Monday, August 4, 2014

Tips on Traveling with Small Children- Day of Travel

Part 2 of a series on traveling with kids. Part 1 was Preparing Young Children for Travel.

We are preparing for a trip to New York City this Friday and it has gotten us thinking about different travel tips we have heard and tried. Now I'm not an expert, and my kids are far from easy going, laid back travelers (here's a post on their delightful behavior while away and with company), but here are some things that have worked for us on the day of travel with our two daughters.

Some well traveled car seats.

First of all, the actual traveling is always easier than I expect, so try to put those fears aside. With some planning I think it can be fun (most of the time) for everyone. I find airplane travel to be easier than car travel. On an airplane you get to sit together and can do things together such as read books, color, play games etc. Plus, you can even walk around and use the bathroom (some of the time). I find car travel a bit trickier because generally the parents are in the front and the kids are in the back, and when they start getting antsy the adults have to debate how soon to stop yet again. I think trains are the best mode of transportation of all, but sadly they often aren't an easy option for our destinations.

Suggestions for the Airplane Carry-on Bags

1.   Snacks 

We bend the rules on travel days to have some fun treats, but try to include a pretty healthy mix to keep everyone on an even keel. We have had experiences with getting stuck places, so I bring a lot of food. Probably more that we could eat in one day, but if you get stuck in an airport hotel over night it will be nice to have some baby/toddler/preschooler food on hand.

For our plane trip in June we brought organic baby food pouches, a mix of steamed veggies cut into small pieces, bananas and some cooked beans for the eleven month old (she wasn't eating grains, nuts, tomatoes or eggs yet). For the Two (almost 3) year old we brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, grapes, apples, gold fish crackers, pretzel sticks, roasted seaweed, cucumber, carrot and red pepper sticks with hummus, and individual packages of trail mix. Mom and Dad had some sandwiches and shared the kid snacks. All of these things make it through security no problem.

We still eat at the terminal when we have layovers (especially when they have local specialties) because I don't want to deplete our emergency rations too much. I know. I'm so dramatic, but I feel much better with a food supply on hand.

2.   Water bottles or Sippy Cups

Bring them empty to get through security, and then fill at a drinking fountain or with bottled water once inside.

3.   Activities for Kids 

My mom had read a tip to wrap up some of the kids' things as presents. I thought this was brilliant! We wrapped some of the favorite books, toys and finger puppets that we planned to bring in tissue paper. Unwrapping the "presents" was an activity in and of itself. The baby would just happily play with whatever she opened. The toddler would comment, "Oh, this is just like one that we have at our house," and then would also happily play with whatever she had opened.

Keeping the 11 month old and 35 month old in mind, we brought about 5 board books, 5 story books, each girl had a dolly and a stuffed animal, some finger puppets, stacking cups, paper, crayons, stickers, and a couple of other things.

One of the things that was the biggest hit was a present from our good friend. She had cut three strips of stretchy fabric in varying lengths and labled them headband, belt, and fishing line. Our toddler and Dada played with those for almost our whole second flight (about 2.5 hours). They dressed up dolly, Dada, baby sister, Mama and the stuffed animals with them. They became horse reins fastened around the hook on the back of the seat, and so much more.

We did also bring some DVDs and a laptop in case things got ugly, but we never used them.

4.  Two-three days of diapers and underpants for each child

You would think that those convenience stores in the airport would carry diapers, but they don't necessarily have them. Or if they do, they might not be in the size you need. If you get stuck in an airport or airport hotel for the night, it can be really hard to get out of airport circle to get to a drug store without a car. Bring diapers - maybe a whole carry-on worth!

5.  Three-four changes of clothes for each child

There is nothing like being away from home and having a child eating on your lap to make a big mess. Between messy meals, diapers leaking or who knows what else, several changes of clothes are nice to have on hand.

6.   One change of clothes for each grown-up

Last year on our way home from Vermont, we missed our connecting flight and had to spend the night in Detroit. Luckily I had all the snacks, activities, diapers and children's clothing I could possibly need, but I had packed all the grown up clothes in the checked luggage (to save space for kid stuff). I thought that because we were on our way home that if our bag got lost it wouldn't be a problem because we would be at home. Ha, I didn't think about a night in Detroit along the way. Now I always pack a change of clothes for Mama and Dada because it was bad enough to stay in a hotel when you are looking forward to your own bed, but if you have to wear yesterday's clothes too...not fun.

