Call me crazy, call me brave, or call me a glutton for punishment. I have traveled alone with my two small children several times. While nothing can prepare you for airline travel this summer (long lines, flight delays, overbooked airplanes), the most important thing you can pack is your patience. Here are some important tips I have gathered from my past experiences.
The Best Travel Gear
There are some things that just make life easier when traveling solo with kids and the first thing I couldn’t live without is my double umbrella stroller. In our day-to-day life, we rarely take our stroller anywhere because my kids are almost four and six. But in a busy airport, I like them contained.
I love this Jeep Double Umbrella Stroller. It collapses easily to get through TSA in case they make you break it down. It also maneuvers easily through a crowded airport or a busy theme park. It’s lightweight with a storage bag on the back. Don’t forget you can always gate check your stroller, which means you can wheel it all the way to the gate and just have your kids hop out on the jetway.
Comfort is number one when traveling. Gone are the days when people would dress up for a plane ride. My favorite and most comfortable traveling outfit for me is this one piece jumpsuit. I wear it on car trips, plane trips, and just about anywhere. It’s comfortable and stylish and I have it in multiple colors, but black is my favorite. I like it for traveling because it’s just one piece and I don’t have to worry about my backside hanging out or being tight and uncomfortable when sitting or bending. You also don’t have to unbutton it to use the restroom. I can just slide my arms out and I’m good to go.
While tablets are always a must on a plane trip, these soft headphones are great for young kids. They are comfortable and fit snug. They also limit the volume so as to not damage little ears. These stay on the kids’ heads way better than the other type of traditional headphones. My girls have the unicorn ones, but there are lots of other animals you can pick from.
Before the Trip
Before we head out on a trip either by car or plane, I always hit up Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar Spot for fun activities to keep them occupied. New coloring books, stickers, and other fun things are inexpensive ways to keep their interest while on the road. I also pack some of their favorite snacks to hold them over until we can get some real food.
Another tip I learned this time around for traveling in a post-COVID world is to download the airline app you are flying with. This was extremely helpful when we were dealing with multiple flight cancellations. I was notified sometimes hours before the flight cancellation on the app versus an email. The app also made it easier (sometimes) to speak with someone to get assistance.
Last year on my first solo trip with my girls, I learned a valuable lesson: pack extra clothes for everyone, not just the kids. On our trip home last year, my youngest threw up all over herself and all over me with an hour left in the air. While I had extra clothes for her, I didn’t have them for myself. So I had to turn the aforementioned jumpsuit inside out and be a smelly gross mess for the remainder of my flight. This year, we didn’t have any air sickness incidents, but at least I was prepared.
Traveling this summer is like no other. There are flight cancellations in every airport and on every airline. Airline employees are doing their best but they can only do so much. My best advice is to give yourself a buffer day or two if you need to be somewhere for a specific date (like a wedding or a theme park reservation). Be prepared for long layovers and packed flights. If you google the airport your layover is in, sometimes you can find a list of things to do to pass the time with small children.
Most people traveling either have children with them or have been parents themselves, so people are usually pretty nice. But sometimes there is one grumpy passenger, so be prepared. On one flight home, they had me and my small children separated, and people were more than willing to switch seats with me so I could be with my kids.
If you are traveling this summer, especially if you are going alone with kids, my best advice to you is to pack your patience and try to enjoy your trip.