Monday, May 24, 2010

Up, Up and Away!

As summer approaches, many of us find ourselves considering summer vacations complete with children. Would a trip be worth the hassle? How would we get all of our luggage, children and gear through the airport?

I started off by quizzing my husband, "What are our best tips for traveling with children?
His response, "Don't travel with the children, ever!!"

Thankfully, I'm here and slightly more helpful. Good news -- babywearing can be a wonderful way to ease your travel burden.

Planning ahead:
When choosing bags for packing your items, consider how versatile your packed luggage might be. Backpack or messenger style bags can both be worn on the front or the back. If possible, limit carry-ons that have handles requiring hand holding rather than draping across your body -- your hands will be plenty full! Have an older toddler/preschooler with their own plane gear? Consider a small inexpensive rollerbag that they can pull through the airport on their own! Kids love helping, so let them take a few pounds off your load.

Consider in advance which carriers might be easier to use while going through security lines. Carriers with significant metal portions are out -- wearing a ring sling with metal rings will mean taking your baby out of the carrier in the security line. If ring slings are your preferred carriers, consider one with nylon rings. Carriers without metal are preferable choices for this point of travel as the odds are good that you will simply be able to wear your baby through the security line. On occasion parents do report being asked to remove their baby from carriers for security, but I have personally not once been asked to do so in over 30 flights with my two kids -- may you be as fortunate. Do remember you'll be asked to remove those baby shoes!

Also consider your carrier needs while on the aircraft. If you're purchasing a seat for your little one, that gives
you not only a safe place to set them (and a known environment for them to rest in) but also some additional room. If this isn't possible, you'll likely want to do your best to try for a window or aisle seat -- the author has had a couple of miserable middle seat experiences with a lap child and would certainly not recommend that route if at all possible! If you are a nursing mama, consider nursing clothing or a carrier that might provide some nursing cover, should that make you more comfortable nursing next to the businessman sitting an inch away from you. I've personally enjoyed ring slings for nursing on the plane, as the tail is easily used for an increase in privacy [see above re: security lines, some of us might just pack more than one carrier!].

If bringing carseats with you for safer plane travel or for use at your final destination, you might want to consider purchasing a travel carseat. The Cosco Scenara and the Safety 1st Avenue are both lightweight convertible seats that come in a nifty plastic carrying case complete with handle. Our family found this more practical than trying to lug our heavy Britax seats to our final destination. If you don't need a carseat on the other end, the CARES harness might be another good option to consider for safely securing your toddler while on the aircraft.

Upon arrival at the airport
Consider checking bags at the curb. The few dollars you'll spend tipping the skycaps is typically more than worth it for not having to pull your luggage to the (often longer) ticket line.

If upon arriving at security you see a lengthy line that brings you to tears, always ask if there's a separate line for parents traveling with small children. Often times you'll be escorted through the first class line or otherwise receive some sort of special treatment to get you on your way as quickly as possible.

Be sure to ask people for help if you need it. Many people won't offer on their own but will gladly lend a hand
if you politely ask.

Pre-boarding can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Not dragging all of your carry-ons past every person on the airplane is great -- but adding an additional 20 minutes to your time on the airplane can be a bummer. If traveling with more than one adult, consider having one pre-board to secure overhead baggage room and install any carseats you might have, but leaving the second parent in the terminal with the child(ren) until the last minute as to not waste precious plane novelty time.

Portable DVD players or laptops with children's television are your friend. Nuff said.

And above all else, be sure to stop and appreciate the looks of awe you receive while easily transporting everything and everyone through the airport. Airports are a place where carriers really shine, so enjoy the "What a genius!" stares you are sure to get while comfortably strolling towards your gate.

Posted by Lindsay

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