Wanderlust... Surviving travel during the baby and toddler years

I have read a few articles where parents traveling with a baby or young children will make goody bags and give out earplugs to other people on the plane. My toddler has been on 22 flights in her short two and a half years and I have yet to make one goody bag for anyone traveling on the flights with us. What a sweet gesture, but please stop putting unnecessary pressure on young parents to continually apologize for their children taking up space.
Sleeping baby on the airplane. Priceless.

My first thought was how do they have room for multiple goodie bags? When I fly with my children my arms are so full of snacks, special blankies, toys, stickers, pacifiers, carseats, diapers, baby carriers and our entire kitchen island. Okay not the kitchen island, but it sure feels that way traveling with children. I wonder how you can possibly have space to bring items for strangers. I recently went on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas and forgot my current passport and was almost denied entry. So I am going to start with making sure priority items are with me instead of candy for unknown adults.
My second thought was how do you have time to make treat bags before a family vacation? The extensive packing and prepping in the days leading up to a family vacation take up all of my free time and I refuse to lose even more sleep.
My final thought was how come there is this enormous pressure for parents to go the extra mile because their child might cry and bother someone for a few minutes? No one gave me a goodie bag when they decided to take up the entire carry-on bin. No one apologized to me when I had to smell horrible  body odor/perfume/food for a 4 hour flight. No one gave me a sweet note warning me they might start snoring in my ear when they doze off. All these things have happened on flights and we give each other a break and let it go. Please don't up the expectations for people traveling with young children.

I was 8 weeks post-partum, but still didn't want to miss seeing one of the most beautiful places, Jenny Lake.

On my first flight as a mother with a baby I was terrified, anxious and completely stressed that my baby would cry. We had four flights total for that vacation and three went really smooth. But for one flight my baby had decided she had had enough and was going to cry unless someone was walking and singing to her. So that's what we did. Until we had to sit down and she cried for awhile. We all lived to see the next day and everyone on the plane still arrived at their destination in one piece. So that extra stress as a new mother to a 4 month old was completely unnecessary.
We survived our first flight as a family and now enjoying the resort pool. 

We recently returned from our family vacation to Texas. This was the second trip we have taken as a family of four and one of many that we have traveled together as parents. Each trip we have taken with our young girls has gotten easier and easier to travel as a family. But this last trip really brought a lot of happy memories. When I travel I feel a sense of adventure, freedom, excitement, and gratitude. I have made some compromises for my children, but travel was a priority I was never willing to put on the back burner. My feelings of wanderlust have always been strong and I want to instill that same sense of appreciation for new places in my children. I believe new experiences and travel help shape my children's perception. I want them to see and learn about as much of the world as possible. I encourage anyone with children to push them outside their comfort zone and take a trip every year.
Making memories.

Here are a few things I have learned traveling with young children.

1.Bring their most cherished comfort items.

I don't care if your child sleeps with a headless dinosaur every night and she will drag it on the floor of the airport for two hours, still bring it. If they prefer blue pacifiers over the greens ones, bring at least 3 blue pacifiers. If your child will zone out to Spongebob then download a few shows off Netflix (which is an awesome perk you can do now). Bend your normal rules to make for a happier family vacation.

2. Plan the flights around naps. 

If you child falls asleep in the car they will most likely sleep on a plane, so book the flight during nap time. If your child will only sleep in their bed and fights naps during any new place then book the flight when they are most awake.

3. Bring good snacks or whatever baby eats. 

This will take up some time, keep them more content, and a full tummy makes it easier to doze off.

4. Bring NEW toys/books. 

Don't assume your child will sleep. Your carrry on is now devoted to your young kids. So put away the cute colorful Coach purse and grab your practical travel book bag with a million pockets to fill with new, engaging toys.

5. Enjoy yourself. These will be your "good ole days".

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