Traveling with Children (to foreign countries)

It’s been a bit too long since last posting.  I am officially a full fledge co-owner of a clothing business with my sister.  Check out the site shugieshop.com, and let me know what you think, because any feedback is super helpful.  We are striving to be as awesome as possible in a really tough climate so we appreciate any support.  Here is my son in one of our robot cardigans.  Alas, this new venture has been occupying the majority of my free time, which is slim anyway being a full time mom to two small and very demanding children.

 

Okay, now that you’ve seen what I’ve been up to as an excuse for my lack of blogging, I’ll carry on with the point of this entry: Traveling with Chidlren.  Holy crap is it tricky!  We recently flew to the UK for a two week trip to see my best friend get married and to have a mini break from our little bubble in Bucks County, PA.  We knew straight off the bat it was not going to be a relaxing time, it’s actually more work, but seeing new things and not having all the distractions you have at home allow you to spend really good quality time with one another.  Plus my parents came with us and they are such awesome travel companions.

Firstly, packing for one kid can be overwhelming, but packing for multiple children is down right torturous.  Seriously, the strain of lugging around all the crap is no easy task.  My husband and I are able to pack relatively light.  For two weeks, we brought a weeks worth of clothes except undies and socks, and just wore everything twice…no problem other than being a bit creative on rejigging outfits.  The children however need new clothes everyday because they have gross habits that involve a multitude of accidents that involve bodily fluids, not to mention using what they are wearing as napkins when they are eating.  So two weeks of small clothing along with favorite blankets, toys, and books make a pretty good sized bag.  Already we have three large-ish bags, then there are two car seats (check them and if you can buy CARES harness to use…it’s awesome), one stroller (bring a Bebo too, I’ll explain later), one electronics carry on, another diaper/food/small toys carry on, and last the passports and wallet.  You can see already that traveling with children is hard work, and that’s not even including looking after them!

The flight is what my husband and I were fearing the most.  We had one night flight and a day flight on our return.  The night flight was way more easy as the children slept most of it.  The day flight was full of entertaining our 22 month old and almost 4 year old as best we could in the confines of the flying metal tube.  Thank god for the iPad, which entertained both children well.  Not only does it have millions of interactive apps for small children, also housed 20 or so movies that the children watched throughout our vacation, and especially at night in our hotel/B&B rooms.  Also, food is a great distraction…..so I brought lots of snacks and sweets.  The small chocolate Easter eggs I whipped out towards the end of the last flight were a godsend for my 22 month old who was just so fed up and restless.  By the time her little fingers managed to unwrap the egg, we were getting ready to land, so eating the egg probably helped pop her ears on the descend.  Oh, how I love it when things coincidentally work out!

After getting there, next is finding child appropriate things to do.  We went to England, full of castles, historical houses, and lots of things little children could care less about.  So we mostly walked outside and indulged in sight seeing and absorbing history that way.  When we could, we found things that were specifically geared towards children.  For example, in York there is the most amazing train museum that my son really enjoyed.  He loved scampering amongst the giant steam trains, plus there was a great play area and a little mini train to ride.  And like lots of museums in the UK, it was completely FREE.  Both of our children really like the Science Museum in London, too, as they have many children specific areas.  When we couldn’t find things catered for children in a town, we’d just find a toy shop or a great park to keep there spirits high.  Keeping them interested was not actually that hard surprisingly.  We also had the advantage of having my parents along with us, AND we were visiting friends and family so the children got an abundance of extra special attention, which they loved.  Having familar faces on the other side was a huge bonus!

Here is a list of things that I think are invaluable for travelling with children:

iPad 2.  It’s an easy option to satisfy bored children.  Airplane travel, car travel, restaurants, hotels, etc,  it keeps both children and parents sane.  Also, we stored maps, really useful information on places we were interested in seeing, and possible hotels/B&Bs.  The iPad is terribly great for traveling.

Bebo baby carrier.   We use this for our 22 month old who can’t walk well enough, and she loves to be close to us.  It was perfect for our England trip….walking around London, and just wandering around places where strollers are too difficult, like fields and castles.  It has a hood so if she falls asleep we button it up so her head doesn’t bobble about or flail backwards.  It also has stirrups for her feet to make it much more comfortable.  Both my husband and I think it’s much more comfortable than our expensive framed hiking child carrier, plus it’s easy to pack as it doesn’t take up much space.

Surf by Hemi Sync. We use this at night in our house anyway, so this helped with creating a familiar environment for bedtime, and also alleviating any stress from being in a new, strange environment to sleep.  This music was recommended by my daughter’s physical therapist and it was also used for firefighters who were in 9/11.  We all slept well during our trip, and when you sleep well, you enjoy your day and the people around you better.

Compact digital camera for small hands.  A camera that children can use to take pictures is a great thing, and not a crappy photo taking toddler camera.  My son is capable of fully using my digital point and shoot camera without any help at all.   It really keeps him occupied and interested in his surroundings, and you get some really great and unexpected photos that last a lifetime.

CARES harness system.  We absolutely needed our car seats for this trip, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need them on the plane.  What a pain they are to lug around busy airport termimals.  If you buy a CARES harness you eliminate having to take a car seat on the plane.  It’s safe and easy to use and also it’s very hard for little feet to reach the seat in front of them, so no more accidental kicking the person in front.  Hugely recommend this.

Children’s Columbia Bugaboo Parka (boy version and girl version).  These coats are great because they are so versatile.  Firstly, they do well in the winter because they have a water proof outer shell, and a detachable fleece coat interior.  In other words, if it’s cold you can wear it all together, if it’s a little chilly out you can just wear the fleece jacket, and if it’s chilly and rainy than you can just wear the outter shell.  It’s so awesome, especially for traveling around the UK when the weather changes every five minutes!  I bought them a bit big because they are expensive so I wanted to get as much wear out of it as possible.

 

I hope these things find to be as helpful to others as what we’ve found them to be.  Anything little thing that makes life easier is worthy of sharing.

 

Moving on, I still have been working on my designs for Spoonflower.  Here’s what’s new:

 

patchwork year of the rabbit

Breakfast Appliances

vampire squid

the future ahead: rockets and stars.

rainclouds

The second to the last design (the rockets) was one of the 75 that was chosen for the Project Selvage contest Michael Miller and Spoonflower are holding to find the next baby boy fabric.  I am thrilled it was chosen, and to be amongst some very talented artists.  This is a very important contest because the voting now is for the top ten to go through to the next round of designing a collection of six pieces.  The winner then gets then gets their collection printed by MM and also gets to design a second collection for baby girls.  Please vote for your favorites….you can have as many as you’d like.  It may make the difference to a very hopeful designer!  Click the Project Selvage link above to do so.  Thank  you.

Take care!

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