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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

Surviving Airport Travel with Two Toddlers, Pregnancy, and a Husband Activist!

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Traveling via airplane can be nerve racking to even the most laid back passenger. Traveling with a three-year-old can test anyone’s patience. Traveling with a three-year-old and a two-year-old can be exhausting. Traveling with a three-year-old, two-year-old and being seven-months pregnant can put anyone over the edge. Traveling with a three-year old, two-year old, being seven-months pregnant and having a husband who decides to stand his ground as we go through airport security can lead you to threatening divorce.

We all have vivid memories of chaos happening during what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation. Most of the time, we look back at those memories and realize we create our own unnecessary stress. But one vacation in particular has me questioning if my husband actually loved me.

Just as the introduction states, my husband and I were traveling with our two small children, while trying to get in one more vacation before our family of four turned into five. Being seven-months pregnant with two children in tow plus their carry ons, as well as mine, grants onlookers a free admission to a circus act. While standing in line for security checks (which I would wait hours for this process to know that my family is safe during air travel), I experienced two meltdowns from my-ever-so cute daughter and my curious son trying to escape the line as he is distracted by all the sites of the airport. Who could blame them? It is a long, uncomfortable time for toddlers to stand quietly and definitely impossible for us to hold either one of them because of our load of travel gear. The light at the end of the tunnel, as seen through the x-ray scanner, came into view. The light my husband saw was in the frequent flyer line, where passengers were just cruising through without completing all of the checkpoints.

It is our turn and I remove my shoes, place them on the conveyor belt, hike up the luggage to be scanned and bend down to remove my children’s shoes. At this moment, my husband takes a stand. He looks at me and the nice lady reviewing our possessions and states, “do not take their shoes off.” The lady explains they have to as part of passing the security checkpoint. He continues, “I have watched 20 passengers walk through security and not one of them removed their shoes. Adults just passing by and you want us to remove our toddlers shoes?” You all know where this is going. I plead for him to drop it and help me with the kids, but now the final “big top event” has begun. Of course, this leads to arguing, which turns into kids crying and sitting on the floor. My anxiety level climbing higher than it has even been just because my husband was adamant our kids were keeping their shoes on. Really!

At this point, all of our bags, my shoes and other possessions are backed up on the conveyor belt. I am barefoot, because being pregnant means having flip flops in every color imaginable, and now my husband is being escorted to “that room.” The whole debacle took about 25 minutes and I was left to tend to my children, luggage, and my bare feet - all by myself! Luckily, I did not have to bail my husband out of airport security.

From that moment on, I began to add to “my bag of tricks” when it comes to air travel and a specific back-up plan when my husband becomes an activist.

Airport Tip#1

Before you even enter the airport with small children, make sure you tag your kiddos. Around the wrist area, use a sharpie and put your contact information (name and phone number) so if they do wander off in the chaos, they can be quickly returned. You can also purchase a tracking device so if lost, an app can take you right to them, but remember a tracking device can fall off, so not a bad idea to back up with the wrist idea. Refrain from identifying their name because you do not want a “stranger” to try to coerce them away. Never can be too safe.

Airport Tip # 2

Don’t assume your children know how to act in an airport. Talk to them about your destination, prior to departing, so they understand what adventures await them. Also, explain airport rules and how important it is to stay close to a family member. Knowledge is power!

Airport Tip # 3

Be calm and do not stress over a temper tantrum. More likely than not, most of the bystanders of your child’s temper tantrum have had kids and consider it “white noise”. But, as a parent, these temper tantrums lead us to wanting to retreat to the nearest bathroom to hide. It is expected that a child in a new situation will trigger some “nerves” of their own and temper tantrums is how they deal with them.

Airport Tip # 4

Try to plan your flight during the morning hours. Having your children wake up for a new day, excited to experience a new adventure, is way better than a tired child who spent the whole day thinking about the adventure.

Airport Tip # 5

Be prepared for drastic temperature changes as you arrive at your new destination. If you are anything like me, your travel plans include leaving cold weather to retreat to warm, sunny beaches and the peacefulness of the ocean waves crashing into the endless miles of sand. Who wants to get off a plane in a parka? Leave room in one of your carry-ons to stash any excess clothing. Even better, have your husband or other travel partners drop you off at the terminal so your can throw your unwanted layers in the car. Better to only have to carry one coat then four, or five, or six. When you return, have that same person provide curb services for your drive home.

Airport Tip # 6, 7, and 8

Wear Crocs. Wear Crocs. Wear Crocs. Leave cold weather with your children and their socked feet nested so conveniently in their crocs to only arrive at your destination with your children and their “un”socked feet nested so conveniently in their crocs. Removing shoes at airport security is a breeze with toddlers.

Airport Top #9

Something new will grab their attention. We can all relate to this one. I remember my husband asking me why I was packing little wrapped gifts in our carry-ons for our kids. He didn’t seem to wonder anymore after our son was strapped in his seat, complaining that his seatbelt was “hurting” and I reached for the wrapped gift for him to open. Garbage in the bag with our free peanuts wrappers and a happy kid playing with his all-in-one sorting toy.

Airport Tip # 10

Pack an emergency pack - sanitizer, pacifier, headphones, gum, snacks, water, lip balm, tissues. Sometimes these items are more important than the matching outfits you pack for your kids. Airports have germs and kids want to touch everything in the airport. A mother’s nightmare! Pacifiers falling on the floor, kids crawling under the seats, an inconvenient snot explosion, chapped lips and a husband complaining he is hungry. Never fear - a prepared mother is here!

Airport Tip #11

Pull-ups. Even if your child is newly potty-trained, it would be a good idea to have them wear a pull-up for those times that they are distracted by the people-movers or the airplanes taking off. No time to use the restroom.

Airport Tip #12

Screenshot boarding pass and have it printed out. When you are lined up going through the gate, it is so much easier if you have your boarding passes conveniently on your phone so the attendants can scan the barcode quickly. Also, have a printed copy just in case internet service is bad or your husband is stuck in airport security and he is in possession of the phone with the screenshots.

Airport Tip #13

Remove jewelry, belts, etc. The times of looking stylish when traveling disappear when you have children. Do you really want to stand at airport security removing a belt, excessive jewelry and any other item just to look magazine cover ready? Go for comfort and there is no shame in wearing sweats, yoga pants, etc. while traveling.

Airport Tip # 14

Wear extra clothes. This defeats the purpose of “Airport Tip #5, but wearing a scarf, cardigan, sweatshirt, can easily be converted into a blanket when your little ones start to complain that they are cold. It will happen!

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