Dear Tracy,

Being a military family unit means our extended family lives FAR AWAY. Sometimes, this is a good thing. But, when it comes to travel? Ugh. 

I have traveled a fair bit with the tiny human. (And most of that is solo.) 

3 weeks ago, we hauled our almost 4 year old cross country from the Midwest to the West Coast through the busiest travel season. 

And here are some lessons I learned: 

  • Pack extra outfits for everyone, including yourself, because accidents happen. No, seriously, accidents happen and the last thing you need is to be sitting in a wet outfit yourself from spilled apple juice. 
  • You can download media to your phone from Netflix that can be accessed even during airplane mode 
    • Give up any idea you have on limiting screen time
    • Headphones ain’t a bad idea either 
  • Be prepared to lose EVERYTHING. 
    • Adults lose books, glasses, and goodness knows what else on planes. Your kid is no different and in the rush to get everyone and everything packed up and de-planed, you may lose a hot wheels car or three.
  • NEVER let the one thing that can’t be lost out of your sight. 

For  us, that’s this wee bear my son randomly bonded to out of the blue last year. 10,000 penguins in this house and he chooses literally the only bear. Go figure!  


And for Food Allergy Mothers, I would add:

  • Pack triple the snacks you think you need
  • Take cleaning wipes
  • Alert the airline attendants at the gate that your tiny human has a food allergy
    • They’ll let you on early to wipe down your seats
    • Most airlines wont serve nuts that flight
  • ALWAYS check the snacks they do pass out. 
    • the pretzels are often packed in the same facilities as peanuts/tree nuts. 

In order to prepare for this journey, we purchased a couple of gate check bags to protect our kid’s gear. I have two, one for the stroller and one for the car seat. If you’ve purchased a seat for your kiddo, you can actually place their car seat in their airplane seat and secure it all in, but I found it easier to just let my kid spend most of his flights glued to me or (because we flew home on a red eye) sleep on me.

We left the house at three in the morning to leave for the West Coast and flew home on a red eye flight, so we let him stay in his fleece footie pajamas. When you’re little, everyone thinks you’re just the cutest when you’re wearing footies. Where’s the proof? Every flight attendant stopped and told him how cute he was and then slipped him extra cookies. 

To make life easier everywhere we went, I made a life changing purchase: A Travel Potty Seat. It is amazing. I literally cannot expound upon how helpful this was everywhere we went. It’s foldable, so make sure it’s fully open before any baby butts go on it to prevent pinching; but we took it everywhere. I mean everywhere. Public bathroom at the beach? Airplane bathrooms? My in-law’s house? All of it! It was so incredibly helpful and is still in use weeks later. We just used it this week at the grocery store and I don’t know how I lived without it. 

Also, I bought a compact stroller. I didn’t own one previously, my stroller is this behemoth of a jogging stroller but served me well on the cobblestone streets of Savannah, Georgia, and does me well when I don’t need to use my trunk…but I needed something a bit more manageable on a cross country trip. It was a bit of a splurge, but well worth it.

Not every plan turns out like you think it will!  

Feeling like the best mom ever, I made a dinosaur world building kit with a mat, plenty of dinosaurs, and foam to build mountains…he instead fell asleep most of the flights, watched a movie or two, and instead played pretend doctor with his teddy bear. The most successful new toy I purchased was the Travel Dry Erase Board from Crayola. 


Whatever travels come your way this year, I hope these ideas help you, and if you have more…please share them!

We are a Fraternity of Mothers here to help one another. We read every comment and care about every mother on this journey we’re all on. Safe Travels!



Written by Jessica Lin
I'm a mom of one very sweet and active little boy who keeps me busy with everyday adventures chasing down space bandits, digging for buried treasure in the sandbox, or sailing the seven seas in a cardboard box. To keep a balance in life, I stress bake, pretend to knit, and oh yeah...I'm writing a book of fiction.