I'm Shannon Willardson - blogger over at GBO Fashion (@shannonwillardson on Instagram), wife to the boy of my dreams, and mama to the cutest 3-year old boy (Jack) and 1-year old baby girl (Charlotte) in all the land (I'm not biased or anything!).
1. Use high-quality luggage. Ok ok - this may sound like it's just an ad for DELSEY, but I'm being 100% authentic here. Before getting DELSEY’s luggage I had an inexpensive set that I'd purchased from a discount store. I do a decent amount of traveling so my luggage tends to take a beating. As such, it wasn't long before multiple things on my cheap luggage began to malfunction (a wheel, a handle, a zipper... um, can we say nightmare?). Here's the deal: traveling with kids is pretty stressful just in and of itself, so your goal should be to streamline anything that you have even a smidgen of control over. Take it from someone who knows: having cheap, malfunctioning luggage will add an extreme amount of stress to your travels. I highly suggest investing in some quality luggage that will roll smoothly, function properly, and stand the test of time. Take it from somebody who travels with DELSEY luggage…it makes all the difference!
2. Don't forget your children's birth certificates or ID! We have a specific place in our house for our kids' personal identification documents, and I keep them in a large plastic bag so that all I have to do is grab it and go when it's travel time. If your child is under the age of two and travels for free, you'll still need their birth certificate to prove their age and to serve as an identification. Make sure you don't forget it!
3. Be ready for the security line and the end of the jetway. At least for me, going through the security line is always the most stressful part of being in the airport. Now triple that stress-level if you have kids, and quadruple it if you're traveling alone with your kids. Again, your goal here should be to make things as easy on yourself as possible. Ways you can do that: a) wear shoes that you can get on and off and b) refrain from wearing layers so that you won't be required to take anything off to get through the censors. Be aware that your car seat and stroller will have to go through security as well, so that may be a lot to juggle. Talk to your older child about the process before you arrive at the airport and explain how you'll need them to behave during those stressful moments. The end of the jetway can be stressful too. Tip: make sure that everything is packed away in your diaper bag or purse and that nothing is left in the storage basket of your stroller by the time you start boarding. You won't want to be organizing all of that at the bottom of the jetway with a line of people behind you - trust me!
4. Use a backpack style diaper bag as opposed to a shoulder-one. When traveling with kids, you will want hands-free everything, wherever possible. Shoulder diaper bags are much harder to maneuver and will end up being a huge pain. Use a backpack style diaper bag instead. I have this one and love it!
5.Get your toddler their own backpack for holding their things. I bought my son this backpack a while ago, but have yet to travel with it. This approach keeps your diaper bag free from an overflowing barrage of toys and leaves room for the important stuff that you'll want to be easily accessible.
6. If you have multiple kids, use a double stroller to get through the airport, then a carrier once you're on the plane. We use the Uppa Baby Vista stroller (with the corresponding Infant Car Seat and toddler seat) and it's been absolutely fabulous. On the few occasions where I've had only one of my kiddos with me for a trip, I use the City Mini Baby Jogger. This one is so small and light it can actually be checked as a carry-on. I use the Ergo baby carrier for my baby girl once I'm on the plane so that I am hands free for tending to my three-year old.
7.Snacks. Bring so, so, so many snacks. I don't know about your kids, but nothing will turn mine into a crumbling mess of screaming tears faster than not having a snack when they want one. Bring way more than you think you'll need, and bring their favorites. Your goal on the plane is to just keep those kiddos happy—and don't forget the sippy cup of water either!
8. Bring entertainment. I have one word: iPad. Literally nothing has been more of a saving grace on flights than the blessed iPad. Two important tips: a) make sure that it’s fully charged before your flight, and b) keep in mind that you may not have wifi on the flight, so make sure you download anything your child is going to want to watch. We download all of Jack's favorite movies and episodes of Daniel Tiger for his airplane rides. If you can download interactive activities like games, I recommend that too.
9. Sit in the aisle seat and the window seat (if possible). We always attempt to get an entire row to ourselves any time we fly by sitting in both the window and the aisle seat.
10. Pack that diaper bag carefully. I think every mom has had the experience of forgetting to put an essential in the diaper bag, but trust me - a plane ride is not when you want to have this experience. Triple check that you have everything you need before heading to the airport: lots of extra diapers, wipes, sanitizer, a change of clothes for each child you're traveling with, sweaters or jackets for them in case the flight is chilly (so many of them are!), tons of snacks, a bottle and an extra bottle, gas drops or any medications you may immediately need, and your children's favorite things (pacifiers, blankets, favorite stuffed animals... whatever will make them feel comfortable and happy for an entire flight). And don't forget your personal essentials! Mine are chapstick, a water bottle, my phone and a portable phone charger, and tons of my favorite gum! I tend to travel with either a medium sized crossbody bag or a tote and keep my things in there so that they're separate and easily accessible.