Useful Extras to Pack for Your Next Vacation


Make Hotel Stays More Pleasant With These 9 Items

We just ended a week long vacation in Newport, RI. I have discovered a few extras to pack that make our hotel stay more pleasant. None of the items are “must haves”, but they do make your vacation a little more comfortable.

1) Soft Tissues

Chances are we’ll go through a lot of tissues in a week. Whether due to allergies or colds, we always seem to use two boxes of tissues during a week long vacation. This past week my son John and I both acquired a cold. I was so glad I had the foresight to bring a large box of Puffs Plus with Lotion! The soft-as-sandpaper tissues the hotel provided would have rubbed our noses raw! Since we drove on this trip I just packed an entire family size box of Puffs Plus. When flying I remove the tissues from the box to save space.

*Disclosure: For your shopping convenience I have linked to items I use. These links are affiliate links and when you make a purchase using them I may receive a small commission which goes directly toward the operation of this website. Thank you for your support!

2) Bottle Brush & Dish Soap

If you bring reusable water bottles like we do, you will want to bring a bottle brush. On this trip I used the bottle brush and dish soap to wash our Camelbak water bottles and medicine dispensers.  On previous trips I also used reusable straw cups and washed them out (or bottles when the kids were younger).  You can get away with just rinsing these things in hot water, but I’ve found they tend to get slimy and I’m sure the bacteria is growing without proper washing.

3) Hand Soap Pump

I really hate washing my hands with bar soap. It gets slimy, slips into the sink, makes a mess…add in the fact that my daughter, Ella, is a sensory seeker and loves to dig into the bar soap with her fingernails…using bar soap for more then a two-day stay is no good for me. When we stay in a place for more than a few days I either bring or buy a hand soap pump. An added bonus is that the soap is usually less drying than the bar soap provided by hotels.

4) Woolite Sink Packets

You could stop by a Laundromat if needed, but I don’t like wasting vacation time doing laundry. I always bring a few packets of Woolite. There are other brands of laundry soap available in sink packets, but I prefer Woolite as it is easy to rinse out. You’ll see in this post how useful having these on hand proved on our Disney Vacation a few years ago.

5) Sink Stopper

About 30% of the time we’ve stayed in hotels as a family we have had trouble with the bathtub drain plug. Traveling with this small sink stopper is easy and it comes in handy for bathing the kids as well as for doing laundry in the sink. I love this one with both a flat side and a plug side, designed to fit any sink or tub.

6) Black Garbage Bags

Toss a few black garbage bags in your luggage and you can use them to black out the windows if needed. Pack a few strips of painters tape to secure these to the windows if needed.

7) Diaper Genie Refill Pack

If your child is still in diapers, you definitely don’t want to be sharing a hotel room with the dirty diapers. Bring a Diaper Genie refill pack. Tie off the bags individually and cut with scissors to dispose of one by one.

8) Scissors

You don’t realize how much you use scissors each day until you don’t have any. I like to pack a pair of safety scissors so I don’t have to worry about whether or not they are allowed through airport security. Of course if you’re driving or checking luggage you could bring any kind of scissors you

9) Paring Knife

Like the scissors, if you’re flying you will want to remember to pack this only in your checked luggage. This past week I found myself wanting a paring knife almost every day as I tried to slice tomatoes, green peppers, apples, and peaches with a butter knife. A small paring knife is very useful if you are trying to supplement restaurant food with fresh fruits and vegetables.

What do you think of this list of extras to pack? What do you pack that might not be essential but make your vacations more pleasant?


Categories: Packing | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Fun Travel Food Ideas & Tools

travel food

Travel Food: Easy Ways to Make Food Fun

How is school lunch packing going for you? Are you still packing Pinterest-worthy lunches or have you already thrown in the towel? We just started school last week, so I’m feeling strong with my SunButter sandwiches and fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m lucky that my 8 year old, Ella, likes consistency and could eat the same lunch every day for a year (or three). Still, I do try to switch things up as much as I can, while still providing foods I know she will eat. Today I’ll share some of the basic lunch foods I send to school which also work for travel food when flying. When packing food for a flight, remember the restrictions on liquids and gels. Anything that is not solid food needs to be in container that is 3.3 oz. (100mL) or less and fit within the Quart sized Ziploc bag that you will show separately at the TSA Checkpoint.


My daughter, Ella ate a Sunbutter* and Jelly sandwich every school day for over three years. I don’t feel bad about that. We supplemented with a good variety of fruit and veggies, and we knew she would eat the food rather than throw it away. Your child might prefer more variety, so here are some ideas for sandwiches that travel well:

  • Sunbutter and Jelly
  • Cream Cheese and Jelly
  • Ham/Turkey/Roast Beef and Cheese
  • Plain Cheese
  • Peanut Butter and Banana
  • Pepperoni and sliced Mozzarella cheese
  • Cold Grilled Cheese
  • French Toast with Cream Cheese Sandwich
  • Fluffernutter (Marshmallow Fluff with Peanut Butter)
  • Packaged Sandwich Bars

*Sunbutter is a great alternative to peanut butter for those with nut allergies. It is made from Sunflower seeds and has a very similar texture to peanut butter. Be aware that although rare, there are still some people who are allergic to sunflower seeds.

Sandwich Tools

(This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through these links I may receive a small commission which goes toward the operation of this website. Thank you for your support!)

Make things more fun with a sandwich cutter or sandwich press!

Sandwich Cutter
travel food
Sandwich Press
travel food


Vegetables don’t have to be boring! I am the first to admit I am lazy when it comes to preparing food. But if your child doesn’t like to eat a boring carrot stick you might find that a different presentation does the trick. Try cut or shredded veggies to try to peak their interest. Changing the cut of the veggies also changes the texture a little bit, so a child sensitive to textures might prefer them one way vs. another. I’m going to include dried veggies in this list, because they tend to be accepted by more kids and are great for travel. Just look at the ingredients to check for added junk. I prefer buying these packaged items from Trader Joes because I know that they don’t carry anything with preservatives, food coloring, or corn syrup.

Some of our favorites:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh Sugar Snap Peas
  • Snap Pea Crisps
  • Freeze-Dried Peas

Veggie Tools

Veggie Cutter Animal Shapes

Crinkle Cutter

Sprial Slicer
travel food


There are a lot of fruits that travel well. Some of our favorites:

  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Melon
  • Apples
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Bananas

Bananas bruise so easily but are otherwise a perfect travel food. I love the Banana Saver, a plastic case that protects the banana from bruising. I have even used this to pack bananas in my checked luggage and they have come out perfect, with no bruises.

Fruit Tools

Banana Saver

Plane Cupcake Picks with Spoons
travel food


Maybe your child doesn’t like sandwiches or is just getting tired of sandwiches every day. Here are a few other ideas for packable food:

  • Hard boiled egg
  • Pizza
  • Pizza Bagel
  • Hummus & Pretzel Chips
  • Cheese & Crackers
  • Nuts (be aware of allergies)
  • Granola Bars
  • Cereal Bars
  • Yogurt Tubes (Freeze and then it will be slushy  when ready to eat. Remember if flying with these they must be frozen solid when passing through TSA Checkpoints.)

