How to Survive Jet Lag With Kids

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Two days ago, Miss P, Baby Sister and I flew from Detroit to Dublin with a connection through Amsterdam. Today, I'm powered by coffee and am feeling a bit like a zombie thanks to Baby Sister's midnight - 2am party (and getting sucked into netflix, but that's another story). When you travel with young children what is the best way to deal with Jet Lag? 


Once upon a time, B.C. as I sometimes call it (before children), when I flew transatlantic I would get on the plane, have something to eat, a glass of wine and a nyquil and try to sleep as well as possible for the rest of the flight. A lot of my transatlantic travel back then was for business and when I landed in Europe I was expected to lead a group on a tour shortly after arrival. Back then, things were a bit simpler and my advice was to sleep as much as possible on the plane and once you got there, stay awake until your normal bedtime on the new local time zone. Ahhh how things have changed! These days when I'm flying transatlantic I have a 3 year old next to me and my 14 month old on my lap. Try as I may to sleep, I haven't found a way to do it without dropping the baby off my lap! Every time I start to drift off, my arms relax, lose their grip and I wake up clutching Baby Sister as she's sliding off my knee, so I've basically given up on trying to sleep on the plane. Rather than drinking wine and nyquil, I stick to coffee and water and power through. Once I arrive, Daddy usually takes my girls and I get a quick nap in (at MOST 2 hours, otherwise, I risk really messing myself up) and then stay up as late as possible to go to bed at normal local time. Two days ago I made it until 9pm (go me!).

That's all good and well for the parents but how do you handle a time change with an infant or small child?

Here are a few tips to make the adjustment a little bit easier: 

Flying WEST to EAST

- When you're flying west to east (American to Europe) it's an overnight flight. Let the kids know that they'll be going to bed on the airplane. Put them in comfy clothes or even change them into pajamas when you're ready for them to go to bed. Sometimes the flights leave early enough that I would give them dinner on the plane. For example our last flight left at 4pm so they ate dinner on the flight. Other times, we are on later flights that don't depart until after bedtime so I feed them before boarding and try to get them asleep as soon as possible once we're onboard. In any case, once the cabin lights dim for "bedtime" help the kids get comfortable to sleep and let them sleep as long as possible. Usually, if I'm wearing a watch, I'll set it for the time at the new destination as soon as I'm on board. 

Morning Rain, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

 - Once you land it's morning time in your new destination. On Tuesday morning, we arrived in Amsterdam at 6am, which was actually midnight Michigan time. IGNORE THAT. We had a short layover so I got the kids some breakfast and changed their clothes in the airport, and carried on just like it was any other morning. Once you get to your destination, do everything on the new schedule. Lunch, naps, anything you would normally do with your kids, do it on the new time zone. Try to avoid letting them have a huge nap if you can. If you or the kiddos sleep too much during the day you run the risk of joining the wide-awake-club at 2am (not fun). 

- It's a great idea to spend as much time outside as possible. Take them to a park, let them swim in the hotel pool if it has one, go for a walk. Spending time outside is a great way to reset your internal clock (and the kiddies'). 

Playing in a Park at the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Flying EAST to WEST 

- When we fly from Europe to America, we do so during the day. I personally find this an easier direction to adjust to the time change. My kids seem to acclimate to the time change better than they do when we go the opposite direction. Since you're flying all day, you have more time to try and keep them busy but still try to get their normal naps in on the plane if you can. I usually do not reset my watch when we fly west until we land. Once we land, I take up on that time zone with the kids. If that means it's afternoon and they take an afternoon nap, I let them do that. I feed them dinner at the normal time and bathe and put them to bed at their normal bed time on the new time zone. 

Pro Tip - get to bed early yourself! I find my kiddos wake up super early when we go this direction for the first couple of days and since I'll be getting up early with them, it's good to get as much rest as possible to counteract that the first few days. 

