Traveling With Kids

Today I have the honor of having K.C. Proctor guest post on Abraham Chronicles. He’s family man who has a unique passion for blogging, social media, photography, and good tastin’ BBQ. Oh, he’s also been accused of starting Ninja Wars. KC blogs at SomeWiseGuy and tweets @ThatGuyKC. Be sure to show him some love in the comments!

I’m not what you would call a world traveler.
I’ve never visited a foreign country (if you live in Seattle then Canada doesn’t count) and I don’t even have a passport. GASP!

That being said I have flown a fair amount around the U.S. for a 28 year old and have at least had a layover in almost every single one of the 50 states.

However, this past weekend I entered a new domain.
Traveling with children.

Thanks to a generous gift from Nanny (a.k.a. my mom) we had the opportunity to visit my extended family in New Jersey and take a day trip to New York City (the pizza alone was worth it). While I was excited for LK & the kids to meet my aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time, I was more than a little concerned about how 4 year old EJ would do on her first airplane ride.

Photo credit: Frans Persoon (Creative Commons)

4 Essentials for Traveling with kids

Overall we had a great trip by keeping these tips in mind.

SAFETY

It’s always first, right? Regardless of where you’re going or the reason for the trip, getting everyone to the destination and back home in one piece is the ultimate goal. In the airport or crowded places make sure Mom & Dad have a firm grip on each kid. If you have more kids than collective hands (5+) the create a chain with the oldest on the end. Also, have kids wear bright colored shirts so they stand out.

ENTERTAINMENT

Have you ever tried to keep a toddler (or any kid for that matter) occupied for more than 30 minutes? How’d that go? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Try a non-stop 5 hour flight cramped on a metal tube 30,000 feet in the air with a needy kid on either side. Books, dolls, coloring, toys, daddy’s iPhone, or even an in flight movie. Whatever it takes to entertain them is worth the preservation of your sanity.

FOOD

Free (non-alcoholic) drinks are provided on the plane. Kids get hungry at weird times, don’t realize they’re hungry or will say they need sustenance at the most inopportune times. Pack some granola bars, fruit snacks, cookies, crackers or basically whatever will be semi-resistant to crushing and not take up a lot of space in your carry-on. Added bonus of packing some grub beforehand, you don’t blow their college fund on two Snickers and a bag of beef jerky at the gate.

SOUVENIR

What’s a trip across the country without a trinket to remember it by? Right, lame. Here’s the kicker though. Let them pick it. As parents we’re inclined to persuade a kid to pick something representative of the trip. Guess what? The kids don’t care. Each of our kids have a funny looking bouncy ball from visiting the Jersey shore (no, we did not see Snooki) and they’re happy. Mission accomplished.

::

What countries have you visited?
How young were your kids the first time they flew?

60 Comments

  • Matthew Snider

    June 27, 2011

    Love it man. We don’t travel because of that list ;-)

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      I would never travel alone with kids, but having LK with me to tag team was great.

      Reply
    • Dustin

      June 27, 2011

      Matthew, if I can do it, you can do it! :)

      (then again, we haven’t done it yet with 3 ;-))

      Reply
  • Arny

    June 27, 2011

    Only have vistited mexico…(if that counts)…I live in Texas…so if it doesn’t count for seatle…then I won’t count for me! lol…

    But, i’ve been to every state in the west united states…including canada…

    I’ve done a 6 hour drive before with my kidos…they were 3 and 1…it was ok i guess…u’d have to ask my wife, she was in the back with them cause….that’s right…you guessed it….I DRIVE!!!….everyone is like…who is driving….i’m the first one to say ME!!!! The most comfortable seat on a road trip….”What is that hunny?…the kids driving you nuts?…well…i’m driving the road so ….no distractions…sorry…hehehe….

    Great Post KC…

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      Sorry, but if you live in Texas then Mexico doesn’t count. However, Canada does count for you. :)

      6 hour road trip w/ two kids under 4? You nominated your wife for sainthood, right?