Alternatives Tools

Pizza Saver Bags

Egg Mold
travel food

Baby Food

  • Food pouches
  • Banana (use banana saver to transport without bruising)
  • Powdered food- I love these packets of powdered veggies and grains. Just add water and you have a meal! I mix this in a Boon Spoon to have the food ready to eat. Read my Nuture Me Review here.

travel food
If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, packing food might seem even more overwhelming since there may be less food available that is suitable for them. Food pouches with pureed food are a parent favorite. You can stay within the TSA liquid requirements if you use pouches that are 3.3 oz. (100mL) or less, and put them in your Quart-sized Ziploc bag to show separately at the security checkpoint. Remember you get to bring one Quart-sized Ziploc bag per passenger, so if you purchased a seat for your baby that adds an additional bag you are able to pack.

Tools for Baby Food

Resealable Food Pouch

Baby Food Scissors– Easily makes fresh food a safe finger food for toddlers

Food Dispensing Spoon– add cereal or puree to to container, then squeeze straight into the spoon.

Fresh Food Feeder or Mesh Feeder– Minimize the risk of choking; only small bits of food can get through

Airplane Spoon-
travel food
What are you favorite travel foods? Do you have any tools that make preparing food easier or more fun? Share with me in the comments below. If you have a blog post on the topic of travel foods, please share! I’ll pin it to my travel food Pinterest board.

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

SULLY: A Review

How does a filmmaker create drama for a well known real-life event in which everyone survives with barely a laceration? That is the challenge that director Clint Eastwood and star Tom Hanks confidently tackle in Sully which opened September 9, 2016. Read on to find out CSK reader and aviation buff, Jason Redd’s thoughts on the movie. Have you seen it? Do you plan to?


*Editor’s note: I (Beth Henry) haven’t seen the movie yet, so one of our readers, Jason Redd, offered his review. I thought this review was so good, including recommendations for whether or not the film is appropriate for children, that I asked if we could publish the review here. He agreed, so here it is! Read more about contributor Jason Redd at the end of this post. If you have seen the movie we would love to hear your thoughts about it. Comment below or on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page!


Centered around the successful water ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in New York City on January 15, 2009, the film explores the mental and emotional toll of the accident and subsequent investigation. While the water landing, successful evacuation, and rescue of all passengers and crew is the crowning set piece of the film, the mental toll on Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Skiles forms the heart of the film. Even as the city and world celebrate Captain Sullenberger as a hero, his mental state and relationship to his wife are frayed by unrelenting media pressure, self-doubt, and an aggressive NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation. The flight crew and flight attendants are depicted positively throughout the film, including the pre-flight safety announcements and highlighting their dedication to the safety of the passengers throughout the flight.

[Minor spoilers below]
A word of caution is due for New York City based flight crews and residents in particular. While the ultimate outcome of the accident is known, the film explores Captain Sullenberger’s repeated nightmares of unsuccessful outcomes of the flight, including graphic depictions of the airliner crashing into midtown Manhattan buildings. Given the setting, comparisons to 9/11 are inevitable. First Office Skiles and local residents reference both 9/11 and American Airlines flight 587, which crashed in New York City two months after 9/11, in conversations after the water landing.

I would not recommend this movie for children younger than in their late teens for two reasons: 1) the vivid crash scenes depicted may result in anxiety and 2) this film is simply unlikely to hold a younger child’s interest. Note that this film includes multiple graphic crash sequences, loud alarms, near drowning, alcohol consumption, and repeated profanity.

For aviation geeks, the filmmakers worked closely with American Airlines* to ensure authenticity in the details, down to the union pins worn by members of the cabin crew and pilots. Cockpit and cabin scenes were filmed in retired US Airways aircraft and the actual Airbus A320 involved in the accident, which is now displayed at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte. Scenes at LaGuardia were filmed on location; during the Runway 4 takeoff scene the well-known American Airlines hangers are clearly seen to the right, as well as the familiar orange and white jet blast deflectors around the south end of the runway. The depictions of the NTSB interviews and hearing are much more confrontational than reported and observed in contemporary accounts, presumably to give the film an “adversary” in what is essentially a positive story.

Be sure to remain in the theater for post-credits scenes filmed with the actual crew and passengers of Flight 1549 reuniting next to the accident airplane in Charlotte.


In conclusion, Sully is a thoughtful film that celebrates everyday people overcoming extraordinary circumstances while never losing sight of the hidden trauma that affects even unflappable heroes.

Read the Book:

The movie Sully was based on Captain Sullenberger’s 2009 book, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters. You can get your copy of the book here (affiliate link: any earning from affiliates go directly toward the operation of this website. Thank you for your support!).

Have you seen the movie Sully? We’d love to hear what you thought of it! Comment below!

Jason Redd


About Contributor Jason Redd: Jason Redd is a frequent flying engineering supervisor for a Fortune 500 energy company. Jason, his wife Heather, their cloud surfing daughter and son, and their Yorkshire Terrier make their home in Helena, Alabama. When not on the road or in the sky, he enjoys spending time with his family, travel, reading, church, sports, and photography. He has never met a dog he didn’t want to pet.

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9/11 Musings of a Flight Attendant


9/11 Memories:

Flight Attendant Musings and Responses


It’s that time of year again: the time when my stomach hurts and I just want to sleep all day. On this day 15 years ago my airline’s plane, a 767 that I flew on regularly, was overtaken by terrorists and flown straight into the World Trade Center. The leader of the horrific events of 9/11, Mohammad Atta, was someone I recognized from my flights. He flew as a passenger on our planes in order to learn the system and develop his plan of attack. A flight attendant never wants to think the worst of any passenger. How could we have known he was so evil?

When I checked in for my flight on 9/10/2001 I had a weird feeling. My stomach hurt and I felt like something bad was going to happen. I remember even trying to explain to someone how I felt, “I feel like something bad is going to happen, but not to me.” I wasn’t fearful. I felt safe. But I just had a gut feeling that something was not right. I wish I could have done something useful with that tiny warning.

“I wasn’t fearful. I felt safe. But I just had a gut feeling that something was not right. I wish I could have done something useful with that tiny warning.”

*If you are reading this I would love it if you comment below. Tell me about where you were on that day. What is your emotional response now? Are you able to watch footage from that day? Are you able to visit Memorials?

We Are Family

In the airline world, crew members are interchangeable. Any flight attendant who is trained on a particular aircraft can be assigned to work on that aircraft. If one calls in sick, there is another who is called to replace them. We all wear the same uniform and we all follow the same procedures. At work we are not individuals, we are the airline we are representing. That’s why passengers blame us when their travel day goes wrong and they’re looking for someone to take the blame. Because of this dynamic, when we lost crew members to the terrorist acts on 9/11, those crew members were the same as those of us who escaped the tragedy. True, we lived on through that day, so it wasn’t the same as if it was one of us, but it was close…so close…too close. Because of the dynamic of our interchangeable job, these crew members who were the first responders were our family. The loss of them made them even closer even if we had never met them. It’s hard to explain.

