Traveling with Kids (a few basics)
June 25, 2012
Ramon and I are a seasoned travel team. Most of his family lives in Zurich and we’re both keen on globetrotting, so we’ve been a lot of places and learned a lot about what works on the road (with each other and with our luggage!) That knowledge has been a helpful starting point for traveling with a young child and provided us with some confidence and habits that have stood us in good stead with Astrid.
That said, traveling with children can be nerve-rattling and has required an overhaul of our habits, as well as the development of some new ones. Judging by the terrible behavior of a nearby five-year-old boy on the plane home, those requirements will continue to evolve!
- Do pack all trip-essential items (like the flower girl’s dress or the swimsuit for the beach holiday) in a carry-on suitcase, in case the airline loses your luggage.
- Do not leave that suitcase in a gravel parking lot when you stop for a bathroom break for your recently-potty-trained toddler. I’m just saying.
- Plan on arriving at the airport 90 minutes before your flight departs, not 60 as required. Even if you are super streamlined and a security-line pro, you will be glad of the extra time. Grab a bottle of water, let your little one ride the moving sidewalk, or take a relaxed breath as you encounter a snag or a very long line: you have built in the time to accommodate it. Staying as relaxed as possible is your #1 winning strategy for your whole family.
- Check your departure time the night before you leave, even if you think you know what it is. Really. Rookie mistakes still happen, especially when you’re looking after someone small.
- Check in online the night before. In the maze of options – kiosks, desk check-in, curbside bag check, “extra baggage” charges (how is it “extra” if it’s your only bag??), different boarding policies for every airline – having a boarding pass in your hand when you arrive at the airport can be a time- and lifesaver. If you can’t print it for your return flight because you’re on the road without a printer, most airlines will accept one on your phone’s screen or, at the very least, you can still check in online, skip the desk check-in line and go directly to a kiosk to print it there.
- Carry as few bags as possible through the airport. The goal is to reduce the number of total items you are responsible for, even if that means taking a larger bag that will hold all the small individual bags (which you can then pull out in-flight). Trust me: this will reduce stress.
A number of these were second nature for us pre-baby and may seem elementary, but executing them has required reorganization and renewed focus now that we’re flying with a toddler. Except the gravel parking lot thing. That probably won’t happen a lot. I hope.