By Nohad Mouawad
Traveling with kids: sounds wrong doesn’t it? Travel implies getting from point A to point B, or going on a vacation, two things that are practically impossible to do with kids. Some of us are still traumatized by flying with a crying baby, and all the deathly stares we got from the other passengers. Some of us are still recovering from the time our kid spilled juice all over themselves and us in the middle of economy class, and we had forgotten to pack a change of clothes. Some of us have just given up going anywhere further than the community pool for fear of having to pack every item of clothing and accessories we own and still make it to our destination and back in one piece.
It sounds crazy but travel with kids doesn’t have to be so scary. Let’s break it down by looking at what I usually pack in my travel carry on, when flying with kids:
Internal Pocket: Inside the internal pocket of my backpack is where I pack the most essential items. If I’m traveling with a baby, those would be diapers and wipes, like Kimmy Kim’s adorable patterned pull-ups and fragrance free wipes or Pure Born diapers made of natural bamboo.
If you’re traveling with kids aged 3 and older you’ll want to pack them a change of clothes, underwear and socks, and some for you too. For a comfortable option to wear on the plane, or as an extra change of clothes, check out local brand Hot Bunz. Their comfy fits and bright colors are perfect for traveling. An iPad, with downloaded shows and movies that appeal to each of your kids, is also considered essential. Don’t forget to pack kid-friendly headphones as well as a connector, if your kids will be sharing, because you do not want the rest of the travellers on the plane listening to Paw Patrol or SpongeBob.
Besides a device, another really important travel essential is sticker and activity books. The best kind of activity books for toddlers to age 4 are the water coloring books, where you just fill the little pen with a bit of water and they can color in the pictures mess-free. For kids aged 5 and above sticker books, like the Usborne ones, are great for keeping them busy and entertained on the plane, and also take such little space.
Center: Taking up the central part of my backpack will always be the snacks, and you’ll want to pack many! Kids always need a lot of snacks, but whatever number they usually need, multiply that by 10 when you’re traveling. Some great snacks that all kids love are dry cereal in Ziploc bags, dried fruits like raisins or dates, granola bars, crackers, biscuits and fruit puree pouches. Fade Fit’s online shop has a whole range of healthy and tasty snacks, from energy balls, to bars and puffs, that are absolutely ideal for traveling, and will keep kids full and energized. Koala Picks also has a wide selection of healthy savory and sweet snacks that are refined sugar and preservative free.
My favorite trick is to also pack less healthy treats like lollipops or oreos, and use these when the kids really start to get cranky! You can find all kinds of treats at Snack Markit online store, where you can get a 10% discount through QiDZ and the treats delivered to you before your trip.
Outside Zipper: The outer zipper of my backpack is where I put the items that I have to be able to reach quickly, whether in the airport or under my seat on the plane: tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer, hair elastics and a small comb (for myself and my daughter), chewing gum and lollipops (for takeoff and landing), and a couple small fidget toys for myself or the kids to calm us down or keep us busy during the flight.
If you don’t want to buy them any new toys to take along, but they aren’t interested in their new ones, check out Toyshare’s used toys subscription box. You get a box of preloved toys tailored to your kid’s age and interests, sent to your door every month, and you don’t have to worry about storing them once they’re bored of them.
Outer Pouch: In the outer bottle holder you definitely want to keep a large refillable water bottle for yourself or one of your kids. If your children are older, have them carry a small backpack each with their own snacks and bottle and a few small toys, an activity book and book to read. That way you can carry just one iPad and the extra clothes.
What NOT to Pack: There are some things that you definitely don’t want to pack when traveling with kids. After several run-ins with airport security officers, I can tell you to make sure your kid takes any craft scissors out of their pencil case, before you go to the airport. We also got in trouble once, when my son decided to pack a toy that looked like a weapon. It wasn’t real, but it still got thrown in the trash by security, and we also received a lecture.
I would also avoid any very noisy toys that can annoy other passengers, messy toys like slime, and any messy snacks that can spill, like juice boxes or yoghurt. And when a mess does happen, don’t panic, use the wipes and extra clothes that you packed.
Traveling with kids might be stressful and a lot of work, but if you’re prepared, the journey will go a little more smoothly. Get out of your comfort zone, and take your kids on a trip. It might not be a vacation, but the memories will last a lifetime!
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