WMFW: Backwards Edition

[Please feel free to link up any helpful tip to this party! But if you are having a hard time coming up with a tip, you can go with this week's suggested theme and instead of sharing a tip--ask for one!]

So. I have a question:

I’m traveling overseas for over three weeks with my hubby and kiddos-a definite first for us.

What are your tips for traveling (my youngest is 4 1/2 and definitely the Wild Card, as we affectionately call her) on really long flights with youngish kids? In-country suggestions, things to take, etc?

[And please, I know many of you would never take your kids to Africa due to safety reasons, risks, vaccinations, etc. Now is NOT the time to tell me that. If you doubt our decision, please just pray for us.]

It’s your turn: Share a tip or ask a question!



Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Here’s one, and I hope I dont get bashed for this one…BUT my doctor told me this…When travelling with young ones, especially those who might have a heard time sitting through a plane ride, give them half a dramamine {dosing instructions are on back} It will relax them and hopefully make them sleep. My son had a ton of ear problems and ascending and descending were painful for him. This little tip made long plan rides a LOT easier on him…As long as she’s over two, she can take Dramamine.

  2. 2

    says

    I used to always pack a treat bag for my girls when they were little. I’d wrap all of the little surprises (candy bar, new CD–Adventures in Odyssey are some of their favorites, small toys, etc.) and only give them out every once in a while as needed. This will keep her occupied for a while. Coloring books. Books to read. CDs–have I mentioned Adventures in Odyssey?? :)

    I’ve never given my kids Dramamine or Benadryl, but I certainly wouldn’t be against it in the case of a long flight like the one you’ll be taking. :)

  3. 3

    says

    The last comment is a great one. Dramamine is very helpful and not harmful. We traveled to Croatia with our 18 month old at the time and used Dramamine. A DVD player was very helpful, a couple new books or toys and some snacks were very important as well. Take their favorite blanket to snuggle with. Planes are cold and their blankets may not be clean. They always seem to do better than you think they will. I think taking your kids will be amazing!

  4. 4

    says

    I flew from Melbourne to San Francisco a couple of years ago just me and my three kids (6,8 and 10 at the time) and will be doing the same thing in January from Melbourne to Vancouver. It was fine. A couple of things that I found helpful:

    1. If you or the kids get travel sick, take travel sickness tablets, especially if it is an overnight flight and you will be landing in the morning. I get sick so I did this. Unfortunately I didn’t realise my boy would get sick. He threw up taxing to the terminal at our stopover. If that happens make sure you get another sick bag. I was glad I did this when he threw up again waiting for the bus to take us from the domestic to the international terminal.

    2. Pack a spare set of clothes, pyjamas and your toothbrush, hairbrush in your carry on luggage. The clothes in case someone throws up or spills food all over themselves or someone else. The pyjamas and basic toiletries in case your bags get lost.

    3. If your flight is an overnighter, get the kids to change into pyjamas and do the whole bedtime routine, stories etc after dinner and tuck them in to sleep. If you put the armrests up they can spread out a little, just loosen their seatbelts a bit. You won’t get much sleep but maybe the kids will.

    4. If your flight is daytime one hopefully you will have individual in flight entertainment. If you do just let them watch movies and play games all flight.

    • 4.1

      Martha says

      This is great advice. We were missionaries overseas for 10 years starting when our kids were 1 and 3. LOTS of experience with travel. We had no portable DVD’s back in our day so we used books, crafts, and small toys. The dollar store is the place to go since things get lost easily. Keep a water bottle full at the end of the flight in case ears are hurting.

  5. 5

    says

    I actually went to Ethiopia last summer and I learned a lot about traveling (however, I didn’t have kids!).

    1. Get on the new time zone’s schedule asap! Plan what you do around your destination’s schedule. For example, if you’re landing in Africa at 9am, that means that you’re expected to have had a full night of sleep already. Granted, your flight might be leaving at 4pm, but forget about that. You need to drug your whole family (melatonin works and is natural, if you’d rather go that route), stay up all night the night before, or whatever you need to do to trick your body into being on the new time zone. This makes transition once you arrive, much easier. On the other hand, if you arrive at midnight, you need to be prepared to sleep upon arrival. So, maybe sleep a couple hours at the beginning of the flight, but then make a very big effort to stay awake so you’re tired when you get there. Soda and coffee for everyone! And, chances are there will be tons of inflight entertainment options (games, movies, tv, etc) to keep everyone entertained.

    2. Wear something super comfy, but also take a change of clothes. After 15 hours on a plane, a clean shirt, a washed face (I recommend buying facial cleaning wipes so you don’t need water. These are easily found at Target), a hair brush, and some deodorant will make you a new woman! Pack these on your carry-on and you can change mid-flight.

    3. Your feet will probably swell a lot on your flight! It’s sort of funny. But, some people with me had to unlace their shoes and all sorts of things, so definitely wear something comfortable! I recommend TOMS shoes. No laces, super comfy, and they slip on and off easily for airport security. (Plus, they give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you buy. Win win win). Wearing some knee-high stockings can also help circulation in your feet.

