About a month ago, our family set off on a trip to Florida. As a traveler who has backpacked around Europe, done service projects in Kenya and Ecuador, travelling to Florida with my husband and our twins seemed a bit too cliche. However, the lure of acquiring more frequent flyer miles and escaping our cold winter weather made this trip more exciting. If only video cameras were allowed in airports, we would have the most amazing footage of people’s expressions as we navigate the various obstacles and challenges.
For those of you who have traveled with infants you know all about the joy of putting your stroller through the security scanners. Well, with twins, the joy is doubled! Getting all your belongings in the right bins, shoes off, strollers folded up and on the belt all while keeping track of your curious, tired and thirsty little travelers is a feat. Thankfully, this was the 7th flight we have taken with our boys (yes they are only 2) so we had a system down. I unpacked liquids and electronics into bins, placed carry on’s on the belt while my husband monitored the boys in their strollers. Once that was done, I picked up both boys and walked through with them while my husband folded strollers, placed them on the belt and went through the scanner himself. While I would say our system isn’t rocket science, it is a system and one that works for us. Most airport security are dazzled by the cute little men with us and we are able to get some help, a few smiles and the process becomes that much easier.
8 Tips for Flying with Toddlers
1. Pack carefully – put all important toys, snacks near the top of your bag. We love the bags by Lug http://www.luglife.com/ because they have so many pockets and come in fantastic colours. Infants and Toddlers are allowed to have liquids even in the security areas so place those in their sippy cups in an outside pocket. Pack all liquids (i.e. children’s tylenol, diaper creme, etc.) in a small Ziploc bag so it can easily be removed.
2. Minimize the number of bags you need – you will have enough to carry, so put your wallet and passports in your diaper bag or laptop bag so you have one less thing over your shoulder
3. Utilize a travel app – I have a Blackberry so I LOVE Blackberry Travel because it stores all your hotel, flights, and car bookings in your phone with all the contact information you will need. It is so much easier to look up the info on your phone rather than sorting through stacks of papers with a two year old (or two) wanting your attention. http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/25652/?lang=en
4. Starbucks Non-Fat Vanilla Latte – this might not be your travel savior, but it certainly is mine. With this drink in my hand, I can tackle anything!
5. Purchase Lounge Access – while it might seem like a waste of money. Clean bathrooms, snacks, beverages, free magazines and space to spread out and play is truly the way to go. However, if you don’t have much time to wait at the airport it is not needed. More and more airports are putting in lounges not associated with airlines that you can purchase on site. If you collect frequent flyer miles you might be able to redeem them for access to a lounge associated with your airline or one of their partners.
6. Delays Happen – yes, that’s right. You arrive three hours ahead of your International Flight, clear security, grab a bit to eat and head to the Gate. Then, you hear the dreaded announcement that your flight has been delayed. When I fly alone or for business, I never encounter problems. When I fly with an overtired, overstimulated toddler, we have a 3 hour delay. Seriously. So, be prepared. Pull out the games, the toys, or electronic device of your choice. On this trip we purchased Treehouse programs on itunes for $1.99 each. BEST $1.99 I have ever spent! Our boys love BubbleGuppies so that kept them occupied for awhile. http://www.nickjr.com/bubble-guppies/
7. Don’t be afraid to use the airport as a playground – your children will be confined to their seats soon enough. So, use the time you are waiting for your departure to play (safely of course) in the gate area, riding the moving sidewalk, running up and down the walkways. Really, anything that well help your child(ren) get tired enough that they will (hopefully) sleep on the plane.
8. Enjoy every minute! The world is a far more exciting place through the eyes of your child. Enjoying the process, laughing and marveling at the inner workings of the airport. My boys can watch the luggage and cargo vans/carts on the tarmac for hours. I never took the time to pay attention to the many busy workers getting the planes ready. Take a moment to marvel.