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C'est la Vie: Travel Mercies and Sanity Savers

Tomorrow is another big trip. As of late, my husband has been doing the traveling with the kids and I which I must say, makes life so much easier! I love the idea of big families, but there is something pretty awesome about the tag-team strategy that works when you have two kids and two adults.

But I'm going to be outnumbered on the plane... and in the airport... and on the shuttle. It's just me and them while getting a meal at the airport, maneuvering bathroom stalls (those airplane bathrooms are NOT made for two people even if one of them is little - I don't know what these "mile high club" people are thinking), schleping through security and fenagling a suitcase at baggage claim.

Drinks will be spilled, feelings will be hurt, expectations will go unmet... all in the name of air travel. Not that it can't happen when traveling on wheels. We've done that too and it can be just as much torture, uh, I mean fun. If you've traveled with kids, you know what I'm talking about. Which is why half of the battle is planning ahead to minimize the craziness. And keep this one thing in mind: you can pack the newest issue of your favorite magazine that you've been dying to read, just don't expect you'll get to read it.

Here are a few tips that I find helpful:
  • Even if you don't allow your kids to indulge in sugary snacks, think of their favorite snacks (if it's candy, now is the time to give in) and pack them in plenty! (If you're traveling by plane, think no liquid, no refrigeration.)
  • Bring a nice assortment of activities to keep little hands occupied. Nothing with small pieces that could get dropped and lost. Coloring and activities books are great for 3-8 year olds. I have become fond of magnetic books that allow kids to make-believe and create fun scenes. Books to read, large playing cards, toy cars or figures, and video games are all great airplane options.
  • Gum, gum, and gum. Again, this is mostly for older kids. We have made gum something special anyway, so getting it in the airplane is a real treat - and bonus - it keeps ears from getting full.
  • Always use the airport restroom. As stated above, you do NOT want to have to go in that teeny tiny airplane bathroom with your kids. Oh, they'll want to check it out even if they don't need to use it... so good luck.
  • Strategically maneuver. You know your kids best. Who will want to sit by the window? Can you negotiate one gets the privilege on the way on the other on the return flight? Do you need to sit between kids to keep them at bay? Have a plan A and B.
  • My final note for this post is for older kids (we're just starting to deal with all this). Allow them to have input about what you will do and how they can spend money. Your airplane ride may be a great time to discuss these things. Give them an opportunity to talk about what they would like to do within the means of the family's time and money. Make sure they know you will consider all ideas, but that ultimately the adults will be making the final decision. As for money, decide if they will be given a specific amount to spend from the general vacation fund or if they will be using their own money (obviously this would have to be decided in advance of the trip). Talk about what you will allow them to use their money on so there is no arguing on vacation. For example, if you won't be letting them make purchases at the airport gift shop, you'll want to talk about this ahead of time.
Joann at The Casual Perfectionist wrote a great blog about travel tips. Her's in specific to travel of the highway variety and very useful. I recommend you check it out either at her website or at Mile High Mamas.

And if you have ideas to share, you know I want to hear them!

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