    4. Stay hydrated. If you’re awake on the plane, you should be drinking water.

    5. Take some protein bars. CLIF bars are awesome, and they really don’t taste bad (Luna bars taste even better!). These saved me on my trip. I didn’t really eat much while I was in Africa (I think it’s part of your whole system just getting shocked), but sometimes I knew I needed to eat, but I just couldn’t do the local food at that moment. It was super convenient to have some protein bars around just for those moments. Or, if you do get hungry but don’t have a place to eat trustworthy food– they’re really a lifesaver.

    6. I would totally take my 4 year old to Africa! :) There are plenty of 4 year olds that live there, and if they can do it, so can yours. Don’t let them drink the water (or eat fresh fruits/veggies that have been washed in the water), but other than that, don’t freak out. My friends took their 3 and 1 year olds last summer and they came out unscathed. I think this is a SUPER incredible opportunity for your kids, and will surely change your entire family. And, I grew up pretty sheltered in middle-class America. I thought everyone grew up like me. It wasn’t until later in life I realized how blessed I was. Instilling in your children from a young age that their lifestyle is the exception, and not the rule, is a huge opportunity. Kudos to you for blessing your kids in this way!

    Good luck! God speed!
    Kat

    ps- I’ll be in Ethiopia while you’re in Kenya. It’s close…we should hang out :)

  6. 6

    TracyDK says

    Well, I’m an Army brat, so we did our fair share of international travel. My brother was 2 when we first started traveling and was 6 when my Dad got out of the Army, I was 11. My mom made sure that we had some changes of clothes in her carry on, but we had a small duffel bag of our own that held a few of our toys. This way we were entertained on the long flight. Once you get into the air (if there is plenty of room on the plan) they can commandeer a center isle set of seats (that’s what we did, there was around 50 people on the entire flight) and we played with our cars and barbies or lay down to sleep. If there is a lot of people, make sure you have lots of crayons/pens and paper in your purse that you can whip out and let her color on the eating tray.

  7. 7

    says

    We do a lot of car rides, so here’s what we’ve figured out:

    1. Coloring/sticker books

    2. magnets, they’re great. There’s magentic games, magnet tangrams, so on and so forth

    3. New books or small toys. We always get each kid a small toy that is new for the trip (think $5 or less). And the books don’t have to be brand new, just new to them.

    4. Bring whatever comforts them.

  8. 8

    says

    I think what you are doing is wonderful! I had the opportunity to spend two summers in a row in the Dominican Republic as a middle schooler helping in the building of two churches and a school. I had to get a lot of shots and my parents had to sign a lot of waivers for me to go, I am very glad that didn’t stop them from letting me have this amazing experience! Good for you for taking your kids :)

    As for tips for the flight, snacks and a suprise travel pack. When I took my son on his first long flight I made up a backpack of little toys, games, coloring books etc. Not only did the things keep him busy but also the novelty of them being new and a suprise kept it going for longer too! Also, Mad Libs….those things are endlessly entertaining to us!

  9. 9

    says

    I think it’s WONDERFUL that you’re taking your whole family to Africa!! I love that your kids get to share in your God adventures! :-)

    Do you have any Lamplighter dramatic audio cd’s? (Or you can purchase mp3 to download them to your iPods for the trip!!) If you don’t have any, GET SOME!!! They are faith-based, and wonderfully done. Seriously–our entire family LOVES listening to them on long road trips. We even play them around town…never wanting to get to our next destination! My current favorites are Sir Malcolm and the Missing Prince (male protagonist) and A Peep Behind the Scenes (female) I think even your youngest will love them. Our 6-year-old daughter loves them!! Cannot recommend them enough! (I’m a good commercial for them, aren’t I? Too bad I’m not paid for my enthusiasm!!)
    Here’s the link:
    http://www.lamplighterpublishing.com/products.asp?dept=246

  10. 10

    Rebecca says

    Dramamine and Benadryl have the same active ingredient, although in Benadryl, it is in a quicker acting form. I would highly recommend one of them, as well as gum or candy to suck to help with the ears…and whatever allergy meds needed to keep sinuses unplugged and secretions very fluid. If the kids are game players, there are lots of travel versions of favorite games with magnetized pieces, etc. Search amazon under (toys>games>travel games) for many options. If your kids aren’t familiar with Hank the Cowdog, now would be an excellent time to buy some audio CDs to load into your MP3 players. The adults in the family might find them entertaining also! Something you might also find helpful is to research what stores/options will be available inside each of the airports you are visiting. Some airport websites have maps available showing locations of restaurants and restrooms. If you have layover time, it is nice planning snacks and potty breaks, as well as mapping the path to the next gate. I’ve never taken my kids on a plane ride out of country, but something that might help is to gradually change their sleep/wake schedule closer to Africa time. From your own experience, I’m sure you already know to prepare the kids for people touching them or to standing perhaps more closely inside “personal space” than they expect. I made many trips out of country as a child, and it was always a bit uncomfortable how much people wanted to touch my face and hair and stare at me.

