Jenny is a mother of two, a wife, & Missionary in the Baltic States. She has traveled extensively with her children and husband. Jenny and I grew up in the same small town in Texas. While our lives went different directions after 5th grade, we were brought back together through our travel experiences. When I learned Jenny and her family were going to be missionaries in Russia, I was SO excited to follow her journey. Her an her family are serving the Lord while also experiencing the world. I can only hope to have as much Grace as she has while she treks the world.
Traveling With Kids: An Adventure Worth Taking
I was asked to write about traveling with children a while ago. This was a daunting task for me because 1: I am not a writer and 2: I did not feel like having flown only a few times with my kids was enough to make me someone worth reading. Well now, over a year later, I am still not a writer, but I have flown enough with my kids that I feel I have some nuggets of information worth sharing (and worth reading).
Now, let me start off by saying that every parent will need to find what works for them. I will share what I have found to work for me and my family, but you may find something completely different works for you. It's all about trial and success.
My husband and I are missionaries in the Baltic States and frequently fly throughout Europe for meetings and conferences and to the United States for support raising and to visit family. With that said, our kids see their bags packed and do not make a fuss about it. They don’t see the need anymore. I have a daughter that is 8 and a son that is 4.
When we first flew overseas I packed toys to be opened every hour on the flight for entertainment, several sets of clothes for everyone, a complete set of toiletries for everyone, lots of snacks, our computer, external DVD player and lots of DVD options. This is ridiculous! Here’s why: my kids either slept or watched movies on the airplane TVs. They colored some, but mostly didn’t use what I packed. Plus, going through airport security was a nightmare with all this stuff to dig out of the bags.
So here is my typical packing list now:
- A blanket a neck pillow for the kids and only the neck pillow for my husband and I. The airplane usually provides small pillows and blankets, so this isn’t always necessary; I just like to make sure the kids will be comfortable.
- One change of clothes for each person. We’ve been stranded in strange cities in the middle of the night before and needed a change of clothes… Plus spills ALWAYS happen. ALWAYS.
- Markers, crayons and one notepad for each kid. They will usually color for a little while, but what they really like to do is make puppets out of barf bags! Who are we kidding, my husband and I love to do this too!
- Headphones and headphone jack splitters. Their headphones don’t always fit in the airplane jacks, but they are more comfortable for the kids when they do. The splitter is for when they want to watch a movie together.
- A simple set of toiletries. I don’t pack much. I figure if we get stranded, I can buy what I need or get it from a hotel. I do usually take those disposable toothbrushes; those can be lifesavers!
- And SNACKS! I don’t pack a lot, but airport food is expensive and you do not get to control how quickly you are served on an airplane. It’s best to grab some snacks so you don’t have to hear, “I’m hungry!” a thousand times just after boarding the plane. Also, the kids may or may not like what they are served so it’s smart to have snacks that you know they’ll like on hand.
- I also pack a small toy + a small stuffed toy for each kid in my backpack just incase.
- Keep your passports, tickets and currency close by in an easy to get to, but secure location. When your holding kids, bags, and who knows what else, you don’t want to have to dig through bags for these things
- Keep all electronics in easy to get to locations as well. This way going through security screenings are faster.
- I pack all of the clothes and things we might not need, in one bag that remains overhead. Headphones and coloring stuff go in my backpack, and blankets/pillows go in a separate bag. My husband carries our computer, camera and whatever else he wants to bring in his backpack.
- Dress your kids, and yourself, in comfy clothes with shoes that remove easily.
The biggest tip I’d give on these flights is to RELAX! Kids will be kids, and most people know this… and the ones that don’t, can get over it! If you’re overly stressed and constantly worried about the effects your kids have on others, they will probably get worse. (this is a blanket statement… obviously don’t let your kids be animals) My kids are great flyers. This is because they have learned the drill and because I stay calm and treat them like they know what to do. Kids, in my experience, arise to the occasion if you give them an opportunity to.
During a layovers I suggest trying to find a children’s play area. Go exploring. Learn new things! If you leave the airport, make sure you leave at least 4 hours (get back 2-3 hours before your next flight). Also, we like to look up free and/or fun activities nearby before hand.
Traveling with kids is an adventure, but is always fun for us! I like the challenge that it brings and I love the sense of accomplishment after the trip when things went smoothly. I have learned to be prepared but to prepare to go with the flow too.
Have fun out there and safe travels!
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