Letter to Fellow Traveling Parents

Dear mother and father in the airport who I have to assume are homeless and so need to bring all your material possessions with you,

You are STRESSING me out!  Not because you're physically bothering me in any way, but because I see you bogged down with your deluxe mega-strollers and overstuffed diaper bags and stuffed-to-the-brim luggage for each of your kids and car seats and gear for all 4 seasons and it starts to give me anxiety.

You see, I am a travel minimalist.  The less I bring with me from home, the more I can focus on the exciting new place I'm going.  It doesn't take me an extra half-hour to sort out what I'm checking and what I'm not.  I don't get a headache (well, not much of one) from figuring out how to fold down the pram and jam it through the x-ray machine.  And I don't feel the most stress at the end of the jet bridge because the line is backing up while I figure out how to unload  the same mobile contraption of it's accumulated coats and shoes and snacks and children so I can check it at the gate.  

Please know that I am not judging you.  Every person has to do what makes a situation best for them.  I just wonder if I might be able to suggest something you hadn't thought of before...

Leave it at home!

Or at least check it, please.  I know sometimes you'll need the carseat and stroller on the other end, but if you could make the stress of flying a little easier, wouldn't you want that?  Here are a few of the ways my family makes getting through the airport a breeze...

Carry the Baby:  There is a lot going on in an airport, especially if you have kids in tow.  You need to have your hands free.  Put the baby in your front or back carrier of choice instead of strapping them in a stroller.  Wearing them means never having to worry about where they are, and while you do still have to take them out to go through security, it's a much smaller and less questionable piece of equipment to send through the screening machine. With baby attached, there's no figuring out how to safely leave them in the main flow of traffic while you grab a water and magazine from the cramped gate-side kiosk.  And if you're clever, you can stash your i.d. and boarding pass in next to baby instead of shoving them in your bag and looking frantically for them later.  

Don't Carry Your Kid's Things:  At age 2, B & P started carrying their own backpacks, which they pack (with a little supervision).  If they want it with them, they keep it with them.  Toys or coloring books and sometimes even the snacks go on their backs and they LOVE it!  It's gotten to the point in our house that if they see the backpacks out of the closet they instantly know it means we're going on a trip.  Once we're at the airport, they feel grown-up having their own items to be responsible for.  The adventure starts for them long before we leave the ground as they jump on and off the moving walkways, watch for jets taking off or landing, and try to guess where everyone is going.  

Trust the Airplane Seat:  I have never taken a car seat on the airplane with me.  I honestly don't even know what the requirements and rules are for doing that.  In all my years of flying I have never been on a flight where the turbulence was so bad that the regulation airplane seatbelt would not have been enough to keep my child safe. Knowing that until age 2 most small children ride on their parents' lap with no belt makes me even more confident that the odds are very small something catastrophic is going to happen to throw my older child out of his seat.  And while I'm on the topic of seats, trust the lavatory seat as well.  I was on a 3-hour flight once with a family that took their young son to the bathroom every 15 minutes, carrying his dirty portable potty seat up and down the aisle.  No one in close quarters with recirculated air wants to see and smell that while trapped at 32,000 feet.  

Consolidate, Consolidate, Consolidate:  Flying with children comes with an automatic stigma.  Any person who sits down next to you is going to have a moment of dread and regret as they imagine your unruly kids behaving badly.   If the two hours  in the airport leading up to a flight are full of juggling bags along with those kids, the stress level is going to be close to overflowing.  Why feed into the stereotype by also needing 3 overhead bins to cram in what you could quite possibly have left at home?  If at all possible, I implore you to only bring on the plane, what you're going to need on the plane.  Snacks, diapers, one emergency change of clothes?  Great.  Your Sunday clothes, swim rafts, business ledgers, cooking utensils?  Not going to need them for quite awhile.  And if you can, be considerate of your fellow travelers-keep your bags at your feet; because no matter how good we all know our own kids are, they might actually be a little annoying.  If you can avoid adding to that by not getting up over and over again, it'll only benefit you in the end.  

Please, moms and dads out there traveling beside me, know that I am so happy to see you out exploring the world with your family!  I don't sit in my seat at the gate mocking you or snickering at your method of packing.   But if there's a way to make your next trip to the airport a little less hectic, I hope you'll try it!

What are your tricks for flying stress-free with children?

30 comments:

  1. I think too often air travel is treated like a trip to the grocery store, probably because that is all some people know. One of the best things I like to remember particularly whith domestic travel is that there are walmarts everywhere and forgotten items can be easily replaced.

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  2. Kiera - Easy Travel momApril 10, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    You know the old saying, put everything out on your bed that you want to bring and cut it in half! I do that just about every time, even for my kid. I like bringing the stroller when she was young but that's because I have a bad back, and I'm a pro at getting through the line quick with it, however most families I see with strollers are the "dreaded" ones in front of you in that line! I totally get it. I love your tips and I didn't know that about the car seat (haven't flown since the Kid turned 2). Thank you!

