Earlier this year my family and I jetted off to a wonderful place where dreams come true. A long overdue, well earned family vacation that had me impatient with excitement for months. 🙂 I am a list maker and the house was literally well, littered with them. One of those lists was all about surviving the plane trip to wonderland. Well, in our case to Disney World, but you get what I mean. Now, I have flown many times as have my husband and daughter, but this would be young William’s first foray in the skies. He was super excited about it, but I was a bit nervous. Flying is an amazing invention and the experience is like a thrill ride in itself, but I would rather just be there already. Know what I mean?
Anyway, back to the list. I thought I would share with you what I have come up with to survive that first plane ride in relative comfort; both yours and your kiddo’s (and all of your fellow passengers).
1) Have William pack/bring his own carry-on bag. The idea behind this is to have your child see he will have some of his favorite things with him, like a teddy bear, a sweater, etc. He will feel more grown up pulling his own bag around (until he gets tired and hands it over, but I digress..). William was given a new Monsters Inc suitcase this Christmas that he was excited to use for the first time!
2) Bring a new toy/game/stuffed friend for your child to open either at the airport or on the plane. What child does not like getting presents? Some might say the trip is gift enough, but when you are embarking on a new adventure that has true unknowns for your child (like flying for the first time) a distraction is just what the doctor ordered.
3) Pack snacks to feed your hungry beast! Airlines have rules about taking food on, but certain items are allowed. My kids are both snackers and with the price of airline food being what it is, well a snack bag just makes sense. On top of that we NEED to have a snack bag with us at all times. William is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and NEEDS safe treats. Packing our own snacks is the only way to go. It will keep your kids from getting grumpy because they are hungry and save on your wallet a bit.
4) Before boarding your flight try to wear your child out. This sounds worse then it really is. Airport waiting rooms are large and perfect for walking around, checking things out. Get your kids up on their feet, off of their electronics and moving! I have found, in the past, that Emily would fall asleep for a good portion of the flight if she had the chance to run off some of her pent up energy, ie: excitement, before the flight.
5) Take a potty break before you get on the plane. This is a common phrase in our house before we leave it for pretty much any outing, “Did you go to the potty?” Think of the plane as your outing and make your kiddo make water before they are airborne, if you can. The time between when your plane starts to back out of the terminal until you are up in the sky and can remove your seat belt can seem like forever when you have a full bladder. Better to empty it before you leave terra firma.
6) Talk to your child several days before you leave about the sounds a plane makes, the size of seats, the need to wear a seat belt and how close everyone will be to you. Airplanes are a very different beast in person and they can frighten any first time flyer. I recall the first time I flew and the lack of being able to properly hear was unnerving to say the least. And I was an adult then.
7) Aside from surprising your kiddo with a new toy or game to play with try to plan out some small games or activities to do on the plane. On the off chance your little one does not want to sleep for any length of time you will be happy to have several distractions. You can get cute little magnetic games in their own case that are perfect for air travel, or bring along a favourite magazine that is usually reserved for a treat.
8) Despite the desire to have your kids unplug during vacation bringing along electronics AND headphones will save you, especially for the older kids. My daughter already has her playlist complied as she plans to zone out the entire ride. Fine.With.Me.
9) Never underestimate the value of a good travel pillow or at least a hoodie you can bunch up. When your child starts to drift and their head is aiming for either you or the tray in front of them, a comfy place for their head will go a long way to keeping it that way.
10) Since I made the discovery of air plane ear plugs several years back I do not fly without them. They come in both adult and kid sizes and they are literally ear plugs for flying. They relieve the pressure and can save you a lot of pain and build up. The first time I flew my head killed me and it lasted for days after. Since I started to use air plane ear plugs this does not happen. I don’t want my kids to suffer the same kind of pain I did so they both get the plugs. End of story.
11) I like the idea of ending on an odd number, but this really is a great tip. Use the chance to board the plane early. Most airlines like to get the kiddos and those needing assistance, on the plane before everyone else. Trust me, you will appreciate it. Planes have narrow aisles, everyone is stuffing their gear wherever it will fit and your child just wants to climb all over the seats. If you board early you can get your stuff stowed away nicely and the kids settled in before the other two hundred people board.
I can tell you in all honesty that I utilized all of these tips during our trip and most were successful. Our take off did not go as smoothly because we were not allowed to pre-board (although we did on the return flight). William was excited, overtired and nervous, but once we were airborne it went very well. The kids had fun flying and are eager to do it again. Me, well I could walk… 🙂
Have you ever flown before? Ever flown with children? Was it fun and easy or a nightmare?