Thursday, June 13, 2013

Air Travel with Kids

Airplane Travel with Kids

I've written about airplane travel with kids before, you can find that post here. But we recently took the kids on a surprise trip to Disneyland (a surprise for them, not us!) and I think I've had sufficient experience to add to my previous writings on the topic.

Do not travel in the "red zone". I define that as about 6 months - 2 years old, give or take. Before then the baby will just nurse and sleep, so your arms might feel like they will fall off, but you won't want to throw the baby out of the plane at 30,000 feet. After 2, or whenever your child discovers the wonder of TV, this is the time to just bribe them with a zillion shows and snacks.

Pack with a plan in mind. Don't just throw a variety of cheap plastic toys in a bag and think that because your kid hasn't played with them at home they will magically become fascinating in the air. Think through your timing, and pack accordingly. If it's a short flight, you might need a snack for takeoff, 1 or 2 shows or movies for in the air (a new one and an old standby, this is not the time to discover that your child strongly dislikes WonderPets and *needs* her Dora), and an activity or snack for the way down. Longer flights will benefit from workbooks, simple card games (Go Fish, Old Maid etc.), and art that you make out of the airsickness bag. Add a sweater and you are good to go.

Don't use this time to teach sharing. Nope, on a plane is not the time to reinforce your value of sharing (whether it's a device or an armrest). Beg for or borrow enough video devices so that each child has their own with their own content. Separate your children from each other, and let them each have their own bags and snacks.

Air travel with kids

Headphones. Enough said. Your kids need them or you will go insane listening to the opening refrain from Bob the Builder (yes you can!). We give our kids our old noise canceling headphones so they can actually hear their shows (the kid ones don't work well with all the ambient noise of an airplane) and we just hope we might be able to read a magazine:)* the above photo was taken before takeoff, so she could still hear!

Traveling with Kids

What are some of your best tips for traveling with kids?

*Notice that we left the baby behind on this particular trip, 17 months (at time of travel) being not fun either in the plane or in Disneyland:)


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Krystle @ Color Transformed Family said...

Thanks for sharing your tips. I get nervous about taking Noah to Hong Kong to pick up her sister. Hopefully by the time we travel she will be two and have discovered tv.

Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication said...

Great tips! I definitely need to have all my devices charged and ready for our long trip to Europe in the fall. (I have the attention span of a child)

Jesse @ Scout & Nimble said...

These are great tips...we have not taken a "flying" trip with the kids ever (3 & 5) but do plan on taking some trips now that they are getting older. I will definitely have to remember these tips.
I was out of town last week with some girlfriends and they were all talking about fire station birthday parties...totally made me think of you! ;) Jesse @ Scout & Nimble

mhw said...

Traveling is important to us so we just continued after we had our kid. We traveled countless times in the "red zone" and never had a problem. We don't do screen time with our two-year-old, and managed a trip at 18 mos to India (40 hrs door to door, longest flight was 16 hrs from SFO to Dubai) without any gadgets, just stickers, books, snacks, and exploring his new environment. He didn't sleep much, unfortunately, but was happy as a clam the whole time. My parents traveled a ton, domestic and international, with us as kids, and really instilled a love of travel in me at a young age.

I have found that kids really feed off of parents' energy when it comes to plane travel. With every flight, I'm more relaxed, and so is he.

Anyway, I think these tips are good and every family needs to decide what they're comfortable with - just wanted to add another perspective for parents who want to fly more often with their kids.

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