  11. 11

    says

    OK, blonde moment posting my tip above, the tip for number 45 is not Brenda, but Spiritual Spring Cleaning. Sorry about that!!!

  12. 12

    says

    We took our then 2 year old to Saudi Arabia and it was like 24 hours of travel total. My hubby grew up overseas so my mother-in-law informed me… Totally take a bag of small toys that are new to her and pull a new one out every once in awhile. We never even got through all the things I brought because there was a set of 4 cars that my son just fell in love with. Just make sure you either ration them or don’t tell her there are more or I’m guessing she’ll want to open them all at once! :) And try to save some for the return or pick up something cool in country!
    Have a wonderful trip!

  13. 13

    Kelly says

    Your kids are great ages for international travel! For us, snacks and gum are the crucial items for travelling between countries. Sometimes even the “kid meals” on flights are not so great, so healthy snacks with some protein are helpful. Gum is an essential, but not given until we are taxiing, ready to take off. Our kids love to play with bendaroos – they will create things for long periods of time together and they are easy to pack. As mentioned by others, listening to a cd – Odyssey or favorite music, is worthwhile entertainment. If your flight has individual entertainment options at each seat, your kids will be entertained the entire flight and usually there is SOMETHING that is ok for them to play/watch. Our kids know our movie limits are non-existent on international flights – a special treat for them. But, sometimes the options are all trash, and a disappointment. In country – along with all the new foods they will encounter, be sure to try some Black Currant Fanta soda – our kid’s favorite!

  14. 14

    says

    We are Americans living in Singapore, so we’ve done the 24-hours of flying thing several times now. When we started our kids were 20 months and 3 1/2 (now they are 3and 5). I always overpack stuff to keep them busy on the planes. Honestly, you don’t need as much stuff as you think you do, and you don’t want to carry it all around the airport(s). New coloring/activity books are great, game systems, small toys, stickers, travel-sized games. It seems like they are always feeding us on our overseas flights, so that takes up a lot of time. My kids actually spent most of their time watching the movies/tv programs the airplane provided. Check to see if you have individual tv screens with on-demand watching on the planes. That helped a lot! Like others said, take any over the counter medications you might need (first aid kit, etc.). I searched the pharmacy section to see what I could find for kids that wasn’t liquid since most liquid meds are in bottles too large to carry on the airplane. There are quite a few options.

  15. 15

    says

    Wow! How exciting to go to Africa. That is a long time on a plane for a little one. My mom flew with us to Germany when my sisters and I were 4, 4 and 2. I am sure that was stressful lol. I think there is a lot of good advice given so far. Make sure to bring yummy snacks, quiet toys, books, crayons, and maybe a travel lite brite. Blessing to you and yours!

    I am now following via GFC, twitter, and I liked on fb. Follow me back?

    Janice
    Celebrating Family

  16. 16

    Erica says

    We live abroad and do lots of traveling. We have two small kids 3 year old and a 6 month old. Those long flights are actually easier in my opinion than a bunch of short ones, with train connections and metro connections. When we travel I always bring something new, stickers (I love the puffy ones because you can put them on the tray and peel them off, we often create stories and play with them like that, a new coloring book (personally I love color wonder products due to the lack of mess) , play dough (I usually bring a few of the tiny jars), audio books on the ipod which usually will take up lots of time, as well as videos. Of course bring some special treats. My best advice is keep some surprises and pull them out when you see you need your big guns. Be careful with the inflight movies, sometimes they aren’t the best child friendly options, and while you usually can’t see other peoples screens it’s possible to peek inbetween the seats. So I’m always prepared to distract. With older kids I know you can play games on some of the flights, books, and game systems work great. I’ve never gone the dramamine route during the flight, but I’ve used it to help my older son adjust to the time zone and it’s worked quite well. Have a great trip, I know God is going to work powerfully in your families lives. What a blessing for your family to see first hand a place that has already been placed on their hearts. Africa is one place I can’t wait to take our kids to once they get a bit older to remember it.

  17. 17

    says

    You have gotten some great suggestions already. The DVD player is helpful, MP3 player with songs they like, may help them drown out the plane noise and sleep. Little treats, both food and otherwise are helpful too. And you just have to accept the fact that it is a very long flight and you will all have your “moments”, but you will get through it (it’s a long flight for adults too!) and you will have an amazing trip! God Bless

  18. 19

    says

    I whole heartedly agree with the Bynadryl and you can get it in those strips Night time triamenic has the same active ingredient as Bynadryl, just read your labels you’ll be amazed at how many “different” children’s medications are actually the same thing packaged differently.
    Also, if you have a smart phone, there are a ton of kids games you can put on them. My 4 year old loves angry birds and it would be worth the few bucks to buy the unlock app to go with it so they can just play without having to unlock each level by passing it. There are coloring apps, Zebra paint for android, and Talking Tom and all the affiliated apps with him are a lot of fun. Most of the games for the phone are free or $1.99 and will work even with the phone on airplane mode. Even better, on airplane mode you don’t have to worry that they will go to the market and buy another app (my son has done this).
    Have fun, I wish we were doing something similar. I pray that those who think this is foolish of you just keep that to themselves, it’s really none of their business. If God told you to go, He will go with you. You are in my prayers.
    Kara

  19. 20

    says

    Maybe take at trip to the Dollar store and stock up on new toys or activity books. Every hour or so pop out something new from your bag. It’ll keep her interest and not break the bank. We’ve always had good luck too with taking a portble DVD player and letting the kids pick out their favorite movies to watch. It’s too late now but we also schedule travel time around sleeping time as much as we can. We make the 12 hour drive from Atlanta to my hometown in TX several times a year and these things are what have helped us make it through.

