Think of everything you have accomplished in the past 12 hours. You’ve most likely slept, had breakfast, went to work, maybe some grocery shopping, laundry and exercised. Now, imagine spending 12 hours on a non-stop, red-eye flight to Italy, sitting next to your kids. The littlest one didn’t get any sleep (nor did I). Another got severe motion sickness about 6 hours into the flight. Let’s just say they had to barricade the area with plastic. A small price to pay for the lifelong memories and the experience with your family by your side. 

I could suggest many of the things I couldn’t live without — the empty middle seat, tons of snacks, all the devices and sanitizing wipes — but let’s be honest here, all you need is lots of patience and a flexible attitude. Surviving a long-haul flight with kids is not always pretty, but as long as you can stay calm and roll with the punches, all will be OK. And the snacks! Really important. Airline food is not the best, especially for the picky eater. 

The rewards of traveling with children weigh out its challenges by far. When it comes to building strong, smart, independent children, the world is one of the best classrooms. Our experience in Italy has helped us grow and bond as a family; gaining confidence and trust in one another. Traveling also means new people, new places, and new languages. By day two, my 4-year-old was greeting the locals with, “ciao!” and “arrivederci!” 

Always be prepared to expect the unexpected. Each kid (along with their electronics) carried their water, snacks and blind bag that I had put together weeks (months really) before leaving. Blind bags are brilliant; surprise bags loaded with your child’s most favorite things. Like, coloring books, sketchbooks, friendship bracelet kit, etc. And did you know, you can download movies and shows from your Netflix account and watch them while offline? What a lifesaver. When we landed in Milan Malpensa Airport there was a 2-hour delay getting through customs. We were able to catch up on Captain Underpants without a problem. These things aren’t always available, but this could help children learn creative ways to occupy their time, which can help at home!

Getting through this together, Atascadero

From traveling abroad to laying on a beach in Hawaii, these shared experiences build positive memories and a union that will last a lifetime. So get out there and get that holiday card photo in front of the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. I did.