Most of us, if not all of us, in the military have lived away from family during the holiday seasons. We have all experienced the guilt of not being able to make it for the holidays or not being able to see everyone. We have all felt the anguish when our loved one missed a holiday or special event because he or she was deployed. With that, I think I can safely say that we as military families understand the importance of the holidays in a different way than some of those in the civilian world.
Honestly, I used to not mind traveling. I kind of enjoyed it actually. When I was pregnant, it was beginning to get uncomfortable but it was manageable. With kids, however, it’s a whole new ball game. Like a “you were playing football and all of sudden they switched to rugby and you didn’t understand why you were getting pummeled from all sides with no gear” type of new ball game. While my husband was deployed I traveled alone quite a bit with my (then) infant daughter. Along the way I picked up a few tidbits that might help you travel with your kids during this crazy holiday season.
- Choose an AISLE seat in THE FRONT. Most people choose the back with kids but a crying child is more annoying in the back of the plane because the sound travels forward. Aisle seats are great if you need to get up quick to walk around, do diaper changes, and general entertainment for the little one (i.e., people watching). Also, if you’re holding your munchkin for naps, his or her feet can go into the aisle so they aren’t kicking the person next to you.
- When they offer you a drink (or if they do), ask for a cup with a lid like they give kids. This helps to prevent spills from crazy baby hands.
- Have entertainment and snacks handy. Make sure you put toys and snacks (and maybe some diapers and wipes) in a bag small enough to put under your seat. This way if you can’t get up for whatever reason, you have something right there to keep baby occupied. Heck, download some shows, books, and/or games on your phone or tablet (iPad, Kindle, etc) for in a pinch, too!
- If you have a layover, find a USO. Oh my God, these places are amazing. They give you free food and drinks, a comfy place to lounge, TV to watch, internet to surf, and toys for the kids to play.
- Ask families to ship your gifts to your house. Save a few small ones for the kids to open on the holiday, but it’s much easier to have the gifts waiting for you at home rather than trying to figure out how you’re going to fit everything into a suitcase without making it way over 50 lbs.
I hope these few tidbits help you on your holiday travels this season. If you have any travel tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below!