Hello from sunny San Diego! In order to allow me more time to get ready for our trip, my husband D has willingly agreed to make an appearance on the blog with his travel tips for dads. Enjoy!
As I walk through the airport with a carseat strapped to my chest and another strapped to my back, I admit I frequently have uncharitable thoughts about traveling with children. My role feels much less like caretaker as it does glorified pack mule.
I can distinctly recall my blood pressure rising as I coaxed my children out of the stroller in order to fold it up and place it on the conveyor belt in the TSA checkpoint. Suddenly I heard a foot tapping impatiently behind me, and turned to see a woman, dressed in a business suit, checking her watch and barely containing her contempt for my apparent inability to corral my family fast enough. I closed my eyes and bit my tongue- “would you like to go around us?” I asked. “YES!” she exclaimed, practically shoving us out of her way and blowing by the sign clearly denoting that the line was intended for families and individuals in wheel chairs.
As our family travels routinely throughout the year, I have come to expect these kinds of experiences, but have also learned that traveling doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. With that in mind, here are a few things I have learned.
Travel Tips for Dads
Embrace the suck
This was the mantra that my drill sergeant beat into my brain when I was a new Army recruit. The secret to surviving basic training in the military is not some unusual skill for mental toughness or physical strength. The ones who make it are the ones who embrace their new reality: life sucks right now, but it’s temporary. You may be asking, isn’t it a bit dramatic to compare traveling with children to boot camp? Maybe, but just roll with me on this one.
When I travel alone, life is grand. I pack my bags about half an hour before I leave and I arrive at the airport one hour before my flight and still have time to grab breakfast. I sit back and relax while I wait.
When I travel with kids, I have to start preparing about, oh, three weeks before we leave. Naturally, my contributions to our travel preparation are greatly exaggerated in my mind, and if we’re being honest, my wife does most of the work, but the point applies nonetheless. Which leads to my next lesson.
Your wife is smarter than you are
The days leading up to traveling with family are filled with questions from me, all directed at my wife, as I have yet to let this lesson really sink in.
Do we really need to leave FOUR HOURS before our flight?
Do I really have to pack my bag the night before?
Luckily, Allison is patient with me, because after I sulk for a few days, I usually ask her all the same questions again. But, she is always right. And no, she didn’t tell me to write this. Your wife is smarter than you are. Just trust me on this one.
Everything takes a least twice as long with kids
Allison and I knew we were different from each other when we were dating, but the extent of those differences didn’t sink in until we were married. Allison is a planner and I am a procrastinator. If not for her, our traveling experiences would all be disasters. I have been a dad now for more than four years, and I have yet to fully appreciate how long everything takes when you add children. That activity that used to take you twenty minutes? Yeah, now it takes TWO HOURS. Children can make you feel as though you are going back in time. Hence all of my ridiculous questions to my wife. But, despite my attempts to deny reality, everything takes at least twice as long with kids, so plan accordingly.
There will be bodily fluids on the plane
Your children will poop or throw up on the plane. Just be ready for this. On most aircraft, the only lavatory with a changing table is the one right behind the cockpit. Federal law prohibits people from standing in line behind the cockpit. And in a comical reality bordering on ridiculous, families with children are usually relegated to the back so as not to disturb the travel divas in the front.
At some point in the flight, your wife will hand your poopy child to you with that look in her eyes that says “it’s your turn and, no this is not up for negotiation.” So you will lean out of your seat and size up the long walk to the front of the plane. You’ll stand up and start quickly making your way down the aisle. As you get to the front, a person will see you coming and quickly dart in front of you. He or she will pretend that they didn’t see you, but you know they did. This is really important- IT IS NOT OK TO KARATE CHOP THIS PERSON. Just let it go. Most flight attendants are understanding and will allow you to stand at about the halfway point instead of going all the way back to your seat.
Keep it together- Your family needs you
As I mentioned above, my wife is a planner. But when our plans fall through, as they sometimes do, she’s a bit out of her element. This is when it is my time to shine. It’s important to keep your emotions in check, because your family needs you, and not just because you’re carrying all the bags. So keep it together, and when everything falls apart, be ready to step in and save the day. All of that procrastinating is good for something, right? Every family vacation has its rough moments, but few trips are truly beyond salvaging.
Traveling with kids can be difficult, but the memories are worth the trouble. Our home is modest, and we don’t have an abundance of material possessions. Instead, we have purposely chosen to give our children experiences that all of us will cherish. So close your eyes, breathe in, and get on the plane. I promise you won’t regret it.
Do you have any more tips to add?
Like this? Pin for later.
Linking up with Wanderful Wednesday.