As military families, we’re used to traveling. Whether you’re moving, going on vacation, visiting family, or your spouse is on a TDY and you get to visit, we are always on the move!
Personally, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity through the Air Force to live and travel all over the world. Even before the military though, I was a traveler. My stepdad works for Delta Airlines (previously Northwest), so we’ve been traveling stateside since I was a freshman in high school. A weekend trip to Arizona to pan for gold in a ghost town was not out of the norm for me.
As the years have gone by and my own family has grown, the military has not stopped sending me places.
We are now on our fourth move in just the last ten years. Our most recent adventure took us all the way to South Korea. Add in the pandemic, and my kids and I have flown to and from there four times (and dad was only with us once!).
That’s a healthy 14 hour flight… on my own… with three kids. YIKES!
So with being an avid passenger for the better half of my life, I would like to share with you five items I always bring with me when I fly. This goes for with or without kids, too!
- Everyone gets a personal bag or backpack. As a mom, I’m used to hauling around
everyone’s stuff during the day. Flights are a different story; I have my own entertainment to bring! So to help corral all of the things, each kid has their own backpack filled with their own personal items to bring. This also helps to make sure I bring enough of something for each kid and eliminates fights over sharing. Luckily, my kids seem to love having their own backpacks and proudly wear them while walking around the airport.
- Snacks! Snacks! Snacks! What better to stuff each little backpack with than snacks that they don’t have to share? Even better: now have room in your own bag to stuff with snacks that you don’t have to share. I always make sure I have at least one snack for every hour we’re in the air. Just keep in mind that a full snack bag might not be eaten by your little all in one sitting. Also, suckers are a great snack for takeoff and landing to help kids with ear popping.
- Over-ear headphones. Earbuds might be great for working out or putting in while you work, but your ears with thank you if you give them a little comfort for the long-haul. Not only are they more comfortable, but you’ll be also able to hear what you’re watching much better. As a plus for the kids, most of their headphones have a volume limiter, so you won’t have to hear what they’re watching too.
- Quiet activities. Even with the endless supply of movies, TV shows, and games on our flights, the kids are always bored and anxious to get up. To help, I make sure to bring something quiet they can do to break up the monotony and keep them in their seats. My go-to items are coloring or activity books and puzzles. A word of advice for parents: get the color magic markers so if your kid likes to take their art off the paper, it won’t leave a mark.
- Pillows (and sometimes blankets). Now, I’m not talking about your bedroom pillows (although I’m sure that would be super comfy). Planes are small, and those travel neck pillows can make a world difference. Each one of my kids gets their own so they can use it as a pillow or squeeze it when they get fidgety. And if you’re like me with three little kids and have a double stroller that you check in at the gate, use that space to bring tiny blankets. We’ve travelled with and without our blankets, and it’s definitely just an added luxury for us. It does help to make all of us more comfortable lounging around with items that smell and feel like home. Just don’t forget to clip the pillows to their backpacks when you’re getting on and off the plane so you don’t lose them!
BONUS: Empty water bottles and Crystal Light are something I always bring, but we don’t always use them. The last flight we took gave us tiny water bottles instead of the giant ones, so I didn’t feel the need to pour it into the kids’ Camelbaks. It’s just nice to have the option of giving the kids some flavored water for long trips rather than only the Sprite that the plane has to offer.
I’m sure there are other things that are a must-have when traveling as each family.
Every person is different, but if we only travelled with these items, we’d be just fine. So the next time you have to take a flight, keep these items in mind as they just might make the chaos a little less chaotic.