Fly With Me

February 17, 2009

images-1We are headed out West tomorrow and it got me thinking about traveling with kids.

Since Austin was a couple of months old, we’ve been traveling around the world with our kids. (On his first trip we actually had to evacuate Turks and Caicos a day early due to Hurricane Francis, but that saga is for another time…) Whether the flights are long or short, here are some tips for making flying with the kidets a little more pleasant:

It’s all about the snacks: Cheerios, fruit leather, granola bars, raisins, goldfish, crackers, applesauce cups – pack whatever your little one likes to nosh on and dole it out whenever things start to get hairy.

Clear the ears: Littler ones don’t understand the concept of swallowing when the pressure in their ears builds up, so on take off and landing it helps to give them something to drink, either in a cup or bottle or through breastfeeding if you’re doing that. Most planes do have milk on board but you can call beforehand and ask the airline.

Activate the activities: One mistake I often see parents make on planes is that they think they can get on, sit down and relax. Think again, suckah. Leaving land doesn’t mean your parental responsibilities suddenly go out the window. In fact, given that you and your child are confined to a space smaller than most bathrooms means you’ve got to work that much harder to keep things interesting. Read a book together, color, do a puzzle, play with trains – whatever keeps them occupied and not kicking the seat in front of them. We bought Austin his own little Thomas the Train suitcase to let him tote all of his toys onboard, and he loves it.

Break out the portable DVD player: Austin doesn’t watch more than 30 minutes of TV a day, but on planes we bring a slew of DVDs for him to choose from, from Toy Story to Curious George. We try to break it up a little – watch a movie, read a book, play some games, color and then maybe watch something else, depending on how long the flight is. And we made sure to buy head phones that sit outside the ear, not the ones that go inside and can potentially damage little ear drums.

Finally, mentally prepare: Before I get on the plane, I go into the mindset of preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. Once, when Austin was about 18 months old, we were headed to Lisbon. A few days before we left he came down with his first stomach virus. It was non-stop vile action, and I wasn’t sure how we could get on the plane to go. But we talked to the doctor and we decided to go; I was sure it was going to be the biggest nightmare of a plane ride ever. We boarded, it was a packed flight, and I looked at Ken, shook my head and said, “Buckle up!” And that little ill munchkin proceeded to fall asleep on takeoff and didn’t wake up until we made our descent into Portugal. But then again, on a recent flight from Zurich to London, Addison lost her mind and screamed the entire way. So I find the worst/best mindset helps me get through.

Whatever you do, GO! There’s so much to see in the world and right here in the US. It’s such a great learning experience for the kids and really teaches them about flexibility and trying new things. And as a family, there’s no better bonding time. So don’t be intimidated, start small…and enjoy!

Vacation! All I Ever Wanted…

I feel like I have been packing all day. We are excited for warmer temps — I will be posting but my schedule might be a little different for the week. Stay tuned!

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