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flying with kids

In Explore, Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
August 8, 2019

Tips for Surviving Long Haul Flights with Kids

Dreaming of taking trips to incredible destinations? Dreaming of taking your children around the world to experience new cultures and take on new adventures? Having nightmares about the long flights? We have all been there!

From when my children were old enough to have a passport (so basically the first few weeks), my husband and I have been taking our children on trips around the world. Our first long haul trip was with our 6 month old daughter to Turkey. Of Course we were terrified. As new parents and never having travelled with children before we couldn’t even anticipate what it might look like. To make it worse, him and I had this image of exhausted parents not having slept for 24 hours pacing back and forth in airplane consoling a screaming baby in our minds. Our first experience wasn’t too far off from that image to be honest. On the way to Turkey, we had crying, no sleep, we had many many outfit changes and throw up. Lots of throwup! Not a great way to kick off a 2 week vacation. BUT we sat down, and we worked out a great plan for the return, taking into account everything we had experienced. It was almost perfect! We got it all worked out and we were now prepared. Fast forward 6 years and 2 kids later, we have taken many long haul flights including Egypt, Singapore, Indonesia, and The Philippines. 

I want to share with you my tips for taking long haul flights so that you can get past the anxiety of flying with children and start enjoying all the amazing places this world has to offer! 

BABY: 

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In Explore, Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
October 26, 2018

How to Keep Your Busy Baby Busy on The Plane!

Airplane travel with babies can be an anxiety-inducing adventure! Especially when your baby is under 2 years old and they are riding in your lap. I traveled lots with both of my children when they were babies and compiled this list of ideas that I’ve used personally to keep them occupied on those long flights.

 

 

 

This list is for babies aged about 8 – 18 months.

  • Lots of favourite snacks to munch on – also new snacks to try out will create a lot of excitement and wonder as well!
  • Coloured sticky notes to pull apart and stick around is always entertaining!
  • New board books or tiny books for small hands.
  • Magnetic sticker books.
  • Aquadoodle is always a hit with the older babies.
  • Wrap up little trinkets from the dollar store to let them unwrap on the plane. You’ll have to bring the wrapping paper and tape so you can do your wrapping after going through security.
  • New small toys. Anything with new texture or interesting gadgets they can handle and play with will keep them busy.
  • Stand and let your little one enjoy roaming around in your seat (if it’s safe of course!) Gives them more freedom than being confined to your lap.
  • Walk the aisles periodically to let them explore and stretch.
  • If all else fails, load some baby-friendly apps on your tablet or smartphone to keep them occupied or distracted.

Do you have anything great ideas to add to this list? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

Jody is a mom to two highly energetic daughters. She owns a marketing firm in Edmonton, www.makinamarketing.com, and is a travel blogger at www.worktravelrepeat.ca.You can find her on Twitter @holajody and Instagram @jodyninahyeg.
In Explore, Parenting on
March 25, 2018

Tips for Air Travel with Mini Time Bombs

By Natalie

Now that we can see Summer Holiday’s coming you might be considering where you’re family is heading off to. If you are anything like most parents, you’re dreaming of your vacation, but dreading the flight with kids. For some, the flight alone is a deterrent.

Personally, I love to travel. I crave adventure, new scenery and most of all, a change in the everyday routine. We have been lucky to have travelled quite a bit with our children. Since we don’t have the luxury of grandparents close by, leaving our girls behind is out of the question- plus, we kind of like them;)

We’ve voyaged to Hawaii, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Los Angeles and all over Scotland and Ireland with children under the age of 5. Admittedly, the flight is always my biggest stressor, but thankfully I have found being well-prepared and doing my research has turned flying into a fun, albeit chaotic adventure. Here are some tips that we have learned along the way to avoid catastrophic meltdowns.

Choose your flights carefully

It is worth every cent to find a convenient route with less stopovers rather than opt for the cheapest flights. Consider breaking your journey up with a break. When going transAtlantic, a stop over for the night in Toronto has saved us a few times! Also, choosing a red-eye allowed us to have the littles sleep for most of the flight. When travelling through time zones, it’s also important to take into account the jet lag when we return home, so for the working parent, you need to ensure you have a day off on the end of your trip to have a babysitter or relative watch the kids while you sleep and readjust.

