In the last 6 months or so, I feel like I’ve become a pro at traveling with kids. Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration. I mean, I only have ONE child, and she’s never been on a plane for more than 5 consecutive hours in one day, but given the number of times I’ve traveled with my daughter on my own, I’m starting to feel like an expert, so I thought I would share some of my sanity-saving tips for traveling with kids.
Now, one thing you must know is that one of my least favorite things to do in the whole wide world, second only to speaking in front of large audiences, is to fly on an airplane.
I have no idea what caused me to develop this little fear of mine, but it was a real problem when I was a kid. After screaming and crying out of sheer terror when we boarded a plane, I would sit in a semi-catatonic state until we reached our destination, willing away the need to pee for fear of being sucked through the toilet and free-falling all the way down to Earth.
Things improved as I got older and had to travel for work, but it wasn’t until I started traveling with my daughter that I was finally able to kick my fear of flying to the curb.
Because there just isn’t enough time to worry about being sucked into airplane toilets once you have a toddler to entertain.
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Anyway, after enduring 2 flight delays over the Christmas holidays, I decided to put together a list of 10 sanity-saving tips for traveling with kids, and I couldn’t resist sharing them with you.
So you don’t lose your mind when you’re 30,000 feet in the air, worrying about getting sucked into the toilets.
1. Get to the airport early, and board last. This will ensure ample time for your child to run off as much energy as possible before you strap her into her seat and expect her to sit and behave like a lady for however long your flight is.
2. Pack special toys. I have a back-pack full of toys my child is only allowed to play with when we’re on an airplane (or when she’s really sick and I desperately need something to keep her occupied). I find this helps to keep her more engaged.
3. Stickers, stickers, stickers! I never travel anywhere of consequence without stickers in my bag, and as soon as my daughter starts to get ansty, I let her climb onto my lap and decorate my body with stickers of Dora the Explorer and all of her creepy friends.
4. Find something you can do together. Sadly, my daughter hates to color, but she would spend her entire day playing with Play-Doh, and she loves when I hold her hand and write words with her. So I pack a few of those travel-sized containers of Play-Doh, a small rolling pin, and a ziplock bag full of cutters, a bunch of markers and paper, and viola! We have something the 2 of us can do together while trying not to get sucked into the toilets.
5. Pack a lot of snacks. When we travel, I throw all of my rules about eating something from the 5 basic food groups out the window, and pack all of my daughter’s favorites foods. And I always make sure to pack extra so I’m not left in a state of panic if our flight is delayed.
6. Wrap a few gifts. I’m sure you’ve already heard of this one, but just in case you haven’t, I’ll let you in on a secret. Kids love to get presents, so do yourself a favor, go to the Dollar Store before your flight, load up on a bunch of crap your child may or may not like, wrap it all up, and present her with a gift every 30-60 minutes you’re in the air. Pretty genius, right?
7. Pack some noisy toys. I know flight attendants are really against anything that makes noise, but when push comes to shove, I’m pretty sure your fellow passengers would much rather listen to Dora the Explorer’s voice than to the sound of your child screaming.
8. Load your portable DVD, iPad, or tablet with your child’s favorite shows. And for goodness sakes, make sure everything is charged!!!
9. Pack some books. As much as I hate trying to help Dora and Boots find their way to Tall Mountain, it certainly helps pass the time during take-off and landing.
10. Relax. Order yourself a glass of wine, stop worrying about what the other passengers are thinking about you, and try to make an adventure of the whole thing, because chances are whatever is on the other end of that flight is worth a few hours of hell. Right?
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