This is how to travel with young kids during a pandemic

Written by: Liza Balistreri Cahill

It’s not really ever easy to fly with kids. But the reward of getting to your final destination for a family vacay and creating amazing memories makes it all worth it. Right?? That’s what I tried to remind myself when my husband surprised me with a family trip to San Diego for my birthday. During the midst of a global pandemic.

Part of me was so excited to go somewhere, to have an adventure with our family, to get out of the normal day-to-day routine. The other part of me was panicked. How on earth was I going to get through an airport and sit on an airplane with a 4-year-old and an 8-month old, when germs today have a whole new meaning?

Something important to note here: I am a BIG germaphobe. I’ve always been very aware of hand-washing, antibacterial gel, trying not to touch “public” surfaces. Add that to a worldwide virus-spreading crisis and you have the perfect recipe for someone who should be terrified to go anywhere.

But we went. And it was amazing.

I would never try to talk anyone into doing something they aren’t comfortable with, but coming from someone who is very germ-adverse, I have some tips that could help you understand that it is possible to travel with kiddos these days.

[Related: 7 tips for parents of young kids navigating Covid-19]

Plan your antibac kit
For me, this is pretty typical for any flight, but I felt good having my antibacterial wipes, sanitizing hand gel, and seat tray covers in my carry-on. When you board your flight (and check with airlines on pre-boarding options for families with kiddos!), wipe down everything in your seat area: tray tables, seat belts, window “sill,” armrest and buttons, video screen and overhead vents and buttons. Remember that while you might not touch something, your little ones might. So wipe it all. (Another side note: We flew Southwest; the flight felt very clean — although we still wiped down everything — and we had priority family boarding.)

Masks
We wore our masks the whole time we traveled — through the airport and on the flight — unless we were eating or drinking something. Masks can start to get uncomfortable after wearing for a long time, so find one that doesn’t pull on your ears or smush down your nose. Test masks out with the kiddos before traveling to make sure theirs fit well also.

Have a bunch of extra masks, too. Kids might accidentally drop theirs on the ground or decide the mask is a napkin. And a fresh mask always feels good. (Yes, we are actually saying that these days!)

[Related: The secret to traveling with kids? Planning, planning, planning]

Car seat for the bambino
If you have a baby, I highly recommend buying an extra ticket and bringing along a car seat. Babies love to be held. Until they don’t. Having a spot to tuck your little one away snugly so they can have a bottle, babble at you, or take a nap is a lifesaver.

Bring snacks & activities
This is something we do anyway when we travel, but I definitely made sure to pack some healthy snacks (fruits & veggies) as well as fun ones (fruit strips, M&Ms, crackers). On our flight, Southwest had limited food service, but they did offer canned water and a small bag of snack mix.

Be patient
We didn’t encounter long wait times, probably due to the overall reduced travel, but we gave ourselves extra time just in case. And we felt like people in general had more patience for one another, and it was nice. We really felt (and expressed) gratitude to everyone working at the airport. There’s something about this pandemic that can bring out the We’reAll-In-This-Together mentality. Silver linings…I’ll take it!

Travel looks a little different these days, but with some planning, flying with your family is still possible. I’m so grateful I avoided any germaphobic meltdowns, and we had the time to make new memories. And not surprisingly, I’m already trying to plan the next adventure!

Liza and her husband, Brian, have enjoyed the urban Chicago adventure as a duo, with their beloved pup, and now as parents of a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old. A former litigation attorney, Liza currently practices her negotiation skills with her most formidable challenger (their 4-year-old daughter!). She is a real estate agent with Compass and is passionate about helping families find their perfect home.

Posted on January 28, 2021 at 1:27 PM