      Wish I could use that driving excuse. I hate to drive and suffer from auto-narcolepsy.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 27, 2011

        How about this one…. in a month we’re taking a little roadtrip to Houston for a family reunion. 12 (or so, I think) hours in the car with three kiddos 3.5 and younger. Oh, yeah, we’re also planning on leaving at 9pm and driving through the night. :)

        Reply
        • Arny

          June 27, 2011

          Yikes! lol…good luck sir….
          I live in houston…..coffee maybe?…
          Well, I don’t drink coffee…but some tea would be nice…Cold and sweet…like us southerners love it! lol…

          Reply
          • Dustin

            June 27, 2011

            I think we’ll actually be in The Woodlands. That far? Not sure of our scheduling…. but we’re there the last weekend in July. That would be cool.

            Reply
            • Arny

              June 27, 2011

              Nice! Well att least we will be in the same town….that’s cool….the blogging world doesnt seem so big now….lol….

              Reply
  • Michael

    June 27, 2011

    Ethan has flown his whole life, so he really likes it. But if we have long layovers, he get’s really antsy.

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      We avoided layovers this trip, but that is a factor we’ll have to take into account in the future.

      It was hard to convince my 9yo to sleep on the plane, but of course he passed out on the 20 minute drive home. Stinker.

      Reply
    • Dustin

      June 27, 2011

      Our oldest two are the same way. I think Sophia (now 3) flew on a plane 7 times before she turned 2. We def took advantage of the fly for free on your lap deal.

      Reply
  • Joseph

    June 27, 2011

    Visiting Mexico (Cancun) in less than two weeks. Its my first time flying and I’m 25. We’re going with two other couples who each have a child less than a year old. I think it will be good though.

    Our son is still in the womb and this will be his srcond flying trip. Do they count? :)

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      Traveling with two kids less than a year old? For the sake of your friendship I hope you 1) aren’t seated near them or 2) both kids love sleep more than filling a diaper or spitting up or 3) you invested in noise cancelling headphones.

      I refused to fly with my daughter before she was old enough to walk on her own because there is NOTHING worse than a crying baby on an airplane.

      I suggest giving the wife the middle seat while you sit in the aisle. That way you’re the only one who has to get up for the multiple trips to the bathroom and you act as a shield when the drink cart comes by and tries to dislocate as many shoulders as possible.

      Congrats on pending arrival. Unfortunately, unless he gets a stamp in a passport, the flight doesn’t count.

      Have fun in Cancun!!

      Reply
    • Dustin

      June 27, 2011

      Joseph, I’m jealous. Cancun this time of year is going to be phenomenal. We’ve done friend trips before (never flights, though… only car trips to Florida) and always had good times!

      Reply
  • Moe

    June 27, 2011

    You wimp!!!!

    I’ve traveled to Mexico once, Georgia 3 times, Hilton head once (it will be 2 times this Friday) and I have never had a problem with the kids. Then again, my kids are pretty much well-behaved. Throw a tantrum and we are going to the small toilet and I will threaten to flush you down the plane which will eject you into 30K feet in the air. Yeah, they believe that… for now!

    To answer your Q’s: I’ve visited: Canada, Mexico (Cancun and Puerto Vallarta), Colombia, Puerto Rico (yeah, I count them as another country), Dominican Republic (3 times), Venezuela (just for a connection fligh) and New Jersey (it’s really another world). :)

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      Wimp?! When was the last time you got up at 3am to workout? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Ninja indeed.

      I find mildly outlandish threats of physical peril to be very effective as well. A little motivation goes a long way as it were.

      You’re quite the world travel my friend. I really do need to get out more.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 27, 2011

        Yeah, I have to side with KC on this one. Anyone who consistently gets up at 3AM to workout is a buff ninja, indeed!

        Moe, I like your guerilla tactics. I may have to seek out some advice when we do our through-the-night roadtrip next month. I’m always on the lookout for schemes/techniques like the one you described. :)

        Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    June 27, 2011

    This is awesome, I love it!

    Best line: “Added bonus of packing some grub beforehand, you don’t blow their college fund on two Snickers and a bag of beef jerky at the gate.” Lol!

    No kids yet, but I have traveled a bit. The only place out of the US I’ve been to is Peru, Jamaica, and Mexico. Besides that it’s been pretty much all U.S.A.

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      Thank you, Alex! I find that having kids supplies an endless pipeline of comedic (if not insanity inducing) material.

      I don’t even have a passport so you’ve got one up on me. Peru, Jamaica and Mexico are all on my list.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 27, 2011

        Alex, did you happen to go to Machu Picchu when you were in Peru? If so, how was it? That is definitely on my “someday” list!

