Living abroad for almost a decade meant long flights and cross country road trips were the norm for our family. Each time we crossed the ocean in those 10 years we had added a child (yes, it became a joke and people thought we were crazy). Our unique life gifted me a number of tips for traveling with children from newborns to preteens. Keep reading for mom hacks from this experienced world traveler- including beauty tips that will have you walking off the jetway looking rested and refreshed even after a long flight!
Bring a sippy cup or bottle with juice or a favorite drink for take off and landing. If you’re breastfeeding, ask for a lap child seatbelt so you can nurse as you ascend and descend. Sucking will help relieve the pressure in your little one’s ears as the elevation changes quickly. You can’t bring juice through security, so plan to buy juice or water once you’re through. Chewing gum can achieve the same ends, so pack some for the big kids and yourself!
You’ll of course need to carry a well stocked bag of mom essentials, but make the most of those carryon allowances! Kids as young as 3 will love to carry a small backpack with a comfort item, a small coloring book and a toy. As my kids got older we increased the size of the backpack and added a change of clothes, iPads and headphones. Airplane headphones are never comfortable for little ears, but look at these! You could also get them a travel journal to write or draw pictures about their journey.
If you’re flying with your little as a lap child call your destination to find out if you can rent a car seat, but know that car seats can be checked through for free and will not count against your baggage allowance.
If you are traveling internationally, call your airline a few weeks in advance to request children’s meals, and bulkhead seats (if you have a baby or small toddler) so you can take advantage of the bassinet and additional legroom. Don’t forget to ask about their guidelines for checking a portable crib or stroller. You can also request meals based on any dietary restrictions you may have.
Audio Books– you can check these out on cd at your local library or download books to an app like Audible. Look for classics like Dragon Tales by Edith Nesbit, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White or other fantastic titles like the ones found here.
Music- we loved listening to Raffi’s Animal Songs or Quiet Time albums in the car to set either a playful mood or a sleepy one at nap times! Make a road trip play list and ask for each family member to share some favorite songs to add.
Games- Make up a story together: Each person gets to add one sentence to the story at a time, but beware this game can take sudden twists and turns and get extremely silly! Of course, there is always “I Spy,” “Would You Rather” and the “Alphabet Game” in which you have to find every letter of the ABC’s in order by searching billboards, signposts and license plates.
Food- Instead of stopping for fast food and risk everyone getting travelers stomach, consider stopping at grocery stores in small towns along the way to get fresh fruit, veggies and sandwich ingredients- then find a park and have a picnic! I can never forget the time we stopped in Colorado at a park in the Rockies. We were eating PBJ’s and carrots and the kids were getting their wiggles out when our oldest (at the time 7 years old) stopped and said “I’m the richest kid in the world!” Stopping to let them run wild and enjoy nature does wonders for little (and big) attitudes on a long trip! See my tips below for snacks in my Mom Bag.
For the Skies or the Road
Pack travel games, toys, coloring books and fidgets and pull one out every hour. One mom friend of mine even wrapped each one as a gift her kids could open every hour. Here are some of my recommendations:
What’s in my Mom Bag?
Snacks! Kids will inevitably get hungry (or bored hungry) so you’ll want a variety of healthy, filling and tasty options. My kids love RX Bars for kids, Organic Fruit Snacks, dried fruit leathers, nuts, and Bare beet or sweet potato chips. Only sealed foods can go through airport security with the exception of bananas, apples and oranges (uncut and unpeeled).
Wipes! No matter the age of your children, you will always find a use for baby wipes! This time around I had All Over Clean wipes from Huggies for hands and faces (and other stinky places) as well as anti-bacterial wipes for toilet seats and bathroom door handles.
Travel Sickness bags- We’ve got a few in our family who tend to get motion sickness on cars and planes. Give those people front seats and window seats! But when it can’t be avoided, be prepared with plastic bags (doggy doodoo bags work nicely, or snag some extras from the plane).
Melatonin Gummies– it can be really difficult for kids and adults alike to catch their z’s in a new environment, so I like to help everyone doze off with these- at least for the first couple of nights in a new place.
Essential Oils we can’t live without– Lavender, Tea Tree, Calming the Child and Worry Free. Keeping away the bugs and the worries for all! I buy the roller ball size for ease of use when we travel. Get $10 off your order by clicking the link above.
I do like to look put-together and cute while on vacation, but it can be challenging with limited luggage space and a big family, so over time I’ve come up with a method for packing light while not sacrificing style.
I start by choosing 1-2 pairs of shoes and I coordinate all of my outfits around that pair(s). Have you seen the new line from Evolve? Then I choose simple, comfortable tops and bottoms that can be coordinated for multiple outfit combinations. Lastly, I allow myself plenty of accessories that can be mixed and matched with each outfit and create endless combinations. I do the same for the kids’ packing- minus the excessive accessorizing- that is just for mom!
Beauty Hacks for Air Travel
There once was nothing worse for my skin than flying. I’d arrive at the airport with fresh makeup but get off the plane looking haggard with flaking skin, bloodshot eyes, and inevitably a fresh breakout. I finally learned to forego the makeup (none of these people are every going to see me again anyway) and I started a beauty regimen for the skies that hasn’t failed me yet. Its all about hydrating from the inside and out! First of all- Drink tons of water! Try to drink a cup of water every hour you are in the air.
The regimen– Every hour I use a hydrating mist and moisturizer like these pictured above from Dermalogica and then a serum like DermiSoothe carrier oil blend from Plant Therapy. I also added Frankincense and Lavender to this oil blend for added anti-aging benefits. I use eyedrops every hour to ward off dry itchy eyes. If you have an extra long flight you can pack a super hydrating mask like this one from The Body Shop. I’ll slather up my feet too and put some socks on! I don’t care if the person sitting next to me thinks I’m a little crazy- if I have to sit in the same chair for 8 plus hours I’m going to make a spa day out of it.
On our final stop of this last trip I spotted one of my daughters drying a bathroom counter in an airport bathroom. “Leave it better than you found it.” I’ve said it a hundred times to each of them. I witnessed her living that out- words sinking in, becoming a part of her character.
Traveling with kids has its unique challenges but it offers the priceless opportunity to give our children experiential knowledge of the world, nature and other cultures. As you travel, hike, swim, ski, and pit stop along the way speak to your children about our responsibility to humanity and the earth- to love well, to appreciate other cultures and creation, and to take care of the resources we have. Teach them to leave it better than they found it- whether its an airport bathroom, a campsite, hotel room, beach… you get the picture. If you are blessed enough to travel, you have a beautiful opportunity to help your children discover their place in the world and make it a better place.
Happy and Safe Travels!