Tuesday, November 17, 2009

WFMW~ Traveling

Something that I enjoy a lot is traveling. I love getting to see new places and visiting friends and family. We don't travel a ton because of Ken needing to take care of his business and just because travel can cost quite a bit, but we certainly enjoy the trips we do get to take. When we have a little extra time or money travel is often one of the first things that pop into my head as how I would like to use it.

We are excited about taking a trip pretty soon to see my sister and her family in North Carolina! We have never been there before and are really looking forward to this trip. In the past I have written some posts about frugal traveling, and entertaining kids in the car so in this post I thought I would share some of the things that have worked for us when going on planes with children (or even just as adults) .

This is by no means complete, it is just ideas that have worked well for us when traveling by air.

  • Find friends and family as nice as ours that are willing to let you stay with them overnight (since we live over 4 hours away from the airport that we use) and give you a ride to the airport in the morning. It is so nice not to have to stay at a hotel or take the time to park plus have to pay for parking the whole time you are gone.
  • Arrive at the airport well in advance. At least one hour before your plane departs and preferably around 2 hours. When it is busy and you have to stand in a bunch of lines this can come in very handy.
  • Make sure everybody wears shoes (well actually I don't dictate what Ken wears as he can put his own of and one in fairly good time) are very easy to put on and off! To me this is critical as everybody has to take off their shoes and you don't want to clog up the line forever while you help all your kids get their shoes back on.
  • Carry in empty water bottles. You aren't allowed to take liquids (over 3.4 ounce size) in the secure area but if you take empty water bottles you can fill them up at the water fountain and have water to drink for the rest of your trip without have to pay an arm and a leg.
  • Make sure to have your identification ready. When you are trying to hold onto your carry on bags and a couple of children and move through line at a good pace it doesn't help to need to go digging through your bag in order to find your driver's license. Thankfully only the adults need identification.
  • Make sure nobody in your family is wearing anything metal. Things like heavy jewelry, belt buckles, barrettes and coins can set the detector off which then takes time while you have to be checked out. Thankfully I haven't ever set one off!
  • When going through the metal detector, children need to come out of any carriers or strollers. The carrying items go through the x-ray and you then take the child through he detector with you.
  • When traveling in coat wearing weather, try to leave room in your check in baggage for your coats. You don't want to haul them along with everything else everywhere through the airports and planes.
  • Make sure however to have fairly warm and comfortable clothes for everyone. Planes can be a little chilly.
  • Pack snacks in your carry on. Airport food is usually expensive (though we do usually splurge at some point) and sometimes you simply don't have time to get anything. I remember being on plane that was late arriving and having to run to catch our connecting flight. Airline personnel was there to help us get to the plane on time, even going as far as picking up one of our children and carrying them. They do usually give you a little snack on the airplane but it isn't much and I know that kids can get rather cranky when they are hungry.
  • Have something to chew or suck for everybody (breastfeeding or a pacifier work well with an infant) while ascending and descending to prevent ear discomfort.
  • Bring along a few small activities to keep the children busy after the newness of riding in a plane wears off.
  • Make sure they (the kids) use the restroom before going on the plane. Though there is a toilet on the plane, you can't use it when the seat belt lights are on and when they aren't there is often a line. With young children that could pose a problem if you are not prepared.
  • Prepare for the event of a bag being lost. I don't think this happens very often. The only time it happened to us was when going out to Oregon to attend Ken's sisters' weddings. The bag that got lost contained all our dress shoes (well all the shoes that weren't on our feet), our toiletries and gifts. We had to buy new toiletries the night we got in and the first wedding we attended in tennis shoes! (We didn't have any time to go shopping before it.) My suggestion is have everything you need right away in carry on bags (though as far as toiletries, you don't want your big tube of toothpaste, or bottles of shampoo and such in there- and whatever little liquids you do want to carry on be sure to put in a quart size zip lock bag and have out for them to inspect). Be prepared however that once you get to the plane they may decide they don't have space for your little rolling suitcase as a carry on and will check it in as luggage instead. (That happened on our last trip.) I think it is wise to be sure to have a change of clothes for each person in carry on bags that will fit under the seat. This is especially important for young children.

Those are some of the traveling tips that have worked for us. I would love to hear your air travel tips!

Also..... Do any of you know of neat places to see in North Carolina (Central and Eastern) that we should see while we are out there? We are hoping to do a fair amount of sight seeing. We plan on going to the coast (we have debated between going to Wilmington and the Battleship memorial, even up to Kitty Hawk -though that would be quite a drive, or down to Myrtle Beach or to some other place Martha knows about where there is a Colonial House we could visit.

Our goals for what we want to see are: The Atlantic Ocean. The kids have never seen this ocean before. Historical places. The early history of our country fascinates me and I would love to find places that tell about that. I especially love Living History Museums where they have people acting out the parts and you can see how life was then. South Carolina. While we are there we also want to take a little jog down to the next state as none of us have ever been there and we are trying to go to as many states as possible. Do you know of any neat things to see on the North/ Eastern border of South Carolina?


Abigail Jasmine said...

Wow! YOu are a thoughtful Mama~
I love this list :)

Thanks for sharing/inspiring!!

Struggler said...

Well, I'm 37 with no kids yet I was nodding in agreement with most of your tips - restrooms, snacks and being warm certainly make me a happier traveler!
One thing I'd add: if you have time, label your bags inside too. I used to work for an airline and we had a huge warehouse of bags where the outer label had simply fallen off. Each bag had to be opened and searched for clues as to who might own it. You'll certainly get yours back faster if your name is inside.

Jackie said...

Great tips. We don't travel much and have never flown with the kids. I will keep your tips in mind, though. Thanks.

Nola said...

What a great list! I will have to "save" this for the future....we aren't going on any airplane flights within at least the next 5 years to my knowledge!

As a child though I went on airplanes at least 5 times a year, sometimes more. Mainly to visit family. I remember it all going smoothly...so I guess my mom did a good job! I remember her bringing a bag for each of us (only two kids though) filled with new items (could be second hand) of appropriate activities, books etc. for the plane.

Word of advice: never let your child try foods they never have before, or if they have allergies, on a plane! Even if they are supposedly "safe" as we were told... They almost had to land a plane for my brother but thankfully someone else an epi pen on board...his accidentally was checked. Always have those on hand if needed!!! Talk about panic.

Larissa Smith said...

I've learned that it is worth it to keep the items that must be separated at security (laptop, liquids, etc.) out of their carry-on bags until after the security checkpoint. If you have a stroller, it is especially easy to just have them in the basket at the bottom. That way you don't have to unpack at the buckets, but can just set everything out quickly.

I always have a change of clothes for everyone in a carry-on item, plus toothbrushes and deodorant, just in case. For long flights, my daughter's "personal item" is her pillow, which contains a blanket and her baby doll as well, so she can lean against one of us and sleep.

Jessica said...

We live in East Tennessee and have family in both Western and Central North Carolina! It is a really neat state. There are some great lakes/state parks/hiking spots through out the state. Chimney Rock, Lake Lure, and the Blue Ridge Parkway will give you some great views of the mountains! The Appalachian Trail also runs through both states. It is currently running in the 50s here right now so not too cold! Have a great trip!


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