 So, what do you do if you've tried all these things and your kids still wake up at awkward times, like Baby Sister did last night? Well, I like to let her ride it out. I get up with her, throw on some tv for myself and let her burn off some steam. Run around the living room, play toys, etc. Eventually, she's going to tire back out and get back to bed. The most she's ever been up in the night has been a couple of hours, and as she gets older it'll get easier. 

 My best advice is to follow these tips and hang in there! After a couple of nights at the new destination, your kiddos will settle right in.

The ONE Thing I Won't Leave Home Without

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


A lot of time when I fly internationally with my kids I do so without their father, my husband. Both of my daughters have two passports each - one American and one British, and they use both when we travel. This is important for us even though my husband and I are married and living together, but can be even more important if you're traveling without one parent and you're not married to the child's other parent, are divorced or have shared custody. It's essential that you carry documentation from both parents in case you are questioned by customs and immigrations personnel and you can be denied boarding when you're traveling without such documentation. If you do have sole custody of the children, bring along documentation that proves that you do.

As a travel agent, we had a situation at our agency where we were escorting a group of families to Mexico and one girl was traveling with her mother who was divorced from her father and without a letter from Dad was scrambling at 5am to get one faxed to the airport so she could leave the country. You could avoid that hassle by being prepared.

I will never fly with my girls without a letter of travel authorization from my husband stating the following:

1. That he is aware that I am traveling internationally with our daughters
2. A copy of the photo page of his passport and my passport
3. Copies of the girls' passports
4. Get the letter notarized if possible
5. My husband's contact details (residence, telephone and email)

I have been asked by customs officials before to provide documentation that my husband was aware  that I was traveling with our daughters. Oddly enough, it was when we were returning to Northern Ireland from Amsterdam, and the letter was SO helpful as it was exactly what the official asked for. I honestly am not sure what would have happened if I hadn't had that document with me.

Keep a copy of the letter with your passports and keep a copy of the letter back home. It's not necessary for domestic travel, but for international travel without one parent, it's essential.

For more tips with regards to documentation for American Citizens, always visit prior to travel.

My travel authorization letter - It's the one thing I won't leave home without!

How DO You Do It? My Top Tips for Flying Long Haul with Kids

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Since welcoming Miss P's baby sister to our family 14 months ago, I have flown with my munchkins on my own for three separate transatlantic trips. The number one comment I hear from people when I'm traveling with my kiddos is "I don't know how you do it!"

Well the truth is... sometimes I don't either, but I don't have a choice. Living abroad, we either make the long haul to visit our family and friends - or we don't see them.

Last week, I flew with my girls, aged 3 (nearly 4) years old (Miss P) and her Baby Sister, at 14 months from Dublin to Detroit to surprise my brother for his 30th birthday this weekend. My husband wasn't able to make the trip so I flew alone with the girlies, and dare I say, we had one of the best trips we've taken together so far. Part of this is probably due to Miss P getting that much older, but even so, Baby Sister is new to her feet so asking her to sit still for 8+ hours is a challenge.

Nonetheless, if you are making a long haul trip with your kiddos either with or without you spouse/partner, here are some tips to help make the trip that much smoother.

1. Be Prepared - Inevitably, every time I've flown with Baby Sister, she's cutting teeth. I always bring teething remedies with me, and would recommend this to anyone traveling with infants/babies. For me this includes a teether, tylenol, and teething gel. Think about what you might take out for a day trip with you and bring that along. Do your kids need spare clothes? Bring a set. Do they like to snack? Have snacks at the ready. Obviously on longer flights meals are included, but snacks are so helpful even just to keep kids entertained in between meal service. Is there a favorite soother your child uses? Make sure it comes with.
Settling in with snacks and new magazines

2. Consider the Flight Schedule - When you're booking your flight, it's also a good idea to consider the schedule if its feasible within your budget. When we fly from Ireland to Michigan, we typically use Delta Airlines. Delta offers a couple of options - either fly to New York or Atlanta nonstop from Dublin then take another flight around 1.5 hours to Michigan, or fly to Amsterdam or Paris before taking the long haul. Given the option, I will ALWAYS choose to have the shorter flight first - that way when you take the kiddos off the long haul - you're there! You don't have to have another layover and another flight.. you merely clear customs and you're on your way. I prefer this schedule to anything else, even if it means that the long haul flight is longer. It also gets us into Michigan mid afternoon as opposed to evening time, when the time change makes it well past our bedtimes and for me, tired kids are harder to manage. It just doesn't make sense to take three connections to save $25 and have miserable kids in my world.

