Having just returned from our family trip to Australia, I am daydreaming about our next adventure together. Australia is beautiful - I definitely recommend adding it to your bucket list.
One thing about traveling with kids – it isn’t easy. It does get easier as your children get older, but the swiftness in which I can brisk through airport terminals with my one carry-on when traveling for work does not compare to the level of constant alertness required when traveling with kids in tow.
Our girls have been traveling since they were infants, so while they are experienced, they are still children. Regardless of the destination or the particular activities scheduled, the part I love about traveling with our girls is it’s the only time they are our main agenda. They are both my agenda and my to-do list for that particular day. We may be at a museum or yet another zoo (I often wonder how many zoos will be enough? Aren’t the animals the same as those in the last?) in some foreign city, but for me, the point is that I am with the girls and we are together as a family. There is a focus on the girls that I cannot seem to achieve when distracted by the lure of never-ending to-do lists when in our home city.
Here are a few things to think about when traveling with children.
1) Just do it. There is no ideal time. There will always be something, so just do it.
2) Book flights based on the local landing time of your destination. I have found that this helps adjust quicker to any time differences. For example, when we travel internationally or to the east coast, I try to time it to land in the late afternoon. Whether you are able to sleep on the plane or not, you will be exhausted after a flight and will want to sleep. Once you are settled after the flight, you can then rest without worrying about how hitting the pillow will affect adjusting to the new time zone.
3) Red eyes or night flights do not mean your child will sleep. But for evening flights, I like to dress the girls in pajamas.
4) Our girls carry a small backpack and roll their own carry-on suitcases. The small backpack contains snacks, books, iPad, a change of clothes, a jacket, and a travel pillow (see #7 below). While it may take a little longer to get through the terminal with the girls carrying their own luggage, I have found that it exhausts them and helps them sleep on flights.
5) We invested in small suitcases for our girls that can interlock with me and my husband’s. When we go from the plane to the train or subway and need to maneuver more quickly, we will lock their suitcases onto ours.
6) I am a list-maker, so I am always planning and making lists. In addition to making a packing list according to our travel itinerary, I like to leave an open suitcase in the corner of the room about two weeks before a trip and drop things in as I think of them.
7) If your kids have a comfort item, pack it in their backpack. Our children had severe eczema as infants, and even hotel pillows and towels would cause a rash. Our girls now travel with a small toddler pillow; we cover it in multiple pillowcases and remove layers throughout the trip.
8) Lastly, pack vitamins and medication for your children. I typically pack an allergy medicine, fever reducer, children's gummy melatonin, and multi-vitamins.