I'm Abbie, a Texan Transplant from London, England, Mom of 2, now aged 10 and 13, Transatlantic Flier and Road Tripper in the Lone Star State!
We moved from the UK when my kids were aged 3 and 6. Ever since then, we fly back to the UK every 6 months - that 10 hour flight coupled with airport time, luggage and limited patience (both kids and us!) makes for a potentially stressful time. We also like to explore the huge state we live in and that means a ton of driving. We've tried it all - timing with naps, no naps, feeding them on the go, entertaining them and minimizing the complaints! Here are our tips and tricks for long distance travel with kids.
- Plan ahead. Consider the timing of your flight or drive, when you are booking a flight or planning when to leave. This can make all the difference. An overnight drive to the Beaches on the Florida Gulf Coast can be shared between parents and cut the "awake time" down dramatically. Plan for breaks around mealtimes to avoid eating in the car and time to stretch your legs and get fresh air. An overnight flight is usually easier if going long distance.
- Food - for babies, most airlines and airport security regimes have rules around what you can bring through, so check those before you go. Most pre-packaged items are ok, even for International travel, but fresh fruit or vegetable items should be eaten before landing. Bring napkins, wipes and containers (empty bottles to fill with water after security to reduce dehydration and deal with spills). Most airlines offer Kids meals - so reserve those before you fly (at least 26 hours ahead). For the car, pack a mini cooler with ice for cold items and a bag for food items to sustain their hunger.
- Blankets/comfort items - don't forget their Luvie, or favorite blanket if the AC is on high on the plane. Not all airplanes offer it to their passengers.
- Entertainment - it's easier for Mom or Dad if complaints are minimal, which usually means planning to bring Electronic items with games or downloaded shows from Netflix or even Disney Plus if you have it! Wi-fi is limited when traveling, so remember that and plan around it. Old fashioned card games, coloring books, crayons and puzzle books can also be fun. Don't forget charging cables and plugs and converters if you are traveling to a new country. We reserve power for traveling, so ensure appliances are saved for the journey itself. Having less than 10% battery on a long flight and no socket for power is no fun!
- Get the kids excited! Travel is more fun when they are looking forward to the destination. When we have a solid itinerary filled with fun activities for the kids makes "selling" the journey much easier. Within the State of Texas, we've worked through many of the destinations in this Guide and are looking at neighboring States too.