Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tiz the Season to Travel

Do you have any tips for traveling with kids?

'Tiz the season! For good food! Decorations! Family time! Traveling!

With kids.

I travel about twice a year without my husband, usually with a connecting flight and with two children - and, with a little preparation and a lot of prayer, it is not too bad.

When flying, my number one tip is that your positive attitude and refusal to be flapped by what others think is THE most important thing. I have to constantly repeat to myself "my kids have a right to go visit their grandparents!" Obviously, I do the very best I can to see that we are not a bother to anyone, but children are children and perfect behavior is probably not going to happen.

My best suggestion is to fly Frontier, pray for one of the newer planes with Direct TV, pay the $5, put it on Nickel*odean, and read a book. (I actually got to do this once! Read an entire book for the first time in at least 6 months.) The DVD player is also a great idea, but we have always seem to have battery issues.

Here are some other ideas that have worked for us:

  • --snacks, snacks & more snacks. If your kids are too young for gum, include lollipops to "suck" on going up and down so their ears won't hurt. I use little ziplocks and pack goldfish, teddy grahams, fruit snacks, raisins, cashews, pretzels, Ritz Bitz w/ peanut butter, M&M, etc.. I dole them out one baggie at time just about anytime the wiggles set in. They don't eat the rest of the day, and that is ok with me. I pack one big bag for each "leg" of the flight, and I pack extras in my checked luggage for the way home.
  • --notebook and pencil. Since you are sitting with them, this lasts longer than other situations. You keep it going by "draw me a square", "draw me a doggie" etc...
  • --matchbox cars- only one for each hand or they get dropped easily on the floor.
  • --sticker books. My favorite are the Dis*ney ones and we get them at Sams or Costco. Star stickers and blank paper works too.
  • --A couple of favorite story books that you have put away for a couple of weeks before the trip so they are "new" again.

  • --Take a carry-on bag that you can put under the seat in front of you rather than in an overhead compartment. That means that you can easily get to your bag even if the "fasten seatbelt" sign is on, and you are not trying to get to an overhead compartment with a kid in your lap.
  • --Crayons or markers are hard because they roll and then you get to try and fetch them before they are in the back of the plane. I still take them, but I hold the box and only allow one out at a time.
  • --If your husband is flying with you - one of you go onto the plane when you can with your luggage and get everything situated. The other one stay out in the gate with the kids and board at the last possible minute so that they have to be in the seat, quiet and still, as little as possible.
  • --Play airplane at home and practice not kicking the seat in front of you, not screeching, and being amazed at the view out the window.
  • --Go to the bathroom BEFORE you get on the plane. Always. They invariably have to go to the bathroom as the plane is taking off and you are not allowed out of your seat.
  • --The airline will sometimes try to put you in the very front seat of the cabin, which seems like such a good idea - there is a little bit more room, and there are no seats to kick in front of you. I liked them when I had a nursing baby with me, but now I don't because you cannot have any bags in front of you.
  • --Don't put the kids next to each other if you can help it. Sit in the middle.
  • --Wear slip-on or velcro shoes and have the kids do the same. Some airports require that shoes go through security, and this makes it a lot less time-consuming in the security lines.
Here's a site with some more ideas:

Share your best tips on flying (or driving) with kids!


Lori said...

When traveling we bring along dvd movies and music. We also have each kid bring along backpacks filled with their favorite things such as: hand held games, books, Highlights magazines, magna doodle, coloring books, leap pads and etc.
Plus we pack snacks and water bottles.
Al these things seem to help the trip go much better.
And of coarse always going to the bathroom before leaving home.

useektravel said...
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Anonymous said...

One tip I have is to CHECK IN anything and everything that you possibly can. One less bag to pull equals one more hand available for holding and doing.

Another boredom buster for any age kid is to just ask for a couple of napkins, one cup of ice and one empty cup. Countless minutes can be spent moving the ice from one cup to another or sliding it across the tray.

We have also been known to play I Spy with the inflight magazines!

I think you've covered the tips pretty well-- snack and things to do (especially snacks!).

I'll never forget the time that I was on my way (without my husband) to LaGuardia, NY from TX and was IN THE AIRPLANE AND IN THE AIR with a 1yo, 4yo and 6yo for 7 HOURS!!! I kid you not, 7 (or was it 8?) whole hours. And there was NO meal. A couple of baggies of Cheerios, one small container of applesauce and God's supreme mercy and grace saved us! It truly was a miracle that they were completely wonderful on that entire flight and I had my sanity intact when we finally landed. Boy, did I garner A LOT of sympathy from the other passengers-- who were eyeing my cheerios but knew they shouldn't ask for any!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

When we take long car trips, I give each of my kids a roll of quarters. We take away a quarter for unreasonable whining, fighting, complaining, etc, and whatever money they have left at the end of the trip is theirs to spend however they choose. This has worked well for our kids because they're extremely motivated by money!

Also, a metal baking sheet is great as a work surface for drawing/coloring in the car. The lip keeps the crayons from falling off, and if magnets stick to it, it's fun to take ABC magnets to play with too.

My favorite thing to bring on long road trips is children's audio books!