As a flight attendant I'm always smiling...even if through tears.

As a flight attendant I’m always smiling…even if through tears.

Where I Was That Day

I was on a layover in San Diego on the morning of 9/11. I was scheduled to fly back to New York on a 12:45 pm flight, so I was still sleeping when the first plane hit the Towers. I woke up to a phone call from my dad. Not one to create panic, he calmly said, “Do you know what just happened in your city?” He didn’t even know if I was in New York, or if I was flying that morning. I imagine he probably let out a sigh of relief when he heard my voice answer the phone. I think he told me to turn on the TV. I think I might have watched the second plane hit the Towers live, but I can’t say for sure. The rest of that day and week were a blur. I spent five days stranded in San Diego then worked a flight back to New York.

I didn’t mind staying in San Diego during that time. In New York I lived in a basement apartment in Queens. I was in no rush to get back to that gloomy place so close to Ground Zero, with ash and smoke still hanging in the skies. For about a month flying was really hard. I didn’t feel like flying was less safe, but the reminders of the tragedy had me (and all of the crew members) bursting into tears at inopportune times. Sometimes right in the middle of the meal service, or when making the announcement, “Welcome to New York” [racking sob]. Not very professional. Ever so difficult. But we got through it, because it was our job to put on a brave face and just continue to provide service and protect our passengers.

Where I Am Today

Yesterday I laid down on my daughter’s bed and fell asleep so I could escape. When I woke up I looked out the window and watched the trees blowing in the wind. I imagined the wind being the breath of our beloved crew members who died on 9/11. When the breeze picked up it seemed angry.

There are so many wonderful memorials and events recognizing the First Responders to the terrorist attacks on 9/11: Firefighters, Policemen, EMTs…but very few acknowledge the First Responders who were the very first responders. Flight Attendant Betty Ong used the in-flight phone to report what was happening. She maintained her professionalism to the end, using those last minutes to report such useful information rather than calling family and loved ones, as most of us would. Flight Attendants and Pilots aren’t even recognized as first responders at the 9/11 Memorial. 9/11 Family Members and Rescue Workers get free admission, FDNY/NYPD/PAPD get discounted tickets, but flight crews have to pay full price. There is more than a little bitterness about this in the airline world.


Prices for the 9/11 Memorial…Flight Crew left out as first responders.

..I just took a moment and started reading the transcript of Betty Ong’s phone call…I can’t. It happened 15 years ago but it might as well have been yesterday. I can’t read it….

Recently another flight attendant told me that she was flying with a new hire who was just 20 years old. He was five when the tragedy occurred. He doesn’t really know about it. He told her, “Wasn’t it really just a set up? I don’t think it really happened.” Oh. My. Gosh. I don’t know how I would react if someone I was flying with told me that. I seriously don’t know. I really might punch them. *Note to young crew members: if you believe the conspiracy theory junk about 9/11 keep it to yourself. 



A few months ago I visited the NYC Fire Museum. They had two rooms filled with 9/11 memorabilia, photos, and artifacts. I couldn’t look at the photos at all. When I entered to room with photos and artifacts at first I had to run out. After composing myself I tried again. I was able to view the artifacts but not the photos. Seeing a piece of “my” airplane led me to sobbing. I figure I’m not the only one, as there were Kleenex boxes placed in the room. I want to do go to a memorial or gathering to honor those lost, but I’m not sure if I can. I’m afraid I’ll have to run away sobbing. I definitely don’t feel ready to view the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. I don’t know if I ever can do it.

You would think that with each passing year this anniversary would be easier, but it’s not. Every year we flight crew members are caught by surprise by our reaction and emotions because each year they change and different things trigger a reaction. Right now I’m feeling dizzy as I try to find a way to summarize and close this post. I’m sure it’s not a healthy response, yet I just have to run away from the feelings once again. As memories and statements about 9/11 are spread across social media today I will go back and forth between scrolling past as fast as I can and reading with heartfelt response. I’ll want to talk about it one moment and then want nothing to do with it the next.  I never know until that moment if I can handle the memories or not. The one thing that I do always know is that I cannot watch any of the footage from that day. The TV must be avoided altogether. And the movie? That’s something I know I can never watch.

                        “I’ll want to talk about it one moment and then want nothing to do with it the next.

                                I never know until that moment if I can handle the memories or not.”

Building Community

Does any of this make sense to you? Can a response to great tragedy ever make sense? If you’re a crew member, are you able to face the memories brought up by visiting the 9/11 Memorial, or do you still have to avoid it like I do? Where were you on 9/11? Share your story in the comments below. What you have to say may be helpful to others.


Categories: Flight Attendant Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Stay Healthy When Flying: 5 Simple Ways

Flight Attendant Secrets: 5 Ways to Stay Healthy When Flying

stay healthyIt can be tough to stay healthy when flying. With the dry air in the airplane, exposure to billions of germs from other travelers, inconsistent sleep schedules, and preservative-filled food, our bodies are in full defense mode when we travel. Flight attendants, pilots, and frequent fliers have to really make an effort to stay healthy when flying. How do they do it? I’ve been a flight attendant 16 years and I’ve had my share of illnesses due to flying, but I’ve found a few things that seem to help ward of illness. Here are 5 things I do to stay healthy when flying:

1. Stay Hydrated

I know you hear this one from everyone, but the importance of staying hydrated cannot be emphasized enough! I’ve noticed that when I’m dehydrated I start to crave sugary drinks, does this happen to you? If I’m well hydrated I tend to eat healthier and make smarter choices about what I eat and drink. When I’m traveling for work I try to avoid eating junk food, but when I’m traveling with my family if there’s a decadent dessert calling my name, I’m going to enjoy it! Staying hydrated helps to counteract the other junk I might be consuming.

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through these links I may receive a small commission which goes towards the operation of this site. I appreciate your support!)

2. Take Vitamin Supplements

Probiotics are a supplement proven to help keep us healthy. The chewable option works best for me so I use is Culturelle Chewable Probiotics. I’m not very good about taking vitamin supplements regularly, but what I do take is Airborne Effervescent Tablets. These tablets contain many vitamins and minerals that support the immune system. They dissolve in water and create a tasty, bubbly drink. My husband often gets migraines when he flies, but he has discovered that the headaches are less intense when he takes Airborne at the start of the flight. Airborne is labeled for ages 12 and up, but you can ask your pediatrician if your child younger than 12 could take half a tablet on days surrounding travel to help boost their immune system. Airborne also has a children’s formula.

(Always look at the supplements you are taking for proper dosage. If you’re taking prescriptions, check with your doctor or pharmacist for compatibility between supplements and medications.)

3. Use a Travel-Sized Oil Diffuser

I’m not a huge “oily” person, but I have found positive benefits from diffusing oils. This travel-sized diffuser has some great features at a fair price.  One of my favorites to use both at home and in the hotel room is Thieves, by Essential Oils. The only problem is I really hate the name “Thieves”. Yes, I know the origin, but I think it’s stupid. That’s just me. I don’t know if it actually bothers anyone else. Once I had a sore throat and my friend brought me some Thieves spray. But, knowing how much I hate the name, she taped a label over it, marked, “Get Well”. So thoughtful! Only a true friend would do that. If you’re like me and hate the name “Thieves”, I found this similar oil blend, Health Sheild, available on Amazon.

