SAHM: Tips for Traveling Alone with Kids
I have a confession, mamas. I love airports. I love flying! I love people watching. I love perusing the books in the random airport stores. I love the flat escalator thingys that make you feel like you're running at light speed when you're just walking. I love that everyone is going somewhere and coming from somewhere, and I just all around dig the energy.
Or at least I did...
Before I had kids.
Now my experience looks a little like the following: chasing after my toddlers as they run in between people rushing to get to their gates, carrying both my carryon and my son's backpack that he insisted we bring which is packed with all his toys that he will not touch the entire flight, asking my husband if we can try and find the nearest family bathroom and realizing that it was behind us, and stressing about using the iPad a moment too soon because you need that battery to last through the entire flight or all hell will break lose.
Overall, it's a pretty STRESSFUL and MISERABLE experience.
But does it always have to be? I'm headed out on a trip up north with both my kids, sans husband, and I wanted to put together a little list of things that I think you will want to have with you when you're traveling with your littles, and a couple tips that will help you navigate the chaos of the airport when you're flying solo with your babes.
- You will absolutely want to have a stroller with you if you have any chance of getting to your gate on time, and you will also have the luxury of getting to hang some of your stuff on there instead of holding onto all of it. The drawback for taking your stroller with you through the airport is that it has to come with you through the dreaded security, so you're going to want something that's easy to fold up and will easily fit on the scanning belt. The Baby Jogger City Tour Lightweight Stroller is small enough to fold up and carry on your back, and is probably lighter than all the goodies you've packed in your carryon!
- So airports and airplanes as a whole are just straight up not built for kids. More often than not, you're going to be disappointed in the lack of places to change your babe's diaper, get a warm cup of water to fill up your formula bottle, or even just have a semi-safe place for your kids to get out their wiggles before the flight. And the airplane is even worse! I always recommend that mamas have a nice, big changing pad on hand like the Logan + Lenora Simple Change Pad. Big enough for a toddler, and it helps you when you need to change a diaper anywhere! For teeny babes, it is also nice to be able to lay them down on the ground for a minute when you're getting all your stuff together before heading onto the plane.
- Snacks. Snacks. Snacks. I cannot stress this enough, but your kids will behave as though you have never fed them when you show up to an airport. It's science. They will want to be fed at pretty much every minute you are sitting still, so I always recommend that mamas bring more snacks than they think that they will need, because better to have too much than having to rely on the inflight peanut packs, you feel me? But keeping all your treats in one place without making a mess of your life is a chore, so bringing something like the Skip Hop Grab & Go Baby Food Storage Tower for each of your littles is the perfect solution. Just pop their faves in each of the compartments and you're good to go. Some of our faves are also the apple sauce pouches, fruit snacks, and veggie straws. Also, bring along some Boon Snug Spouts to fit onto cups so that you won't have a drippy spilly situation when your kids are drinking on the plane.
- I insist on bringing a blanket for each of my kids when we fly, because airplanes are just uncomfortable. Little kids are always going to want to lay down or lean or lounge, and to do that without a blankie is just torture and no one is gonna have a good time. The Saranoni Lush/Lush Toddler Blanket is so soft and comfy that your babes might even (with the grace of the Almighty) fall asleep during the flight and let you breathe a quick sigh of relief before the cart lady comes by and wakes them up.
- Get to the airport earlier than you would without kids, but don't go so early that you're just subjecting everyone to hours at the airport. Giving yourself about 2 hours to get checked in, through security, and to your gate is safe, unless you're dealing with a busy travel day or a lovely little government shutdown like we've been having.
- If you can, have your spouse (or mom, or friend, or whoever) get a gate pass when you check in- this allows them to go through security and walk with you to the gate (basically everything but get on the actual flight). IT is a game changer in the realest way to have someone to help you wrangle the babes through security and checking bags and using the bathroom, etc.
- When you have little babes (or babes light enough) carry them! You won't have to take them off when you go through security and it makes it quick and painless. I loved having my Happy Baby Wrap when I flew with my son and daughter, and it mostly keeps my hands free which is a must at the airport!
- Don't make it harder on yourself by putting on shoes that are hard to get out of, or tons of little things that you're carrying on to the plane. Most airlines will let you check your carseats, portable cribs, and strollers for free when you check in. My advice is to check everything you can except for your stroller and your diaper bag. The two things I would add would be a blanket for the kids, and a bag for their toys/electronics if you need it.
- No matter what you WILL end up holding your kids stuff, so be prepared for that! I like checking my stroller at the gate for that very reason. I would rather have to push the stroller through security and have an extra way to carry some stuff, then be forced to carry my bag, my kid's bag, our boarding passes, and the list goes on and on.
- Once you get to your gate always check in with the desk to double check that you and your littles are all sitting by each other, when parents with small children can board, and make adjustments when possible. You'll always feel better after getting a quick check in before getting on the plane.