I like to consider myself (and even my 2 year old daughter) somewhat of a seasoned traveler. In fact, on our plane ride just a couple days ago, the woman sitting next to Pooky said she looked like a “traveling pro.” Apparently, however, we still have more to learn to make our travels smoother. I’m sharing a few things I learned the hard way from my most recent trip, so hopefully you don’t have to.
Tip #1: Don’t use lotion on your hands right before going to the airport (and/or don’t carry your child thru security). I know this sounds like an odd tip, but hear me out. TSA somewhat recently started a new procedure where they swab the hands of any parent carrying a child thru security. The swab is supposed to pick up on explosives residue. Well I don’t own (nor have I been exposed to) any explosives, but the swab from my hands set off their alarm triggering them to do a full pat down search on me and swab all my belongings. (Luckily, I always show up to the airport early, so I wasn’t panicking through the process, but it was certainly annoying.) When I asked what triggers the alarm I was told by a TSA attendant “explosives residue, but certain lotions set it off too.” Just before heading to the airport that evening I had put on some Bath and Body Works lotion, Carried Away. Now I can’t say for certain that the lotion was the culprit, but I can say I won’t be wearing it to the airport again. I also learned that if you don’t carry your child thru security, you don’t need to undergo the hand swab screening. Needless to say, on the return trip, I had my daughter walk thru on her own, and she did just fine…and no alarm for me. (lesson learned)
Tip #2 Make (and use) a packing list for you and your kid(s)
I think I’m getting too comfortable with traveling. I used to go into a sort of panic mode for days in advance of a trip. This hyper-vigilant state would force me to think of every possible thing my family and I might need on our trip and make lots of lists. Now I just sort of do a mental run-down of items I usually pack on the day before our trip. Well, this laissez-faire attitude bit me in the butt this last time. I almost forgot my swimsuit, I did forget my pjs, and my contact solution (forcing me to scramble for replacements), and worst of all I forgot to pack my dental night guard which meant a killer headache for me each morning. (Luckily, it was a short visit.) I don’t know why, after all the traveling I’ve done, I still didn’t have a ready-made personalized checklist for packing. I’ve now taken inspiration from the packing checklist I found on the lovely blog, Sparrow, and tailored hers to fit my needs. I also made a separate checklist for my toddler. You can read about them here.
Tip #3 Try out those new apps you downloaded to entertain your child BEFORE the trip.
I realize this sounds like a no-brainer, but due to a lack of time, I did not test out the new apps with my daughter before our trip. I have some great shapes, colors, and storybook apps on my iPad that I use to entertain my daughter on the plane. But we’ve been using those same apps for several months, so she is getting bored with them. For weeks, I’ve been making a mental note that I need to change out these apps for something that will catch her interest and keep her entertained on our upcoming summer trips. Well, I never got around to devoting time to doing accurate research on great kid apps. I simply pulled up a link from Pinterest about the top ten best kid apps and proceeded to download a handful of the free ones listed in that post. They looked and sounded good, so off we went. Unfortunately, once on the plane, each app was rejected one after another. Either the free version was too limited and boring, or the type of activities were not interesting to my daughter. (mommy fail) I’m not going to name the apps in a negative light, because I think they could be good for the right kids, they just didn’t work for my daughter at this stage. So now I have to start over and really devote the time to finding and testing apps with my daughter before our next trip (which involves a trans-atlantic flight). I know that if I put in the time to do this right, I (and the other passengers) will be rewarded. I’ve pinned some great posts about entertaining and educational apps for young kids to my Tech Savvy Kids board on Pinterest, so I’ll start there, only this time I’ll be more thorough.