Traveling with Small Children and Stress

We fly often with my daughter. That’s not an exaggeration. She has been on 28 flights, to 3 international countries, and to 3 different states. I wouldn’t consider us a pro- but pretty dang close. A few weeks ago we flew to my home state of VIRGINIA! (ps- I lived NOWHERE near DC haha) to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday. This was the second time I was flying solo with my daughter- the first time being when she was 2 months old- and even then I only had 1 flight out of 4 alone. But this happened to be her FIRST flight in her own seat.
 

 

Basically we like to save money- so until she turned 2- she was a lap baby- always- even when we took her to Europe. This was also our first time taking the larger car seat- you know the one that is basically ginormous and a huge pain in the ass to carry? That one. I did some research and knew I would check it at the gate, we bought a strap to attach it to my carry on and I wheeled it through the airport.

 

But the stress came when A) my toddler INSISTED on walking through a very crowded airport and I had the bag, carseat, both our book bags to look after. Do you know how hard it is to chase after a strong willed 2 year old while lugging all your crap? I had all these visions of her being snatched away from me and sold into human trafficking- yeah I like to go deep when I’m stressed.

Add in my added mistake to lug her carseat onto the long overnight flight in which she didn’t sleep at all- basically I was sleep deprived, out of patience, and completely frazzled. So what do you do when you’re out of your element and stress and anxiety are creeping in? How do you regain your composure and avoid a meltdown? That’s where my tips come in:
 

  1. Hydrate & Fuel- when traveling it’s easy to put your nutrition and water level on the back burner. It’s easy to forget that you NEED to eat and drink water. But the easy way to reduce stress is to make sure you eat and drink. I like to pack lots of quick snacks (nuts, popcorn, protein bars) and empty refillable water bottle I can fill up at the water fountains between flights. I also plan for 1-2 hour layovers so we can grab quick food in-between and eat on the plane.

  2. Have a bag for JUST the kid- Evelyn now has her OWN bookbag for flights- it has ALL her toys and things to keep her occupied, so it’s her responsibility and saves room in my bag. It’s small and easy to lug around and it keeps all of her stuff contained once we get where we are going. No giant diaper bag, no toys scattered over someone’s house. If it doesn’t fit in the bag- it doesn’t go.

  3. Use electronics (for the kids). Evelyn knows the ONLY time she ever gets the ipad is on a plane. And thanks to digital copies- she has 4 movies to choose from. She doesn’t get the ipad before, and she can lose the ipad if she isn’t listening. It serves as a great option to reign her in and it isn’t something she ever gets when we are home- which makes it an extra special treat.

  4. Breathe- this one is hard, because sometimes things are happening outside of your control (like that time we got delayed due to mechanical errors and were stuck on the plane for 2 hours and couldn’t leave). Just embrace the situation for what it is, and if you need to ask a flight attendant to sit with you kid(s) so you can go to the bathroom and regain your composure if needed. No one will think less of you, but you melting down will just make your kids meltdown more.

Learn to say yes about some things to avoid the battle- Evelyn INSISTED on walking onto the plane, do you know how long that took? but honestly, who cares- she’s a child. If they want to help pull the suitcase- let them. If they insist on throwing away the trash themselves let them. The more you say “yes” the more weight “no” has when you are traveling.

How’d I do? Did I miss any that you can think of? Drop your travel tips below if you have them!