It’s all about the seating…

Swallow the cost and pay for seat choice. You hear horror stories of families that were separated, even cases of small children having to sit alone. If you pay and choose your seats, you will avoid the stress of finding out that one adult is stuck with two kids, while the other reclines in luxury several rows back. If you are a party of three, then I envy you. For all other family sizes, I recommend booking within the same row. One parent in the middle seat, one child in window, one on aisle, and partner across the aisle (and any subsequent children beside them). Then the aisle parent will deal with the child directly across from them, leaving the middle parent to tend to the one in the window seat. If this option isn’t available, try dividing up by twos. One parent and child in one aisle, the other parent and child close by. The bonus to long haul flights is that there is often a middle aisle, and sometimes you can all fit in.

Stroller VIP

If you travel with a little one in a stroller, then you can often fast track your security clearance!!!! Hello express lane.  If that isn’t enough to make you want to travel with youngsters… However, you also may want to take a seat further back in the plane if this is the case, since you can generally pre-board with kids, you will still get on the plane quickly, but when you disembark you will need to wait for your stroller to be brought up from underneath the plane. No sense rushing off the plane just to wait in a congested hallway. Mid plane seating usually works perfectly with the arrival of a gate-checked stroller.

Run it out

While you wait for your flight, find the nearest (or furthest) kids play area and have your minis run it out. If you are unfortunate enough to not have one in your gate area, then use long empty hallways, empty lounges or even sparsely populated moving sidewalks to have your kids expel all extra energy. Now would NOT be the time to give in to requests for treats or liquids. If you are heading on to an overnight flight, consider getting kids into their pjs and doing as much bedtime routine as possible before you board.

Inflight entertainment

So much of the entertainment provided onboard is based on the airline you choose. If you don’t bring your own media and devices with you, then it is definitely worth finding out what is available on the plane. When we flew to the UK, we had only one iPad, so we rented one from Air Canada Rouge, and it was the best decision ever. There was no seatback media (as often is the case now) so each child had their own iPad, hallelujah- fighting avoided. We also made sure to bring children’s earphones so that the volume was never too loud. Bring any and all media you are okay with. We downloaded audiobooks, netflix movies, games and photos. We also brought a Leappad, iPhone, and iPod. Between them all, we probably managed to kill about 5 hours of flight time! Parenting win.

One thing at a time

My rule for the kids when we travel is, “One thing at a time.” We do the opposite of multi-task. In order to not run out of activities or patience, the littles are only allowed to choose one activity (for a predetermined amount of time). When it is time for a snack, all activities/media are put away. We eat one snack at a time. Then we clean up. A highlight is often the plane meals! They love all the little things that come on the tray. Then I take the kids, one at a time (this allows me time to stretch) to the washroom. We wash hands, wash faces, use the toilet, blow noses etc. Anything to kill time! Travelling also feels less stressy when you move at a glacial pace.

Snacks

Usually we are pretty healthy around our house, but when the kids are going to be confined to a seat for endless hours, sometimes you need a bit of sugar as collateral for good behaviour (yes, I know, not the best parenting method…but you will thank me when your preschooler is quiet for an hour while they suck the world’s largest lollipop.) It’s all about convenient, long lasting snacks. I choose things that require lots of chewing (gum, raisins, licorice), or suckers. The former are all small and time consuming items. Beef jerky, hard candies and cheese strings also work well. Again, my kids aren’t allowed to have media while they are snacking. When they are older with a longer attention span then by all means do whatever works for you!

Creative Activities

For flights longer than 3-4 hours, snacks and media sometimes are not enough to keep a small child occupied. My answer to this problem is the activity envelope. I use this on every car trip and flight we go on. Grab a plastic accordion envelope from the dollar store and then go nuts filling it with activities. I use a section for colouring, one for invisible ink activities, one for small stories, one for small crafts, one for sticker books, one for activity books and in the last section I store all crayons, brushes and markers in their own ziploc bags. This envelope is always the highlight of the trip. The kids love choosing what they would like to do, and I like that all of the items are in one place, and easy to store. I pack that thing everywhere.

