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If you’ve been keep­ing up with our crazy shenani­gans that are our ver­sion of fam­i­ly trav­el, then you know how wild and unruly (and sweet and thought­ful) my two boys are. If not, take my word for it. Our fam­i­ly trips are usu­al­ly chal­leng­ing. I used to say my Kaleb was 10 kids in one when I’d hear oth­er moms com­plain­ing about their tod­dlers in a play­group. We’ve grown out of dia­pers but we still need to grow out of trou­ble. Trav­el­ing with our kids can be gru­el­ing when Kale­b’s favorite pas­time is antag­o­niz­ing Knox and Knox’s decreased thresh­old to pain/teasing/annoyance has hit rock bot­tom — mean­ing, it does­n’t take much now to start the record play­er of his cease­less, shrill, fin­ger-nails on the chalk­board, kind of whin­ing. There is almost noth­ing I won’t do to pre­vent that in a two-hour car ride or an air­port or a six-hour flight. Well, I would­n’t be cru­el or encour­age unhealthy behav­ior but I’ve had to get cre­ative on how to dis­tract them and also not lose them dur­ing trips. Here are the tips I’ve accu­mu­lat­ed over the years to make trav­el­ing with your kids more fun and less stressful.



Dress them in NEON

I used to shake my head in judg­ment when I’d see those par­ents who put cute lit­tle leash­es on their kids. Cute as they try to make them, they still made me think the par­ents were cart­ing their chil­dren around like dogs. That was before par­ent­hood and the real­i­ty of two chil­dren in the phase of life that eludes rea­son who decide, at the same time, to run in sep­a­rate direc­tions. If this hap­pens in a giant field free of haz­ards, then no prob­lem. If this hap­pens in a busy air­port or a dark camp­ground or a small park lined by mov­ing traf­fic, then it can become a major prob­lem. Dress­ing the boys in neon helps me spot them quick­ly in an air­port or camp­ground. I can’t help you with the park. I had to dust off my run­ning shoes and beg strangers for help.


Not going to lose these knuckle-heads


Have them call you by your first name

Every time I go out with my kids and they are not imme­di­ate­ly by my side and I start hear­ing the call “Mom! Mom! Mom!” I spin my head in alarm like a Pavlov­ian dog but after a while, my sys­tem gets over­taxed and I become desen­si­tized. So, if my kids actu­al­ly need me because they’re being kid­napped or drown­ing in a vat of sewage waste, I might miss it. I’ve told them if they can’t get my atten­tion with “Mom” to just call me “Rina” and that always works. Not sure it would work as well if my name was Jen­nifer but maybe.


They all have mom­mies with the same first name.


Sit them in different rows

Yes. Don’t do it. Don’t put them all togeth­er. You’re just ask­ing for it if you do. Book your air­plane seats in dif­fer­ent rows — one child per adult. If they beg and are behav­ing, then you could sit them togeth­er. But if they start to act up again, you have a place you can plop one of them for instant peace. Your san­i­ty and the oth­er pas­sen­gers will be very grateful.


Big smiles because we’re sit­ting in dif­fer­ent rows



.…and if they behave they can sit together.


Traveling board games

OK, you’ll prob­a­bly find this one else­where but it’s new for us. There are cute lit­tle ver­sions of your big boards games that have mag­nets attach­ing them to the board to make it less like­ly you’ll lose them dur­ing tur­bu­lence inside and out­side of the air­plane. These are great alter­na­tives to elec­tron­ics and have the ben­e­fit of adding pos­i­tive mem­o­ries of you inter­act­ing with your chil­dren. After that, they may for­give you for iso­lat­ing them and dress­ing them in neon.



This is a great app that will pro­vide you with infor­ma­tion and ideas for child-friend­ly activ­i­ties where ever you are. They’re bro­ken down by gen­der, age range and even type of weath­er. This is great if you just want to go and used your research time get­ting an ear­ly start to the vacation.


active kids are hap­py kids


You might also like: How to Plan Your Fam­i­ly Vaca­tion After Quarantine


Nursing on take-off

For the vet­er­an mom, this is an eye-roller. Of course you’re going to nurse on take-off and land­ing. The suck­ing equal­izes the pres­sure in the lit­tle nugget’s ears and brings com­fort in a new sit­u­a­tion. For the new moms, you’re wel­come. I just saved you from split eardrums and the dag­ger stares of your plane mates.


a sleep­ing baby is a hap­py mom­my Pho­to by Lau­ra Lee Moreau


Cups with hot towels

This is genius. And not some­thing I’ve tried but a new friend I met in Israel, Twirzah, told me this real­ly works. Hot tow­els, though I sup­pose nap­kins would work because where would you even get small tow­els on a plane, tucked into the bot­tom of cups then placed over the ears. The suc­tion gen­tly relieves pres­sure as the plane is chang­ing alti­tudes. When I was five, I remem­ber fly­ing with a head cold and the excru­ci­at­ing pain that accom­pa­nied the plane’s descent is still with me today, decades later.


stuff those cups Pho­to by Annie Spratt



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