Last week, Sam and I took the three girls to Florida to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and their two girls. Luckily we found a direct flight into Pensacola (about an hour and a half from where we were staying), but unluckily, the flight was with Frontier. This is about a three hour flight! Here is what I learned about how to travel with kids:
- Arrive about 2 hours early (for big airports):
At security, I had the FULL pat down because one of the apple sauce packets I had in my bag tested positive in the ballistics test. This left Sam with all three kids! He's such a trooper, but it added about 20 minutes onto our time.
- Check as much baggage as you can:
It is worth every penny. We checked all of our bags except a backpack for each person. The twins even carried toddler backpacks. We pushed Greta in a stroller, which we checked at the gate and pushed all three car seats on a folding hand truck (dolly) held on by some bungee cords. We wanted the girls to be buckled in on the flight in their car seats with Greta being a lap child. We decided to keep her car seat with us to keep it from getting damaged and in case there wasn't a full flight (wishful thinking).
- If you have older kids or multiple of car seats, rethink bringing their seats:
It IS safer bringing car seats on your flight. But man, it was so much work lugging around three car seats, latching the car seats in and taking them off the plane, all while trying to wrangle three kids.
I thought they would make the flight easier, but I think at three years old, they would be just fine in a normal seat laying their heads on our laps when they needed to sleep.
If you have the money, it's worth buying a ticket for a squirmy one year old and taking the car seat on the plane. This is where buckling in would really come in handy. Greta was not okay being held and couldn't get comfortable.
This is huge for learning how to travel with kids. I brought the big tootsie pops for the kids. They don't get suckers much, so these were a HUGE treat and basically toddler pacifiers.
Greta even got one when things got pretty desperate - don't worry, she was on my lap and under my watch the whole time she had it. Suckers, stickers, a show, and the no-mess markers in a travel case made the flight easy peasy. For Greta, I had post-its, painters tape, colors, stickers, and snacks.
- Don't travel Frontier with kids unless you HAVE to:
On the way home they had us all in separate seats all over the plane.... and would not help us out! Luckily, we were able to talk to some of the other passengers and work it out. No one wants to sit next to a three year old on a three hour flight. This was by far the most stressful part of the trip.
- Have puke bags readily available:
Eleanor can get motion sick pretty easily and I love these. I have them all over our house too. Super compact and easy to slip into your bag.
- Keep calm:
It's probably not going to go perfectly, but that’s okay. I kept telling myself "This is so good for them". The kids will feed off of you. When Sam and I started to get stressed, the kids felt it and would start acting out, but when we kept our cool they had more fun and listened better. One of the biggest things about learning how to travel with kids is to keep calm and keep going.