Relax… and plan for the worst

Finally, the best advice I have is this: Be pessimistic and expect the worst. That way, you will be pleasantly surprised when your child only screams for 10 minutes during take-off rather than the whole flight. Realistically, it is pretty hard to get through any flight with no tears. On a red-eye to Dublin, my youngest daughter screamed the whole time we pre-boarded, and well in to the flight attendant’s speech. She simmered down to a cry during taxiing, and by the time we hit altitude she was asleep. We received only a handful of glares, and one couple thought we couldn’t hear their judging whispers, but by the end of the 7 hour flight, she had completely redeemed herself, not another tear was wasted. Her crying was soon forgotten, and the same whispering couple told us how delightful our daughters had been on such a “long and late flight.”

In my opinion, braving a flight for a wonderful vacation is 100% worth it. All of my best memories are ones where we have left behind our everyday life and focused on exploring together. A flight only lasts so long, but memories last a lifetime. So if you are on the fence about jetting off somewhere this year- just do it! You won’t regret it!

Natalie is an educator in St. Albert, Alberta. She is the mother of three incredible little girls under 6, and one evil cat. She is passionate about adventure travel, culture and running.

 

In Explore, Parenting on
January 24, 2018

Travelling with a Little One – The Plane Ride

By Christina Pilarski

I still remember my first plane ride – I was 21.

My parents did not prioritize travel when I was a kid, so when I had kids I knew that I wanted to make it happen.

My boys first plane ride was at 11-months. An almost five-hour trip to Mexico. Plane rides are interesting – I’m one of those people that could be asleep on a plane instantly if I could be so now adding a restless little one to my lap is a challenge.

In my experience the plane ride is about two things – keep the kid 1) happy and 2) busy. And, hope to God that at some point they fall asleep.

At the beginning of my travel experience I used to try to book planes to coordinate around naptime thinking I had beat the system – wrong. My kids are not plane nappers … so this strategy was not a winning one for us. My advice would be to just make whatever time work. Travel means you are going to be making some adjustments anyways so you might as well start on the plane.

So how have I kept my toddlers happy and busy on plane rides? Here are my must haves:

  • 2 Carry-Ons – one for you and one for your partner – pack one with the adult stuff (lap tops, your wallet, travel docs, etc.) and one with the kid stuff. I made the mistake a few times of having some baby stuff in one and some in the other. When you child is screaming at 35,000 feet you won’t remember which bag the diapers are in so having everything related to baby in one makes your life easier.
  • Stickers!!! Especially it they are 1+. Stickers are fun and challenging. You can tell a story about each, have them take time to pick favorites, have them stick them on paper, your face, their face, the flight attendant’s hand ….
  • On our hour plane ride to Abbotsford our boys ate the entire time. It was awesome. They are in a ‘I love yogurt’ stage and only want to eat it with their own spoon. Yes – a bit messy and yes – very time consuming. This makes it an airplane win! Bring food that is easy to clean up and you know they will eat; for us that’s berries, grapes (pre-cut), yogurt, milk, water, baby cookies, cheese, and crackers. Pack this in a grocery bag so all the food is easy to pull in and out of your carry on – they will want to look at it going through security. Ask for like 20 napkins from the flight attendant on the way by. This also leads me to the importance of having a garbage strategy – I use the barf bag in the seat pocket. Open it shove all garbage in their as you get it and keep it under your seat. Garbage can get out of control with a toddler and you have nowhere to keep it.
  • Naptime comforts. Bring everything you need to ensure naptime can be as comfortable as possible. Maybe even a favorite story.
  • A new toy on the plane is like finding buried treasure. A new toy is going to keep their attention for the maximum amount of time.

And my final bit of advice – the amount of people who are understanding out weigh those that aren’t. And, in my experience, lots of people want to help. Don’t be afraid to ask people on the plane for help, stop and chat with those people who make faces at your baby (every way to help time go by helps), and remember that even if your kid is going 100 miles a minute if you are keeping them happy and busy you’re winning.

Happy flying!

Christina Pilarski is a mom of twins. Her boys were born in September 2016 and she knows they will only keep getting louder, quicker, smarter, and funner! She runs her own public relations firm, CIPR Communications, and she is the true definition of #momboss. Born and raised in Calgary and now raising her family there too; she loves the outdoors, politics, her two dogs, and her partner (in life and business – Peter!). Website:  twobabiesandabusiness.com , Twitter @crontynen , LinkedIn cpilarski, Instagram twobabiesandabusiness,