Category Archives: Flying

Baby Lounge Envy In Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

Every traveling parent faces the challenge of helping little ones sleep in strange, loud, bright places, including airports. What if there were a peaceful, serene place for you to take your baby during an airport layover? If your next international trip takes you through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, you won’t believe the luxury that awaits you.

Unfortunately for us, our layover in Amsterdam earlier this week was less than two hours, so not enough time to take advantage of the incredible Schiphol Babycare Lounge.  I had to check it out though, so I hoofed it for about 15 minutes with Grace on my back in the Ergo just to change her diaper and have a quick peek. I discovered a tranquil dimly lit room filled with 7 individual pods, each containing a crib and two comfy seats for parents with individual lighting.  Each pod is enclosed in sheer drapery for privacy. The room is open free of charge to parents and children ages 0-3.  Besides the seven sleeping pods, the room also houses a microwave, large changing area and a bath large enough to bathe a baby in.

The Baby Lounge is in a central location in the airport and near a number of interesting attractions, making it a great spot for traveling families. One parent can stay behind with the sleeping baby and the other parent can go grab some food, pop into the free Rijksmuseum next door, or take older kids to the nearby play area or to see the Lego model of the airport.

When Grace and I popped in the Baby Lounge a few days ago, most of the pods were in use and I was so envious of those parents whose little ones were peacefully sleeping, in a real bed, during a layover. One pod was free and I so wanted to zip in and put Grace down for a rest before we boarded our plane to Istanbul. Time didn’t allow that but on our return trip I hope to make use of the lounge. Even if we don’t get to, just knowing it’s there somehow makes the flight through Amsterdam a little more peaceful.  Thanks Holland for caring so much about little ones and their tired parents.

Update: May 12, 2009 We had a two-hour morning layover in Amsterdam on our way home from Istanbul.  I had high hopes for the baby lounge since we’d woken Grace up at 4am but alas, the rambunctious toddlers in the pod next to ours made sure that no sleep happened for us. Still Grace was excited to lay for a few (very few) minutes in a crib with her blankie and Gerald the giraffe.

Even more exciting than the crib was our discovery of the kids’ playground next door to the nursery.  That room houses four climbing jungle gyms, playhouse types if you will.  Two are equipped with slides and so Grace was in heaven. I can’t think of a better way for a toddler to pass an hour just before boarding a 10-hour flight. To the mom sleeping soundly on the floor of the playground while her 5-year old boy played unsupervised, I would like to offer my sympathy (I understand utter travel exhaustion) but also my frustration. Her little boy was the one downside to the playground as he raced up and down on everything with no regard for the smaller kids (like mine!) underfoot. And really, what exactly is safe about letting a preschooler play unwatched in one of the world’s largest airports?

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The Six Travel Lessons I Learned From Baby Vomit

Just as we arrived at our seats for our return flight from Buenos Aires last year Grace, 15 months old at the time, proceeded to puke all over herself, me, my seat and the floor.  I learned several valuable travel lessons on that img_3458incredibly long, painful, smelly flight home. Let me elaborate.

  1. Kids can go from happy and healthy to horribly ill in a single moment. Grace had been in good spirits and eating well all day, despite a flight delayed by more than 12 hours (that’s another story). Like the flick of a switch she became ill and she remained sick the entire flight home.
  2. Always carry a change of clothes for you and your child. Thankfully I had done both in Argentina and I was able to slip into the bathroom and clean myself up. Since she threw up multiple times on that flight though, my change of clothes didn’t stay clean for long and I now carry at least two clean shirts for myself as well as several for her.
  3. Benadryl is a wonder drug for flying. You’ve probably heard parents say how great it is to help kids sleep on planes, at least those kids who get sleepy from it (some don’t, I’m told). Grace is of the former category and Benadryl helped her finally get some much-needed rest when her body wouldn’t cooperate. A lesser-known fact about Benadryl is that it’s an antiemitic, meaning it inhibits vomiting. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so grateful for drugs.
  4. Airplane blankets make great clothing protectors if you think your child is going to throw up on you yet again. My apologies to whoever had to wash those things but we were desperate.
  5. Flight attendants are not particularly helpful or sympathetic to sick children. We had one plastic bag given to us for dirty clothes and then we were told we couldn’t have any more as they were short. Nobody ever came to see how she was doing, what they could do for us or even just to give us a comforting pat on the shoulder. I get it, vomiting children are gross, but a cup of water would have been nice at the very least when I was dying of thirst but unable to move for hours because I was trying to keep Grace asleep in my arms.
  6. Carry on several plastic bags. As mentioned above, the flight attendants would only give us one when we could have used 2 or 3. Plastic bags are always a good idea anyway. Clothes seem to get wet or dirty on just about any flight, whether anyone is sick or not.

