traveling with the littles in covid times
traveling with littles
Disclaimer: I was not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned in my blog. I am merely sharing tips/tricks that have worked for me. The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not reflect the opinions of Kodomo or its employees.
When my three year old daughter was selected to model in an upcoming fall shoot for an international children’s brand, I jumped at the opportunity without necessarily thinking through the logistics required to take a child cross country for essentially a 24 hour trip. After all, it has been a long 17 months and I really needed to tend to my self-diagnosed “wanderlust.”
So like an athlete preparing for an upcoming meet by running through a match in her head, I practiced - I visualized getting out of the car and going through security. I imagined boarding the plane and entertaining my child on the flight. I pretended to squeeze into an airplane bathroom while my daughter used the potty. What would I do if I had to go? Should I even bother drinking water on flight? How does Tom Brady do it and how is he able to drink so much water without peeing every 30 seconds? Are you surprised I know who Tom Brady is? I do - he’s that guy who appears in one episode of that new Paul Rudd Netflix show, right?
So, how did she do it? Thought no one ever. Well, here are just a few of the unsolicited tips I learned along the way.
Snacks: What can I say? Have them on hand and have a variety. My daughter is as fickle as Boston weather and her demands change as quickly as her moods. I opted for a variety pack with individually wrapped cheddar squares and graham crackers. Word to the wise re: liquids. TSA allows passengers traveling with children under two a reasonable amount of juices and milk products with additional screening. I however misread the guidelines and had to subject myself to a very thorough pat down in order to bring my liquids through. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled when she refused to drink any of the beverages I had packed. If you aren’t ready to get up close and personal with a TSA agent, try and stock up on beverages post security. Or better yet make friends with the flight attendants when boarding and ask if they can provide your child’s beverage of choice. Preboarding (as discussed below) can be a blessing and a way to grab a flight attendant’s attention before other passengers board.
Pre-Boarding: Airlines allow certain passengers, including passengers traveling with infants in arms (defined as children under two) to preboard a flight. However, sometimes kind gate agents take pity on parents who look especially frazzled. Don’t be afraid to ask to board early if you need extra time or do what I do - hover around the boarding area and try to make eye contact and garner a little sympathy while looking slightly pitiful. This patented (kidding) move is what I call “the Tanu.”
Seating: Boarding early allowed me to wipe down the seats, tray table, entertainment screen, and seatbelt before sitting down. I’m glad I did because my daughter was all over everything in reach. Somehow I forgot to wipe down the airline safety card, which to my three year old, was just a laminated comic book. For parents with a child that gets motion sickness, check the setback pockets for motion sickness bags in case of discomfort. I can’t tell you how many times I have regretted not checking before sitting down.
Pack: I kept a couple extra swaddle blankets with me in case of air sickness - they also double as a blanket/pillow. Have an extra change of clothes for your child (and don’t forget to have an extra change of clothes handy for yourself). Don’t pull “the Tanu” (former definition) and land in Rome wearing vomit soaked silk pants. You can’t pull them off.
Activities: Have them on hand and be ready to deploy as a necessary distraction. My daughter saw someone next to us eating chocolate and immediately started demanding chocolate (which I didn’t have and was not planning to give before a 6 hour flight) - so in true ‘mother of the year’ fashion, I deflected and distracted her with different activities. "Search and find" books are great because the intense focusing can tire them out. I also like the water marker coloring books because they are a no mess activity that can be used over and over again. Or better yet, download content from a streaming service and be ready to watch Cocomelon on repeat (see above re: mother of the year).
Wardrobe: I look for no-fuss cotton knit dresses for my daughter when traveling - something that will breathe but that is long enough to keep her warm when temperatures invariably dip on board. I am a huge fan of Bobo Choses and always dress her in their long maxi dresses for flight. Don’t forget easy-to-slip-on shoes that won’t cause the metal detector to go off.
Accommodations: Before children, the thought of staying at an airport hotel would make me cringe. I wanted to wake up in the middle of the city and stumble out of bed and find a local cafe/bakery to soak up the culture. Now? I go for convenience. Consider airport hotels if landing late in the evening or taking off early in the morning. Our flight was delayed three hours and I only landed at SFO at 1 am. The airport hotel was a lifesaver and also had a shuttle pick us up from departures (so I did not have to wait at the airport at 1am and struggle with configuring a car seat while contending with a delirious and disoriented toddler.
The Bottomline: Look - I can continue to momsplain all this to you but the truth is, you got this. Above all, enjoy the experience. Our kids are young only once so keep reminding yourself that you will one day laugh at this with them when they choose to invariably have a meltdown in front of a bunch of strangers and start doing virtual snow angels on the ground. And don’t be afraid to use your roll-on suitcase as a toddler transport mechanism - I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.