3. Get Settled - take advantage of early boarding, especially if you're traveling alone. This gives you a couple extra minutes to get on the plane and get yourself situated. Usually, the flight attendants will check on us as well which is super helpful. Don't be afraid to ask for something if you need it, especially before the plane fills up and they're busier. I have found that most flight attendants are very willing to help out, especially when I'm alone. In addition to that, I always like to make sure I have anything that I might need within arms reach should the seat belt sign be on and I need something. For example, I unpack headphones, some snacks, drinks for the kids, something for them to play with and have it all within reach. Then I'll stow whatever we won't necessarily need in the overhead to give me a bit more space around our seats.

4. Choose Seats Wisely - Most major airlines will not require you to purchase a seat, however if you are on your own, it isn't a bad idea to pay a little extra for decent seats. For example, on this flight, we purchased seats so that myself and my girls would be seated in a two seat section, rather than stuck in a middle section for so long. It also allows me to "contain" the girls by setting them at the window with myself at the aisle. I could set Baby Sister down to stand if need be and she could stretch her legs a bit.

5. Put Yourself in your Kiddo's Shoes - I know several adults that hate to fly, and my husband tops that list. Before kids, we were half way through a flight from Paris to Los Angeles when he told me that he just couldn't take it anymore and he had to get off the plane! I'm not sure where he thought he was going to go, but he really struggled to sit through the rest of the flight. I told him to take a walk around and then pick out a new movie. Thankfully, he didn't throw a tantrum like one of my daughters might have in the same position 😆 It is boring and uncomfortable at times and kids are less able to deal with those feelings. If they start getting restless (mine did!) think of something to distract them. Pull out a new book, magazine, crayons, a snack, something to get their mind off what's going on. When Miss P started to get frustrated, I pulled up the in flight monitor which showed on the map where the plane was and where we were going so she could see how much farther was left. This led to further discussion about where we live, where we are going and where she was born, and I was able to distract her (just like the walk or movie did for my hubby!) When Baby Sister started to get restless, we went for a walk around the plane. Having just learned to walk, this was a big hit for her.

Baby Sister Settles in for a Nap
6. Relax - Typically, I have to admit to being very nervous flying on my own with the girls. What if they cry? What if they're crazy? What if..... This trip, I rather resounded myself to the fact that we were going to make the trip, everything was going to be fine, and that was that. We'll deal with any issues as they arise. Thankfully, they didn't and we had a really good flight. For us the outbound is the worst since it's during the day, when we fly back to Ireland it's overnight so the girlies will sleep. So the worst is over! I actually found myself the most relaxed on this flight as I have been on previous flights.

So I'm curious, what are your tips for flying long haul with Wee Ones?

My Top 5 Tips for the BEST St. Paddy's Day in Dublin!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Several years ago I read an article about travel bucket lists - and one of the big items was celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Dublin! Back when I was at University, St. Paddy's was a big deal. The bars opened at 8 or 9am and the green beer flowed all day. My senior year, we were in line at 7:30am and by the time we finally got in the bar they were already out of green beer! So I tucked the idea of celebrating the "real" St. Paddy's day in Dublin on my travel bucket list and thought some year I'd give it a try.
Dublin, Travel, St. Paddy's, @Awayweego

St. Patrick's Day is not celebrated in Northern Ireland like it is in the Republic of Ireland so my husband really had no interest in joining. When my college roommate/bestie was over to Ireland for a visit last September we hatched a plan to make 2017 the year to tick this off our list. We learned a few things along the way and I'm excited to share my top tips. We took the train down to Dublin from Belfast, which is my favorite way to travel there. Roundtrip, we paid 30GBP, and on the train between Belfast and Dublin, you can bring your own alcohol. We brought along a bottle of champagne, some snacks and kicked up our feet for the 2.5 hour journey. Here are my top tips for celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Dublin!
Top 5 Tips for St. Patrick's Day in Dublin @awayweego
View from our room at the Westin