  20. 21

    says

    Personally, I applaud you for taking your children. You are going to open their eyes to things that most adults haven’t even experienced.

    I don’t think I would do the dramamine/benadryl route. Things could totally backfire, and you’d have a wild child on your hands

    I’m not sure if you guys use electronic devices – mp3s, iPods, iPads, Nintendo DS, but this may be a good time to get one. For the iPod, they even make a battery pack, for long flights. You could load them with movies, songs, etc.

    Are your kids big readers? I’d buy them each a special book, and not bring it out until the trip. Neck pillows and blankets would be great, and snacks/water bottles are a MUST.

    Does your youngest gal have her own luggage? I was a nervous wreck last spring, flying to Baltimore with my almost 4 year old. She was a DREAM traveler …. she was so proud of her wheeled luggage, insisting on carrying everything herself, etc. I didn’t have a moment of stress with her. She even asked if the plane was going to do ‘loop de loops’!

    Best of luck to you. We’ll be praying for you, and awaiting your reports.

  21. 22

    says

    We’ve done lots of traveling with our two kids! I think it’s fantastic that you’re taking them with you. It is very nice when the kids get old enough to carry their own backpack (make it one with wheels that can roll & a telescoping handle so that they can easily drag it through airports).

    Ipods with games and movies are great! Don’t forget headphones and charger! If your kids love reading either pack new books or an e-reader. I bought a Kindle for our last trip- it’s really nice because then you don’t have to carry tons of books with you! Pack snacks. Pack and extra set of clothes for everyone. Make sure you have light jackets (some flights I’ve been on felt like I was riding in the trunk of an ice cream cart- COLD!). A small, cozy blanket is nice for the little ones to cuddle up with. Some flights offer them and others don’t so we take ours with us. Bring a disposable camera for them- and let them document their trip their way. It’d be fun to see their perspective of the trip. ;-)
    Also nice: new box of crayons, new journal (bring a mechanical pencil so you don’t need a sharpener!), coloring book/worksheets.

    Here’s something to remember: the novelty of being on such a trip will keep your kids entertained for hours. There’s a lot to take in if they haven’t done this before. Just remember to relax!

    I would pack children’s ibuprofen, a digital thermometer, band-aids, wet wipes (just some in a ziploc type bag), paper towels (also just a few in a ziploc bag) and a basic first-aid kit (adjust your first-aid kit to suit your family). Oh, and gum. Have your kids flown before? Sometimes the change in pressure can be quite bothersome to some people. Have your kids try chewing on a piece of gum to help them out (I find that it’s most troubling at landing but not at lift-off).

    I also wouldn’t recommend dosing your child with Benadryl before the flight.

    Hope that helps!

  22. 23

    Julie says

    My son was 3 1/2 when we traveled to Europe. A portable DVD player with a long battery life was a big help on the plane. The classic cartoon DVDs we brought (Looney Toones, Tom and Jerry) were also a big hit with the children of the families we stayed with. (Little dialogue, so no language barrier).
    We didn’t know how he would react to chewing gum, so we took along tons of lollipops. They, too, helped him forge friendships among the younger set.
    We took along just a few favorite, small toys and introduced maybe three new ones during the trip.

  23. 24

    says

    I say, remember to trust your husband and allow him to share the responsibility of your children while you are on this great adventure together! I’m not a mom but most of my friends are and many of them struggle with this issue, even in the best of marriages. Have a safe and wonderful trip and thanks for hosting this cool event on your blog!!!

  24. 26

    says

    You already have a lot of great suggestions. We did a great deal of international travel when my children were similar in age to yours. We even visited Morocco. Entertainment was the easy part, but food was a bit tougher. On of my children has a very sensitive stomach, and we always had to pack some extra snacks for not only the plane, but the remainder of the trip as well. Bathrooms were a big issue. My youngest was 4 years old and had an accident because she didn’t want to break the “rules” when the seat belt sign was lit. Make sure everyone tries to go before the takeoff and landing as those can be extended periods of needing to be seated. Take a change of clothes for everyone. Also, my very modest middle child was mortified by security checks. In Germany they did pretty thorough pat downs. She’s also my only blond which made her stand out in some places. She suffered through a lot of staring. You might want to discuss this with them.

    Praying your trip is a great success and God works in mighty ways through your family.

  25. 27

    says

    Hi, thanks so much for this weekly linkup. I know the work and effort it takes, so I’m grateful.

    For your trip with little ones – I would suggest natural herbs and supplements that have a calming affect. Start giving the herbs a week or two before the trip. Make sure herbs are age appropriate.

