Traveling with Kids

Sara Mosle of Slate writes about traveling with her kid, and doesn’t feel the love for the GoGo Kidz Travelmate, which has been a staple of our family travel for over a dozen trips in three years now. It’s not perfect, but we’ve never had to remove the wheels at security. They either send it through a larger machine or wand it. We’ve been able to forgo taking a stroller when we visit family, and the thing gets so much attention in airports you’d think we were rock stars, which can be a nice little esteem boost on a harried traveling day.

Link there from Game Theorist, where the author agrees with Mosle on two points: buy a seat for your under-2 kid, especially if you’re parenting solo; and pack as if for a desert island.

I’ve found it’s good to prepare for the worst, with ample food, toys, books, diapers and bribes, ahem, rewards for good behavior. But paying for the seat? I never paid for a seat for Drake before he was two, even when I traveled alone with him. I’d haul the infant seat up to the checkin desk, ask if there was an available seat, which there always was, get moved so I had the adjacent seat, and voila: seat without paying for it. I was given this advice by kind author Jennifer Weiner, who I’d emailed before a trip to her hometown, Philly.

For now-2yo Guppy’s first two or three roundtrips, I had him in my Maya Wrap sling, with older brother Drake in the seat next to me. The Maya Wrap made it easy for me to transport baby Guppy and nurse him on ascent and descent to protect his ears. It also encouraged him to sleep, which he did for all but one very screamy Maya-Wrapped flight.

Which brings me to my travel advice, which is really more emotional than what to stock in your diaper bag. Yes, there are a few things I do, like give my kids a prophylactic dose of Tylenol before they fly. (Many swear by Benadryl, but many also curse it because it can backfire and make the kid wired, instead.) I am also not afraid to ask for help from flight attendants and strangers.

But the thing that’s held me in best stead over flights both good and terrible is to know that flying with kids is largely about luck. Sometimes it’s good–weather’s good, kid is good, all is well. Sometimes it’s bad–flight delayed, long time on plane without moving, blowout diaper, peed-in pants, inconsolable screaming. And I won’t know what kind of luck I’ll get till the trip is done. So I tell myself to enjoy it if it’s good, and try not to flip out if it’s bad. I try to remain calm, apologize within reason to those around me (many of whom have told me not to worry; they had umpteen kids at home and they know what it’s like and can they give me a hand?), and put on the best parenting behavior that I can, even when (note, not “if”) I’ve felt like screaming and crying, or running to the restroom to hide.

This week’s 2.5 hour flight with the kids was a dream. The flight left on time, arrived early, and the kids never fussed. They were happy with books the whole time. I enjoyed it. And I can only hope that we’ll have such a good experience on the return flight. But I know, too, what to do when (note, not “if”) it doesn’t go as well.

5 Responses to “Traveling with Kids”

  1. Amy Says:

    The only kids that have ever annoyed me on planes are those with parents who make no effort. I was on a flight from NYC to Mpls one time with a very bored three-year-old whose mother was sleeping and whose father was working on his laptop. And the kid had nothing–NOTHING–to do. Finally dad gave him a Newsweek. Yeah, that’ll entertain a three-year-old.

  2. Kate Says:

    I don’t know if I ever thanked you for your many recommendations of the GoGo Kidz Travelmate but we Love, Love, Love it–for all the reasons you list. The reactions at the airport always crack me up because I’m not sure what makes it quite so cool to see. I think it’s surprise–that people expect to see a carry on, and instead they see a happy boy holding his little backpack.

    Best story ever from our recent trip: Apparently security was pretty high a few weeks ago, and when we sent the seat with wheels over for wanding (I don’t even try to put it through the xray belt), they did a full on security search of it. It was taking forever, and I was standing there with our little guy just waiting and waiting. Finally, the guy turned it all the way upside down on the table and every crumb and piece of crud in that seat fell out and I couldn’t help smiling. We always intend to vacuum it out, and then life gets in the way. While I’m glad they are trying to keep us safe, I guess that’s what he gets for going through a four year old’s everyday car seat. You couldn’t pay me to turn that thing upside down.

  3. weirleader Says:

    Wow! I wish we’d had that Travelmate about 5 years ago! I can remember a time my wife had to haul a full-on car seat plus two bags and two toddlers in an attempt to make a connecting flight… needless to say, she was not a happy camper (…er, passenger).

  4. Sydney Says:

    I am so happy to hear that the trip was uneventful. Wishing you a safe, relaxing trip home too.

  5. Morgan Says:

    Your recommendation for the GoGo Travelmate came at a perfect time - two days before a trip home to visit family. I was planning on renting a car seat so I didn’t have to struggle with a car seat and a stroller by myself on the trip home (my husband returned earlier in the week). Although it’s pricey, it was the perfect gear to get my 7 month old through the airport - even when we had to go through security twice because we left Sam the bear at the rental counter. Thanks!