4. Get Sleep

I know, it’s easier said than done. When I’m prepping for family travel I often am up half the night, not only packing but also trying to get the house in decent order before we leave. If you struggle with sleeping when away from the comforts of your home, read my 5 Hotel Sleep Solutions.  The oil diffuser mentioned above can help with sleep too. Just bring some oils that are relaxing to you. Here is an oil blend designed to help you relax if you want an idea of a oil blend to try.

5. Relax

One of the biggest attacks on our immune systems is stress. Traveling is stressful, but everything you can do to counter that stress is helpful. Even five minutes of stretching before bed can help. When I’m traveling with my kids, the best way for me to remember to relax is to follow the pace of my 8 year old daughter, Ella. She is an observer. She notices every detail of everything and finds beauty in it all. I have learned that trying to rush her backfires and then extra time is wasted. Instead of rushing, I learn to observe what she sees and find the beauty in it for myself too. If you can start to look at things through the eyes of a child, finding beauty in the ordinary, then you can find a  moment of relaxation. Stress takes a back seat when you find the beauty that Ella sees in the world:

stay healthy

Do you have tips for ways to stay healthy when flying? I’d love to know what works best for you! Comment below or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page! Be sure to visit this website every Tuesday, where I post a new travel tip every week.

Happy Cloud Surfing!

stay healthy

Categories: Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Expedited Passport in NYC-

ExpeditedPassport NYC

What to Expect and What to Do While You Wait

If you need to get an expedited passport in NYC, I’ll share with you what to expect as well as ideas for what to do while you wait.  As a flight attendant I am required to have a passport for flying, so I didn’t have time between to renew by mail. I headed to the passport office in NYC to get my passport in a day. Do you need a passport in a rush? Reasons to get an expedited passport at a passport agency include: life or death emergency, traveling within two weeks or need a foreign visa within 4 weeks, and flight crew members. If you need your passport within six weeks you don’t have to visit a passport agency, you can expedite at an acceptance facility or by mail. If you need your passport within a day, you must go to a passport agency.

*TIP: There are passport expeditors and courier companies that charge an additional fee to have your passport expedited. It is not necessary to use these services as they charge an additional fee on top of the expedited fee and you are still required to appear in person is using a DS-11 form. Learn more here.

Scroll to the end of this post to hear my video recap of my day as I obtained my expedited passport in NYC.

4 Steps Before You Go:

Step 1: Find a Facility

The first step is to locate your nearest passport facility. You can search your location at this link: Find a Passport Facility.

(This post contains information specific to an expedited passport in NYC. Each agency may be different. I am not familiar with any other agency, so be sure to ask any questions you have when you call for an appointment.)

Step 2: Make an Appointment

At most passport facilities you are eligible to schedule an appointment with proof of international travel if you are traveling internationally in less than 2 weeks or need to obtain a foreign visa within 4 weeks. Typically passports are processed within 1-8 days, depending on need. Will call (pickup) service is available for life or death emergencies and immediate international travel. Some passport agencies permit walk-ins, but it is best to call this number to verify that it is permitted at your nearest passport agency before just showing up. The agent you speak with will help verify that you meet the requirements for an expedited passport.

I actually did not have an appointment when I went to get my passport expedited. I had tried to make an appointment, but there weren’t any available on the day I had free. I got to the NYC Passport Agency at about 10:30 am and this was the line for walk-ins, wrapping around the corner of the building with another 20 or so people.

Expedited Passport NYC


The line moved fairly well, but it took just under an hour before I entered the building. Those with appointments were walking straight into the building. Making an appointment will definitely save you time.

Step 3: Get Passport Photos

Expedited Passport NYC

You can get passport photos at most drug stores and some post offices in your area. If needed, there is a drug store across the street from the Passport Agency where you can obtain a photo. Be sure your photo meets all of the requirements. You can find examples of acceptable passport photos here.

Step 4: Fill Out Forms

Only Form DS-11 is accepted at a passport agency. The first pages of this form list what you will need to bring with you, including: Proof of U.S. Citizenship, Proof of Identity, Recent Color Photograph, Passport Fees, and Proof of Immediate Travel (or reason for expedited processing).

*TIP: I made some mistakes on my form and used Wite-Out to correct them. I learned that Wite-Out is not allowed and I had to fill out a new form there. If you make a mistake, you may cross out the mistake with just one line and correct it.

Appointment Day: What to Expect

When you get to the passport agency, you may see two lines: one for walk-ins and one for those with appointments. Every day is different, but when I was there without an appointment I waited about an hour before entering the building. Once you enter the building, you go through a security line exactly like the TSA checkpoints at the airport. Food and drink are not permitted. Once you clear security you stand in another line to turn in your paperwork. Again there are two lines: one for appointments and one for walk-ins. I waited about 40 minutes in the walk-in line before my paperwork was checked. Here the agent verifies you have all the correct information with you then gives you a number and sends you upstairs.

*TIP: There are public restrooms in the first lobby you enter. You’ll want to use these before heading upstairs so you don’t waste time going up and down the elevators and potentially miss your number being called. The restrooms have changing tables both in mens and ladies rooms. The toilet paper is about half a ply. You might want to bring your own tissues, especially if you have kids with you who might get very frustrated at the toilet paper falling apart. We use one-ply at home, and this t.p. is makes one-ply feel luxurious.

Expedited Passport NYC

Once upstairs, you take a seat and wait for your number to be called. When I was there two waiting rooms were available. The front room, where the agent windows were located, had signs stating no cell phone use. Electronics were permitted, just no talking on the phone. The back room didn’t have those signs and it was a little bit hard to hear the announcements of which number was up next, as some children were playing on iPads without using headphones. My number was called within about ten minutes and I went to a window to submit my forms and payment to an agent. Once processed, the agent gave me a receipt and number and told me a window of time when I could return to pick up my passport. This time varies per person, based on how immediate the need for the passport is. Most people I saw were told to return the next day for their passports. Those (like me) who needed their passport the same day were given a three-hour window in the afternoon in which to return for their passport. I was told to check back between 1-4.

I returned at 3 and still waited until 4 for the passport. When you return to pick up your passport, you can stand in a line to check on the status of the passport. I did, and was told my passport wasn’t ready yet. I sat down and waited, coloring and reading a book, until my name was called. They called about twenty names at once, so I again stood in a line to wait to collect my new passport. They reminded me to check my new passport for accuracy before leaving the building. Then I was free to go, new passport in hand, and ready once again for international travel!

