Good Morning Everybody! Happy Friday! I’m so excited for this extra long Christmas weekend!
Today I’m sharing the first in a four post series about our trip to Austria and Switzerland! This was truly one of the best trips of my life and I can’t wait to share it with y’all!
Today I’m answering your questions about the travel process and sharing some of my tips for traveling with small kids. First, let me answer a few questions I had from you guys.
Did you use a travel agent?
We did not. I’ve actually never used a travel agent before (should I?). I’m really not sure what the “pros” to using them would be. This was our fourth trip to Europe and we have always just booked our own travel through Expedia.
What airline did you fly?
We flew Austrian Air on the way there, and Swiss Air on the way back. We had never flown with either of them before but both were wonderful! The planes looked new and clean and the seats were the most spacious I’ve been on for an overseas flight. The food was good and they were great with the boys. Poor Roman got sick on the way home and they even gave Kent a change of clothes (since he took the brunt of it 🙁 )
How did you keep the boys entertained on such a long flight? What are your tips for flying with kids?
This was only our second international flight with the boys, but we have flown domestically with them at least 20+ times over the last 5 years, so I’m starting to feel like we’ve got this down to a science. Since Roman was born in Indiana, and my entire family lived in Florida at the time, I started flying with him as soon as his Pediatrician told me it was safe for him to travel. Here’s a couple things that have helped us tremendously when flying with the kiddos.
#1 Schedule Schedule Schedule
I cannot emphasize this one enough! Both of our boys have been a breeze to travel with, as long as we’ve maintained their schedule. If they are able to eat and sleep at the same time they are used to, we have no issues. The older they get, the more flexible they are with this, but it was extremely important when they were babies.
For example, when we traveled to Aruba last year, they were both still taking a nap once a day. So we left Indy in the morning after breakfast and had our first (short) flight to North Carolina while they were awake. Then we had a short layover, fed them lunch, and boarded our second/long flight right at 1pm (aka nap time). They both fell asleep right after takeoff and slept for most of that flight. So when we landed they were ready to hit the ground running!
Whenever we go to Europe, we always try to leave late in the day, sleep on the flight, and get there early in the morning so we can have our internal clocks “reset” for the time change. We knew we really needed the boys to sleep on our long flight so we timed it out just right. We woke the boys up at 5:30am (they usually wake up around 8) so they would be ready for bed by 4 pm (when we needed them to go to sleep). Our first flight to Chicago left around noon so they were still awake for that one. It was less than an hour and they were so excited to fly so that one was a piece of cake. Then we boarded our long flight around 3pm. We got them some dinner, let them watch a movie, and they both fell asleep right after and slept for the rest of the flight! When we landed it was around 5am in Austria so we were pretty much back on our regular schedule.
When they were little babies, I always flew first thing in the morning. I would wake them up, feed them and leave right away. They were always in such a good mood first thing in the morning, and they could usually make it until we boarded the plane before they needed another snack or nap.
Anyway, the point is, you know your baby/kid’s schedule. Try to work around their eating/sleeping patterns for best results.
#2 Talk to them about the “plan” ahead of time
You can’t really do this with babies, but as soon as they’re old enough to understand you, start talking to your kids about what’s going to happen a few days before you leave. I always explain to them, step-by-step how we will get to our destination, and I really think it helps them knowing what’s coming next, and that there’s an “end in sight”. For example, “First we’re going to drive to the airport, then we have to get our tickets, then we’ll go through the scanners (security) and get on our first plane! It’s a smaller plane, but the next plane will be so so so big! It has TV’s and snacks for you! You can watch one movie, and then you’ll take a little nap, and then when you wake up, we’ll be in Austria!” I said this multiple times during the week leading up to our trip and it’s so funny how they remember every detail and quote it back to you throughout the day! I think it helps them to feel calmer and more confident when they know what the next “step” is.
#3 Activities on the plane
Clearly the number one activity I plan for them to do is sleep, but since that isn’t always an option, bring a backup plan! Our plane had TV’s with movies for them, but if you’re on a shorter flight, you might want an iPad/headphones (don’t forget a portable charger!).
I had these lego crayons that they really liked. It was good because they could use them for coloring, or just play with them as action figures. We worked on their Star Wars sticker book for a while and I also had a “Where’s Waldo” type book where you find different objects on the page that killed some time. Definitely bring whatever will keep your kid engaged for a while. If they’re little you’ll obviously want diaper stuff, a change of clothes and lots of snacks and drinks. I’d have mine suck on a Pacifier or eat while we were landing too to help their ears!
This is one that we didn’t do and we learned our lesson this trip. If you’re going on an international trip, bring medicine! We were healthy when we left but we all got sick there and we had the hardest time finding medicine in Austria (Switzerland was easy). The pharmacies there were closed in the evenings and on weekends and we couldn’t read what was in the bottles. What we did end up finding was more holistic type stuff that just didn’t work. Definitely bring something basic like Tylenol or Cold/Flu meds!
#5 Wear Comfortable/Practical Clothes and Shoes
I pretty much always chose to look cute over looking comfortable…except when I’m traveling…especially with the kids! Practical has to come first for both of us. I always do layers since the weather is usually different between where I’m leaving from and where I’m headed and I never know what the temp on the plane is going to be like. I got this scarf last year and I love it! I like to wear really big scarves because I tell myself it makes me look smaller. 🙂 This jacket is a great basic and perfect for travel days.
The real MVP here though is these shoes. I was first introduced to them a few years ago when I was flying with my friend Hollie and she showed up to the airport in them. She kept talking about how comfy they were all day so I decided to look into them when I got home. I found them online, loved them, but didn’t love the price tag. So I found a pair that looked exactly the same for less than half the price and bought those instead. Big mistake. I wore them the next time I flew and instantly regretted it. I had blisters on the back of my heels and the tops of both feet. #nobueno Needless to say I bit the bullet and ordered these before I even got home. They have been so worth it! I’ve had them for almost 2 years now and I wear them almost every time I fly! They are so squishy and comfy while still looking cute. I love that I can just slip them on and off when I go through security without having to sit down or mess with tying up laces. So important when your hands are already full of luggage and babies!
I got mine from Nordstrom because they had free shipping and free returns (also key with kids). Nordstrom also had some really cute, comfy sneakers for the b0ys so I picked up these for Roman and these for Rocky. This was one of the first trips we’ve taken without their stroller so I knew they’d be doing a lot of walking and I wanted to make sure they had good quality, comfortable walking shoes.
We got them these little backpacks too which they love! I could not have predicted what a big hit these would be. Honestly I just got them because I thought they were cute but I wasn’t even convinced that the boys would actually wear/carry them. They love them! I think it made them feel like “big boys” getting to have their own “luggage” and it helped me out because they carried their own activities! They have used them for sleepovers since coming home and Rocky asks to wear his almost every time we leave the house now haha!
This Foundation + This Setting Spray = The only combo I’ve found to actually last all day without budging.
#6 Don’t Stress
I know. It’s easier said than done. But kids really do pick up on our attitudes and vibes. When I’m feeling flustered and stressed, it 100% affects the boys. Remember, you are their source of comfort! As long as they sense that you are calm and happy, odds are they will feel calm and happy too!
I know a lot of you will be traveling this Holiday Season with your families. Wishing you all safe travels and happy memories!
In Partnership with Nordstrom