One of the things I found most helpful in preparing for our trip was reading other mom's blogs about travelling with kids. So I thought I would return the favor and write up some of my thoughts on travelling to maybe help someone else out there. First off I will say I know we were pretty crazy to take an 18 month old and a 4 year old all the way to Alaska for 10 days. And there were a few moments where we thought we were going to loose our mind. But overall it was a wonderful experience. We did have lots of help from family. If we had been doing it just us I probably would have ended up in a straight jacket. I also have to remember that we have 2 of the best kids in the world so that makes it easier!! Flying - I was not at all worried about Ben because he is old enough now that I knew he would do great. It was Kate that I was most worried about.
- We did not have her own seat but I don't think that was a big deal. She is so wiggly that she would have needed to be held anyway. I read lots of people saying to get them their own seat. I don't think this is necessary.
- I had brought lots of little things for them to do on the plane. They played with none of it! There was just not much room to maneuver to pull the stuff out. And it would have just made a mess. I say skip the toys. Go straight for the electronics.
- An iPhone, iPad or DVD player is a must. We had a 3. It worked great. Every flight Kate would be fussy until we got to 10,ooo feet but when we could pull it out she would settle down. Our kids love movies though so that is helpful.
- SNACKS!!! I brought tons of snacks and it was a lifesaver. I brought individual bags of all sorts of things. And little things like raisins that take a long time to eat are wonderful.
- Neither of the kids had any problems with take offs or landing. We did have a sippy cup for Kate that she sipped on the whole time.
- TSA lets you bring juice for kids. I would say skip it. It takes too long to go through security with it. Just buy it once you are at the gate.
- Limit your carry on bags. It is too much to juggle with kids. We had learned this from previous flying experiences. Try to keep bags to a minimum because your hands will be full!
- Benadryl is your friend! Especially on overnight flights. That is the only time we had to use it but it allowed the kids to sleep for 6 hours straight which was awesome.
Cruising - We had cruised with Ben when he was 2 so we were a little prepared. But things were so different this time with the time change and just being in Alaska so I do have some tips for that as well.
- BE FLEXIBLE!!!!! Our moto was eat when the kids are hungry and sleep with the kids are sleepy. Kate took 2 naps most days just because she was tired. We let her sleep whenever she wanted. If they got fussy we found food. We figured in the end it would make life easier to do it that way. There were nights they stayed up until 11 but as long as they were happy we were good. There were no real schedules.
- Limit the amount of stuff you bring. I had told myself not to overpack. Of course I did. The rooms are so small you just don't have room for a bunch of stuff.
- I was very worried about the time change because Alaska was 3 hours behind. But it was so not a big deal. They adjusted very quickly and did great. There was nothing we really did. I think being flexible was the key.
- Take a stroller. It is great for airports but also for getting on and off the ship. I would say take the smallest you have. We just took our little umbrella stroller and it worked perfect.
- Have snacks handy when getting on the ship. We had to wait in some long lines that took a while. I so wished we had some snacks to pull out at the time.
- We did not bother with car seats. We just didn't want to lug them around everywhere. We just talked to all of the shuttles that we were taking and asked that they provided them. They all did and it worked wonderfully!! I would highly recommend that. Each time Matt would be the one to install the seats to make sure it was correctly done but it was great.
- Everyone loves kids on cruise ships. All of the staff and other people. So don't be afraid to take them to lots of different activities. They paid just as much to be there as anyone else so they deserve to be involved. The kids had a blast and got to experience lots of different things.
- I was a little worried about how they would do at the 2 hour dinners but they did great! The wait staff was wonderful to bring them food if they got fussy. There is also lots to see in the dinning room so that kept them entertained.
I guess those are the big things. It was an amazing trip and I was so proud of how well they did!!