Expedited Passport NYC

Appointment Day: What to Do While You Wait


After submitting my forms and payment, I decided to head out of the building and spend my waiting time with something enjoyable. First I looked for a good place to eat. I am so glad I asked someone on the sidewalk for recommendations! Someone local to the neighborhood told me I should eat at Westville, which was just diagonally across the street from the NYC Passport Agency, and I was not disappointed! The food was wonderful. I had this Sweet Chili Rice Bowl and Sweet Potato Tots, and it was fantastic!  I happened to arrive just before the lunch crowd, which was perfect as once the lunch crowd hit there was about a thirty minute wait for a table. The menu was diverse and had several kid-friendly options.

Expedited Passport NYC

Children’s Museum of the Arts

Expedited Passport NYC

After lunch I walked around the corner to check out the Children’s Museum of the Arts. Since I didn’t have the kids with me I only checked it out from the lobby. This museum looks so fun! It has different rooms with different media types and is hands-on. Children can sign up for workshops in each different art form and there is a teacher in each room to guide the child. I definitely will visit here with the kids sometime soon! If you stop here with the kids, I would expect to spend at least two hours exploring.

NYC Fire Museum

My next stop was the NYC Fire Museum. What a great place! The building is an old firehouse and it has 5 display rooms, filled with vintage fire trucks and artifacts. There is a section where you can don a firefighter uniform and snap a picture.

Expedited Passport NYC

There is a two-room display with artifacts and memorabilia from 9/11. As a flight attendant it was difficult for me to enter these rooms. I loved looking at the things like a stained glass picture which was a gift from a group of students to the NYC Fire Department. But when it came to looking at pictures from that day I found it completely impossible. I ran from the room a few times before I was able to return to look at the artifacts in the cases. Seeing a piece of “my” airplane was really tough to handle. By ignoring the photos on the walls I was able to tolerate being in the room for about five minutes before I ran out, sat on the floor, and sobbed for a few minutes. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this reaction, as there were several boxes of tissues placed around the room. If you are visiting the NYC Fire House Museum with children, I think the 9/11 rooms are not too much for the children. But I cannot say for sure, since I’m not sure how much was shown in the photographs. I recommend asking when you enter if you have a sensitive child. It is easy to go through the museum but skip that room if need be.

There was so much to see in the Fire House Museum. I spent over an hour there and could have spent even more time. I will try to write a complete review and share more photos soon.

Expedited Passport NYC

So, your long wait for your passport doesn’t have to be spent sitting bored in a chair! Get out and explore! There is lots to do in the area!

Video Recap of My Day:

Question for you:

Have you ever had to secure a passport in a rush like this? Was your experience similar? I’d love to hear about it, especially if there were differences in the process for you. Comment below or send me a personal message on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

If you read this post and found it useful I’d love to hear that too! When you comment on this post it helps make the post more visible to others searching for this information. It also helps me know what tips are useful or not so I can provide better information for others reading.

Happy Cloud Surfing





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10 Unique Travel Toys for Ages 3-6

Planning a flight with a child between ages 3-6?

Here are 10 unique travel toys for your busy bag for your next flight.

A friend of mine just sent a message asking if I had any ideas for birthday presents for her friend’s 4 and 5 year old boys. They will be flying soon from New York to the West Coast and then on to Australia, so she was trying to come up with gifts that would be great for the upcoming flights. In my list below I try to suggest unique travel toys unlike the standard suggestions for travel activity bags. Some of these are educational, some help develop fine motor skills, and some incorporate proprioceptive input, which helps calm your nervous system. Some include all of the above and some are just plain fun. (Click here for ideas for other ways to incorporate proprioceptive input aka “heavy work” in order to help your child be calm when flying.) I tried to also keep the suggestions lightweight so that the carry on bags are not too heavy.

Unique Travel Toys










With two kids close in age, I recommend packing just one busy bag with activities that will interest both children. The unique travel toys below would work for that purpose. I’ve got to say, even though these are all appropriate for ages 3-6, my 8 year old would like them all too. And even I would enjoy at least half of them. What’s your favorite? Comment below; I love to hear what readers think of my suggestions.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through these links I may receive a small commission which goes toward the operation of this website. I appreciate your support!

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1. Peg Board Set-Kids Corner Lacing Colors & Shapes ($22.95)

unique travel toys
For travel I love toys that have multiple uses. This peg board set is great for sorting, stacking, lacing; matching, following patterns; adding & subtracting. I love that it has a foam board, which is very light and durable. The kit includes a small carrying bag and weighs only 12 ounces.

2. Balancing Bird Toy ($6.71 for 12)

unique travel toys
This fun toy sneaks in a lesson about the center of gravity. Watch your kids be mesmerized as they balance this bird on their fingertip, nose, forehead, elbow(?). This toy is really fun and like some others here, it’s great for kids of all ages.

3. TOOB Toy Figurines ($11.99)

unique travel toys
My 3 year old son loves playing with his Marvel Superheroes, and can entertain himself for hours with them, but on the plane I had to stop him from being too loud playing with them because they were fighting. Instead of Superheroes, try animal figures. These baby animal figures are great for creative play and small enough to travel with yet big enough to keep track of. You might have to separate the predators and prey, though. LOL!

4. Wikki Stix Travel Fun ($5.25 plus free shipping on orders over $25)

unique travel toys
I used to always recommend a small Play-Doh Activity set (like this Disney Frozen Olaf play set) for flights, but having to keep the Play-Doh in a separate bag with your liquids and gels (for TSA Security Checkpoints) can be a hassle. Wikki Stix are wax sticks that can be twisted and molded into shapes. Great for all ages, this kit comes with an 8-page booklet of travel related activities. You can color on this booklet with dry erase markers) as well.

5. Poly-Gonzo Geo Twister Fidget Toy ($6.12)

unique travel toys
This is one of my favorite things for a busy bag. It is really light (only 0.8 ounces) so it doesn’t weigh down your bag. The kids love twisting and turning it to create new shapes and it provides a soothing effect.

6. Mini Buddha Board ($13.90)

unique travel toys
On this board you draw only with water! When the water dries, the drawing disappears and you have a clean slate for more art. Tip #1: I like to use a contact case for a water dish. It’s much less likely to spill than a plastic cup and since it doesn’t hole much water it’s not such a big deal if it does spill. Tip #2: if your child gets frustrated at the disappearing image, offer to take a picture of their masterpiece before it dries so their artwork can live on forever.

7. Peaceable Kingdom Wipe and Write Games to Go ($9.99)
unique travel toys

I always travel with a few dry-erase markers, which can be used to draw on car or airplane windows or compact mirrors in a pinch. I love this activity book by Peaceable Kingdom that includes a dry-erase marker. This one is geared for ages 3-6.

8. Oobi Finger Puppets ($6.09 for 12)

unique travel toys
When I pack a busy bag, I like to pack a lot of variety in a small space. These Oobi finger puppets are fun for everyone, allowing kids to use their imaginations. As a flight attendant, I give these out to my child passengers sometimes. I like how easy they are to carry around, you can even through a few into your purse for “emergency” entertainment for the kids. These would make good party favors too!

9. B. Beauty Pops Jr. ($11.99)

unique travel toys









I saw these at Target recently and snapped a picture to remember them because I think they make a really great travel toy. These pop beads have lots of different shapes to capture your child’s attention and they help build your child’s fine motor skills. Self contained in a small tube, these are easy to pack and clean up.

