T’is the season to be with family for the holidays. But traveling to see family or just for vacation with kids seemed like a daunting task initially.
I vaguely remember as a DINK couple (Double Income No Kids), the days when we booked a last minute cheap flight, packed on a whim, got on a flight without giving it much of a thought that there are 3 layovers and the returning flight is a red eye on a week day. Why would any of that matter? It was the cheapest flight!!!
Fast forward to now traveling with 3 young kids, we quickly realized we have to change strategies. We still love to travel to visit family and experience new places with our kids. Here are some tricks that helped along the way.
1- Booking flights on a budget: since we are no longer able to take flights that have 3 layovers, we are flexible with other things to still keep the price reasonable. We use search engines that allow “Anywhere” as the destination. Being flexible on the destination allowed us to travel on a budget and also experience random places that we wouldn’t have thought of visiting.
2- Zip-lock packing: we give each kid 2 large zip lock bags to pack their clothes in. That way we are able to take less # of luggage (typically 1 for the kids), which means less items to lug around in an airport and less luggage fees. Plus we get to our destination and everyone’s stuff is separated and easy to find. We can start our vacation with no unpacking.
3- Items for the road: snacks, puzzles, books, games are all helpful and buy us some time. But it’s the jackpot if everyone sleeps and can get some rest so we can start the vacation on a good note. Here is a helpful item that we take for the road/flight: animal themed headbands that have headphones built in for music or white noise and also work as an eye mask to block the light for sleep. That was a $12 life-saver from Amazon. One mom of twins told me that she packs some little gum as a peace offering to the neighbors on the flight and she offers it to them upon boarding with a joke that she apologizes in advance. Most people tend to be kind and forgiving (honestly even without the gum) but I thought that’s a nice gesture.
4- Keep them on EST when possible: when we traveled to see my family in Egypt, we tried to keep the kids’ schedule as close to Boston time as possible which meant that they woke up at noon and went to bed past midnight. It worked partly because Cairo just happened to be the kind of city that is very lively late at night. It especially worked well when we came home, because there was no jet lag. The kids were able to bounce back and go to school despite the 7 hour time difference.
Dr. Nora Zaki
Adult dentist, Franklin office