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When it comes to packing for myself, I’m never organized. I just throw things wherever. When it comes to traveling with kids, it stresses me out to not know exactly where things are. If I want to grab a certain book but can’t remember if I tossed it in the diaper bag, my purse, etc. I get stressed. Digging through bags in an airport or on a plane is not fun for me. I am specific about where I am packing things so that I can easily tell the kids or Jason exactly where something is without digging through bags.
I do find the trip back home is usually more stressful. I have to really make an effort to have our bags as organized as I want them. The kids are less patient and are usually just ready to get home. So I really try to make at least the same, if not bigger, effort for the return home.
BACKPACKS FOR EACH KID
We have done small rolling suitcases before for each kid and they loved them, but it’s so much faster for them to wear them on their back. So this last time each of our kids had their own backpack they carried through the airport. We made sure each had a side pocket for a water bottle. We then left the water bottle empty and filled it up with milk, water, etc. once we got through security. I followed this genius hack from Arin Solange at Home — she uses a little fold-up toiletry bag in each suitcase to pack what each kid needs for the flight (snacks, iPad, headphones, etc.) then you can just pull that out and they’re set for that flight.
DOWNLOAD ALL THE THINGS
Take advantage of apps that let you download things to watch offline. Vooks and Netflix are two of our most used. They can be a little slow when you’re downloading, so I would start a few days before your flight.
SPRING FOR THE INTERNET
If you’re willing to pay the $5ish you can get WiFi on their tablet or your device and you can let them live their best life. Worth it for extra long flights or if you have a device without much free space for downloads.
This really depends on your destination. Will your child need a carseat at your destination? If yes, then you have a few options for how to get your seat there. Because there are so many options, it has always overwhelmed me. Your options really depend on how many car seats you need to travel with and how many adults you’re traveling with. We had no problem gate checking two car seats when we flew as a family of four, but once we became a family of five we opted out of traveling with all three car seats.
1. If you have purchased a seat on the plane for your child, you can bring their car seat on the plane. If your seat is safe for air travel, there will be a little airplane logo on it. You can check the manual to see where exactly where it’s located. Each seat is different. If your child is a lap child and doesn’t have their own seat – it doesn’t hurt to ask if the flight is full and if they’d be able to accommodate your child in their own seat.
2. Bring your car seats and check them at the baggage counter. According to @safeintheseat, if you want to check your seat(s) at the baggage counter (to avoid hauling your seat through the airport) it is safest to pack your carseat in a padded travel bag or sturdy box when checking it with your baggage.
3. Bring your car seats through the airport with you and check them at the gate. This is what we have done for a carseat if our child is a lap child and doesn’t have their own seat on the plane. You’ll want to put them inside a travel bag before they put them below the plane.
4. Rent a car seat at your destination. We have done this twice. Once was through the rental car company. It was cheap but the seat was DISGUSTING and I would never, ever do this again. The second time we used a rental company at our destination that specifically rented things for children to travelers. The seats were very nice and clean. They provided me the information of the seats before I booked so I could confirm they would fit my children and so I knew how to install them once we arrived. (This was when we traveled to Charleston. We used Baby Away Charleston and had a great experience! They were priced well and were reliable. And this is not sponsored, haha!)
If I want to take my car seat on the plane or gate check it, how do I get my car seat through the airport? Here are a few options.
Breastmilk is exempt from normal liquid rules in security.
I have flown with breastmilk a few times and it has always been a great experience. I have let the agents know as soon as I was close to the security scanner that I am traveling with breastmilk. If you have a bottle or bag with more than the 3.3oz they may (or may not) test it. I have had it tested once and the other times it was just sent through the x-ray machine. The testing was only about 2-4 mins and they were very fast, discreet and thoughtful. If you want more information, I found this blog post by Exclusive Pumping super helpful!