novelty is key), swaddle size blanket, small stuffed animal, a few small toys (match box cars, 4 crayons, coloring pages), special snacks he has never had or doesn’t get on a regular basis, sippy cup.
5. Leave the Car Seat at Home
Car seats are huge and just one more thing you have to keep up. Plus a lot of times they get damaged during transport. We never travel with ours. Some car rental companies will let you rent one, if you are visiting friends or family have them go to a baby equipment rental store (these exist in most cities) and pick up a car seat for you, or just buy and inexpensive option when you arrive to your destination.
6. If All Else Fails Offer Drinks to the Passengers
Sometimes kids just cry on airplanes and their is nothing you can do about it. Usually my little one is a happy traveler, but when we moved from Virginia to New Mexico it was an 18 hour travel day that I was doing with him by myself and at the end of the trip he was screaming and crying and I couldn’t get him to stop. I rang for the flight attendant and told her to go to the 12 passengers directly surrounding us and offer a glass of wine or beer courteousy of the screaming baby. Not a single passenger took me up on the offer, but most of them offered sympathetic words and assured me it wasn’t a big deal. There words made the situation so much easier.
On a final note for moms traveling with little ones:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people are more than willing to help. People will give you an extra diaper, buckle the back strap in your carrier, chose a kid friendly movie on their portable DVD player, give up their pretzels or window seat out of the kindness of their hearts or to prevent having to listen to a little one scream.
On a final note for non-parents:
It is more miserable for us than you to have our child screaming on a plane. It can be hard and over-whelming to travel with a little, but they are people too and deserve to see the world as much as adults do. Please give any act of kindness you can to traveling moms even if it’s just to ignore the screaming kid. It will mean the world to that mom.
Sharing my travels with my little one has been one of the best things I have ever done with him. I love exploring the world with him and am glad I wasn’t daunted by the task of traveling with him.