You know that look you get from other passengers when boarding a plane with kids in tow? It doesn’t take a psychic to know what’s going through their heads. “Oh great, six hours stuck with 3 battling kids.” There is nothing I love more than proving those looks and thoughts wrong. I have actually had people fess up and tell me they were a bit nervous when they saw kids coming on board, but how impressed they were with my children’s behavior throughout the flight. Granted, I do have amazing kids (not biased or anything). But an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of medicine. This is true especially when traveling with kids. Parents know it, and so does everyone else on the plane. After much trial and error I have put together just the right combination of aces up my sleeve to produce a peaceful flight for me, my kids, and everyone else on board.
- Take the right equipment starting with a good set of headphones. Those headsets they have on the planes don’t fit little ears. I recommend headphones that are the right size with noise cancellation. If they can’t hear the movie, your kids probably won’t sit quietly and watch it. I don’t normally condone electronic babysitters, but this is one time letting your kids disconnect from their surroundings and plug into a game or movie for a couple of hours can be really helpful. I got mine on a black Friday sale from Amazon.com and only spent about $20 each. Another great tool is the small size Snackeez cups. My kids don’t get soda very often so the in flight beverage is a BIG deal. If it spills, all hell breaks loose. It’s just a good idea for little ones to have a lid on their soda. They also help avoid spilling pretzels or peanuts.
- Make a stop beforehand at a bookstore or library for some new reading material. If your kids aren’t reading yet, picture books, I Spy books, or pop up books, are great. If they aren’t very motivated readers, try a contest for who can read the most chapters or pages with a prize for the winner. Hurrah for feeding your brain!
- Don’t travel hungry. Nobody wants to be sitting next to a hangry kid (or adult for that matter). I always bring at least 1 granola bar, 1 fruit snack, and one piece of candy in each kids backpack.
- If you have electronics like smartphones or tablets, download some new games. You don’t have to spend a ton of money here. Look for free games that are rated with 4 stars or more.
- Nervous parents create nervous children. While the kids are watching the in-flight movie or playing a game, pick out a movie for yourself. If there’s no movie, bring your favorite chocolate and a good book. This vacation is for you too -not just the kids. So have some fun – I dare you.
If your kids are like mine, it’s all about independence. I let them own their packing as much as possible. Younger kids pick out 3 or 4 toys with a size limit and everyone gets 1 or 2 books. They are carrying their own packs after all (parents only have two arms). We always bring origami paper and pencils too. Snacks and headphones go in an outside pocket for accessibility.
The smallest and most necessary item, I learned the hard way, is gum or suckers in your purse. A little one with ears that won’t pop is NOT OK. If somebody starts getting really upset, especially during takeoff and landing, it could be that their ears need to pop. Chewing gum, or sucking on a sucker will usually take care of it.
The goal is to arrive at your destination happy and refreshed, still wanting to be around your kids. Traveling with kids can be tricky but connecting with them on vacation creates memories that last a lifetime.
How will you arrive happy on your next trip?