Thursday, August 27, 2015

Flying with Young Children

Traveling with young children.  Don’t do it.  OK, maybe that was a bit harsh.  I myself have traveled multiple times, but you have to have realistic expectations.  For starters it is called the trip, not a vacation.  Yes, you will have moments of fun, but you will also have many moments of wanting to scream and pull your hair out.  It takes a lot of work with few, if any, moments of relaxation.

This is not to say you should never travel with young children, but you have to lower your expectations.  You have to be prepared that if the trip is a total failure, it is okay.   For this reason I have a rule that we will not be taking any once-in-a-lifetime trips when our youngest child is under the age of five.  Age four may be okay, it depends on their personality and if they are done needing naps.
So though I would love to go to Hawaii, Europe, the Grand Canyon, they will not be happening for us anytime soon.  We do however go to Disney World.  This may be a one time vacation for some, but not for us. We have been a few times as it is surprisingly affordable when children are under 3 as they are free and if you travel during low season.  One of our Disney trips was a complete disaster filled with terrible weather and an extremely moody sick child who ended up requiring a trip to the hospital.  It sucked and I want to forget about it.  If this was our one and only time to Disney?!  It would have felt like the biggest waste, but we knew we would go again.  So though crappy, it was easier to digest knowing we would be back one day.

That all said big trips do happen when you have young children, and there are ways to help you survive them.  Just this last year my brother got married in Australia.  Australia!  24 hours of flying, not including layovers.  And we did this with our almost 4 year old son, and our 1 and ¾ daughter.  To save $1500 we decided to make our daughter a lap child (we still had to pay $600 for her to breathe air though).  And did I mention I was 20 weeks pregnant?!  I started having anxiety attacks after I booked the tickets.  Here is how we survived.

Quiet Book
I made my own quiet book using felt and a glue gun. There are heaps of ideas on Pinterest for quiet book pages.  It took some time to make, but it was well worth it as it entertained both of my children. If you are not crafty, I have seen quiet books on etsy.  But really, I think anyone could make a basic one.  Here is a link to the one I made.  The pages with flaps provided the longest entertainment.

I would not rely on airplane movies.  If you know of a favourite movie or TV show that child will watch over and over again.  Put it on there.  Also Apps!  I took off all of my apps on there just to make more room.  Some of our favourite were the Sandra Boynton interactive books, and the Endless Alphabet.

Did you know that liquid restrictions don't apply when you have a child under 2? You should have seen the amount of liquid food pouches I had in my carry on!  Yes they serve plane food, but will your child eat it?  Mine didn't.  I brought lots of finger foods.  To name a few, crackers/cheese/edamame/grapes/cucumber/carrots/bagels.  Anything not messy, and not too strong in odour.  Food does not have to be in packages.  Even home baked goods are fine!  As for treats we brought gummies, lollipops, and smarties.

Dollar Store Toys
It's a great idea to bring something new, but also something you can be prepared to lose, so do not spend a lot.  Along with colouring books, small dollar store toys are a great idea.  Something that will not roll down the isle if dropped, and does not make loud noises. 

Stickers and even masking tape can provide entertainment.  My son put stickers all over my arm and his tray.  They were better quality stickers and came off easily.  A good sticker book is a must!  I suggest finding one of your child's favourite cartoon character.  Pocoyo and Frozen stickers were a huge hit. 

The Kid's Fort
Bassinet Seat
Even if your child will not sleep in a bassinet, it is great to have the extra room.  We received it on one our legs by chance and I wish we had requested it the entire way.  The extra space was great!  We even turned the bassinet into a fort using a blanket.  The kids loved it.

Seat belts On
Unless you have the bassinet row with room to move, do not give it as an option to leave off.  Yes it is important to stretch their little legs, but do it with a purpose.  Go to toilet to do a pee/wash your hands, get a snack from the flight attendant at the back of the plane.  Getting up always had a reason.  You do not want your child roaming the isles for fun, or else good luck getting that toddler back in when the seat belt sign turns on. 

Flight Attendants
Make friends!  On our long flights I would go back to visit them and they were always very friendly.  It killed time, my kids got extra snacks and it provided a good opportunity to stretch legs.

Avoid Night Flying
While this may seem like a great idea, there is a good chance they will not sleep.   Want to know what is worse than having a loud child on the plane?  A loud child on the plane when everyone else is trying to sleep.   I much rather entertain my child than deal with a child who refuses to sleep.   Flying to Australia we could not avoid this and on our 16 hour flight my son slept 4 hours broken up, and my daughter only 2!!  How on earth little people can will themselves to stay awake amazes me.

Ignore Rude People
No matter how well your children behave, some people will hate you no matter what.  On the same flight I have had people tell me how amazing my children were, all while some stranger gave me death eyes every time my child made the smallest noise.  You cannot win some people over, don't try.  Ignore them, they do not exist, do not allow them to ruin your trip. 

A couple additional tips include the use of Melatonin.  I learned this from a few people after the fact so I do not know if it would have improved my children's sleep on the plane, but it helped tremendously with jet lag!  A much better solution than using benadryl or gravol as melatonin is something the body naturally produces.  We used Jamieson strips 3mg and cut the strips into 3 pieces as 1mg is the dosage for a young child. (Of course ask your medical provider, I am just sharing what worked for us).

Another tip is REST after your flight.  Who cares about getting over jet lag immediately.  After traveling over 30hours with little sleep we went to a party!  Not smart.  Both of my children got terribly sick and I really believe a big part of that was not letting them sleep. 

To end this blog post, know that it will end.  That is what got me through the last leg of the flight.  I focused on the fact I would soon be home and never ever have to be in this situation ever again.

Good luck!!  If you have flown or traveled with young I would love to hear your tips!
Thanks for stopping by,

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