Just Go For It.
I recently traveled just over 4000 miles with the Beyond Skagway Tours grandkids (my three young children ages 7, 3, and 15 months). Alone. It took us 12 hours door to door and two flights totaling roughly 8 hours just to get to Juneau. We met up with Kate (also known as Aunt TeeTee) to explore Juneau for a day, then hopped a 45 minute scenic flight to our final destination of Skagway, Alaska. I know what you must be thinking: Is this women out of her mind? And maybe you’re right! It felt a little like the odds were stacked against me considering my 15 month old was cutting molars, and my 3 year old spiked a fever out of the blue, then vomited all over herself (and me) mid-flight #1. Hear me out though. The value of traveling and spending time with our family in Skagway far outweighs the burden of being stuck on a plane for a day with three wildlings. You just kind of have to get through it and I’ve learned a few tricks to make these long, intense, and sometimes messy travel days more bearable, or dare I say even a little fun? So here are three little tips to make your day on the fly a little smoother!
- Pack strategically. I check everything I possibly can. The less baggage you have to drag through the airport the better! I pack each kid a backpack for the airplane with coloring activity books, crayons, snacks (a fun new variety that they don’t normally have – packed in a ziplock bag), and headphones, The true game changer for me this time was packing our iPad with a pre-downloaded movie and a few episodes of their favorite tv show. I also picked up a headphone splitter so they could watch the movie together. I have a diaper bag packed with the diapers we need, wipes, a garbage bag, chargers, flight info, birth certificates and passports, and an extra change of clothes for everyone, including myself, because you just never know when the next blowout is coming. We also like a cozy blanket for naps (or catching vomit), and a favorite stuffed animal or two. I also highly recommend you bring a stroller. You can gate check it before boarding your plane. For me this is essential for getting everyone’s bags and tired feet to the gate on time. I also always bring my ergo baby carrier, just in case baby girl wants to be close to me in transit (they won’t let you wear this during flight, however). And DON’T forget to pack some baby and children Motrin! I have a small first aid kit in a ziplock back with Motrin, Neosporin, a thermometer, and a couple of band aids, because you just never know when its going to hit the fan!
- Give yourself extra time. This is sooooo important in keeping stress levels down. Checking bags and getting through TSA with kids always takes longer than you would think. If you have a lap infant like I did, you also have to check in at the customer service desk to check bags, so give yourself an extra 15 minute cushion in this case.
- Change your perspective and be patient. For me, flying is stressful and anxiety inducing. For my kids, it is a fun and exciting experience that transforms their day to day reality. One day they’re in the hot Florida sun, then just like that they’ve skipping rocks on a glacially fed lake in the land of the midnight sun. I find that my emotions are contagious, and if I let that stress and anxiety take over, it leeches onto my kids also. Then, everyone is stressed out, taking all the fun and excitement out of flying. So practice deep breathing, calm your nerves (employ whatever works for you here!), smile, and be patient. Try to really see this experience from their little shoes and everyone will have a lot more fun!