I have a photo that I wish I was brave enough to share (#realparenting). The photo is giving “a true look at motherhood,” showing how miserable I was traveling with my toddler back in 2017.
The picture says it all, my hair disheveled, my face in agony, and a bouncing baby boy covered in eczema scars. Probably breathing in peanut dust and his body fighting back with me none the wiser.
I have yet to be brave enough to share the photo.
Back then traveling was hard. Today traveling is even harder.
My entire family lives on the other side of the United States. In 2019, I had a baby and in 2020 a global pandemic swept the world. Traveling became not only impractical but literally impossible.
It’s 2022 and still, the airlines are canceling flights.
What’s a mom to do when you can’t travel by car and you don’t want to get grandma sick?
Well, you live in fear for two years (rightfully so), and finally, you just hop on a plane and take the trip.
Pandemic Traveling Tips
I’m a mommy blogger and I’ve given travel tips on my blog about parenting children with eczema and food allergies. This is usually where I say, here’s some tips for traveling in a pandemic with two toddlers with eczema and food allergies. I have a few tips, but I’ll be honest, I have no real guidelines for this.
Traveling feels dangerous and I fear being judged for even taking my children on a flight during a huge surge. But sharing my story about how to deal with a pandemic on top of our other travel issues felt like it was worth a share. So this is for you if you find yourself brave or foolish enough to do the same.
My only tips are this:
Bring lots of extra masks
Throw screen time out the window
Forget about potty training and throw a pull-up on that kid
These may seem like obvious tips, but when you get to the airport you’ll understand. Your main goal will be avoiding the bathroom, keeping your toddler from touching everything, and keeping them masked.
Pandemic Traveling Guidelines with Toddlers with Food Allergies
My 2-year-old pandemic baby has never been anywhere. He hated nearly every minute of this trip. Except when he got to see snow for the first time.
My 4-year-old loves people and doing all the things. So he’s geared and ready for conversations that include high-five’s.
I don’t know which problem is worse to deal with, except having to deal with them both at the same time.
So when traveling we have old guidelines and new guidelines to deal with.
With food allergies, if food is being served you’re going to want to wipe down the plane. Ensure there are no peanuts being served and do what you can to keep your toddler from licking everything in sight.
With the pandemic, you have to keep your little one wearing a mask at all times. This goes for everyone over two.
The pilot came over to the loudspeaker joyfully, “I’d like to remind everyone two years of age and older, that according to federal guidelines you must be wearing a mask, covering your nose and mouth…”
My 2-year-old was happy to comply, in fact, he stated, “sure captain, thank you for the reminder.”
No, he didn’t.
He literally threw his mask on the floor. See my earlier tips on bringing spares.
And of course, the last guideline of traveling during a pandemic is do what you can to keep your toddler from licking everything in sight.
I will say even if the pandemic is ever over, I’m never traveling on a plane without a mask again. It definitely cuts down on the licking of things.
Peanuts on the plane?
So, strangely enough, the pandemic may have helped with the food allergy problem on the plane. It still seems that no one cares about food allergies on a plane. This was demonstrated by the “nice” attendant I asked about food being served.
I’d annoyed her, but she was nice enough to scoff out her confusing answer, discouragingly. Apparently, there would be no food served on the plane, unless of course, someone asked for it.
Would it be peanuts though?
I still don’t know the answer to that question, your guess is as good as mine.
However, she reassured me at least for now the plane was clean because it was the first flight out for the day.
People on the plane didn’t dare order a single thing lest they have to remove their mask and catch whatever variant we are on now.
So getting through the airport and traveling with the kids was actually the easy part. Getting a rental with car seats that actually work was the real problem. If you can lug at least one car seat with you, do it.
Traveling by Car with Two Toddlers
Both of my children are past infant seats which are easier to travel with. My kids both need a toddler seat. Though I now know, my oldest can get away with a booster seat. I knew the rental company wouldn’t have a car seat if I didn’t ask, so I made sure to call ahead.
This leg of the journey would be easy because of proper planning, by me, mom! I’ll pause for applause.
And somehow the car seat had a problem that I didn’t even know was possible. The straps would not adjust to fit my child.
How can car seat straps not adjust?? Did the rental company have more car seats you ask?
This is how I know my oldest child is now ready for a booster seat.
The Final Travel Tip
My final tip isn’t about what to bring or how to plan to make your trip easier. It’s to be prepared for a meltdown and just let it go.
My 2-year-old has never been anywhere in his life. He’s lived through a pandemic since his first coo. So needless to say this trip was a lot for him, and me, and everyone around him.
But think of it this way, you’re at home safe and warm and someone decides to drag you through an airline, into a rental car in the rain, to sleep in a bed that’s not yours for a week. You don’t know this is normal human behavior, and in fact, something called a vacation.
You just know nobody asked you if you were ok with this idea. And you consider it rude not to ask, considering you are in the middle of a growth spurt.
Bringing us all Together
All crazy travel issues and jokes aside, my children are young, too young for a debate on vaccines, because they can’t get them anyway. So young that wearing a mask is still only seen as something that’s fun to do just like on Halloween.
So all the fear about getting sick is on my shoulders as their parent. You may look at me and say, “you fool stay home.” But it’s hard to think about family members that have never met one of the most important people in your life and an important person in theirs.
Traveling is harder than ever and if you’re willing to take the risk you have to take the precautions as well. At this point that is all up to you. I don’t debate whether you should or shouldn’t travel, but I do say it’s hard as ever to travel with children.
Stay home? Take the trip? I don’t know anymore, it's anarchy out there do what you can to survive.