Travelling with kids is always challenging. Your kids may surprise you. Both mine have always done incredibly well while traveling. Jet lag has always been tough but at the end, its all worth it once you have arrived at your final destination. If you are like me and travel a lot solo with your kids, it helps to know a thing or two that helps you.
Before you leave
call the airline, and see if you can request to be seated in a row thats empty. usually they can 'hold' those seats and make a note of a woman traveling alone with her kids. it helps to say you have a teething baby, or a sick kid, most always they want to help you out. whatever to keep kids happy and not screaming on the flight, so everyone is on board. if this isn't possible, always ask at the check in counter, and then a final attempt at the gate counter. you never know. also, once on the plane , talk with your flight attendant, they may be able to move you to seats with extras next to you. i can't tell you how many times its saved me to have my toddler laid out sleeping and i'm able to sit next to her without a baby on me as well.
most airlines also have airport assistance. i highly recommend this option even if you have to wait for other people who require airport assistance. basically, as a mom with 2 young kids, you need all the help you can get. airport assistant allows you to get someone to carry your other kid (if you didn't have a carrier) if they are asleep, open your stroller or carry it and then allow you to get on private separate line through security ( most international transit terminals require you to go through security again - not fun when you have two sleepy or sleeping kids and you have to wait in a long line after a 10 hour flight). they also help you take your electronics, fold the stroller, everything that happens during a security check line. you also get to board first and get settled without bustling people needing to go by.
if you have toddlers, backpack carriers are a huge help. if you have sleeping toddlers, even more helpful. i've had red eye plane transits and they are a life saver when strollers are checked in before you board or waiting for a stroller. usually i use the stroller for my bags and have my kids on my front and back. its a lot easier for me, but do whatever it takes to get your kids from point A to point B.
for red eye transits, keeping sleep eye patches and noise canceling headphones help keep them asleep when the lights in the cabin turn on, and also the annoying announcements at the gate.
Pack a good big canvas tote. I LOVE Baggu bags. Backpacks are good to have, but for the long flights I do, having a big boat tote helps me, I use Baggu foldable 3D bags inside, which are made of ripstop nylon and can withstand 50lbs of weight - if you must. it keeps things i have organized, kids crafts, electronics, toiletries as well as our meals + snacks. pack what what is essential. what you will use, what you will need, and nothing more. i don't like carrying a lot of things at all, even in my checked luggage. *another good tip for young children, there are usually places you can rent things if you need once you get there* if not, there are many creative things you can do with less. my kids love stories, and i try to keep some similar and new stories... i have had to come up with a special personal one for this summer, since she is having a lot of emotions about not seeing her dad.
small, thin books, crafts, crayons and paper, felt story boards, little finger puppets, and stickers are all great things if you have toddlers. the older they get it may be easier with crafts that last longer, finger knitting and long novels, etc. of course snacks are great at keeping the kids busy.
Pack a change of clothes for each person (and you can never have too many extra ziplock bags to pack drenched clothes or to waterproof your dry change of clothes)
If you have a transit, longer than one hour, I always recommend for you to find if your airport has day rooms. Many airports in Asia have them. Day rooms usually cost US$5 per hour, and are simple with a bed and a shower. Day rooms have always helped me out, especially when I am traveling alone with my kids. I am able to put the stroller and big bag in there, shower with them, brush our teeth, change and then walk around (finding kid areas to run around in if this is during the time which they are usually awake). If its in the middle of the night for them, the day rooms help them sleep in a quiet place, and for you to get some rest as well. It's worth the money to have a dayroom!
Keeping your immune system healthy on board and while travelling:
the best thing is to make sure you're eating well before, during and after and then for your next flight. keeping your gut in good condition helps you stay as best you can against any sicknesses, new bacteria that you get exposed to. so for many, and definitely for us, staying grain free, sugar free and of course not eating processed foods will keep your body in good shape.
carry an essential oil 'hand sanitizer'. spraying this around you helps protect against 'catching' viruses and other bugs. usually i mix it up, but lavender seems to be the safest in case you have people around you who are sensitive to tea tree oil or something else.
loading up the day before, during, and after on immune boosters such as buffered vitamin C, bone broth (if possible) and echniacea or elderberries is really helpful. using an herbal salve to coat their nasal passages helps keep their noses moist and the ability to protect against catching colds.
for keeping calm kids, l-theanine or any calming herbal remedies help, essential oil blends are very helpful too. i don't recommend and have never used benadryl or other over the counter drugs like that, but if you use them then thats fine too. hemp oil, kavinace and chamomile are really helpful. spray melatonin helps when you arrive, to take before you go to sleep to reset your circadian rhythm.
depending on where you're going, i find that these items above are always good to have with you wherever you go and also:
- herbal mosquito spray
- calendula salve
- bentonite/kaolin clay - good for facials :), scrapes, burns, bites and stings
- magnesium / epsom salts - achey bodies, detoxification, constipation
- activated charcoal - seriously cannot recommend this more. i have used this so many times - any icky behaviors, headaches, grumpy kids, food poisoning, all related to gut issues. activated charcoal helps clear and absorb those bad things.
- probiotics - i use gut pro and a tincture called cytoflora
- coconut oil - for cooking, eating, body, rashes, everything!
- green pastures cod liver oil
- colloidal silver - good for topical and internal for anything bacterial
- pro berry by d'adamo which is a blend of larch, elderberries and other big vit c ingredients.
- homeopathic arnica