With Thanksgiving and the craze of Black Friday shopping frenzy behind us, we are kicking into high gear getting ready for the Holidays. It is a busy time, everything from setting up the Christmas tree, to adorning the house with lights, and shopping for gifts. We love the festivity and excitement of the holidays. December is your ultimate shopping season but it is also your prime vacation and family getaway season. It is inevitable because this is really one of the few times of the year that mommy, daddy, and the kids are all off at the same time. So this means off to visit grandma, or basking in the sun on a white sandy beach. It is VACATION TIME!!!!
Vacation time is exciting, it is time to relax and get a little R&R. However; when you have kids, that all changes.
As a friend told me, once you have kids, it is no longer a vacation, it is a family outing, a very different kind of beast. Pre-kids, year-end vacation was a time that we all looked forward to. Minor preparation and research were needed. Simple 3 step process (ok maybe I’m over-simplifying a bit – but compared to what we go through now, it seems to be that simple).
- Decide on a destination and book the flight. Check!
- Find a hotel or an all-inclusive resort, depending on how adventurous or lazy we are – we have done both and loved it either way.
- Get an idea of some restaurants or activities we want to hit up while at the said locale – then it’s off to paradise!
But with kids – not only do we have to tackle all of the above – but we have to give serious thought to how we will survive that dreadful flight to and from paradise! While sometimes it can’t be helped, but I really prefer not to be THAT parent with the screaming child that ruins everyone’s in-flight experience.
There is typically a direct correlation between the age of your child & length of the flight to the level of preparation needed to ensure a Quiet, Happy and Enjoyable flight for everyone involved.
As the quote states ‘Fortune favors the bold’ – I’m really not that adventurous and prefer not to test the fates. I much prefer Benjamin Franklin’s quote: ‘“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
With that said, in a few weeks, we will be preparing for our trip to visit the Georgia Aquarium – as part of our ultimate goal to hit up EVERY SINGLE aquarium in the country, per Brandon’s request. Here are our MUST-HAVEs when we make our travel down south!
In the Airport:
Go-go Babyz Travelmate Original Airport Stroller: Have you tried juggling 2 ginormous luggage + an awkwardly shaped car seat + keeping your carry-on bag precariously perched on your shoulders while attempting to run after your kid across the airport. Well, we’ve all been there. What’s so great about the Airport stroller is that you can strap the car seat to the Travelmate and wheel your kid through the airport like a luggage. It’s comfortable for them and easy for you. Once at the gate, you can disassemble it and gate checks both the car seat and travel mate together. Such a breeze.
On the Plane:
Babyganics Hand Sanitizing Wipes: As parents, we believe in being proactive in minimizing any chance that can get our nugget sick. When getting on a plane this means wiping down the tray table, TV screen, armrest and seat belts. I really didn’t want to admit we are THAT kind of parents, but experts have time and time again reiterated that airplanes are quite dirty. Check out this eye-opening article: http://time.com/4877041/dirtiest-places-on-airplanes/ ‘The potentially grimiest place on an airplane unfolds right into your lap.’ Why take the risk, we might not get all the germies in every nook and cranny but we sure can try!
Chupa Chups – Nothing ruins a flight faster than a child who is in pain from the pressure change as the plane takes off or lands. We have tried different methods, what we found to work the best for us was to have him suck on a lollipop. We have tried different candy, but the one he loves the best is the Chupa Chups – Brandon’s favorite flavors are Strawberries & Cream – bright and colorful. There are tons of unique flavors. It is never boring.
Ipad/Tablet: Need I say more, even if the plane has in-flight entertainment unless it has your child’s favorite show on rotation, it’s pretty much useless. So why leave your fate to chance, a little preparation goes a long way. Download a variety of their favorite shows or movies via Amazon Video or Netflix’s download function and you’ll be set!
Puro Headphones: As much as we want our neighbors to share in the joys of watching Paw Patrol with Brandon, common in-flight etiquette dictates that we keep our entertainment to ourselves. When searching for headphones we wanted to find one that was comfortable so that he would be willing to keep it on for more than 15 minutes at a time. But we also wanted one that had volume limiting functions for fear that he turns up the volume too high and blows out his eardrums. There were lots of options in the marketplace – but after doing our research: check out this article: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-kids-headphones/ - we decided on the Puro BT2200 one. Not only was it super well built, it was stylish. It got its own case and he can wear it for hours. A definite must-have for our trips. It also has both Bluetooth or wired connections, so if the Bluetooth connection to your tablet is a little wonky, all is not lost, you can still connect via the included cable. So easy to throw in the carry-on bag.
Snacks: As the Snicker’s ad says ‘You’re Not You When You’re hungry’, well this cannot be truer than when it comes to kids. When they are hungry, away goes that cute little angel and out comes the irritable, angry, grumpy cat. So regardless of where we go, whether it’s a road trip or a cross-country flight. We are always prepared with a variety of snacks from fruits, crackers etc. Some trusted favorites: Trader Joes 12 Grain Mini Crackers & Sensible Portions Veggie Straws.
Portable battery charger: How many times have you thought that you have the tablet charged up for a 2-hour marathon of Thomas & Friends and then find out that the tablet/iPad did not fully charge the night before. Well, that’s what nightmares are made of. Fear not if you carry one of these bad boys with you at all times you are fully protected, even if you are on one of those older planes with no sockets next to your seat. Though make sure you carry with you the appropriate charging cord.
Sticker Books: Once the multimedia segment of the entertainment is over, out comes one of Brandon’s favorite things: sticker books! Nothing like finding and matching stickers to the right sea animals and if that loses his attention then we always have a Ziploc bag of his favorite crayons for the coloring section of the book.
Skip Hop Carryon bag – Have you ever struggled to find something in a stuffed backpack or purse. If you did, you know how frustrating it can be to find something in that dark abyss. So, we are firm believers in compartmentalization. We put all of his toys, books, snacks and other items in his own carry on bag, this way not only does he know where his stuff is at all times, we foster his sense of accountability by having him carry his own bag.
Sunglasses – Even though its December, it will still be sunny down in Georgia. The one thing we will not leave home without is his sunglasses. During the winter months, the sun is lower in the sky and even on those gray and gloomy days, UV rays are still penetrating through the cloud covers. Never to early to start protecting their eyes, sunglasses are the necessary accessory regardless of where you go.The Brandon Red Havana Wayfarers are his favorite. Check them out.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the things that we rely on to make our vacation travel painless, but they are definitely some of the most critical must-haves that we can’t leave home without. What are some of your most trusty tools that you rely on when traveling? Let us know!