7. Baby Carrier

I have found it really helpful to have a baby carrier (we have an Ergo) for getting through the airport and helping little ones take naps on the plane. Our 11 month old had been walking for a while hadn't been in the Ergo for some time, but she found it comforting amid all the commotion.

8.  Hand Sanitizer and Baby Wipes

A flight attendant friend suggested this one: Squirt hand sanitizer on a baby wipe and generously smear all over the tray, arm rest, and any other hard surface your kids might be able to reach. It's great peace of mind that you at least tried to minimize the germs.

Suggestions for the front seat of the car

The same snacks, water bottles and activities that you would take on a plane with all of the other items on the list easily accessible in the trunk.

We start the trip with piles of snacks and activities in the front seat, and as the trip wears on they all get passed to the back. When we stop for a break, Mama and Dada move most of the stuff back to the front so that we can repeat the process.

Music CDs

It's amazing how music can calm fussy babies and help toddlers and preschoolers give you a break from the relentless questions. I recommend finding some that you all find tolerable. Two of our favorites are Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkener.

If you relax and plan for the unexpected, I'm sure you and the kids will be able to enjoy your adventures.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Utica Coffee Roasting Company

When most people they hear "New York," they think of New York City with its skyscrapers and bustling sidewalks. Some people don't realize that New York is a big state made up mostly of farmland, country villages and some small-medium cities. We have been living in the lesser known part of New York state for most of this summer. We are about 20 minutes outside of Utica, NY in a funky little farmhouse that we rented for three months. It has been a nice combination of a bucolic lifestyle with pretty easy access to quaint villages and the small city of Utica, NY.

A Utica poster at the Utica Coffee Roasting Co

Utica is like many cities in the Northeast and Midwest that thrived from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, but have fallen on hard times as manufacturing moved elsewhere and the economy changed. Utica thrived because of its location at the junction of the Erie and the Chenango Canals. It was a transportation hub and manufacturing center. Now the downtown is full of empty buildings and vacant lots (city revitalization plans that went awry) and it is bifurcated by highways that make it hard to walk around and explore on foot.

View when from the front door.

The case with some local treats.

My husband and I have a soft spot for these kinds of cities. We like to come up with schemes that could turn them around, and root for any efforts by entrepreneurs to contribute to the local economy and revitalize the city. Yesterday after the farmers' market, we visited one such business - the Utica Coffee Roasting Company. We both are fans of coffee and local food, so we immediately loved it. They carry local yogurt, Utica made bagels, Adirondack nut butters, soaps made with their coffee grounds and lots of other fun stuff. We're sorry we discovered it so late in the summer, but we'll plan on a second visit our last Saturday in New York state.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Getting Back to Our Roots

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last posted. In the intervening time, we made a 5 day trip to the Burlington, VT area to visit family, and then the day after we got back some friends came up to visit from New York City. It was great seeing family and friends, but it has taken us a little while to recuperate. The girls (ages 3 and 1) really seem to thrive on their regular schedules and surroundings, so it has taken us a while to get back on an even keel. You of course want your children to be the picture of well-adjusted, even tempered, polite little ladies while visiting family and friends, but instead our two girls took turns crying, shrieking, running away from people, hunger striking, not sleeping and NEEDING MAMA. Uggh, so embarrassing. Of course I felt like people were looking at me like I have two heads, and were appalled that I let the situation careen so far out of control (some of this might be slight paranoia - my husband seems to think they did as well as can be expected under the circumstances - they are always his little angels :). Finally after two weeks back to New York house, I feel like we are doing better. (But, we are getting ready to depart to NYC in one week. We are obviously gluttons for punishment.)

This morning we headed out to the Utica Farmers' Market. We really enjoyed chatting with the farmers, and the kids got to help pick out some vegetables for the week. It was very exciting to see the summer's bounty. When we got here two months ago, the vegetable farmers only had cooking greens and lettuce. Now there is a great selection of vegetables to chose from. I was going to make a list of all that we got to make a meal plan for the week, but decided to take a photo too. When I started this blog, it was too document our CSA share in New York City (hence City Share for a blog title), and I posted a photo each week to be able to compare each week's haul.  I decided to that again today and get back to our roots.

Cabbage, cucumbers, red chard, collard greens, purple green beans, Yukon gold potatoes, beets, zucchini, scallions, golden cherry tomatoes, and Non-GMO corn

In addition to the nice selection of vegetables, we got some bratwurst, chicken thighs, ground beef and goat stew meat. After the Farmers' Market, we stopped by Utica Coffee Roasting Co for a light lunch. It was a great morning of family time, and gave me hope that our New York City trip might actually be fun. Off to plan this week's menu...
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