1. Book Early! I cannot emphasize this enough. It is a busy time of year obviously, and hotel rooms book up. Public transportation is also limited as the parade redirects traffic through most of the city, so it makes sense to choose your location and commit, rather than booking to stay outside of the city and thinking you'll save money that way. If you're going to do it, do it right! We opted to stay at the Westin Dublin, which has an excellent location next to Trinity College AND is directly on the parade route! If you're willing to spend the money, they even have suites overlooking the parade so you don't even need to leave your room to see it. I didn't book early enough to stay there on St. Patrick's Day, so our plan was to arrive the 16th, stay the night, and head back to Belfast on the 17th to celebrate the end of the night in Belfast. This actually worked out nicely because we were in both Irish capitals on the big day!

2. Make a Plan! The St. Patrick's Day Festival takes place over several days, but the main event is the parade on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. If you want to see the parade, plan on staking out your territory several hours in advance of the parade's start at noon. Don't feel like standing around and possibly getting caught in the rain? Book lunch overlooking the parade route. The Westin Dublin offered a buffet lunch with views of the parade so you don't even have to go outside! Unfortunately, we were too late to book this. At 49 Euro each, it would have been a great way to see the parade, have lunch and stay dry! It did start raining midway through the parade. We did neither of those things and fought through the crowd for a (poor) view of the parade over the heads of the many folks in front of us.
Dublin, Ireland, St. Patrick's Day @AwayWeego
Our Hotel - Gone Green for the Festival

3. Celebrate like the locals! As we came to learn, the celebrations in Dublin were quite a bit different than what we were used to in the US. While there was partying going on, it was not the same as it is back home. The Shamrock leggings, green wigs, and Irish tattoos were all sported by Americans and other tourists. Those Irish that were out drinking were very young (too young for the pub even). For the rest of the locals, the Feast of St. Patrick is a holiday off work to spend time with the family and enjoy a meal together. There were some families enjoying the parade together, but they were fewer in numbers. As much as I love to travel with the family, I was really glad NOT to have the kiddos with me. The crowds were heavy, and there would have been no way to push a pram through the streets thick with people.
St. Paddy's Day, Parade, Dublin @AwayWeeGo

4. Get Away from Temple Bar! Everyone thinks that Temple Bar is the place to go in Dublin to drink with the locals. You will hear some Irish music, but you'll also find every other American and Tourist in Dublin, not to mention overpay for your drinks. Contrary to popular belief, Temple Bar is a neighborhood of bars, rather than an actual bar. Go and have a look around, grab a pint and move on. Head on over to St. Stephen's Green where you'll find less tourists, better pricing and more authentic "Dublin". We enjoyed cocktails at a lounge called Cafe en Seine ocated at 40 Dawson Street, Dublin. Yes, it's French, but it is a really cool location. It was voted the "Sexiest Bar in Ireland" and is a really unique place to grab a bite to eat during the day, or a drink in the evening.

5. Stay Safe! Tourists are magnets for petty crime, like pickpocketing. Even my father in law found himself a target of pickpocketing while in Dublin. This is obviously even more important when so many folks are drinking, and the streets are so crowded with people. Keep your valuables safe and don't carry around your passport or large amounts of cash. Lock them up in your hotel safe. We kept minimum cash and cards on us. I used a wristlet that I could grip the whole time, and my friend wore a money belt with her valuables tucked under her waist band. I always recommend taking a copy of your passport, as well as leaving one at home in the event you lose or have your passport stolen. With a copy, it's easier to replace!

All in all, we had a great time in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day! I would definitely do it again, but I would plan farther in advance and definitely get booked in for a lunch with a view of the parade, rather than fighting crowds.

Where is your favorite place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day??