You can’t always avoid kids getting sick (we still have no idea how Grace got sick on that flight) but you can be prepared and minimize the disgusting factor.  For more on keeping kids healthy while traveling, read Steve’s post on being prepared.

What’s your best tip on caring for sick kids while traveling? Do you have a great (or gross) story to share? If so post it here.

Ditch Your Car Seat For CARES Infant Harness

When flying who doesn’t feel sorry for the exhausted-looking mom or dad dragging a gigantic car seat down the plane caresinfantharnessaisle? If that mom or dad has been you and you’re a frequent air traveler with kids, you may want to consider the CARES infant harness.

We shelled out the $75 for this tiny little contraption and for us it’s been money well spent.  There’s a great demo video on the company’s website but, in a nutshell, the harness converts the adult lapbelt into a 5-point harness for children between 22-40 pounds and in their own seat. The harness is small enough it can literally fit in your pocket. No more schlepping a heavy car seat down another concourse.

Here’s the Kids Go Global rundown of the harness.

What We Love About CARES

  • Small, compact, lightweight
  • Very easy to use – it just slides over the back of the seat and then the lapbelt slides right through it.
  • You know your child is safe in case of turbulence
  • It leaves the seat free so, once in flight and the seatbelt sign is off, your child can stand on the floor and use her seat as a platform for toys or coloring. Not so with a carseat
  • It’s FAA approved for all aircraft, although you may want to print off the documents on the company’s website in case of a skeptical flight attendant. We encountered one who had not seen it before but thankfully she thought it was wonderful.

The Downsides You Need To Know

  • The harness is not a substitute for a car seat in any other kind of vehicle. You’ll still need a car seat at your destination but at least with CARES you can check the car seat or borrow one at the other end.
  • It’s not as comfortable as a car seat, especially for a child trying to sleep.
  • Once the flight is airborne, you may find your child does not want to stay in it. Grace fought so hard she was able to slip her arms out of it and we finally gave up and let her get out of it except for when the captain turned on the fasten seat belt sign. A child may be content longer in a car seat since they’re used to it and it’s comfy, but on a long enough flight little ones are going to want to be free. At least with CARES the seat is free to be used in other ways as mentioned above.
  • At $75 it’s probably only for families who travel a lot. We saw some for rent on ebay which would be a good way to go if you’re not sure how much you’d use it.

Overall we give CARES infant harness two thumbs up. It makes boarding and deplaning so much faster and easier, plus we can get through the airport faster without a carseat in tow.

Have you tried CARES? What’s your take on it?

All Aboard With Milk in Hand – You CAN Take Milk On The Plane

When you travel with a toddler or small child, the idea of not having milk in hand is, well, frightening. When Grace holds up her little hand and rapidly opens and shuts her palm making the sign for milk, I had better have it ready fast or else. I’m thrilled that, to break it down with a few milk-toting tips, my blogging buddy Melissa Moog of Itsabelly shared the following post with us here at Kids Go Global:

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We just returned from our vacation in Cabo San Lucas and had a wonderful time but when traveling with baby I’m always going through a long list of things I need to make sure to pack. One very important thing I make sure to have handy is the precious white liquid called milk. Our 19 month old LOVES her milk! I was also chatting with a friend about traveling with our babies and sharing different tips on how to make our travels easier. She mentioned that Trader Joe’s carries small milk cartons that don’t need refrigeration so she takes these on the plane with her. I thought that was a great idea as long as security decides to let you keep the cartons. Personally, I haven’t had a problem at all with carrying milk through but I’ve only traveled within the US and MX so far with our toddler. I wanted to offer some tips for parents wondering how they can have that precious white liquid on hand.