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  3. Great suggestions! My friend and her family traveled to China with only a back pack apiece. What great tips!

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  4. How long did they go for? When you're going on long trips I think it's even EASIER to pack lightly, figuring you can settle in and live like you normally would (I.e. do some laundry)

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  5. I live by that saying, Kiera! Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. It is such a great relief knowing that if you've forgotten something (especially when traveling domestically, that you'll be able to just run down the street and pick it up.

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  7. Good post - I found you on the Tuesday link up - I'm a new follower. Nice to meet you! http://kidcrossingbarefoot.blogspot.com/

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  8. OMG I love this! I also get irritated when people bring everything they own on the plane. It slows everything down and I often wonder how much of that they really need.

    When packing i always ask myself about things and if I really need it. Like Pepto, I might need it if I get sick....and if I do...there's most likely a Walgreens nearby.

    Great post! I'm visiting from the Blue Skies Ahead blog hop and you are my kind of writer! :-)

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  9. No kidding!!! If my kids can't carry, they don't take it! And really, if the plane goes down, the carseat isn't saving anyone...just saying! New follower here

    Dena

    http://itsabouttakingthejourney.blogspot.de

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  10. Funny, I've never thought of needing Pepto. But I have started thinking maybe it's smart to take children's Tylenol, just in case. I don't get annoyed so much at people, but just feel so bad that all that stuff is causing them to be uber-stressed at the beginning of their trip. How can it get better from there? Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. Terry My Journey With CandidaSeptember 7, 2013 at 6:27 AM

    Hahahahah.... Good points but... I would really stress you out when I travel. My poor Hubs has learned to live with me bringing all kinds of herbs, probiotics and supplements because I won't be able to get them most place we go. Most of it though, I pack and it is in the belly of the plane.

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  12. Dawn Spatulas On ParadeSeptember 7, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    YES I totally agree. I traveled with a friend last year from NC to FLA and she had 5 LARGE bags. I had 1 medium bag. We were only gone for 4 days! NO KIDS either.
    I take the bare minimum. Always have. dh is the big packer, not me.

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  13. Great tips Michelle . Perhaps it's unrelated , but I love to see little kids carrier on back . It makes them look so cute /
    Noor @ Noor's Place

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  14. I love the "don't carry your kids things". You are so right, they can carry a little bag themselves and most likely they are even proud of having their own :) At least that's how it was for my little one :)

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  15. It's so true! Taking my kids' backpacks off of them to sit down or get in the car is nearly impossible!

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  16. Me, too, Noor! We've always carried our kids around like that.

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  17. My jaw would have dropped to the ground when she arrived to pick me up :) My husband's clothes always seem to take up a ton more room than mine so it always looks like he's bringing everything.

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  18. If I can't see it, or see you struggling with it, all the way through security and then bumping everybody trying to get it to the plane, then we'll get along just fine :)

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  19. Good for you. It is true that having to run out to a pharmacy at 2am because you decided not to take up 2" of packing space with baby tylenol can be a bummer.

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  20. Carrying your baby has two benefits -You don't have to much worry about them - Both you and they look cute! :)

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  21. your baby is too much cute :) Great tips, i hope every parent will be happy after seeing this post :)

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  22. I can totally understand why you would need a packed diaper bag and I totally agree with having one. I once traveled and missed my flight due to another flight having mechanical issues, had it not been for my packed to the brim diaper bag I would have been stuck overnight at an airport with a baby, no formula, little to no clothing etc. I say pack your diaper bag as if you're traveling for 2 days since you never know what can happen.

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  23. Great traveling tips! I've used some when we get out of the house. It's not that often ( our kids get motion sickness) I know a few families that go out all the time but are always saying they have trouble with the kids. These are something I will share with them :) Thanks!

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  24. I couldn't agree with you more. Traveling is stressful but less is more that is for sure. We have traveled all over in different countries and traveled as light as we could. I always just had my iPodm book and Gameboy to keep my son occupied.

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  25. Unfortunately, I'm one of those parents that packs everything but the kitchen sink when we go on vacations. I'm sure if I took some of your advice, I would be less stressed packing for these trips.

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  26. I pack a lot sometimes and others not. It really depends where we are going. I did manage to only have two suitcases for me, my husband and 1 year old daughter for a three week vacation in Europe.

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  27. I'm the same, Sorry. But it seems like the closer we're going the more we pack. That doesn't make sense! We also went three people in Europe with only two small bags. It was great!

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  28. Kids toys can definitely get out of control. That's why I like to let them pick-at least then I know it's stuff that's going to used and not just be dead weight once we get to our destination.

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  29. That is really great advice. We always have important things in each of our carryons in case of emergencies. Just don't go overboard!

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