Tuesday, February 3, 2015

FLYING WITH KIDS


Photo used with permission from Tim Coulson

By Jo
Jo is a lifestyle and travel enthusiast. As the mother of three young boys she is fearless when it comes to road trips, tents, cabins, cafe's and international adventure. From packing the essentials to planning the perfect kid friendly itinerary, Jo runs a tight ship and is on board to share her knowledge and experience with us here at The Beetle Shack. 

Flying these days is basically a given. It is more affordable than ever and is a fast, efficient safe way to travel. The first time I ’took to the skies' I was 17 years old however all three of my children flew before they were one. My oldest is the one who announces to the whole plane at the top of his lungs ‘we’re flying!’ every time we take off. 

He’s excited- I’m not. 

I’m a VERY anxious flyer so I’m already on high alert when I board any vehicle that will be leaving the beloved ground. The idea of kids cutting in to my precious ‘freak out’ time is overwhelming, so I’ve always sort out advice and tips before boarding. Here’s a few things I have either picked up or learned the hard way over the years.

1- Breastfeed when taking off and landing, or the whole way really! It helps ease the pressure on baby's ears and will hopefully help them sleep. For older kids, we ask the flight attendants for a cup of ice to suck on. It’s time consuming and novel and has a similar effect on their ears. From experience, we have found that sucking lollies turns our children into sugar vampires thirsty for more. This basically spirals out of control which is not a nice feeling when your trapped in a small space with a limited supply of vampire food.

2- Stay unusually calm. I don’t, but I know I should. I’ll never forget sitting across the aisle from a lady with a 6 month old and a 2 and a half year old. I’ve never seen someone so strangely calm in the face of battle. She was amazingly controlled throughout toilet trips, breastfeeds and tears and she had such a calming effect on her children (and me!)

3- Activity books, sticker books, pens, pencils, plasticine- anything that might entertain them for at least 5 minutes (and hopefully more).

4- Healthy snacks. When kids are bored they just want to eat so take lots of healthy food to fill them up. We usually take one ‘naughty’ snack for when we hear the mayday call…

5- Choose travel times that work for the kids. If you land at 10pm with small children you can’t expect them to cooperate while your lined up in customs. Sure you might have saved $20 taking the later flight but was it really worth it?

6- Dress your kids in comfy clothes and take a special comfort toy like a teddy, blanky or dummy.

7- Don’t make enemies with the flight attendants. Rules are rules. I haven’t actually done this and have always had a great experience with very kind helpful flight attendants but I do remember hearing people battle with the flight attendant because they didn’t want to put their over 2 year old in his own seat for take off. No one was happy by the end of it…

8- If your baby cries it’s pretty much going to suck. All you can do is your best and if your baby is sad try not to waste emotional energy on being embarrassed or apologetic. Just cuddle that little thing and pray to be teleported. Also, you've probably underestimated the number of sympathetic passengers who, inspired by your child's howls, are at that very moment fondly remembering their own family travel adventures:)

9- iPad. Movie marathon!

10- Did I say iPad? Anything starting with ‘i’ really… There are some great toddler/kid friendly apps out there. It’s a good idea to load a few extra apps in the airport before you board. Plus you can just delete them after (before they become addicts).


4 comments:

  1. As a mother of boys with an English husband, I've had to fly since our first was 4mths old so I related to all these points! Great advice.

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  2. I have family in the northern hemisphere so flying with the kids quite a lot. Great points. Would also add bring your own headphones for the kids since the adult sized ones on the plane are way too big. It gets easier as they grow up!

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  3. Great tips. I love traveling with my kids! I have used sultanas for chewing at take off and landing, any dried fruit really and it works great for any time of day or night. My three big tips are 1. smile, at everyone, it helps keep the passengers around you in a good mood, the flight attendants like it and let's face it, happiness is contagious. 2. Stay calm. No matter what happens, just stay calm, work through it and all will be ok. 3. Be prepared. Spend some time getting organised and have activities and games to play, snacks, spare clothes, lots of wipes and know how long the trip is going to take so you can space it all out.

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  4. A friend of my, Kim Jenkins, published a book on Amazon that walk a child through their first plane trip with real photos and simple text. If you are interested I can ask her to send you a free copy of the PDF or Kindle Version. You can find the book here: http://amzn.com/1494751852

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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em