Monday, January 31, 2011

Why my carry-on is so heavy, and my two must-have items when traveling with kids

On our family trips, I am probably guilty of bringing too much stuff in my carry-on. Part of the reason is that I bring lots of things "just in case", because I imagine all sorts of potential worst case scenarios, like:
  • Everyone comes down with stomach flu and ear infections on the flight. So I better bring a small pharmacy. (Or, the kid sitting behind you starts throwing up during the flight, and then you can pass them the Gravol. This has actually happened to me twice.)
Or:
  • Both my kids spill lasagna and chocolate pudding all over themselves and me. So I better bring a change of clothes for everyone.

Or:
  • We get stuck en route because of volcanic eruptions in Iceland, or snow in June. So I better bring a change of clothes for everyone, toothbrushes, extra snacks, and comfort blanket if we have to sleep at the airport.
This means I'm usually weighed down like pack horse, even if I let the kids carry most their own toys and snacks. Still, I'd be hard-pressed to give up any of the things I put into my carry-on.

And there are two things I will definitely not fly without when traveling with kids.

1. Those reusable juice-boxes for the kids
I've mentioned this item before on this blog. Drinking from regular cups is not easy for little kids, even little kids who drink from cups under regular circumstances. Put everything they drink while on board the airplane in juiceboxes, and your life and their life will be a lot easier. Why risk spills if you don't have to?

2. A BIG tub of antibacterial wipes
Airplanes are full of germs. Airplane bathrooms are completely covered in germs. My children and I used to get sick very often after long flights, but after I started enforcing the whole "wipe your hands before eating, after bathroom visits, and every now and then in between", we are catching way less colds and stomach bugs. If you are flying with your children, bring a big tub of these wipes along. Gels are good too, but all gels have to be kept in the special plastic bag with your other liquids.

If my kids were still in diapers, diapers and wipes would be on this list too of course. And passports have to come too obviously. And that change of clothes for the kids and the extra shirt for myself really can come in handy. And all those over-the-counter medications? I just know someone will get sick if I don't bring it. And that camera should not be in the regular luggage, even if I never get a chance to take pictures while we're traveling. And my jewelry? It has to go in my hand luggage for sure.

Which is why my carry-on backpack ends up looking the way it does. But hey, weight lifting builds strong bones, right?

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