At the end of 2016, I achieved the coveted Companion Pass level with Southwest Airlines which entitles me to designate one person to fly with me for free. I (of course) had many offers and proposals from friends as to why I should pick them. Unfortunately for them, they don’t live near me, so logistically it wasn’t in their favor. Being a single, wandering aunt my choices were limited. So, I went with the logical choice – my 4-year old niece, Mila. I lost some friends and family over this choice, yet it was ideal at the time. Okay so that didn’t really happen…but there was a little envy.
A little side note about my relationship with Mila – I lived with my sister and her husband for 3.5 years. I was there for her birth and like to think I had a hand in getting her to eat kale (I know, right?!). We have a special bond. I’m Aunt Brobin to her and she loves hanging out with me (but who doesn’t love that).
Mila loves hearing about my travels and seeing my pictures. She asks me all the time when I’m going to take her to Europe. That experience is yet to come, but I’ve got her on the right track. I’ve taken Mila to Tennessee with me a couple of times as my Southwest Airlines Companion to visit family and friends. We recently returned from a trip at the end of June. She’s a great little companion and makes friends with everyone she meets. Although the question of “how much longer until we’re there?” gets old, she’s a good traveler.
Traveling with a child is an experience and with the right activities and distractions, it can be a smooth ride. I am lucky to have such a great niece too. I couldn’t travel with every kid (or most for that matter). My condolences to those of you who have little terrors…I know it’s not easy.
So why did I choose a 4-year old as my companion? It’s simple really. Children learn from observation so what better way to have them observe this world than through travel? I want my nieces (and soon-to-have nephew) to not be afraid of the world and to embrace new experiences and travel. I am grateful that I embraced travel from a young age, and I wish the same for my crew. And let’s face it. When Mila is with me, I get loads of attention, and I love attention. Okay not exactly, but I love the energy that she brings.
Robin’s Auntedotes™ for Traveling with a Child
*An Auntedote™ is the sharing of my wisdom and experiences of being an aunt. I coined this phrase and will be highlighting it in various posts.
- Come Prepared with Activities. Coloring books, puzzles, stickers…the One Spot at Target comes in handy here.
- Pack Snacks. Kids have crazy appetites and always seem to be hungry. Pack some healthy snacks such as apple slices, granola bars, or trail mix.
- Remember to Breathe. Kids have tons of energy and will stress you out. They are super antsy and, “Are we there yet? and “How much longer?” are their favorite questions. Take a moment to pause and find your breath before responding. It will lower your stress level and increase your patience.
- Give up the Window Seat. I’m a window seat kind of gal. I like looking out and seeing what’s around me in the air, but when I travel with kids, I sacrifice and give it up. It gives them something to look at, and they’re less likely to annoy the other person sitting near you (since they’re not in direct proximity to them).
- Be Silly and Laugh. Kids are fearless and have great wonder about everything around them. As adults, we lose that wonder and joy along the way. Kids are a great reminder that it’s okay to be silly and not care about what the people around you may think. Remember, it’s about them. Not you. And you’ll likely enjoy yourself more.
Auntedotes™ was first coined and created on WanderingAunt.com.