Do you look back at flying during your childless days with nostalgia? I do! I miss settling into my seat with my headphones, something fun to read, and an occasional cocktail. Now flying requires precision planning and an extra dose of patience.
My son has been flying since he was four months old. We've mainly had good flights, but we've also had a couple bad ones. But with every trip we seem to get a little better at it. We took a recent spring break trip to the Caribbean and we averted any real disasters. Here are a few things we did to help us get through long flights.
Be well rested - It's not always easy with red-eye flights or with the excitement of going somewhere new, but if you plan ahead, you can try your best to have the whole family get plenty of sleep at least a couple of days before the big trip.
Consider buying an extra seat - If you have a child who's almost two but you want to take that last trip as a lap baby, you may want to reconsider. Toddlers do better when they have their own space, especially on long flights. If it's economically feasible, you might be very relieved you did it.
Bribes work - A mom with grown children taught me this trick. Wrap
some small presents and pull them out one at a time during the course of
a long flight. For one long trip, I bought a ten pack of Matchbox cars
and wrapped them individually. We put them in different pockets of our
carry-on bags (our son always asks to see where treats come from to
make sure there aren't others we haven't pulled out). That was a
successful distraction. We also packed a few of my husband's fancy
artist's pens, which our son is normally not allowed to touch. We gave
him the pens and his own Moleskine
notebook, just like his dad's. He added some stickers and created a
story book that not only kept him busy, but is now a keepsake that
reminds us of our trip.
Bring snacks - Now even though I've suggested packing a few toys and activities, forget about weighing down your carry-on with too many toys and activities. Use that precious space for edible goodies. Go grocery shopping (don't attempt to do this on the fly at the airport) for healthy snacks, like cereal bars, dried fruits and Cheerios. But don't feel bad if you pack some M&M's. A few treats go over well.
Don't feel guilty about using distractions - Being strict is not my parenting style, but I do feel strongly about how much television my child should watch. However, I've learned to relax when it comes to long flights. Confined space plus tired, bored two-year-old equals major meltdown waiting to happen. Even if he watches an entire animated movie, it's not going to make him an addict. Besides, I've learned kids do get tired of watching movies on long flights so I might as well enjoy a moment of calm.
With summer vacation around the corner, do you have any traveling trips you'd like to share?