Kids on a plane. Seems like it could be a title for a thriller movie kind of like Snakes on a Plane. Not sure which one is worse.
Traveling with kids, especially on a plane, can seem daunting but it doesn't have to be. Like with everything else you do with kids, proper preparation can cut down on the craziness. It's really up to you and your child. If they have a parent who is stressed out than they will be stressed out, too. If you are rushing through the airport because you didn't leave yourself enough time, that will surely make them tense and the whole situation that much more chaotic.
We've traveled quite a bit with our young kids and here is what we have learned to help us get through the madness.
Unless your child absolutely loves to color, don't pack coloring books. My kids don't like coloring and pretending this is the perfect activity for them on the plane was my mistake. The crayons are messy and fly off the tray. So unless your kids can color for hours, find something else. I've seen some really cute posts on little toy boxes for Legos and dress up dolls. What I did for my girls on the 9 hour trip to Hawaii was pack each one of them a back pack with their own mini binders. Some had worksheets and word searches. Some had dollar store puzzles in plastic baggies. Pack activities you know your kids will enjoy. You can make a lot of things in a mini travel version.
Use clear zip pouches and organize your goods for easy access. We had a pencil pouch that had easily inserted into a three ring binder. I filled their pencil pouches with kid friendly scissors, glue stick, post its, stickers, dry erase markers, small glow sticks, glitter gel pens, invisible ink pens, and legos.
Our oldest two girls each have their own Amazon Fire. We make sure to prepare their devices prior to traveling with their favorite parent approved app, eBooks, music, and a couple of movies downloaded via Netflix. We make sure to have them fully charged and have their chargers packed. If there is one thing to stop a meltdown, it's an episode of their favorite show!!! Now is not the time to listen 2-hour limit watching TV your pediatrician recommended.
I like to bribe my kids for every hour they behaved they get to open a goodie bag! These babies were a pleasant entertainment for at least 20 minutes each...lol Fill little brown bags with mini toys, lollipops, candy, and snacks. It will break up the travel time and give them mini milestones to look forward to until you arrive at your destination.
Here are some fun suggestions....
These are tried and true. Shopkins "Go Shopping" game was hilarious and I personally enjoyed the Eye Found It card game. It's a game we've had for several years and love playing it late at night when camping!
Pack a crap load of food and snacks.
Now is not the time to be stingy on snacks in fear of spoiling an appetite. Kids eat when they are bored and there is nothing more angelic than a peaceful kid sitting nicely in their seat quietly chomping on some goldfish. Our snack times on a plane are like little breaks for mama! Put them in snack bags and let them munch away.
- Mini Chips Ahoy
- Granola bars
- Fruit Snacks
Stock up on gum or lollipops
I can remember as a child being on a plane and screaming because my ears felt like balloons that were about to pop. The altitude adjustments are enough to make my ears pop so imagine your little's. Give them gum to keep those jaws moving and swallowing to help them adjust. Too young for gum? Safety pops or bananas work just as well.
Don't travel when they are tired
Is your child accustomed to a specific sleep schedule? Do they normally sleep in until 8 and you plan on taking a 5 AM flight? I know it seems like a bright idea traveling right when your kids will pass out in the hopes that they will sleep through the trip but with all the excitement of traveling and anticipation of the destination your kid will most likely not fall asleep. At least not right away. So traveling with tired and cranky kids only ups the chances of a meltdown. Plan to have naps taken in the middle of the trip. By the time you have been up in the air for an hour or two, they may be bored or in a plane trance at that time and settled for better chances of taking a snooze. Fingers crossed then sleep through the landing so they don't feel the painful altitude adjustments on the ears.
Pack change of clothes
I made the mistake of not doing this on our return flight from Hawaii. Penny was feeling a little under the weather and had a huge diaper blow out!! Of course, the one time I don't pack extra clothes this happens. I was running through the airport trying to find a onesie before our flight left. Was there a baby Hawaiian onesie souvenir? Nope. I had to buy a 3T t-shirt that she was swimming in. Don't forget about the older kids too! That seat belt light can feel like a death sentence to kids that need to pee and in the event that you get more than just a drip, an extra set of undies would be nice.
Have an open mind
Kids are not perfect and things can and will go wrong. Flights delay. Kids get sick. You forget your Amazon Fire! So put on that smile and have a Mary fucking Poppins attitude about it and know this too shall pass. The better you handle yourself, the better they will be. There is nothing worse than a poor attitude that will only taint the memories of your trip. Laugh off the chaos because looking back now, I can say it was all a good story to later tell.
If you are using formula, pack twice as much!
You just never know when you will have a delay and that is the last thing you would want to run out of.
Pack extra plastic bags
For garbage, dirty diapers, soiled and stained clothes. Just do it!