        Reply
  • Jason

    June 27, 2011

    I wish we could fly but unfortunately due to my daughter’s severe peanut allergy we can’t even set foot on an airplane. (The minuscule amount of peanut dust that would kick up from the snack packets circulated in the air can kill her. No joke.)

    It’s always the car for us. Fun! :) (DAD! I GOTTA GO POTTY!)

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      Dude, that is one serious peanut allergy. However, I just flew on Continental and I didn’t see a single peanut pack. You might check with other airlines to see if they’re peanut allergy friendly now.

      What are your travel tips for road trips?

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 27, 2011

        Yeah I had a coworker once, who was allergic to peanuts, travel/fly with me. I forget the details, but it was like 5 rows forward and 5 rows back of where he sat on the plane couldn’t have peanuts because he was allergic. :(

        Reply
      • Jason

        June 27, 2011

        My main rule is add at least 30 minutes to the trip for every child in the car.

        Reply
  • kevin

    June 27, 2011

    I’ve been to Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (though, like Canada, none of those count). Went to Germany and France for part of my MBA, which was pretty spectacular.

    We flew to Hawaii when my son was only 5 weeks old. It was a work trip that I had earned and wasn’t about to miss. We were terrified of being “those people” on the plane with the screaming kid. Surprisingly, it went extremely well and he ended up sleeping through most of every flight.

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      I think the Virgin Islands definitely count. Where did you get your MBA? Getting to travel like that would have been awesome during mine.

      Bless your little boy for sleeping like a baby. Pun intended. :)

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 27, 2011

        Taking gabe to hawaii at 5weeks?? Dang, that’s bold and brave. Love it.

        Reply
  • Dustin

    June 27, 2011

    KC, thanks again for the guest post. You rock.

    What countries have you visited? Canada, Mexico, Antigua, Venezuela (2x), The Netherlands (3x), Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland. I also had a layover in Frankfurt once… :)

    How young were your kids the first time they flew? I think Sophia was 5 mos and Olivia was 9 mos. Harper …. not yet. :)

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 27, 2011

      Thank you, Dustin. Even if you did misspell my last name. Proct-ER. No worries, it happens all the time. Alas I have no relation to the Proct-OR in cahoots w/ Gamble.

      I’m a little envious of your passport stamps right now.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 27, 2011

        LOL, now I know…. you rock, my friend.

        Reply
  • Cindy Holman

    June 27, 2011

    Great article K.C. – I have stories about traveling with kids that would curl your lips – no kidding. For years it seemed we were moving around or hauling our kids on and off planes, trains and moving vehicles. For years we did not know what it was like to travel without someone having the stomach flu – or being air sick. Yeah. We’ve done it all. God Bless You. Amen.

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      Wow. You are a braver parent than me. It’s bad enough staying home from work with a sick kid. Can’t imagine traveling or moving with one. Bless you.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 28, 2011

        Cindy, you are Super-Mom.

        Reply
        • Cindy Holman

          June 28, 2011

          Haha – yeah that’s me – super Queen Mom with a magic scepter – just ask Moe :)

          Reply
  • JamesBrett

    June 27, 2011

    my wife and i are missionaries in tanzania. and we’re returning to the states for the first time this august — after having been here 2 1/2 years. my daughter was born here in tanzania, and this will be the 1 1/2 year old little girl’s first long plane flight. i’m pretty nervous about it.

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      Thank you and your family for serving as missionaries. Will be praying for y’all and the little one as you travel stateside. Welcome back.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 28, 2011

        Wow, that will be quite the flight! Like KC said, thank you for what you do!

        Reply
  • Jon

    June 27, 2011

    I’m from NJ. NJ Represent! :)

    I’ve visited India many times, Guatemala, and…will visit Jamaica at the end of August!

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      NJ is a very pretty place. However, NYC pizza has got you beat. Hope you have a memorable and safe trip in August.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 28, 2011

        Jon, I’ve always wanted to visit the Taj Mahal. Gorgeous. Been there?

        Reply
  • Jason Vana

    June 27, 2011

    I’ve never traveled with kids before (obviously), but have been stuck either next to, in front of or behind them on an airplane. Crying babies are the worst. Think a 5 hour flight is bad? Try a nine and a half hour, 7 time zone, overnight flight next to kids. It’s enough to make me want to pull all my hair out.

