Flying with Kids

Spring break is right around the corner.  Time to pack up some shorts & flip-flops & get the heck out of the frozen tundra.  To the beach, to the tropics, to the warm air.  Yes, please!  I’ll put up with my Monica-Geller-in-Barbados hair all vacation long, if it means warm, humid tropical air is surrounding me.

travel tips

Are you heading off to somewhere wonderful for a little R&R soon?  Are you taking the whole family along?  Are you boarding a plane with small kiddos & hoping to survive?  Flying with small kids can be a very scary idea.  I know!!  Throughout my years of flying solo with my three littles back & forth to Switzerland while we were ex-patting, I’ve learned a lot about traveling with kids. It can be done, without neighbor complaints & eyerolling and with an enjoyable time for you too!  Even with toddlers, preschooler and school agers.  It can be enjoyably doable. Promise.

Seven Not-So-Normal Tips for Flying with Kids:

  1. Forget the Cute Little Backpacks:  Everyone will tell you to get each of your little kiddos their own little backpack full of all kinds of special little trinkets for this exciting journey {more on the trinkets later}.  Worst.  Advice. Ever!  You will, in fact, look picture perfect walking to your gate & gandering out the windows at the planes, but this is where the enjoyment ends.3f29364140e44542ba8c9446477efc36  At some point your littles will get “tired of carrying” the cute little backpack.  And you know who carries the backpacks when the littles won’t?  That’s right you. Now envision a quick connection.  Littles refusing to carry their cute little backpacks.  Protesting in a way only littles can.  In order to make the connection, you scoop up the cute little backpacks.  You are now running through an airport, carrying three cute little backpacks, your own purse, your own bag, likely a couple of little jackets & either holding the hands of your littles, carrying your littles or pushing a weapon i mean, stroller through the corridors and down passageways.  They will not faithfully carry their packs.  They won’t.  They will make big politician promises, but they won’t follow through.  Trust me on this.  For the sake of your sanity, no little backpacks.
  2. No Crayon Zone:  I understand that keeping littles busy on the plane is essential.  But let me warn you, there are certain busying items that will make you lose your ever loving mind.  Crayons. Equal to that are Markers.  Also anything with wheels. Hate them!  They are round.  They roll.  It is darn hard to pick things up off the floor of the plane when they fall.  You are crammed into these seats, with trays that fold down on your lap which usually are holding beverages in the most unstable cups you’ve ever seen {more on that in a second} and getting your body to contort into the shape necessary to retrieve fallen trinkets…ridiculousness.  And it will happen over & over & over again.  And the guy sitting in the seat in front of you, which you will be continually hitting during your crayon rescues, will eventually turn red & cause a scene, the likes of which have never been seen before.  Save your sanity.  If you must include crayons in your entertainment, I would suggest shaped crayons like these.  And if you insist on small trinkets, I would suggest a tray-table cover like these to help contain things.415CMNROW0L._SX342_
  3. It Will Spill:  The lovely flight attendants will come by to offer your little a beverage.  This will seem like a wonderful thing.  Your little will be so excited to get a little something to wet the whistle.  The flight attendant, bless her heart, will pour the beverage of choice in a plastic cup.  She will fill it to.the.brim.  She will place that nearly overflowing cup on your little’s tray table.  And 9 times out of 10, that {usually very sticky} beverage will make it’s way into your lap.  I speak truth here.  Bring spill proof cups along!  Sippy cups, cups with lids & straws, water bottles – it matters none what type, just bring them.7aa3aaa4824e9c599191de7e9981a623
  4. They Will Vomit & They Will Pee:  I do not have vomiters…except on airplanes.  The most inconvenient of locations to vomit is where my littles {one in particular} prefers to hurl.  Vomit in tight spaces is bad.  All around bad.  And vomit on you & your little is downright awfulness.  Additionally, airplane bathrooms are, how should I say it, weird.  I had a toddler who would not go.  And holding it on an 8-ish hour flight across the ocean was not an option.  So I say, plan for an accident.  Pack some extra clothes to change into, just in case.  Pack a pull-up, even if your little hasn’t used them in while, just is case.  No one enjoys sitting in pee covered, vomit splattered clothing.
  5. Digital Entertainment is Your Best Friend:  iPads and iPods and portable dvd players and handheld gaming devices and laptops…all sent from heaven to make plane travel with littles 100% better.  If you’re lucky to be flying on a plane with built in screens, hallelujah.  Load whatever you have up with all kinds of wonderful movies & shows & games, some they love & some new ones too.  Bring charging devices.  Bring extra headsets.  Bring enough for everyone or bring headset splitter for sharing. If you remember nothing else, remember digital entertainment.  You and everyone around you might not survive without it.
  6. Color Coordinate:  Believe me, I am the last person to go all matchy-matchy with clothing.  Except in crowded areas where I did not want to lose my children.  Airports are crowded, especially those pesky custom & immigration corals.  And kids sometimes wander.  If everyone in your family is wearing clothing that is the same color or similar in design, you will be able to spot your wanderer much more quickly.  If you are also wearing the same color, you will also remember which color you should be looking for.  Because in the heat of one of those “!  Where is my child?!?!” moments, the odds of you remembering what color you dressed your little in, is strained by stress & anxiety.  And if you have to get authorities involved to help locate your wanderer {spoken from experience here} it’s super easy to say “she’s wearing a shirt exactly like her brother’s”.  Plus since you’re not being all cute with little backpacks – you can be cute with matching shirts 😉
  7. Snack time:  Second only to digital entertainment is the snack.  Bring lots of them!  Lots.  Bring things you don’t normally buy, special treats.  Bring more than you think you need.  Airplane food is not great & airport food is expensive.  True.  Bring a stash of goodness to keep little bellies happy & full.  Happy bellies = happy littles = happy mama & daddy!  🙂

Flying with kids can definitely stretch your patience and your sanity.  But I promise family travel is so worth it.  Kids experiencing different cultures and people and places and adventures together are absolutely worth the hassles of getting there.  Be prepared for the accident.  Be ready for hungry bellies.  Keep them busy with digital entertainment & trinkets that are not likely to fall on the floor.  Your trip will be a success.  You will enjoyable arrive.  Promise.  Bon Voyage!

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