PLUS avoid these mistakes when travelling with kids!
When Kiel was still playing hockey professionally, we traveled a ton (two full 22+ hour days of flying twice a year, plus several fun trips we were able to take throughout the hockey season). I like to think I’ve collected some tips and tricks for making those long travel days enjoyable/bearable lol. I’ve traveled a bit with M when he was a baby, but I’m a newbie doing this with both kiddos.
So at the end of April, we flew to San Diego to spend a week there with Kiel’s side of the family. I was a little nervous about the long travel day with our kids, but figured we had some experience under our belt, how bad could it be? hint: it was pretty bad
You guys, I’m sharing what I learned on the trip there + back, so you don’t have to be like me and make the mistakes that we did.
Mistake #1 // Packing all the wrong snacks…
Sigh, I know that a hungry toddler is a hangry toddler. I know this. So I packed all the snacks in the world, except I didn’t bring a good variation and I tried to keep things too healthy. I packed raisins, granola bars, coconut clusters, nuts, beef jerky, etc. All things that are delicious and healthy, but not super filling per se, nor are they things that will substitute a meal and stop a growling tummy. Our first flight was at 5 am and we ended up stuck on the tarmac for 90 minutes just sitting there. M was hungry and our plan to get breakfast during our layover was squashed. All the beef jerky and crackers + cheese in the world doesn’t sound appetizing at 5 am.
I would instead pack a few PB + j’s because they are super portable, I know M will always eat them, and they clear airport security. Also, bring other snacks to munch on, but definitely include something more substantial.
Mistake #2 // Not loading up the Ipad with kid-friendly shows…
Honestly, I hummed and hawed about spending $10 on Itunes for ONE Bob the Builder episode. I’m not cheap, but I am frugal (there’s a difference hah) and it seemed like a total rip-off. But had we purchased the one episode, M would have watched it 30 times happily during the flight. We don’t do a lot of screen time, but you better believe I will give him electronics for a full flight if it keeps him happy. (I will never make this mistake again haha.)
Mistake #3 // Overthinking the flight home…
I don’t even know what to call this mistake…
Booking the flight home, it was either a full travel day, where we would get in at 10 pm that night, or a half-day with a 13-hour layover in Vancouver and then an early morning flight home the next morning. We chose the layover flight.
We reasoned that staying in the Fairmont (that’s connected to the Vancouver airport) for the night, getting some sleep, and starting fresh in the morning would be the best thing for our kiddos. Well, we didn’t factor in that it would be a super long day already, and that we would have to clear customs in Vancouver, meaning our flight arrived at 6:30 pm BUT we wouldn’t check in to our hotel until 8 pm and still need to eat dinner (hey Tim Hortons!) and get everything ready for our early flight the next morning. The worst decision ever, you guys. We were barely in the hotel room and it was barely asleep.
M was so impossibly lacking in sleep from a disrupted schedule during our trip, plus he didn’t nap on the flight, so when we finally got him to sleep in the hotel, it was like 10 pm! Then we had to get everyone up at 4:15 am to catch the 5:30 am flight. It seemed like such a good idea when we booked and turned out to be the worst. My poor sweet boy was crying when we woke him up in the morning and saying ‘why’, it broke my heart and I felt so bad for him. He was sooo tired. So don’t do this, don’t extend a travel day, just get home and get the munchkins to bed lol.
Okay, now a few travel tips that worked!
Hit Up The Dollar Store For Travel Toys
I don’t want to buy all new toys or spend a lot of money on things that may be left behind in an airplane seat lol. I bought a few mini construction trucks (he’s obsessed), some paint with water books (which are awesome), and a pack of little farm animals that he loved playing with. Keep them hidden until traveling and they will be so excited to play with their brand new toys.
Include The Littles In The Packing
We bought M this little backpack and aside from the incredibly cute factor, M has been so excited to carry it around and loves that he has his special backpack.
Pack Water Bottles
This is a great general flying tip. I packed a big water bottle for Kiel and me to share, plus M’s little one that he has. We would have the flight attendants refill them for us and hit up the water fountains in the airport.
You want to be prepared for things to happen. Our travel day to San Diego would have been a breeze, except before we even flew anywhere, we sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes. So our toddler was getting antsy and hungry (all I had was crap snacks at 6 am) and he was getting bored. By the time we landed at our connecting airport, we were so late to catch our next flight, we didn’t have time to fill up water bottles or grab a breakfast sandwich. We ran through the airport and were the last people on our waiting flight. Stressful!
The flight home was poorly planned too (hindsight is 20/20 haha). As I said, our kiddo was way overtired. He needs a nap a day and structured bedtimes, and it was all over the place during our trip, so we really were due for the mother of all tantrums. Happy that this took place on an airplane :-/ Omg, I was horrified and felt so bad for my boy. He was so upset and worked up and completely inconsolable. His tantrum was so bad, that I can guarantee people who were on that flight talked about it that night. (We finally were able to console him and calm him down).
Anyways, there are lots that I will do differently next time but I hope that we can all learn from my mistakes, haha and if you have any travel tips please share them in the comments below!