Recently Gwyneth Paltrow shared some of her travel tips in her Go: Fly Better version of Goop. In fairness, she travels trans-Atlantic a lot and has a lot of hard-earned money to spend on fancy upgrades, and so really, these practices probably seem normal to her. But to me, the average American mom, I couldn't help comparing my recent cross-country flight with two young'uns (ages 1.5 and 5) in coach, with her high-falutin' first class travel tips. Clearly, her tips are aimed at solo travel (not flights with Apple and Moses) so take my criticism with a grain of salt from the no-longer-free airline pretzels.
Gwyneth says: Spray Higher Nature's High Stability Active Silver a few times around your area to help ward off germs. And prepare to endure strange looks.
I say^Stock up on baby wipes, even if your kids are well past diapers. Because yes, planes are germ breeding grounds, so you're gonna want to wipe them down about every 30 seconds -- before they dig into the free snacks, and the snacks you packed, and the backup snacks you packed just in case. After which, you'll have been in the air for approximately 7 minutes. At least you can use the rest of the wipes for creative, time consuming purposes, like crafting wipe animals or hats!
Gwyneth's friend Donna Hay, a magazine editor from Australia, says: "I prefer to fly the A380 as the cabin is much less drying."
I say^I prefer whatever plane is going to get me there fastest. And a changing table in the bathroom would be nice. Those restrooms are small and balancing a squirmy baby on your knees is ill-advised.
Gwyneth's friend Seth Friedman, a talent manager, says: "Completing the Global Entry customs program application online is tedious but well worth the time savings when traveling internationally."
I say^International or domestic, be clear on what documents you need for your children. Better safe than sorry, too! We got a passport for my daughter when she was 4 because we were cruising to Bermuda. We've never been asked for identification for her when traveling domestically but always pack it, just in case. Put all passports and IDs in a zippered pouch that's easily accessible in your carry-on so you can quickly grab what you need at the check-in counter and security. Once you're through security you typically don't have to show ID again so feel free to stow them away, right after you put your shoes, belt and sweater back on.
Speaking of, kids 12 and younger, don't have to remove their shoes to pass through security now. I always struggled between putting my kids in easily removable flip flops for security purposes versus socks to keep their feet warm on the plane. At least one thing about flying is easier now!
Gwyneth says: "The Golden Rule of flight travel is layering, which helps you adapt to changing temperature on flights and at your destination." She also recommends avoiding sweats so you're more likely to get an upgrade (because fashionable people are targeted).
I say^No matter how smart the woman is dressed, she's never going to get an upgrade with a baby on her lap or multiple children in tow. Nope, she'll be relegated to row 13 or 27, where the extra oxygen masks are housed, in case of emergency. (Did you know that's why you always get stuck in the row immediately in front of the exit row? Your seat won't recline so you can't get comfortable once your squirmy baby finally gives in to some shut-eye -- but if the plane goes down you'll have enough masks!) So wear your sweats if you so desire and wear them proudly. If you want to go the celebrity route, Gwyneth recommends black leggings, a comfy lightweight tank and a blazer. I say swap the blazer for a long cardigan.
All in all, travel with kids is daunting but completely do-able. My biggest fear was always being that mom, with the screaming children who constantly kick the seat in front of them, having a meltdown over mid-America. I have to say, I always blew it out of proportion in my mind.
While traveling with my first child when she was under a year, there were a few flights where she fussed and cried before we took off, but I purposely held off nursing her so she'd eat, sleep and soothe during the flight. I figured a few tears on the tarmac never hurt anyone. Harsh, I know. My son has always been a great traveler, happy to look at all the people around him who mostly enjoy the attention. And just remember, even if it gets bad, you'll have to land eventually and if you took Gwyneth's silver spray advice, at least you'll be healthy!