    As far as traveling, I have been to: England, Poland and the Czech Republic (multiple times). Might need to get a new passport soon. It’s filling up too fast!

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      I’m surprised you both physically survived the flight. I’ve had to sit next to a fidgety, whiny toddler more than once and it was all I could do not to verbally abuse the parent. (Patience is not a virtue I possess)

      That being said I do envy your well-traveled passport. England is on my list of “someday” travel destinations.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 28, 2011

        LOL, that would drive me nuts Jason. You’re right- not only the long flight, but the multiple timezones…. yikes. :)

        Reply
  • Blane Young

    June 27, 2011

    These are great tips!

    Even without kids, packing snacks = WIN!

    And bringing entertainment is what I am going to start doing, I spend almost $15-20 on magazines each trip and that is so crazy!

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      You could almost say these tips apply to adults too. As a parent I’ve found that some strategies work just as well on grown ups.

      Another idea for “entertainment” is to brainstorm blog post ideas and crank out some drafts.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 28, 2011

        What is it about an airplane flight that prompts us to purchase a People magazine?!

        Reply
  • Adam

    June 27, 2011

    Nice tips KC.

    I have never been to any other counties though I hope to change that in the future.

    Our fist flight with kid was when he was 9 months old. We flew to South Florida to go on a cruise. Flight down and the cruise went great. Flight back…not so much. Yea we where the family with the screaming kid the entire flight…

    Recently went on a road trip. My son loves books so we bought him a lot of cheap books to give him to look at when he got bored. Worked great!

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      Thank you, Adam.

      Glad everything went well on the flight down and the cruise. For the flight back, glad you survived the death-stares of fellow passengers.

      Reading is awesome! My son loves to read as well so a few good books and we’re golden.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 28, 2011

        Here’s a tip: go to the Dollar Store the week before a trip and stock up on $1 toys and books. Golden.

        Then, every 30 minutes bring out a new “toy”. The kid is happy. And it was cheap. :)

        Reply
  • Rob Shepherd

    June 27, 2011

    I have been to Germany, Brazil, and Argentina and it was all without kids. My kids are 13 weeks old so we haven’t dared travel with them. I’m scared.

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      You definitely get around. Congrats on joining the ranks of fatherhood. You sleeping much?

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 28, 2011

        Ahh, Argentina would be fantastic!

        Reply
  • Adam

    June 27, 2011

    The first time we flew with the kids. Madi was 4 and Gavin was almost 3. Try getting through and airport with a kid with 3 seperate IV’s going and his carry on luggage having syringes, needles, everything else you can imagine. It was crazy.

    Then we told the flight attendent that Gavin had a heart monitor on and it could off if he fell asleep. His monitor beeped the whole flight to FL. People thought there was a bomb on the plain. it was hysterical.

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      I can’t imagine that. Wow.

      I would’ve been tempted to convince someone you were CIA or something testing airport security measures. :)

      Reply
      • Dustin

        June 28, 2011

        thats awesome, adam. i would have loved to see the faces of the passengers sitting next to your family!

        Reply
  • seekingpastor

    June 28, 2011

    I haven’t visited any other countries if you don’t count Alabama and my kids have never flown. But we did take our kids on a day trip to Washington, DC while on vacation. Getting on and off of the Metro with 5 little ones was an adventure.

    Reply
    • ThatGuyKC

      June 28, 2011

      Yes, Alabama does count as another country. Some places in the US you should need a passport to get in or out.

      We visited NYC w/ my 9yo and that was stressful enough. 5 kids on DC metro? Props to you bro.

      Reply
    • Dustin

      June 28, 2011

      Major Props. I would be a wreck!

      Reply
  • Ryan Tate

    June 28, 2011

    I needed a list like this. Thanks! My kids (4 and 2) have never flown yet. I myself never flew until I was 21 years old, maybe that is why I don’t look forward to taking my kids on a plane, which sounds to me just as scary as snakes on a plane. But we’ve had several 7-10 hour road trips together.

    I’ve travelled to Bermuda, Ireland, and Los Angeles (that’s another country, right?).

    Reply

Leave a Reply