    Gum for ears.

    If she enjoys music – maybe some head phones with her favorite tunes while she colors. Music that has a calming affect, however.

    Enjoy your time away.

    Blessings,

    Jasmine

  26. 28

    says

    What an experience for your family! For my girls, the treat bag is key. I packed a backpack for each child (so they could carry them through the airport) with special treats. I built up the suspense – having the backpacks sitting around with their treasures enclosed. They couldn’t open them until they were buckled in their seats on the airplane. An activity/sticker book (the DK sticker books are amazing), a new box of crayons or markers, a new small stuffed animal, small games were in the backpack. I would also have a pack of sugar free bubble gum to help them pop their ears during the flight. The girls don’t usually get gum at home so this was one of their favorites. I also load movies and audiobooks onto my MP3 player. Librivox has great free classic audiobooks. Good luck with your trip.

  27. 29

    Lynn says

    Awesome suggestions! We did all of those when we traveled a total of 35 hours to China with our 18 month old. Funny thing – his favorite toy? The window shade! Up and down, up and down – for hours on end. Don’t think the other passengers liked it but hey, it was that or a screaming toddler. :)

    My only other travel suggestion that I received and it was such a blessing to us. Pack a large jar of peanut butter. Even if you don’t have picky eaters, it was great to have for all of us. Nice to have a taste of home and great in a pinch.

  28. 30

    Holli K says

    You already have some great suggestions, and I don’t have any more to add, but I wanted to say that I think it’s GREAT that you all get to visit The Mercy House this summer! I wish we could take our whole family on a mission trip!

  29. 31

    says

    Tried to leave a comment last, but think I messed it up…so sorry if this is a double.
    Very quickly–
    We’ve used aquadoodle pens with those paint-by-water books (that you usually use a paint brush and cup of water with. Simple oragami instructions with scraps of paper also pass time–they can even give away whatever creations they come up with. Also have used a pack of blank bright circle stickers and given them the challenge of creating faces on each sticker. When all else fails…candy…lollipops seem to last for a while AND they don’t have to put their fingers (avoiding airport germs :)
    I think it’s great that you are willing to entrust your kiddos to God because really, in His will, is the safest place to be.

  30. 32

    says

    I say that what you are doing is WONDERFUL! Your children will NEVER forget this journey. You and your family are in God’s hands. Your in agreement with your husband. God is going to do supernatural things for you and yours doing your travels. Wow, I’m excited for you! Blessings in JESUS name :)

  31. 34

    Renee says

    Years ago, we moved to Korea with 4 kids ages 6wks to 8 yrs. We did that flight four times. Each child had a backpack with their own toys, change of clothes, and blanket it. We got a rolling one for the 2 yr old. We packed snacks for the kids since the meals served on the plane weren’t always to their liking. DS games and movies pass the time well, also card games and activity books and books to read. Take cotton or ear plugs for bedtime. Be sure to take the kids for a walk around the cabin every hour or two. This will be the adventure of a lifetime for them. I admire your strength to follow God’s will for your family. We will be praying for you all.

  32. 35

    says

    Hi there,

    After hearing that my 39 year old friend has suddenly developed brain cancer and may not ever see her boy turn 10 or her daughter, 16, I say LIVE IT UP!

    Sure, there are going to be times on the plane where your children will drive you and other passenger’s stir crazy. BUT, it’s what’s coming up, living your dreams in Africa that’s the reward.

    Take some handheld games, be prepared to read to them a lot if they fidget. Take some gravol for upset tummies and a few moments of saneness if they fall asleep. (Worked on my son, didn’t on my daughter). After the flight, be sure to include activities that your wild card will enjoy each and every day. If you give a little, they will give a little back too. I find schedules are made to be broken because sticking to it is where anger, fatigue and upset starts with kids.

    Just enjoy the bad mixed in with the good. Have fun. Live, Laugh, and Love

  33. 36

    says

    Maybe some of the adages on our post will offer wisdom for your travels? We invite you and your readers to share more adages with us if you have any favorites. Thank you and happy travels!

  34. 37

    says

    Amazing experience for your kids! I’m sure a lot of planning and work has gone into this already. Would you be willing to write a post on what worked well for you once you’re home? I’d love to have that info.
    One common refrain from friends in Africa is how badly mosquitoes bite their tender white skin. I’d have something to soothe the itchies like hydrocortisone or even afterbite as well as bandaids packed.
    I like to do “time capsule” activity bags on long trips, even for little ones. Wrap each thing separately in a napkin and then into a ziploc bag or similar, and write or draw a picture on the outside of when they can open it.

  35. 38

    KellyJMF says

    I used to pack a clear bag with stickers, scissors, tape, scraps of colored paper, string, sticky notes, googly eyes, etc. and a paper bag or too. My daughter could spend a lot of time making puppets from the various art supplies.

    Also, Klutz makes a lot of fun books with supplies attached in pouches.

