When it comes to traveling with kids, the first piece of advice I am giving you is simple: don't. Anywhere. In a car, in a plane, on a bus... Just don't do it. Stay home. Thanks for reading!
The reality is, you have to travel with kids or you will become a hermit and a sad person and your kids may never know half of their relatives. We have zero family within even a five-hour drive of Memphis so we really do have to travel, and it is has been fairly frequent in the three years since we had our kids. I have two toddlers and we have been traveling with them since they were very little.
As you know, Memphis International doesn't have a lot of great options for flights, especially direct flights. (Shout out to MEM, though - they are doing a heck of a job to build it back up, and quickly! First Team MEM!) I don't recommend making a connection with kids, especially if you are flying solo. The stroller, the bag(s), the lovies, the blankets, the kids--it's a lot to handle if you have to connect. If that is your only option, try and book a connection that gives you a lot of leeway with time. Many airports are starting to create kid play areas, those are total life savers! Here are some other recommendations to make life a little easier in the friendly skies:
1. Download as Many Movies and Shows as Your Device Will Allow
I'm serious. Forget feeling guilty about screen time and rotting their brains. Shows and movies keep them happy and quiet for much of the flight and often, it puts mine to sleep. If they get bored of the shows, make sure you also have a drawing app or game app. I try and keep them on a device through the whole flight as this makes everyone on board friendly fliers. Don't have any electronic devices you can lend your munchkins? You can stick with things as simple as crayons and coloring books, or even an Etch-a-Sketch or Magna-Doodle!
2. Keep Plenty of Snacks and a Sippy Cup
Put together a collection of snacks in small Ziploc bags and put them into a larger Ziploc. This keeps them all together when you constantly shuffle through your multiple bags searching for whatever you might be looking for. Plus, it keeps a mess contained if anything accidentally opens or explodes. Also, bring a sippy cup of milk or juice. Security will let you through with 3.5 ounces of milk (or formula, breast milk, juice, etc.) if your children are infants or toddlers. This will keep them full in between meals, snacks, and odd feeding situations. I often bring an empty one for each of them to keep spills down on the airplane when the beverage cart comes around. As a bonus, you then have a cup rotation for when you reach your destination. This makes it so that you don't have to keep washing sippy cups on your vacation.
3. Pack Their Backpacks
My kids love to copy grown ups so they love to have their own bags when they travel. While it is more things you have to track and carry around, usually, they will be excited to wear them or hold them through the airport. I pack a couple of favorite books, a coloring book with a handful of crayons in a baggie, lovies, and blankies. It helps them feel like a big kid and distributes more of the stuff out of your big bag of tricks.
For all of you road warriors out there, car trips can be brutal, but I prefer them over flying. You don't have to keep them quiet and you have a little more control over different activities. I used to sit between the two of them, but now that they are getting bigger and both seats are front facing, my larger mom hips don't fit very comfortably in the middle anymore, so I create some activities to keep them occupied. Here are some tips for road tripping with your littles:
1. Make Baskets/Bins with Activities
Any dollar store carries a plethora of little organizing baskets, buckets, and bins that are plastic and easy to organize and transport. I usually make 2-4 of them depending on the length of our trip and where we are going because they also come in handy if you are visiting a home that doesn't have a lot of kid toys or if you are staying in a hotel. I usually put in little cars and toys that are small and compact along with flash cards, stickers, activity books, Play-Doh, and anything else that looks fitting for a long car ride.
2. Tablets or Car Entertainment Systems
I couldn't justify spending even more money on my car to upgrade to the entertainment system that was available. I am sure it is so convenient and amazing to just pop in a DVD and call it a day, but we don't have that option. Fortunately, people are much more creative and crafty than I will ever be so when I came across a device holder that fits on the back of the seat, our problems were solved. I bought ours from "Car Seat Cinema" when it was on a special with Zulily. You can look through options directly on their website by clicking here or search for any kind of holder to your liking. I like that these are lightweight, cute, and covered in plastic so you can easily wipe them down when you have 507 sippy cup milk explosions on your travels.
3. Pack a Small Cooler for Milk and Cold Snacks
Part of the fun of road tripping for me is cheating with fast food and diner type meals along the way. But, for the in between when you just really want to get to where you are going, I pack a small cooler with a lot of milk reserves and some chopped fruits and cheese for the little ones. It keeps you in the car so you can get to your destination in a timely manner and offers more healthy options than chips and candy that are so easy to feast on during gas station breaks.