International flights are a long haul for everyone involved! From ticket to taxi, travel can exhaust you and drain your battery dry. Add a toddler to the mix and travel becomes a tell-tale adventure! I’m no expert on traveling with children- I only have one and I’m always accompanied with my husband (thank God!). However, after receiving advice from others and watching the way other parents travel, here are a few points I wanted to share from our experiences.
Think through your itinerary.
Boost your immunity.
In the days leading up to travel, be sure to eat wholesome, nutritious foods, paying special attention to immunity-building foods like honey, garlic, fresh fruits, colorful vegetables, etc. Take supplements like Echinacea, Vitamin C, Elderberry, or Zinc to give you an added boost. Staying up late the night before travel can render any system vulnerable, so try packing in advance to make sure all parents and children involved have a fighting chance at arriving to your destination without a single sniffle or sneeze.
Traveling with young children requires care and creativity. Doing whatever it takes for you to be centered and whole--so you can give extra attention to your child’s needs--should be high on your priority list. Deep breathing, meditation, prayer, avoiding sugar or caffeine, long walks, and the like can help you keep your cool and exude the calm that your child needs from you amidst any storm of affairs. Young children have the natural tendency to absorb your emotions, no matter how well you think you mask them. Breathe through your stress and anxiety to emerge on the landing side unscathed.
Pack wholesome foods.Some parents like to pack a favorite candy or chocolate bar to appease a cranky child in the air. While this may help some, do consider the potential blood sugar peak and plummet that may follow. Instead, opt for nourishing snacks free of white sugar, processed or refined carbohydrates, and corn syrup. Whether you bring food from home or splurge at your nearby health food store, a tasty snack that supplements what a flight meal may lack (if your child eats from it at all), without putting your little one into a pixie stick high, will have lasting effects.
Be like MacGyver.
Remember MacGyver? You know- the television hero who could make just about anything from a shoelace, a paper clip, and a stale piece of chewing gum? Use him as your inspiration to tap into your creativity and exhaust the resources your environment has to offer. Lugging around a mobile toy box on the plane can be cumbersome, so come up with some of your own “in-flight” entertainment. Use your airsickness bag to make a puppet; identify animals, letters, or numbers in your in-flight magazine; assign names and make up stories for the characters in your safety manual. A little creativity can go a long way!
Choose the most essential items for your child’s travel bag. A small shoulder bag (within your larger bag) for just a few diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, a small tube of diaper cream, and a foldable changing mat is great for travel with babies and toddlers. There’s not enough room in those airplane bathrooms to think, let alone carry a full-sized baby bag. Stick to the favorites- a few books, a blanket, a stuffed animal, and a quiet activity your child enjoys like coloring, stickers, etc. Don’t be too proud to sing to your child if nothing else will do.
Monitor mobility and media.
Young children need to move. Bulkhead seats on a plane allow for bassinets or cots for small babies and lots of legroom for older babies and toddlers to stand or sit when a seatbelt is not necessary. Short strolls down the aisles or around the rear of the plane can help a toddler do just that…toddle! If things get desperate, a young child will be instantly and hypnotically drawn to a TV screen, so use media with caution. I recently saw a five-year-old child so entranced by the children’s program on his screen that his father had to feed him. Young children deserve more engagement than that; so if you must go that route, try watching the children’s programs with your child to make sure that they’re appropriate by your standards and try engaging them with new vocabulary and concepts in the process.
Any other travel tips from the more seasoned jetsetting parents? Feel free to contribute in the comments.