  36. 39

    says

    We haven’t flown for a while but the trick to flying is take as little as possible…SERIOUSLY!!! We went to Europe with just five kids a couple of years back… they each had a backpack with a sweater (sometimes aircon is cold) and a notebook and pencils and a water bottle… that’s it… The exciteent of flying was super fun and their own tv’s nearly blew their minds!!! Then we PRACTICED walking together in a crowd and we built up from our lowly shopping mall to the city center… training them to keep their backpack on no matter what and to stick really close. You just don’t want one keen bean wandering off distracted – though I guess it will be quite easy to spot the foreigner, just guessing!!! All the best I hope your family loves Africa… and if you get distracted and decide to visit Cape Town then be sure to say hi!!!

  37. 40

    says

    Awesome – I’m preparing to go to Ghana in two weeks and will be working at a maternity home that is brand new! My friend started it and she reminds me the world of you – you two are doing the exact same thing!

    I’ve known people to take their kids to Africa and do so without worry or fear. In fact, I think it’s wonderful you are taking them!

    I pack individual backpacks of “fun” (novelty snacks, etc.) with new crayons, etc. I also hold some things back for the moment when everyone needs a little “pick-me-up”…

    Traveling mercies to you, Kristen, and may God bless your mission for the Mercy House abundantly.

  38. 41

    says

    How awesome for all of you! And especially that your kids get to share in this new adventure :)

    I cannot offer any other tips than what has been offered here…great selection of advice!

    Be sure to take lots of pictures so your kids can look back on this trip for years to come. My kiddos love thumbing through the album of our trip to Mexico. :)

    Oh yes, our youngest son at the time was two weeks old…LOL! I was definitely deemed crazy by a lot of people! But the boys were both fine and our 1 1/2 year old (the oldest) had a BLAST!

    Have fun, be a blessing and be blessed! :)

  39. 42

    says

    We only allow our children to play their Nintendo DSes when we travel. When we are home, the DSes are away and not part of their lives. So they thoroughly enjoy flying – and we have been on 8+ hour flights and 21+ hour flights without ever hearing a peep from them. My children are 9, 7, and 3. We also wear T-shirts that remind us to keep perspective: they read “Keep Calm and Carry On!” You will survive!

  40. 43

    julie says

    Our favorite travelling toy is a pack of balloons. I keep a package in my bag and blow up one or two out whenever we need to work out some energy.
    We’ve played at the airport while waiting for flights to board. The great thing is that once playtime is over, it’s easy to pop the balloon and toss it in the trash (or offer it to another travel-weary family stuck at the airport!)

  41. 44

    April says

    I’d say the momma in post #2 knows what she’s saying. I’d agree that little surprises such as snacks or little toys would be a great thing to have on hand, even perhaps a necklace made by the women in the African area you’ll be visiting. That way, your little one will feel like she belongs.

  42. 45

    says

    Tsh has some great thoughts on long travels with small kids on simplemom.net. Two of her suggestions that I’ll be using during our 14 hour drive to South Carolina in June are to have a special ‘goody’ bag just for the trip. Everything in there is a surprise and ONLY for the trip. The other tip is to have snacks on hand. My kids get what we call ‘hunger anger’…actually, we get it too. So I’m going to be making some granola bars and will have some other small, non-messy snacks for the drive.

  43. 47

    says

    Yay, Africa!! Its a wonderful place :) – though I’ve never been too far north. The Cape is the best of all, of course :)
    Hope you’re having a wonderful time!

  44. 48

    Kim says

    You may have already thought of this, but when we went to Brazil (my youngest was six at the time) I got her a new back pack and put new books, coloring book, crayon and travel game. I also put in some fun snacks that I don’t normally buy. Probably can’t do the later with the new rules about what you can take on. Anyway, I am sure you get the point. I also got my older kids new travel games and some books to read. We knew that we had 21 hours of travel time ahead of us so when we made our reservations we made one of our lay overs going to Brazil about 10 hours long. This was so that we could get a hotel room and sleep some. This was a huge help being as while we were still exhausted when we got there, we were not as tired as we would have been other wise. We did not do this coming home because we figured we could rest once we got home. both ends worked well for us.

  45. 49

    says

    My then 16 year old daughter went to Africa (Togo) in February, 2010. Have an empty water bottle when you pass through security, and then fill it up at the water fountain before you get on the plane. Depending on how long it is before you are able to get safe water to drink once you get in country, you may be very thankful for it. I’d recommend one for each backpack. (My daughter had a six-hour ride from Ghana to Togo.)

    This isn’t really regarding activities on the trip, but if you are taking carry-on luggage, pack it like you will never see your checked bags. We were given that advice before my daughter went to Africa and then her checked bag didn’t make it. Ever. But she got by because of that advice. Oddly enough, the bag showed up out of the blue about two months later.

    My daughter has since been to Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, she is leaving for Nicaragua a week from Saturday, and she is going back to Africa next February. I think what you are doing is fantastic.

  46. 50

    says

    hmmm… indiividually wrap little activities as gifts too be openned throughout flight. notepad and coloured pencils. stickers and pictures, paper dolls, lollipops to be decorated with celaphane and wool for hair and a marker to draw face lollipop people you can eat. let them count coiins in your wallet or explore the plane a bit and don’t worry too much what people think. mask for the eyes for sleeptime for little ones helps too! blessed travels!

