Humor Parenting

9 Tips for Traveling with Children

By Amanda Elder of Stay-at-Home Panda

I just returned from a trip to New Jersey with my two sons, ages 4 and 1. I’m currently sitting among our unpacked clothes, wondering if I should put the clean ones away or just dump everything into the hamper to make the mess disappear for a little bit. Regardless of the clothes, I’m feeling pretty good because the bags are empty, and that’s pretty huge for a domestic slacker like me. I’m also feeling pretty good because even though I missed a flight and lost my computer charger, I didn’t lose my kids or my cool, which entitles me to give travel advice. Here ya go, and you’re welcome:

1.) Check in online the night before because let’s just say you book travel for May in January and within the months that precede your departure, the time of the flight changes. When I checked my email confirmation, it said I was set to fly out at 7:45 am. My husband said he would take me to the airport at 5:00 am before work, and I was kinda like, God, I’m going to be there way too early. In reality, I lugged my shit to the check-in counter and the smirky B said, “It’s 5:37, your flight leaves at 6:20, and it’s too late for me to check you in. You can fly stand-by at 10:20.” I was like, WTF.

2.) Check in at the curb. If you are traveling with children, you probably have way too much stuff to carry. Even if you have your muscular husband with you, save him from his irritability. Hand over those car seats and the bags stuffed with clothes, diapers, sunscreen, and books that you’re never going to read to your kids because F that, you’re on vacay. Hand your helper a couple dollars and proceed a little lighter to security. You might see this as an unnecessary expense, but I see it as a savings because without this service, I’d need a $10 beer at the gate.

3.) Wait! Make sure you’re not checking your children’s shoes. I woke my kids up before the sun even shone a speck, so I was fully committed to the all-day-jammy look. I didn’t even put shoes on my toddler because I was quite certain he was going to be in the Ergo all day. But then we missed our flight and had four hours to pretend like the airport was a playground. I searched for those little shoes, but they were nowhere to be found. Nowhere.

4.) Give zero fucks.  Traveling with kids is really stressful if you care too much about what people think of you, so just don’t. You’ll never see any of those flapjacks again. Your kids in pajamas might be running around haphazardly in the terminal, but the onlookers don’t realize that if everything went according to plan, they’d already be in Mom-Mom’s kitchen eating too many cookies and canned Spaghetti Os (probably in that order). You might as well do what you need to do, even if it’s laying out a blanket for a diaper change because bathroom changing tables are suspect. Don’t make your kids sit. Make them run or else the people on the airplane will really hate you when they’re actually awake and stuff. But they might hate you regardless, so remember, just say F it.




5.) Ignore the fasten seat belt sign. If your child is crabby because he’s tired but doesn’t know how to sleep on a plane, get yourself into the aisle, put your child into a baby carrier (I really hope you brought your Ergo!), go make friends with the flight attendants, and bounce that baby. When I say “bounce that baby,” I want you to pretend like you are doing squats in the gym. I swear this works. A few jarring motions distract them from their upset. Hang out where the flight attendants gossip as long as they will let you. Be one of them. Ask them where they’re from and where their favorite places are to travel. Love them so they’ll love you. Remember, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, so do what you want to do, and when they redirect you, simply say, “Oh, okay, yes, I’ll go back to my seat now. Can I have a bottle of water first? Thanks!”


Get first access to the snacks.


And the drinks…


Winky face for almost sleep-time.


Yippee! They never even asked me to leave.

6.) Bring both, a BOB stroller and an Ergo. The stroller isn’t necessarily for transporting children, but rather all your shit. A BOB is bad ass enough to do both, but if you have multiple children, put one in an ergo for hands-free carrying. Plus, you can use the nifty zipper pocket for your boarding pass and ID so you won’t need to dump out your animal crackers and crayons in order to find them.


Picking up from baggage claim like Whaaaaatttttt

7.) Ask for help. Traveling by yourself with children isn’t easy, so ask for help. Most people really love to be of service. It’s part of the interconnectedness of all things, so when you invite people to assist you, you basically improve humanity. Say, “Will you please put my bag up there?” But you probably shouldn’t because something your kid wants will definitely be in there. Instead say, “Will you take care of my four-year-old while I bounce my one-year-old in the back? Thanks. He likes apple juice and pretzels.” This girl sat beside me on the way to Jersey. Luckily, she lives in Orlando and I just hired her as a babysitter. Javin asked her to come over and watch Power Rangers, and he’s going to lose his shit when she actually shows up.


If you can’t get a kind person to sit beside you, say a little prayer for an empty seat. This was what sat beside us on the way back to Florida:


8.) Blame your short-comings on other people. Sure, I accidentally checked Asher’s shoes, so I absolutely couldn’t put them on. Because Asher was barefoot, Javin wanted to be barefoot, too. Multiple people mentioned something to me about the state of my feral children, and I wondered why I allow my children to be like this, and that’s when my mom ran into the baggage claim area to help us in her bare feet! OMG, it’s not my fault I’m a slack-ass mom. It’s hers!


At least Grammy is wearing socks…

9.) Know that everything will be okay. Nap schedules will be off, snacks that fell on the airport floor where Ebola still lurks will be eaten, seats will be kicked, tears will be shed, and your 4-year-old will ask 95 times when the plane will land. He might even inform you that if he doesn’t get off the plane soon, he’s going to freak out. But it’s okay. Even if he freaks out, it’s still okay. Talk to your kids — even the really young ones — and let them know what’s going on. They will eventually sleep and you’ll all eventually get to where you’re going, so just keep saying F it. Continue to smile because for some strange but awesome reason, smiling totally helps.



Oh yeah, pack some lollipops, too. You know, just in case you actually need to get them quiet for five seconds.

This post was originally published on Stay-at-Home Panda


About the Author

Amanda is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom to two boys, and wife of a resident doctor in Orlando, FL. When she isn’t playing with trains, doing dishes, or having sword fights, she is writing. Her work has been published by Scary Mommy, Blunt Moms, In the Powder Room, and Mamalode. Learn more about her at Stay-at-Home Panda, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram