Traveling with kids is no easy feat as we all know. DUH! If you disagree, you are either lying or don’t have kids. Before you even get on the plane, there is a ton of planning and packing, ensuring nothing is left behind. This is enough to drive a person insane, so guaranteeing an easy flight is extremely imperative.
There are actually many layers to a trip with the little ones that as a parent, you have to think about and strategize for. In fact, as I am writing this, I am on an airplane on my way back from a trip with the whole family. Therefore, these layers are fresh as can be.
The travel to your destination can make or break a vacation, so listen up. Trust me, I know!
The first tier begins before you even leave the house. Each of my boys are allowed to bring a backpack and fill it with whatever toys, games, snacks, etc. that they will enjoy on the plane ride. The only rules are that I have to inspect and approve, and it can’t be too heavy, as they are responsible for carrying it around the airport and such.
One time my youngest threw in every plastic toy he ever got. I was like, “Um…yah…no”. They were items he had not played with in years. He literally opened up one of our toy bins and dumped all of the contents into his bag. So…make sure and check what ends up in the back pack.
It’s also a good idea to throw in extra clothes. Whether your child is newly potty trained or clumsy with their drinks, there is nothing worse than a child sitting in soaking wet clothing for hours with no solutions. My oldest son has a tendency to get nauseous on planes so he always travels with an extra t-shirt in his backpack. I learned my lesson the first time it happened and it was not a good look…or smell for anyone on the plane.
Any parent knows that keeping a child busy and well fed is the key to avoiding meltdowns. The same concept goes for traveling and is vital in keeping everyone happy, including the guy sitting next you in 20D. A child who is bored and cranky is a child NO ONE wants to be near, EVER.
Bring snacks…LOTS OF SNACKS! If a child has a mouthful of pretzels and cheese sticks, there is no more room to speak. Just kidding…kind of. I like to bring healthy snacks because as parents, we often forget to think of ourselves, but if there are nutritious nibbles available, you will feel good and energized. I always bring sliced cucumbers and peppers, since all five of us love them. Don’t feel bad for my kids though…we also have the good stuff too.
Okay, so now that your kids are all set, what about the other kids on the flight? It’s easy to say, “Not my problem”, but guess what? It kind of is. Whether their parents didn’t prepare or simply don’t care, it now affects you. There are a few ways to handle this dilemma. You can complain for the next three hours and have a terrible flight, turn your headphones up or have a heart, if you are feeling in the mood. Remember, don’t judge. Maybe this parent isn’t as organized as you. Perhaps they worked double shifts all week and barely had time to think. Could it be possible they don’t have the same tools you have as a parent?
You packed plenty of snacks remember, so why not share? Let the parent know you sympathize and have been there many times. As if dealing with an irritable kid isn’t stressful enough, knowing that everyone around you hates you and are giving you dirty looks, can send you over the edge. Sometimes, a simple smile can make all the difference. I just encountered a crying, cranky baby on the way to the bathroom and she, (and the mother) were NOT happy. I have been there so many times, so I smiled, said hello to the baby and sent the message that it would all be okay and she was not alone. I got a nasty pout from the baby but a grin from the mom, so in my book, a successful encounter.
When we are empathetic to those around us, it makes for a much more pleasant trip for everyone. Here’s a scenario that is actually occurring as I write this. The kid sitting behind you is kicking your seat and it’s not only annoying, but hurts. This has happened to me so many times, therefore I am very sensitive to this topic. Traveling on a plane with a kid kicking you in the back SUCKS! What do you do? Do you say something?
I just heard my husband ask the mother in the row behind him to please ask her son to watch his feet if possible, since he has been kicking him for the last ten minutes. The mom was very apologetic and spoke to her son about where to put his feet. Crisis averted...at least for now.
People aren’t always that nice and that comes from experience. My husband was very polite and I am all for educating a parent who may not be aware. Unfortunately, some parents could care less and as I always say, a parent with no manners has kids with no manners.
I can see out of the corner of my eye that my son’s red sneaker is resting on the seat in front of him. NOOOO! I made sure to end that immediately and speak extra loud, so the guy in front of him knows I care about his comfort and sanity and oh yah…I have manners!
I believe it is up to a parent to be aware of what their kids are doing, however, kids will be kids. We all know “Stop it” tends to fall on deaf ears. Even so, what I want to see if some effort on the parent’s end, which doesn’t seem like a tall order, but for some, it is. If I was the one being kicked and I heard a mom telling her kid to move their feet off my chair without me prompting the conversation, it would make me feel like at least she showed some sort of concern for me. There is nothing worse than an oblivious parent. DUH! Wake up people. It’s not your world, or your child’s that we are living in!
Speaking of, no one wants to be in your world with your sick kid. My kids have been sick the past few weeks. They kept passing back strep throat and one was diagnosed with the Flu five days ago. You better believe I was at the doctor multiple times this week ensuring they would get better and that it was safe for them, and others, to fly. By the time we left, they had been medicated for days and cleared to travel. I felt good about their health and was considerate of the health of others that would be on our flight. Again, all comes down to thinking of others and having manners.
I write this as a child a few rows away is hacking up a lung. I am not judging though because my youngest has allergies and is always coughing. Maybe this child has allergies but sounds like he has a cold. Perhaps he is on antibiotics and is on his way to feeling better soon. Maybe they are on the way to a family wedding and will not let anything, even a sick kid, get in the way? Whatever the situation, I would hope they wouldn’t bring a child who has 102 fever on the flight to share all of his germs with the rest of us. In that case, sharing is NOT caring!
Your flight is about to take off and there are many hours ahead of you. How can you entertain your kids up in the sky, or rather, how can they entertain themselves, if old enough? Even though I can’t stand my kid’s addiction to technology, it’s a reality and on an airplane, a necessity. Right now, as we get ready to take off, all three of mine are playing on the phone and iPad, hence I am able to write this.
As I look around the plane, every other kid is as well. More often than none, there is a television screen on the seat in front of you, which can provide hours of entertainment. Be aware that not all airlines have it, so don’t rely on it. You will be screwed.
If your child is too young to self-entertain, having access to a video set up and ready to go on your device is always a great idea to keep them occupied. Technology is not the end all be all so alternative options are good to have in your back pocket.
In a kid’s mind, is there really anything else aside from technology? Of course not, but that is why we are here…to ruin their fun. Books are always a good idea because it makes the time go very fast and works for all ages.
Last vacation, my kids, (and I), were very into those funky coloring books and while half our markers ended up a few aisles ahead of us, it kept everyone busy for a nice chunk of time. Whatever happened to a good old deck of cards? After I finish this article, I plan on playing Gin with my son after I have to beg him to get off of my phone.
The tips above will ensure you…and your “closest” friends in the metal tube high up in the sky will have a peaceful and enjoyable experience. Remember to plan ahead, be prepared for multiple situations and think of others. Putting in the effort ahead of time may seem like extra work but it will be worth it. Trust me…I know!
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD™…and traveling with our kiddies!