Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tips for surviving flights with tykes

With many folks preparing to fly the “friendly” skies for the upcoming school break, I thought I’d share a few tips that helped us (and our fellow passengers!) survive our recent cross-country trip to San Francisco.

Allow extra time. It seems obvious but, when I travel for work or on the rare occasion I get away with Des, we’re always down to the wire. Sweating as we repeatedly check our watches, wondering if we’ll make it through security and dashing to the gate just as they’re about to close the door. Do NOT take this approach if you plan to take tots onboard. The one time we did, we missed our flight. This is true. It is why we now build in an extra hour before take-off and I’d suggest you do the same. This way you won’t be foiled by a long security line or unexpected diaper (and outfit!) change (or changes!).

Keep ‘em busy. Fortunately, children are easily entertained. This is extremely good news as long as you have a plan; this is extremely bad news if you don’t and your mischievous tykes decide that in-flight entertainment means kicking the seat in front of them.  Admittedly, your kids will find this highly entertaining but, your fellow passengers will not. So, a few things to be sure you carry in your carry on include crayons, stickers, pipe cleaners, PlayDough, matchbox cars, mini etch-a-sketch... you get the idea. And, of course, if you can fly an airline with seat-back TVs featuring the most recent episode of Junior’s favorite show, all the better!

Flying time = feeding time. If you have a baby, have a bottle. If you have a toddler, a sippy cup or lollipop will do. In fact, a lollipop will work wonders for kids of all ages – and maybe for Moms and Dads too! Having something to suck on during take-off and landing  will minimize your little ones discomfort. Once airborne, we’ve had great success with serial snacking; after all, snacking is just one more way to keep kids busy and it happens to be one of our kids favorites! Cheerios, raisins, goldfish, all the standards will do – although, if you up the ante and offer HoneyNut Cheerios, yogurt covered raisins and Rainbow Goldfish, you just might feel like a hero. Until the plane lands, anyway!

Don’t travel light. It pains me to suggest this but, since you just never know if your flight will be delayed or if your kid will be the one they leave those paper bags on planes for, I think it’s best to be prepared. For me, that means extra diapers, wipes, provisions and outfits. Do I feel like a pack mule as I load our brood on board? Yes. But do I want to land in Florida in pee-soaked khakis? (Again?) NO. So, while packing your carry-on with outfits for your little ones, please toss in a change of clothes for you too. I hope you won’t need them but trust me, if Buster has a diaper blow-out, you’ll be really glad to have them!

Oh, and one last thing: velcro!  It will be much easier to breeze through security if you're not struggling with shoelaces.

With these tips in mind, you just might find the skies a bit “friendlier” than you imagined and you’ll be sure to arrive at your destination with a sunny disposition. 

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