Packing, security checks, keeping track of passports…traveling is stressful enough without adding 'manage your children' to that list. Especially when the goal is most likely to get some R&R.
But leave it to celebs to make it all look so easy.
This summer, we followed in awe as Chrissy Teigen and John Legend vacationed with baby girl Luna in Italy. And then we got all giddy over Hilary Duff's shot with her son mid-flight and having a blast.
Stars don't just make traveling with kids look easy, they make it look glamorous. So we asked parenting coach Mercedes Samudio, LCSW and author of the best-selling book Shame-Proof Parenting, about how they do it.
Not only did we get our answers, but she also shared some valuable insight into improving travel experiences when you've got a baby on board.
Celebrities have assistants and teams managing their daily lives, which does make vacations much easier. While schedules and itineraries are being handled, a star can focus on getting their child ready to go out the door. Nannies also help with allowing parents to find some personal time to recharge, or enjoy a few activities away from their kids. But according to Mercedes, the key here isn't the extra help—it's knowing it's there if they need it.
"Even if a celeb forgoes all that, they still have a leg up because they have access to it, which gives a celeb parent piece of mind when they start to feel overwhelmed," she explained. "It's the knowing that I have someone I can trust to help when it gets to be too much that I believe can truly make or break a parent's resolve and sanity."
When having extra help isn't an option, staying organized is essential, no matter how long you plan to be away. "Try to plan your itinerary as early in advance as you can," Mercedes said. "Not only is it more cost effective, but it gives you a chance to talk to your children about where you are going and what they can expect as far as travelling."
While packing, include the items that make your kids feel most comfortable like blankies and special videos. This also means letting them eat their favorite snacks more than normal, like Luna and her Cheeto puffs. This might seem contrary, but Mercedes explained travel is not the time to keep strict boundaries around screen time or food habits. "Children do well with familiarity and traveling is the very opposite of what is familiar."
For a smoother trip, bring items that make life easier and, at the same time, won't cause issues at customs. Mercedes suggests mobile devices for entertainment and self-soothing. Diaper bags can double as purses, and toddlers can pick out their own backpacks to get excited about the journey before you even take off.
Pro tip: Look into shipping some of your items to your destination beforehand to bypass baggage claim.
According to Mercedes, the two most common mistakes parents make when traveling are "not preparing and having unrealistic expectations." In reality, no matter how much you plan, traveling is unpredictable. Staying organized gives your child a solid foundation from the beginning, whether or not the plane is delayed and it's pouring on your beach holiday. Don't get mad at yourself over mishaps that are out of your control. Instead, find a solution.
Even when you've got celebrity status, each trip is also a good learning experience: think about what went well and what could have gone better. How could you have prepared more effectively? Use this information for a more successful family vacation next time around. As for unrealistic expectations, choose destinations and trips that are age appropriate to help build up your kid's resiliency. Want to go on a Beckham family-style safari? Maybe not if you've still got toddlers.
"The idea is not to do less to accommodate your child, but to be mindful of how you can help you and your child learn more about each other's travel behaviors and tweak accordingly."
Family travel can certainly be a hassle, but there are so many benefits to having that adventure together. You're exposing your children to new places and cultures that can help them develop a greater understanding of the world at a young age. It's also an important break from day-to-day work, parenting and life in general. For stars, travel is an escape from the spotlight with the people they cherish the most.
"While I won't be naïve in saying that the benefits outweigh the cons of traveling with kids because I don't always think that's the case," Mercedes said, "I do believe that the memories you have with your child while traveling can be a great foundation for your relationship."