Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Flying with Kids

After spending a very travel-filled summer and fall that included planes, trains and automobiles, international travel that involved living out of suitcases for six weeks, and more than one coast to coast trip with a 4-year-old and 6-year old, I've learned quite a lot about traveling with children. Probably enough to write a small novella about it actually, but I'll start with a few simple tips that just might come in handy before the holiday travel season begins.
My frequent fliers

On paper, most trips look like amazing opportunities or exciting family time, but as a parent there is usually a lot of worry that it could be way too much work or chaos for one set of parents to handle. So, I tried to be prepared.

My Tips:

- Take home with you. Carefully choose bits from home that your kids have come to expect to keep them comfortable and entertained -- Books, workbooks, cards, small games, crayons, colored pencils, stuffed animal, pillow, etc.

- Let your kids pick out their clothes. If they have input and are in control of their wardrobe, you can always go back to it when they have trouble putting their outfits together.

- Gadgets are king. When it comes to filling time, covering delays, or soothing sleepy kids, DVDs, iPads and smartphones or handheld gaming devices can be lifesavers. I often download a few movies and play them on my computer with a dual headphone plug.(Just don't forget the chargers)

- Give them responsibility. Let your kids carry their own backpack or roller bag, and give them each a game and snack to include. Tell them you need their help. They'll love being able to be big kids and participate, and it'll make things easier for you.

- Mentally prepared your kids. Let them know exactly how long it is going to be and let them know how great they are doing during the flight. It is SO tough for them to have to sit still, so rewards during the flight are also a great idea.

- Bring snacks and treats. Use small containers and/or ziplock bags, and pack your favorite finger foods for travel. Cut up fruits and vegetables so they're finger sized. Have salty and sweet options. Bars are also good. Because trust me, hungry kiddos are grumpy kiddos. Also pack their favorite treats as rewards for being good, they can be great motivation.

- Get psyched. Build up the positive during the weeks leading up to the big trip. Make the flight one of the BEST parts of the trip by reminding them they get to watch movies and carry their own backpack, but be honest, don't give them false hopes…they will remember.

- Fallout guy. If all h-e-double-hockey sticks breaks loose with the kids, use the he pilot as the authority...let him be the bad cop. Tell them the pilot will be upset and talk to them over the loud speaker if they don't get it together. (Not sure how much longer this will work but for now, they believe me.)

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