10. Travel Spirograph ($7.99, on sale from $9.99)

unique travel toys
Here’s a unique travel toy! This travel Spirograph includes 6 precision wheels, 2 pens, and 24 pieces of paper. There is a drawer that contains all the pieces for easy transport. 3×3 Post-It Notes will work for a paper refill too!

Bonus Tip: Places to look for good travel gifts:

Anytime I’m shopping, I keep a look out for good travel toys. I usually find my favorites at Michael’s and Target. At Michael’s I find the best travel items in their summer camp activities and their Christmas stocking stuffer activities. I always am sure to check toward the end of the season for good sales (50% to 80% off) on this seasonal merchandise. At Target there is almost always something to be found in the Target Dollar Spot that is good for travel. One of my all time favorites I found there was a small booklet of Dr. Seuss Dry-Erase coloring sheets. The booklet fell apart which was actually nice, because now I just carry two or three of the sheets and a couple of dry erase markers with me and it’s light and easy.

Do you travel with unique busy bag items? Maybe something you don’t often hear suggested? I love hearing reader’s ideas! Tell me about it in the comments below!

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unique travel toys



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More Mistakes to Avoid When Flying With Infant

more mistakes to avoid

10 More Mistakes to Avoid When Flying With Infant

Last week I shared 13 Mistakes to Avoid When Flying With Infant. If you missed it, you can read it here.  There are more mistakes to avoid! But don’t let this lists of “dont’s” make you worry more, just see them as travel tips and use them to help you enjoy your flight. If your first flights with your baby turn out to be horrible, realize that each flight in the next several years is going to be different and your baby’s behavior in flight will be changing at each age and stage. Just like when you are at home or visiting the playground or store, do what you can to prepare but don’t stress about the twists and turns along the way. Every day with your infant is something new. Enjoy it!

If you are preparing for your first flight with your baby, welcome to the exciting world of cloud surfing! Flying with babies can be stressful, but enjoy the journey. Take the time to notice the little things that excite your baby, accept help when it’s offered, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Even though your baby won’t remember these travels, you are still creating in him/her a love for exploring.

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your shopping convenience. When you make a purchase through these links I may receive a small commission which will go toward the operation of this website. Thank you for your support!)

more mistakes to avoid

1. Putting Soiled Diaper in Seat Pocket

Putting a soiled diaper in the seat pocket, even if it’s in a bag, is highly unsanitary. The proper thing is to place it in a bag and then in the lavatory trash can. If you are unable to do that, please take it with you in your bags to dispose of after the flight. Cabin cleaners might not see the diaper you placed in the seat pocket and it will be quite a disgusting surprise for the passenger on the next flight. Yuck!

*Travel Tip: You can make your own travel-size diaper bags by simply cutting sections from a diaper pail refill.

2.  Handing Soiled Diaper to Flight Attendant

As parents we get so used to used diapers that they are no big deal. But if you think about it, it’s pretty gross to hand a soiled diaper to someone and expect them to touch it. When the flight attendants come through the aisle to collect garbage, they are not looking for waste products. Don’t be offended if your flight attendant makes a face when you offer her a wet or soiled diaper. Imagine what your reaction would be if someone handed you their used Depends or bedpan!

3. Changing Baby’s Diaper at Your Seat

I understand that sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. I have changed my baby’s diaper on my own lap before. But changing your baby in the seats where other people will be sitting is not considerate. Even if you are using a changing pad, accidents can happen. If it is a dirty diaper you should also be considering the smells you are releasing into the aircraft cabin. Many airplane lavatories have changing tables. There are a few planes that do not, however. It is a challenge, but the best way to change a baby if there is no changing table is either by placing your changing pad on top of the toilet lid, or just holding your child in the lavatory and doing a stand-up diaper change. The first time I accomplished the stand-up diaper change I felt like Wonder Woman. If I can do that, then I can do anything!

4. Not Bringing a Change of Clothes for Everyone

You just never know when that first diaper blow out or projectile vomiting will occur. On one of my flights a child (who had shown no signs of illness before the flight) vomited all over his mother right after takeoff. It was a six hour flight and she had no change of clothes with her! I actually loaned her the only spare shirt I had, which was several sizes too small for her, but at least she could escape sitting in vomit for 6+ hours!

5. Forgetting Diapers/Bottles/Wipes

I flew so much with my daughter, Ella, when she was a baby, she earned elite status at 10 months old. As experienced as I was, I still once made the mistake of leaving her bottles at home. Luckily we lived very close to the airport and a neighbor brought them to us before the flight.  Another time we were flying two trips back to back with just two days home in between and I forgot to replenish the diaper supply. I got on the plane realizing I had no diapers at all. The airlines do not typically carry diapers, wipes, or formula, so you really need to triple check that you have packed these. Always pack at least twice as much as you think you’ll need for your travel day in case of delays or diversions. Airport sundries shops do usually sell a small pack of diapers and wipes, but all I have seen is a pack of two size 3 diapers and about 10 wipes.   I have never seen formula sold in U.S. airports.

6. Improperly Installing Car Seat

There are so many different styles of car seats, so installation can be different for each one, but some basic things you need to know about installing your car seat on a plane:

  • All car seats must be in a window seat or not between a passenger and the aisle. This is a FAA mandatory rule.
  • Infant carrier car seats should be rear facing.
  • Convertible car seats can be either rear or forward facing but you need to follow the car seat guidelines on height and weight when considering the safest method. Infants should always be rear facing.
  • Infant carrier bases are just for convenience in snapping the seat in and out of the car. They are not important for safety and you don’t need them on the plane. If you don’t expect to be driving very much on your vacation, I advise leaving the base at home. It’s one less thing to worry about. Just be sure to read your owner’s manual for instruction on proper car seat installation without the base so you know you are doing it the right way.

7. Worrying About Breastfeeding in Public

There are so many stories out there about people shunning mothers who breastfeed in public. But you should know that most of the time, I would even go so far as to say 95% of the time, no one takes issue to you breastfeeding your child. Do whatever you need to do to keep your baby happy. Some tips for discreetly breastfeeding while not hiding your baby can be found here: Tips for Breastfeeding on a Plane.

8. Expecting the Airline to Provide Blankets

Be sure to bring a small blanket for your infant. The muslin cloth blankets are great because they are light and thin and can be used in many ways. Most U.S. Domestic Airlines no longer provide blankets in the economy cabin except on the longer transcontinental flights.

9. Bouncing Baby During Turbulence

On more than one occasion I have seen parents bouncing their baby up in the air during turbulence. My best guess is they are trying to make the turbulence fun, but you need to realize this is a very dangerous thing to do. If there is even a medium “bump”, the baby could easily crash right into the ceiling. The safest place for a baby during turbulence is buckled in the car seat.

