If traveling with kids feels overwhelming, I get it. I can’t lie to you and say that everything always goes as smoothly as I’d hope, but there are a few things I do to make sure they go as smoothly as they can.
First, I always let them pack their own travel bag for the plane. It’s so much easier now that they are a certain age, because around 7 or 8 is when they know what is going to keep themselves entertained. I like for them to help be a part of the packing process and feel responsible that they get to pick their own activities to keep busy. They can bring their favorite book and blankets, cozy socks, toys or puzzles, or pick out and download movies for their iPad or laptop and watch exactly what they want (mom approved of course).
I always pack healthy snacks for the plane, too. My kids love Siete chips, and these crunchy cauliflower puffs, pouches of applesauce, smoothie packs, gluten-free pretzels, or fresh-cut fruit or veggies. I try to keep things healthy on the plane but still enjoyable.
I also always pack pajamas for the flight, for each kid and myself. We love to get comfortable, and we don’t wrinkle our outfits. We change before the plane takes off into our jammies.
Since the plane can be super dehydrating, but making sure all your kids stay hydrated too can be a huge job, I just have them drink water whenever I do. When they see me doing it, it’s easier to follow suit, so every time I take a sip or drink a bottle, I have them do it with me. Team hydration, it’s a thing.
My favorite trick that I use on my kids and myself is taking these all-natural, herbal No-Jet-Lag pills. They really do help with the time change exhaustion, and they make us all a little sleepy on the plane too, so we can all nap, burn up some time, and arrive refreshed. They are definitely necessary on long flights out of the country and back home.
When we get to our destination, whether it’s the home country or somewhere exotic, it’s important to see what other kids are doing. I like to show my kids how everyone lives, and that doesn’t resonate with them as much while viewing adults as it does seeing people their own age. We arrange somewhere to go visit where we can talk to, play with, and engage with other kids. Depending on where we go, we sometimes personally donate school supplies and other essentials to the kids themselves.
I also think that if you have more than one child, having one-on-one dates with each of them during your vacation (if time allows) is important. It’s important to me for my kids to form positive memories about the trip, and it helps when they have some solo time with me where they can feel singled-out and special. It’s also great because sometimes not all my kids will want to do the same thing, and this way they can feel like they were able to do something they wanted to do, and it was about them. If there isn’t time for one on one, I let the kids take turns picking what we do, whether it’s where to have dinner or a special daily activity.
I always try to encourage my kids to try the local foods, new cuisines, and new activities. I was so surprised my kids loved the pesto in Portofino, but so proud! There was a restaurant there where we had to put on a bib and peel the shrimps. I took Mason there for our little one-on-one date, and he tried that too. It was very memorable.
My golden rule is probably the most simple—don’t overdo it, never overpack. You don’t want to lug stuff around and spread out all over the plane, because things will definitely turn up missing. Also, everything you bring on the plane has to go with you everywhere on your trip, too, and there is nothing less relaxing on vacation than a hotel room explosion of toys and stuff to have to clean up and repack before coming home.
When we get home, it can be tough to reacclimate. The No-Jet-Lag herbal remedy helps, but it can only do so much. Be easy on yourself, because you’re going to be exhausted, but so are your little ones. Just be patient and do your best to get them back on a normal schedule as soon as possible.
My friend and Poosh colleague Sam Hyatt shared these traveling tips with me: “A mini set of Clorox wipes is a must for wiping down plane seats, belt buckles, etc. I also don’t leave home without my Beekeeper’s Honey Propolis Spray. I’ve been on enough trips where my kids have gotten sick from traveling and it has ruined the whole trip, so I try really hard to focus on immune boosting to make sure everyone is feeling their best. This propolis spray is a lifesaver and really helps keep both adults and kids healthy. Lots of water, and loads of nutrient-packed snacks such as cucumbers, apples, tangerines, yogurt, and Elemental Superfood bars. I also always pack an extra change of clothes for each kid. I know it sounds annoying, but trust me—nothing is more annoying than a spontaneous vomiting episode on a plane, and then no change of clothes. Last but not least, I hate just throwing my kids on a plane or in a car and shoving an iPad in front of their face. I always bring a deck of cards, coloring books or activity books, and road trip games to help keep them entertained and help limit their time with electronics.”