Your spouse is deployed when you get the call, “Why don’t you come and spend some time with us? I’m sure you’re lonely and it would be so nice to see the kids.” You start to shrink right into your chair. You know they’re right. You have no good reason to stay home. Nevertheless, you’re breaking out in a cold sweat. Travel during deployment may be welcome excitement for some spouses, but for you, it feels more like torture. Why? Because you have kids, of course! Several small ones most likely, and none of whom have reliable potty habits. Begrudgingly, you agree to take the clown show on the tour, but you know what? You’re going to be great. Let’s get you prepped and ready for an adventure.
Logistics of the Journey
Pour yourself a big ol’ cup of coffee, and pull up a whiteboard. Let’s hash out the details:
- Who are you going to be visiting?
- Which modes of transportation will you use to get there?
- Where will you stay?
- How will you get around while you’re visiting?
- How long will you be visiting each party?
- Can some friends and family come to you while you’re there?
Some of these will be answered simply, but others may expose some trickier things. What about transportation to and from the airport? Driving instead of flying? How many miles per day can you feasibly go, potty stops considered? Plus, when you’re not used to it, traveling with only one adult makes most tasks more challenging. We’re guessing that carrying 2 or more car seats at once may be beyond your abilities. Try to rehearse every leg of the trip in your mind. This way, there will be less to catch you by surprise.
Pricing It Out
Now that the plans are starting to take shape, it’s time for some cost comparison. Hopefully, you hired a babysitter for this part. Cost comparison always seems to take longer than you think it will. Even more frustrating are those timers that some travel sites use to pressure you into making split-second decisions. Ugh. Thankfully, we have the scoop on practically all the discounts, both military and non-military, that you can take advantage of. Tip: the USAA car rental “deals” have always been kind of a let down for us.
Today’s In-Flight Entertainment: You
Remember what it was like to travel before you became a parent? Cue the dream sequence. Your little carry-on gliding effortlessly through the airport, only coming to rest in line at Starbucks? Whizzing in and out of TSA security with your cutest traveling flats in hand? Settling into your plane seat before making a tough choice between a four-hour nap and your new historical fiction novel? Well, we sure do.
Back to reality! Now you’re the full-time responsible party of little ones and you need to be on your A-game at all times. If you’re brave enough to travel during deployment, you can totally do it. Now to prepare accordingly.
Travel Entertainment for Kids 5 and Under
- Playdough. Worth the mess? We think so.
- Crayons and coloring books.
- Melissa and Doug Water Wow books. Great for ages 4 and under.
- Melissa and Doug Paint with Water books. A little messy, better for ages 4+.
- Favorite car/truck/doll.
- Window Cling Vinyl Stickers
- Snacks. Those can totally be an activity.
- Tablets. Download Disney+, and Khan Kids Academy onto a few of these bad boys.
RELATED: 11 YouTube Alternatives for Kids
Strollers: An Opinion
Go big or go home. Some say to take a lightweight umbrella stroller, which certainly may make more sense for some families. But for a single adult traveler with children outnumbering them, we advise a single jogging stroller, if possible. (We have heard anecdotally that some airlines will not gate check the largest double jogging strollers.)
So why exactly should you take along a monster-sized stroller? You can load up all the compartments with kids OR luggage, even resting some baggage on top (as long as it’s safe for any kiddos sitting inside of course). In the case of a single BOB stroller, there is a little spot where an extra child can sit on the front (not an official seat, but totally workable). Plus, these things glide over most any surface effortlessly, can handle lots of weight with ease, and says to the world, “I am Mother! Get out of my way!”
The Bright Side of Travel During Deployment
Battle worn and weary, once you get to your destination, you’ll be so happy you did it all. Let’s face it, things can get really really quiet at home without your spouse around. The opportunity for you and the kids to get loved on by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and great-grandparents is healthier and more restorative than you might realize. Time will pass more quickly when you are traveling too, which really helps to break up the deployment.
Yes, travel during deployment with little ones is hard, but so so worth it. Like so much of military spouse life, things that seem to only be burdensome also turn out to be a net benefit to our families. Plus, back home, a good babysitter isn’t easy to find. And maybe— just maybe—you will get the chance to go to Target alone.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out How to Visit Your Spouse During Deployment
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Photo Credits: Verdes Cosmin