10. Pushing Your Baby Onto Others Who Haven’t Shown Interest

This one is hard for me to add, because I really love babies. When my first born was only a week old I was in the parking lot at Babies R Us. Even though I had my own precious baby, I had to look at every other baby I saw in the parking lot. But the truth is, not everyone adores babies. I figure it’s probably the way I look at cats. I see a cute cat picture and start to say, “awww!” and then it turns into an “ewww, cat!” before I can stop myself (no offense to cat lovers).   Even if your baby is the cutest baby on earth, some people are just not “baby people”.  So share your baby with people who show interest, but don’t be offended if there are some people who just look the other way.

Are you guilty of any of these mistakes when flying with infants? Can you think of any others to add? We’d love to hear your stories! Share with us in the comments below. Maybe a new parent will learn something from your experience!

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Mistakes to Avoid When Flying With Infant

mistakes to avoid

13 Mistakes to Avoid When Flying With Infant

Travel like a pro when you know what mistakes to avoid when flying with infants. As a flight attendant mom I have either made these mistakes or observed them on my flights. This post is the first of a two-part series. Every Tuesday I publish tips for flying. Be sure to check back next week for 13 more mistakes to avoid when flying with infants. Once you know these mistakes to avoid, you will feel confident and prepared when flying with infants.

mistakes to avoid

1. Not Packing Enough

When you’re flying with infants you need a lot of stuff. That doesn’t mean you have to weigh yourself down with tons of extras, but you need to be prepared for all the many ways your travel day could change from what is expected. Always have a change of clothes for you, at least two sets of clothes for the baby, three times as many diapers as you think you will need, several bottles (if your baby is bottle fed), extra formula, and at least a liter of water (especially if you are nursing: hydration is so important). You never know when your two hour flight could become an unplanned overnight stay because of mechanical problems, severe weather, or flight diversions. Airport shops do not typically carry more than one size diaper (I usually see size 3) and baby formula is a very rare find. Click here for ideas on how to pack for infants on the plane.

2. Packing Too Much

While you want to be prepared for the many scenarios that may take place in your travel day, be reasonable with the items you pack. The best way to decide what you need or don’t need to pack is to lay everything out that you think you want to bring and then strike half of it. Especially clothes and shoes.

3. Walking the Aisles

Many people, including experienced family travel bloggers, will advise that you regularly walk the aircraft aisles with your baby. As a flight attendant mom I have the opposite advice. If you need to walk with your infant to help soothe him/her, that’s fine, but there are three major reasons you want to keep this to a minimum:

  • Turbulence—As the airlines always emphasize, “turbulence can occur unexpectedly”. When the Captain turns off the seatbelt sign, it’s because there are not reports of turbulence from other aircraft ahead of yours. But that can, and does change regularly as the weather. Turbulence can be unpredictable. Even mild turbulence can be dangerous when you’re standing and holding your baby, since you don’t have free hands to grab onto anything for balance.
  • Interference With Crew—The flight crew are typically busy in the aisles for much of the flight: serving beverages and meals, performing safety checks, picking up trash. It is difficult for them when there are a lot of people in the aisles. We flight attendants don’t mind people being out of their seats when necessary, and we will accommodate passengers, including moving the beverage and meal carts as needed, but the carts are heavy and difficult to maneuver. Also on shorter flights the crew may be rushing to get all passengers served, and having to move around passengers in the aisle can really throw off the service.
  • Starting Expectations—Flight Attendant Heather Poole (author of Cruising Attitude) says that from day one of flying with her child she kept him in the car seat for the entire flight except for diaper changes. This made him a really great traveler when he was in those more difficult toddler years because he was accustomed to staying seated for most of the flight.

4. Loudly “Shushing” and “Clicking”

mistakes to avoid

I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes the parent saying, “SHHH!!!” to calm down their baby is more irritating than the baby fussing. To me the “SHHH” just carries over any ambient noise of the aircraft and becomes an irritating noise I can’t ignore. If your infant needs a little extra soothing, I have found that using a soft “ch-ch-ch” instead seems to be less irritating to other passengers around you.

5. Over Stimulating Baby

Parents with a newborn tend to worry a lot about how the baby will behave on the plane. Sometimes the baby is fussing because he/she just wants to be left alone. Remember that there are so many new sights, smells, and sounds your baby is experiencing. It can be a lot to take in! Sometimes the best way to calm a fussy baby is to just be silent and still. Bouncing, talking, shushing, feeding, etc. might be overwhelming your infant’s senses. Remember that at home you have lots of times with an infant that are just rest and observe times. Your baby needs some breaks from sensory input in order to be able to relax. If nothing you are trying is helping your baby calm down, just try doing nothing but holding them and giving them a calm, quiet space.

mistakes to avoid

6. Worrying About Ear Pressure

Ear pain from cabin pressure is probably the number one thing parents worry about for their children when flying. You will be happy to know that, as a flight attendant, I estimate I only see about 3% of children having difficulty with ear pressure in flight. Newborns and infants actually have less of a chance of experiencing ear pain than toddlers and older children because they don’t usually have congestion or inflammation in their ears. As children begin teething or experiencing frequent colds, they might experience more trouble clearing their ears in flight, but infants very rarely have issues with cabin pressure.

7.Waiting to Feed Baby

Many people advise timing the feeding of your baby with the plane’s ascent and descent in order to help the baby’s ears clear. As I just pointed out, the pressure is not usually an issue for most infants, and it is more important to keep your baby content by feeding him/her as needed. If you hold off, then your baby might get fussy before you even get started with the flight. Then your infant will be less able to handle other irritants, like ear pressure, should they experience them.

8. Waking Baby to Feed

Along the same lines as worrying about ear pressure, some people will tell you to wake up your baby an hour before landing in order to feed them so that their ears won’t hurt. Make it easier on yourself, your baby, and those around you. When your baby is hungry, feed him/her. When the baby is tired, let them sleep. If your baby is feeling discomfort due to air pressure then they will let you know by moving their jaw, making sucking motions, twisting and turning. Then you can offer milk or a pacifier, but waking a baby from a deep sleep is bound to make him/her fussy. You’ll hold tight to this rule in the coming months/years: Never wake a sleeping baby!

9. Buckling Infant in Your Own Seatbelt

I often see passengers who buckle their seatbelt around both their baby and themselves. This is very dangerous! If the aircraft hits severe turbulence in the air, or comes to a sudden stop on the runway,  your body weight could crush the baby! The safest way to travel with an infant is with them in a car seat, but if you are holding them as a lap child, then hold them in your arms without strapping them to anything.  I have heard that European Airlines have a seatbelt to attach to yours. It wraps around the baby and then has a loop to attach to the adult’s seatbelt. This is a very clever idea and I’m all for it! However in the United States it is not approved for use on the aircraft so even if you brought your own, you are not permitted to use it in flight. The flight attendants are required to enforce this FAA rule.

Did you know? In the United States, the FAA does not allow the baby to be in a chest carrier during takeoff and landing or when the seatbelt sign is off. Although you may get away with it on some flights if the flight attendants don’t notice, please comply if a flight attendant asks you to take the baby out of the carrier. The flight attendants are not trying to be mean, they are actually required to enforce this rule. If there is an FAA inspector on board and the flight attendant does not enforce the FAA rules and regulations, the flight attendant could face a personal fine!

