Becoming a new parent is filled with changes in how you live your life. There are things that will become more challenging, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do them anymore.
Traveling is one of those things. You’ll hear or see a lot of advice that recommends you get your traveling desires out before having kids. After you have kids you can kiss it all good bye. It will be just too inconvenient.
Some of us didn’t get the memo early enough to do that. While others of us actually want our kids to experience travel.
Either way the truth is that traveling with kids does indeed add a different dynamic to the whole process. If someone tells you different nod politely, but be ready. Challenges do exist and the best thing you can do is be prepared.
We’ve had lots of trips with kids driving and flying. But the single biggest tip is this.
Their sleep schedule is your travel schedule.
Nap time. Or bed time.
Now of course there are a lot of little details to take into account when applying this advice. For example how long is the flight?
This advice we have found is best used for trips 2 hours or longer. That is because no matter how tired the kids are there is usually an adjustment period. I’ve noticed this can take about 30 mins.
Our flights usually range from 4-5 hrs. So a pretty long flight.
For us this works best because we aren’t big on screens. Do the kids watch movies? yes of course but if we can avoid having them watch movies non stop for 4-5 hrs then we will. If we can avoid having to worry about keeping them entertained for 4-5 hours, then we will. Most kids don’t want to have to sit down for 4-5 hrs. Even school aged kids get breaks through out their long days.
So when do we all stay put? When we’re sleeping. So we use the bodies natural rhythms to our advantage.
This means we fly red eyes( overnight flights) or late night flights. This also works best if you can get uninterrupted sleep for the entire flight. Which means we are also big fans of direct flights.
This way kids can sleep, you can sleep, and flight will seem shorter if you sleep.
We know people have had good experiences breaking up the flight with connections. For us the connections aren’t anywhere convenient. Which means we go from 4 hrs on a plane to 6 hours ( sometimes as bad as 7). Sure it’s 3 hrs at a time now but that just doesn’t make sense for us. Not only that these flight are usually during the day!( Yes do try and say that last line with terror in your voice)
If you stop you add time to the whole experience. Its not just the extended flight time, you’re also doubling the length of time spent taxing to and from the gate. We like to stick to the direct overnight flights.
That’s how we roll.
But I should warn you.
It’s not going to work 100% of the time.
That’s right everything isn’t always going to work out. Our last trip back to Michigan is a great example.
Our red eye flight got seriously, and I do mean seriously delayed. A 10:30 flight for our kids is pushing their bed time. But usually like I said they take 30 min to get comfy on the plane and wind down. Then they sleep for the rest of the flight.
This time the delay was atrocious. We were up until 1 am when we finally boarded our plane. Jr Roamer had given in and fallen asleep in the chairs around midnight. But Minnie couldn’t seem to relax and rest with all the bright lights and people who insisted on interacting with her. She was really wound up and we were exhausted and worried about the flight.
How did it go?
Well it wasn’t pleasant at the start. Jr Roamer was use to the drill so he got in his seat and almost fell asleep before taking off. Minnie was another story. She was very unhappy. Exhausted and uncomfortable there was plenty of crying right at the start. While this was a nuisance for my fellow travelers I knew that if I let her let it out she would let it go. So I comforted her but didn’t try and shush her. A bit longer then 30 mins of unpleasantness this time and she finally fell asleep.
So no, most things aren’t 100% awesome but we have had many more good experiences and so we will continue to book red eye direct flights.
We must not be the only ones who think so either as we always see more then 1 other family on the flights too.
How do you travel with kids? Whats your #1 tip?
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