Traveling with {small} children

Let me begin by saying that our family much prefers traveling 24 hours by plane to traveling 2 hours by car.  Don’t try and make me feel bad about that, like if I just knew all the secret tricks our kids would magically become great car companions.  It’s just the way it is.  We are not a happy car driving family.  Yet.

Plane traveling, though, is great.  Mostly.

Let’s start with the general philosophyonly take what the two of you parents can carry and still hold a hand at the same time.  Without a cart.  With an umbrella stroller.

This philosophy is now encouraged by having to pay for every piece of check in luggage.  LAME-O.

So we packed for our three month stay in one suitcase and one duffel bag.  Someday I’m going to get this bag, and then see how efficient we can be.

Now, for the good stuff.  The carry ons.

Carry on philosophy – only take what the adults can carry on their backs, leaving arms free for pushing umbrella strollers and carrying tired children through airports.  Not to mention dealing with tickets and passports.

First, we do not take car seats on the plane.  Other people swear by them.  Getting them down the aisle and locked into place while shepherding small bashful people makes us swear.  (But, when we did still think it was a good idea, Janeen had the great suggestion of strapping it to a luggage cart and using it as a stroller in the airport.  Brilliant.)

Other than the struggle of transporting the carseats, we found that the girls didn’t want to stay in them, so we ended up with kids on our laps and no elbow room.  Because you can’t keep kids strapped in for 10 hours on a plane.

So in the two bags that are carried on our backs (no over the shoulder bags!), our packing generally goes as such.  Devo carries the tickets/passports, computer(s), and camera(s).  I carry everything else (which is remarkably lighter than the technology).

Diapers (one for every 2 hours in transit, plus a few extra), wipes, vaseline, and compact extra clothes for the kids (two sets for the baby).  This all goes in one packing cube.

One baggie with liquids, including infants tylenol for just in case.

One small bag with tylenol for the parents, vitamin c, my beloved thyroid medication, and toothbrush.

Sweaters.  But only for the little girls.  I can keep a blanket on myself and an infant when sleeping.

For food we take trail mix or nuts.  And non-spill sippy cups.  The non-spill part is very important.  Non-spill means that liquid does not come out unless someone is sucking on it (and no caps to open and close!).  We have the flight attendants put the drink of choice in the sippy cup and it greatly reduces parental gasping and lunging.  This bonus by far outweighs the inconvenience of lugging empty cups around.

And about toys.  Now that the girls are older, we are packing them each a very small bag with toys in it.  I think there were five identical toys in each.  Paper and pen, very small doll…and I don’t even remember the rest because the only toy that got any attention in 24 hours of traveling were the dolls.  Which is saying something, because usually my kids don’t play with any of the toys we bring.

I take a one-pocket bag that can fit alot, but collapses when it’s empty.  The girl’s bags fit in the top of my bag.  As they get older, they will carry their own bags.  But for this trip, it was infinitely simpler to tuck them into my bag for getting in and out and around places.

This trip we also took the snugli.  Which I referred to mid-trip by various names such as the thingy, the backpack, the sling.  And then wondered why Devo never knew what I was talking about.  We didn’t really use the snugli.  I thought it would be a good idea for holding the baby secure while sleeping, but we couldn’t get comfortable.  And I hate wearing it because it makes my shoulders really hurt.  So I don’t think we’ll take it again.  But I still think it’s a good idea.

The last thing we take it the aforementioned umbrella stroller.  Yes, so you can’t pile things on it (including other children).  But it’s compact, it’s easy to get in and out of, the tiredest child gets to use it, and you don’t get really upset if it gets all beat up.

So there you have it!






5 thoughts on “Traveling with {small} children

  1. Oh my, I’m so glad I found you (actually, my mother did). Since someone posted a question about it on our forum, I’ve been planning to write a blog post about taking a sabbatical with young children. And since I’m still unmarried and without children (!!), I don’t feel I’m too much of an expert on the topic. I would love to feature you on our site – I think you’re an incredible inspiration! And I also dream of having a backyard farm some day….complete with a “chicken tractor”.

    Best wishes to you and your family … what a joyous adventure.

  2. Elizabeth, what fun! One week hasn’t exactly made me an expert (haha), but I’m definitely getting some experience! Let me know what you have in mind…

  3. Strange, I kept coming back looking for new comments, and I couldn’t find my first one and your reply until just now. So glad you responded! There are lots of ways to feature you on our site, and I want you to choose. I could send you some questions for your to answer, which I’d combine with an intro about your sabbatical. You could write a post in your own voice and link back to your personal blog. We could combine these methods and do a kind of series…whatever suits you. I don’t have examples of people with children, so I think yours is an important one. I also think you’re extremely thoughtful about what a sabbatical is and does for a person (i.e your recent post on “BE”). If you’d prefer to email me directly, I’m at Thanks so much, Leilani.

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