  47. 51

    says

    Hey Kristen…it’s so ironic that I was posting today about a great travel find…the Bobble Water Bottles. These would great for everyone in your family to travel with…especially where you are going overseas. They are individual water bottles with their own FILTERS. Check out my post for the details/links. Thanks for hosting and wishing you all the best when you guys travel to Africa…woo hooo…what an adventure for you and your family.
    Fondly, Roberta

    http://con-tain-it.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/05/wfmw-bobble-bottlesmake-water-better.html

  48. 52

    says

    First, I think its great that you’re taking the kids…it will be life changing for all of you & I wish you safe & easy travel…sometimes people worry too much about the what-ifs & then they end up missing what could be the best experiences!
    Lets see, bring some comfort snacks/food that they like…these will be especially helpful if the food doesn’t agree with them at some point or they are otherwise under the weather. Bring meds from here & include some syringes/needles just in case (this way you know there safe if the need arises)…include some prescription meds if your Dr. will give you them for common ailments you might expect to get. Buy some new small games/toys & give them to the kids every so often on the trip as well as special snacks that perhaps they don’t typically get as a special treat. An extra outfit is a good idea for all…pack it in a large ziploc in case the other outfit is soiled in a stinky way (like vomit or something) so you can put that one back in a sealed bag. Even though you are out of the baby/toddler stage, baby wipes are a great thing to have as well as hand sanitizer of course. Maybe bring blank journals for each kid too & encourage them to write about their experiences/thoughts/etc. along the way…have the youngest one draw pictures & maybe verbalize her thoughts for one of you to write down. Relax & have a great & productive time!

  49. 53

    says

    I didn’t read all the suggestions, so if this a repeat, sorry. I travel a reasonable amount for work…so this tip isn’t specific to overseas or kids, but just airline travel in general. Pack an empty water bottle in your carry-on. You cannot take beverages through screening…and the price of beverages once you get through screening is just ridiculous! Immediately after screening, find your way to the nearest water fountain and fill up. Most concession stands will give you ice for free if you need it or let you fill your water bottle from the fountain. If water is too boring for your family, bring those Crystal Light (or similar) powder mixes to create a beverage your taste buds will be happy with. (Maybe that tip is only good for the US part of your travel?!) STAY HYDRATED! If you do not, it will not be a good trip…headaches, motion sickness, cramps, all the stuff that you may experience will be worse if you are dehydrated. If you are bringing a DVD player or other electronics that need power, bring a small power strip. There are never enough power outlets and it’s easier to sweet talk someone out of their outlet if you’re willing to share power. With kiddos, working electronics MAY be a big deal to you. Good luck. Safe travels. Have fun.

  50. 54

    Elizabeth says

    I’ve flown to South Africa twice now with my kids, once by myself when my son was 9 months and again when he was 2.5 and my daughter had just turned 1. I’ve done the flight to Kenya twice (we actually honeymooned there–it’s an incredible place!!) but never with the kids. I think flying internationally with the kids is so much easier than domestic. You get in-flight entertainment, more space to walk around and food regularly to keep you busy. My tips: have each kid pack a bag of stuff for themselves on the plane, no matter how random. My son brought along a small frog and windmill which he played with for most of the flight. I also like Duplos, Color Wonder books and cheap toys from the Dollar Store to pack. Always ask for juice boxes, for yourself and for the kids, as it prevents messy spills from a half-filled cup left out too long. Bring along a few simple snacks as African time and airline travel in general can be unpredictable (we had a 48hr delay coming back from Kenya once with two 6hr waits on the tarmac, not fun). We pack one carry-on with things we’ll need on the flight (pj’s, change of clothes for everyone, special blankets, toiletries) and then pack the other carry-ons with stuff we want with us but don’t need on the plane. That way we only have to pull one suitcase down from the overhead bin during the flight rather than sorting through multiple suitcases. We always have found the in-flight entertainment to be sufficient and never dealt with the hassle of bringing along a portable DVD player. Most airlines list what will be shown on the plane online at the beginning of the month you depart so you can check out the selection and make sure there is something appropriate for the kids. I’ve never given my kids medication on the flight though others will recommend it. Sometimes the altitude will give your kids a reverse reaction to Benadryl so don’t count on drugging your child. Do take Tylenol, Motrin and a tummy meds for you and the kids in your carry on as you never know when someone will need it. Enjoy! Kenya is dear to our hearts and we’re looking forward to taking our children there one day!

  51. 56

    says

    I totally and completely forgot to thank you for a great idea I’ve picked up from you- Leaving an event/party/get-together BEFORE the kids get tired/cranky/melt-down stage. We’ve applied that rule many times now and I think it’s saved us! :-)

  52. 57

    Becky says

    You got a lot of great advice- especially the ones that said to give them each backpacks with blankets, change of clothes, and some fun toys or activities (prob. don’t need to get too fancy)- But don’t underestimate the importance of FOOD! Especially for “Little Miss Wild Card” : ) (I got me one of those, too. Same age. They can be SO reasonable- until they decide to be so UNreasonable….and you are left shaking your head.)