Here’s what I do when traveling with milk:

  • I take the Foogo sippy cup and fill it with milk. The Foogo is insulated and keeps milk cold for several hours. It’s also a non-toxic container which is plus! It also fits nicely in the side pocket of our backpack.
  • I take a Sigg bottle and fill it with extra milk. The Sigg is a non-toxic container as well!
  • Here’s some Info on how long you can keep milk at room temp – It depends on the temperature that the milk is stored at. To be safe here are some general guidelines for time and temperature for milk:
    – At room temperature of 60 degrees F milk will stay safe for 24 hours.
    – At room temperature of 66-72 degrees F milk will stay safe for 10 hours.
    – At room temperature of 79 degrees F milk will stay safe for 4-6 hours.
  • If for some reason security asks me to dump the milk I don’t worry because I can also purchase milk from the coffee shops or cafes after passing through security.
  • If for some reason you don’t find a coffee shop or cafe to purchase milk you can always asks your flight attendant while she’s serving your drink to give you a glass of milk. Voila, you can fill your child’s sippy cup with the precious white liquid!

These options should help you avoid bursting your ear drums from a screaming toddler who knows milk does her body good! At least until her sippy cup is sucked dry again 🙂

Overall, from Itsabelly’s review based on form, functionality and frugal-ness (is it worth the money I spent) we give Foogo and Sigg 4 out of 5 bellies (5 being excellent).

Thanks Melissa!

A couple of caveats from my own milk-slinging. Trader Joe’s no longer carries the single-serve boxes of milk, at least according to the salesclerk my husband spoke with last week. Their inventory is constantly changing so hopefully they’ll have it again soon. I have consistently found single-serve boxed milk at Whole Foods in the baby food aisle. For lactose-intolerant babies the search seems to be harder. My exercising buddy Rebekah is embarking tomorrow on a 19+ hour plane trip to Singapore, then on to India a few days later with her 14-month old daughter who is lactose-intolerant. She searched for single-serve boxed soy milk at Whole Foods, Fred Meyers, Trader Joe’s, Costco and even Target with no luck. Apparently Whole Foods usually carries vanilla soy milk (she was looking for plain) but were sold out even of that. She bought rice milk in single-serve boxes instead and borrowed a thermos from me to fill with her daughter’s favorite soy milk. Fingers crossed that, between the two, Ela will be satisfied.

My other caveat is in regards to the Foogo sippy cup Melissa likes. I took this cup to Buenos Aires in May for Grace and from the beginning it leaked like a drippy faucet. Even worse, it developed a sour smell very quickly, despite frantic soakings in hot soapy water and, in desperation, vinegar. It’s hanging in a bag in my garage to be returned to the shop where I bought it next time I’m in their area. The concept of an insulated sippy cup is great but not if it smells. Perhaps mine was defective as I’ve had other friends who, like Melissa, loved the Foogo. I think I’ll try Sigg‘s child-size water bottles next as I love my full-sized bottle made by them.

For more on carrying liquids on the plane see our recent post on the TSA rules and how much you can stretch them with kids!

Liquids On The Plane With Kids: When A Quart Isn’t A Quart

Packing to take a plane trip with children is stressful enough but the new-ish TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules about liquids only add to the challenge. The current rules explicitly state that each passenger is allowed only one-quart sized ziploc bag of liquids and none may be over 3 ounces. This rule would seem to disallow the needed milk, juice, some food (applesauce?) and medicines for children so let us explain why this is NOT the case.

The TSA rules clearly make an exception for breast milk, formula and juice for children. They also make an exception for all medications, prescription or not. This is all good news but still leaves the traveling parent to question if we can bring cow’s milk or liquid foods such as baby food or applesauce.

The TSA’s website does not explicitly answer the above questions, so we offer you our anecdotal response. We have flown with Grace both internationally and domestically more than a half a dozen times in her first 16 months and we have never, not once, had a security agent question the quantity of liquids no matter how much, so long as we pack them in clear ziploc bags (gallon or smaller), pull it out at each security checkpoint and, in a few rare cases, explain the liquids are for our child. Typically we have at least 3 single-serve boxes of milk, a bag of baby meds (liquid tylenol, benadryl, etc), a sippy cup which may or may not have liquid in it as we go through security, plus a bag of various liquid-type baby foods like jarred pureed fruits or veggies. On top of these liquids for Grace we still always bring one quart-sized bag each of our own toiletries.

We can not tell you unequivocally that this quantity of liquids will always be allowed when traveling with children. TSA only says you must bring a “reasonable” quantity so it is possible what one security agent deems “reasonable” may not be seen so by another. Still we think it’s safe to say that, so long as you bring more or less what you think is reasonable, pack it in clear ziploc bags and pull it out at security, you will likely be just fine. If you are given a hard time you can always ask to speak to a supervisor to explain why you need certain items for your child.

Have you had any issues carrying liquids on planes with your children? If so please share them with us here.