10. Not Accepting Help When It’s Offered

mistakes to avoid

One of the reasons I started my website, Cloud Surfing Kids, was to empower parents to feel confident in traveling with their children even when they are traveling on their own. I often fly by myself with my kids, and I take pride in being self sufficient and not needing to ask for help. I think it’s good to be capable of handling things on your own and it also gives you a great sense of accomplishment when you do. However, it is important to realize that you don’t have to do it all alone! If a kind passenger or flight attendant offers to hold your baby so you can go to the lavatory or get the car seat installed, or offers to carry a bag for you or something like that, accept their help! Everyone needs a break sometimes, and while you’re on the airplane your baby can’t be taken very far from you, so it’s not like handing your baby to a stranger in a public setting.  Sometimes just five minutes with the baby out of your arms can rejuvenate you enough to deal with whatever the rest of the day brings.

11. Bringing Noisy Toys

Those cute infant toys with rattles in them? Books that squeak?  Leave them at home or pack them in your checked luggage. There is plenty of stimulation on the airplane without them and all they will do is irritate other passengers.

mistakes to avoid

12. Playing Shows/Games/Books With Sound

This one goes along with number 11.  Most airlines actually have a rule: “When using anything with audio, use headphones or turn off the volume.” Even at a low volume, the sound of shows and games really spreads further through the cabin than you would expect. It is just inconsiderate to those around you to use these items without earphones. Of course your infant is unlikely to tolerate earphones. When my daughter was an infant, she quite enjoyed watching Baby Einstein videos even without volume. You could also try just showing your baby pictures on your phone. If that still doesn’t work for your baby then move on to other distractions.

13. Bringing Baby into Galley

Babies are unpredictable. Spit up happens. Spit up and food service don’t mix. You wouldn’t bring a baby into a restaurant kitchen, so don’t bring the baby into to galley. Flight attendants aren’t being mean if they ask you not to stand there with your baby or if they don’t allow you to change your baby’s diaper on the galley floor. It’s important to keep the food service area clean.


Do you agree with this list? What would you add? I have 13 more mistakes to avoid coming next Tuesday.  Stay tuned!

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mistakes to avoid

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Trouble Sleeping? 5 Sleep Solutions to Common Problems

Falling Asleep When Away From Home—

5 Sleep Solutions

Sleep Solutions




When traveling, you might find that it’s more difficult to fall asleep. As a flight attendant I’m often staying overnight in new places and have found these sleep solutions that often help me. Hotels can be relaxing, but there can also be a lot of things that interrupt quality sleep: bright lights, noisy neighbors,  uncomfortable beds, aching muscles, and jet lag can all contribute to difficulty sleeping. Here are 5 common problems and some sleep solutions that I’ve found can help.

1) The Problem: Too Bright

When sunlight is shining through the curtains, it can be tough to sleep.


Two things I use: First I wear a Tempur-Pedic Eye Mask, which completely blocks out the light but doesn’t press against your eyes. Second, I close the gap in the curtains by using either wooden clothespins that I bring or the clips from a pants hanger from the closet.

(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your shopping convenience. When you make a purchase through these links I may receive a small commission which goes toward the operation of this website. I appreciate your support!)

2) The Problem: Too Noisy

There is so much potential for disturbing noises in a hotel. Airplanes taking off (if at an airport hotel), nearby traffic, loud people in hallways, doors slamming, family members snoring, the air conditioner turning off and on…


I use a travel sound machine for white noise. Sometimes I forget to pack the sound machine, so I use the app “White Noise” (free download) and play that (be sure your phone is plugged in so you don’t run down the battery!). I found that the sound “Brown Noise” works better for met than “White Noise”. There are lots of sounds to choose from, so you can choose what works best for you.

If the sound machine isn’t for you, or if it’s still not enough, I recommend ear plugs. The one thing I advise is to set a wake up call in addition to your own alarm if you need to wake up by a certain time. While wearing earplugs I have slept through my alarm before.

3) The Problem: Uncomfortable Bed

Sometimes you get a bed that is just too uncomfortable to sleep. Sometimes I can feel every spring coil!


When the mattress is that uncomfortable I lay out pillows beneath me so that I can sleep. DIY pillow top!

To bring consistency to my sleeping environment I travel with my own pillow. I use the Tempur-Pedic Travel Pillow. It is the size of a regular pillow cut in half and rolls into it’s case or smashes flat in your suitcase. For the kids I bring toddler pillows which don’t take up much space in the suitcase. I also bring a plush blanket for both of my kids so that they are comfortable even if the sheets and blankets are not a great texture. If you’re particularly sensitive to the feeling of sheets and blankets, this ultra-soft sleep sack is a great thing to pack.

4) The Problem: Aching Muscles

After a long travel day, you may just be achy all over. I’m not sure about you, but when my muscles ache I cannot sleep. I doze off and find myself waking up a few minutes later because I’m so uncomfortable.


Three things that help me:

  • Stretch before bed. Walking On Travels shares these great yoga stretches for a good place to start.
  • Take Hyland’s Homeopathic Arnica Montana. You should always consult your physician before taking any medications or treatments, but I have found this formula is very effective for helping to relax my muscles. Since it doesn’t have many side effects, I prefer taking this to other medications.
  • Take ibuprofen. Again, consult your physician and don’t overuse anti-inflammatory medicines. But ibuprofen can be effective as a last resort if your body just cannot relax.

Another thing you can try is a warm bath or shower. You can add Mineral Bath Salts like these to your bath for further relaxation. Magnesium oil can also help.

5) The Problem: Restlessness/Jet Lag

Sometimes you just can’t sleep and the harder you try, the less likely it is for sleep to come. If this seems to be happening to you or you kids, it might be worth it to give up on sleep for a bit and try this:


My eight year old, Ella, often has a rough time settling down for sleep. Sometimes we just have to throw that bedtime out the window, so to speak, and go out for a nighttime walk.  If you’re in a place that’s safe for walking at night, give this a try. Or go walk on the treadmill for a little bit. Giving your brain a break from the pressure to fall asleep just works. A little bit of activity and maybe a light snack can help your body relax and prepare for sleeping. Also for kids, having a pillow or tickle fight can, surprisingly, help to calm them. The reason is that it gives deep pressure sensation, which, like a massage, can be relaxing. Just give up the idea of “I must sleep NOW” and take a little break before trying to sleep again.

Another thing that is natural and effective for restlessness is Hyland’s Homeopathic Calms Forte. They make both an adult and a children’s formula. Since there are no side effects, I prefer using this to using medicated sleep aids. When I’m part of the flight crew I can’t afford to be groggy from sleep aids!

 Share Your Tips:

Do you have sleep solutions for when you’re away from home? Do you struggle with any of these problems I mentioned? Comment below. Your tips might be helpful to other readers!

Be sure to check back here every Tuesday for a new post with travel tips. Do you have any travel questions? Comment below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and I’ll do my best to help answer your questions! If I don’t have an answer I’ll find someone who does.

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Sleep Solutions

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