Trying to go to the bathroom in a regional jet with a two-year-old and a newborn seems to be a cruel joke, but kinda funny too. Traveling with one child is actually a breeze compared to traveling with two or more, so get off your butt and get some trips in before you take the plunge and go for baby number two. Warning: Remember that you aren’t Superwoman or Brangelina, so don’t think traveling to Australia with your six month old that just started crawling and putting everything in their mouth is a good idea. That doesn’t mean you can’t travel with kids, just plan accordingly and choose wisely. Also remember that traveling with kids is a “trip” and traveling without kids is a vacation. This will help keep your expectations in check. Just because your kid will be in a different location, possibly a beautiful, tropical one on the beach, doesn’t mean there is any less work involved with keeping them alive and happy. Your kids still have to eat, nap, be entertained and throw tantrums while they’re away from home.
There are basically two ways to travel with your kids: by car or by plane. Each has their distinct pros and cons. Road trips are by far the cheaper option, but take forever. If your kids are especially annoying it could make for a long trip. With DVD players, Leapsters, Nintendo DS and iPad, you can now plug your kids in for several hours at a time and not hear from them until you reach your destination. Most kids can smell blood in the water though, so if you need them to watch TV, they may actually refuse. Even if your kid watches a ton of TV at home, they may not want to watch for ten hours straight in the car. In this situation you will be forced to play six hours of I Spy with your kids while you drive. For these special situations, it’s best to come prepared with a special surprise bag of goodies to keep your kids occupied along the way. You may want to give them each a couple things at a time from your bag of tricks; otherwise they may tear through it within two minutes of leaving and say they don’t like any of it. Then you’re really up a creek without a paddle. Have snacks available, but limit the amount of drinks you give your kids. You don’t want to add an additional two hours on to your trip from potty breaks alone.
Your other option is traveling by air. The airport is a total hassle and any flight over four hours is probably more torture than its worth, but if your destination is too far for the car this is probably your best method. A few things to consider when booking your ticket: time of the flight, seat arrangements and the food situation. Try to book your flight for about an hour after normal nap time and hopefully your kids will be tired enough to sleep on the plane. If you are traveling with two adults and two kids, be sure you sit two and two together. And we don’t mean the two kids sitting together in coach while the adults sip champagne in first class. Sorry! One adult per child seated in different areas of the plane, every man for them self. That way if both kids are nightmares during the flight no one will know that they’re both your kids. You will only be harshly judged for the child’s behavior that you happen to be sitting next to. Bring the same special surprise bag you use for road trips chock full of enough coloring books, electronics, games and toys to last the entire flight. Since the food situation is pretty grim on flights these days, make sure to also bring enough food to keep everyone well fed to stave off crankiness for the entire trip.
Speaking of crankiness, everyone knows that post 9/11 traveling is not what it used to be. Your kids, yourself and your fellow passengers will not be at their best. A message to all the non-parents out there who think it sucks to be stuck on a flight with a crying baby: try having that crying baby sitting on your lap, screaming in your ear and clawing at your face. Let us tell you, it sucks worse. Not only does that parent have to deal with their unruly child, they also have to deal with the massive guilt and embarrassment that comes with their kid pissing off an entire plane full of 200 people all before the plane even takes off. The head shaking, death stares and mumbled complaints do not go unnoticed. On the other hand, thank you to the very few, but much appreciated kind strangers who offer to help out when our kids lose their shit.