Flying over 2,000,000 miles has given me enough experience to become an expert on traveling. Over the years I have found different tricks to make the trip more enjoyable whether traveling for business or pleasure, alone or with children. Most of these I have discovered the hard way. Believe me, I had my good share of mishaps! These are my top 12 recommendations:
1. Plan ahead: I have four different check list that I follow on every trip. You only have to plan one time and the rest is just making sure you check every item before you leave home. My lists are: “Business warm weather”, “business cold weather”, “summer holidays”, and “winter holidays”. I include some of the items below described but also other items such as passports. Yes, I have gone to the airport without a passport before! And miss my flight! I try to include items that will make my experience unpleasant if forgotten. Let’s say swimming suit for a summer holiday. Although it will be easy to buy one at destination, the assortment might not be the best and the prices can be ridiculously high, especially if you go to one of those all-inclusive, middle of the jungle destinations where the nearest shopping mall is 20 miles away. Or you go to your mom’s for the holidays and you forget to pack that present you got for her. You can buy something locally or wait until your return to mail it but it would definitely be a bummer.
2. Choose your color theme. It might sound irrelevant but if you stick to a color theme you will be able to mix and match and use less coats, jackets and shoes. For example I can do Brown-beige-olive. I choose compatible color themes for the whole family that way our holiday pictures look great no matter what we wear.
3. Wipes. I use as many wipes as possible for hand sanitizing, Surface cleaning, deodorant, make up removal, etc. They are small, TSA approved and you don´t have to find a small size or transfer a limited quantity to a small bottle. My favorite wipes are the savvy travelers.
4. SaniGirl. This product is a life savior. When sharing a small toilet with 200 other passengers there is no other way to have a clean experience. SaniGirl is a feminine hygienic accessory discreet and disposable that allows women to stand up and pee. Although the thought of that is kind of strange for some women, once you try it you will see why this product is really useful and convenient. Make sure you have some “Venus” by SaniGirl for you and some ¨My Little Helper¨ by SaniGirl for your Little girl (age 4 to 11)
5. Don’t check in things you will immediately need: Let’s say you are flying from Florida to Madrid for the winter holidays DO NOT PACK YOUR COAT INSIDE THE CHECKED IN LUGGAGE!!! If your luggage does not make it to destination you are going to be very cold! Also many airports have a bus transportation to the terminal so you will be outside from the plane to the bus with no coat in freezing weather. I have been there! And I have been cold!
6. Always have an extra set of undies and toothbrush with you. If your luggage gets delay at least you can take a shower and brush your teeth. If possible also a change of clothes or at least an extra t-shirt. You can survive 24 hours with that. Once I landed so late that all stores were closed and of course my luggage did not make it. I had to go to the hotel, wash my undies and blow dry them so I could use them next day.
7. Once inside of the plane there are certain things I like to do for long flights. The firs is to remove my make up. I give a rest to my skin and I can apply new one which will look much better than trying to cover the overnight mess.
8. Blanket and pillow. In shorter flights there are not blanket and pillows, or they have 2 pillows for every 3 seats (not sure who decided that one of every 3 people need to suffer more than the rest) and the blankets look more like a dirty wide ribbon instead of a blanket. They are so narrow that the only way to cover my legs is to wrap myself around like a mommy but then they are not long enough so I end up with only half of my legs covered.
9. When traveling with children create a routine as familiar for them as possible. We always do: play, dinner, movie, milk, put PJs on, brush teeth, and then sleep for our overnight flights. This helps them to try to sleep instead of resisting it because they are so excited to be on a plane.
10. Snacks. I always carry a granola on my computer bag or if traveling with my daughter some cookies and fruits. The food on the plane is not the children’s favorite and a hungry child can be very crampy. Make sure their stomach is happy and they will be more tolerant.
11. Entertainment: Make sure if you are carrying electronics you also have power banks for extra battery life. If your flight gets delayed you want to have that extra battery. Take games and coloring books. Make sure the games do not contain small parts that can easily be lost inside the seat. Once I lost an entire book and the flight attendants could not find it! I saw the chair “eating” my book but then it went to Neverland…. I never saw it again.
12. Medicines on the plane. If you are traveling with Children you should carry a thermometer and ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Once I was on a plane with my 2 year old daughter and 2 hours before landing she had a sudden fever and started vomiting all over and crying. We had to wait until destination to be able to give her medicine because we were not carrying any and the flight attendants cannot give you medicine. That is the day that I also learned that one change of clothes for her was not enough. Also I did not have extra clothes for me.
But most importantly make sure you are realistic when planning your trip. 3 layovers with small children should be avoided if possible. Make sure you leave enough time to rest. Once we landed in Helsinki from Miami, a 9 hours flight, planning to meet some friends for brunch right away and hang out with them for a few hours. Our daughter only got 1 hour sleep on the plane because of the time the flight departed, it was too early so sleep, and when we landed she was so tired she would not stop crying. We ended renting a room at the airport hotel so she could sleep and canceling our brunch. We should have foreseen that a 5 year old would not be ready to follow us on our crazy plan.