    I’m so happy for your family to be able to share this time with you! I love how you work as a team! Praying!

  53. 58

    Jennifer says

    One of our favorite travel games is a simple word game that works for all ages. We call it “Name 10″. Just pick a topic and name 10 items related to that topic. For example, name 10 Disney princesses. Name 10 stores we shop at regularly. Name 10 fast food restaurants. Name 10 tools in our toolbox, etc. I’m always amazed at how engaged this keeps all four of my kids. Good luck and God bless.

  54. 59

    Nicole says

    We are getting ready to take a trip the next two weeks, so I will have to read through the rest of the comments to see if there are some fresh ideas I can use. Last year our family moved from the United States to South Korea. Due to the regulations with my husband’s job, he had to arrive first and obtain housing, so when it was time for the family to go to Korea, I travelled by myself with our 4 daughters. They were 3, 5, 9 and 12 at the time. Some of the things we did to make the trip and transition to a different culture were….
    -Pack their favorite snacks and drinks (I took empty kid friendly cups and filled them once we got through security)
    -Each child had their own backpack with a travel pillow, DS/ipod, coloring book/reading book, color wonder, etc.
    -We packed an extra outfit in our carry on along with soap, toothbrushes/paste
    -Chewing gum to help open up ears
    -Dress comfortably (wear cotton) bring a jacket for the plane (my kids got cold)
    -Small basic first aid kit with children’s meds (we went to china and my daughter got a fever while we were there)
    -We took a computer with movies loaded on it and did not use it on the plane one single time
    -Kleenex, someone always seems to get cold/allergies when flying and also in case bathrooms don’t have toilet paper (some are that way in South Korea)
    Blessings,

  55. 60

    says

    First of all I think it is GREAT that you and your family including kiddos are going to Africa :) Or any type of traveling. It is harder with kids, especially young ones, as I discovered last year flying to see my parents in Italy all by myself with my two kids (they were 3 and 18 mo., so younger). I won’t be doing it again by myself! The flight overseas was obviously the hardest. I thought they’d sleep!

    Having some ‘new things’, be them toys, or books, or magazines, something that each individual child likes/enjoys helps a lot. Perhaps a new game they can play by themselves as well as together. Being older this should be easier, I think, and I hope in our future my children being older will be able to entertain themselves sitted down better than they did last time. Unfortunatelly our flight had ONLY ONE young child friendly movie (that was Ratatouille) which my child had already seen. That was my complaint that everything else was young adult and adult, so for the very ones who need more entertainment to pass their time there was none available. I told my dh that for our next overseas flight we will have to get our own i-phone or i-pod or something to show little movies, books to listen to, etc. Snacks also help, and I would give them even some little sugar fun candy or other interesting treats because IMO they are hyper already and we never have them in the house or eat them on a regular basis to begin with. I am sure there are more and even better suggestions out there.

  56. 62

    Dianne says

    This is going to be a wonderful experience for your kids! I, too, think it’s great you are taking them!!! My 2 tips to share:

    1- when we traveled to Colombia, SA with my then 1.5 , 3 and 5 year old, we were told to use benadryl/dramamine also but then my pediatrician’s nurse told me to do a trial dose to see how they react to it prior to leaving. SO GLAD she did!! They had quite the OPPOSITE reaction to them! They were hyper and bouncing off the walls!! That would NOT have been pleasant on the plane! So my 1st suggestion is if you’re planning to give them something, is to do a trial dose and make sure they have the intended reaction before you go ; )

    2- As bad as this may sound, my fav things during all the airport runs were our leash backpacks. We got weird looks and snide comments, but I DIDN’T CARE. I was NOT gong to risk losing one of my kids in a crazy, busy uber crowded international airport. And my kids loved them! They are shaped like animals w/ really long tails for the parents to hold. My kids each picked theirs out, two puppies (1 pink & 1 brown) and one monkey and they packed small snacks and toys in them. They felt cool carrying their own stuff in their own backpacks and hubby and I felt at ease knowing they could never stray far.

    Have fun!

    Blessings & prayers,
    Dianne

  57. 63

    Jen in Germany says

    You’ve gotten a lot of great ideas for the trip itself, so I’ll give you one for jet lag – when you arrive try to get some exercise. The best thing is to swim, I’m not sure how it works, but swimming seems to somehow get you in tune with the local time a LOT faster than anything else!

    We do a lot of international travel, we used to live in Okinawa and now we live in Germany, so overseas flights are our specialty. The only thing I didn’t see suggested that I used were leashes – I made some from ribbon and alligator clips – to attach special loveys or a blanky to the setback in front of you, this keeps them off the floor (yuck!) I know that now they actually make leashes for binkies and sippy cups (they didn’t have those when mine was little) perhaps you could adapt one of those. I almost forgot, camelback water bottles are great, but will become pressurized and drench you if you don’t equalize the pressure (ask me how I know :D ).

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