traveling with tikes

Don’t be mad, but the mamafication family gets to go to South Florida tomorrow! *Woot Woot!*  My parents live down in ‘ol Sunshineville and we have the great fortune of being able to visit them a few times per year…this week being one of those times.

I’m a fairly seasoned traveler.  I held my first frequent flier membership before I graduated from elementary school and haven’t really stopped earning miles since.  I travel for my “real job” as well, so I take to the skies more often than the average bear. Needless to say, I’ve had my rough experiences in the air. Screaming babies,  whining toddlers, those little feet kicking incessantly at my lumbar spine (Not to mention the kids on the plane *da duh kshhh*). Picture me with my eyes tightly sealed shut while that vein above my left eyebrow starts to pulse and turn purple because I’m biting my tongue so hard as not to turn around and shriek “YO! Ever consider telling your kid not to shove their phalanges up my rear?”.

All kidding aside, the only thing more stressful than having to witness a bored-out-of-their-mind, ear-pulling, tray-table pounding, screeching child on a plane is for that child to be the one with whom you are traveling.

My husband and I have been flying down to Florida with Stinky since before she graduated to toddlerhood and even then, we had the “airplane rules”. We started young with her, explained everything to her, brought enough “stuff” to keep her busy, but not so much that we were overwhelmed. We are adamant carry on-ers…even with two kids on a week long vacation, so limiting the “stuff” is key. This will be Little Man’s second trip, and although he doesn’t understand the words…hopefully he will learn, over time, through his sister’s example. So I thought, what better time to share our “tips to stress-less when traveling with your tikes” than on the eve of our very own voyage.

Before we get to our very important airplane rules (of which there are 4), it is important to review our preparedness tactics (so dramatic aren’t I?).

1. We make sure we start to talk about the things that we are going to do on the plane weeeeeks before we are scheduled to depart. This includes if we are expecting a nap to take place (depending on the time of day and duration of the flight).

2. We pack the things that are associated with the activities that we have long been discussing. This usually includes a sticker/activity book, coloring book and crayons, books to read and/or look at and possibly a card game or flash cards (could be messy if this spills though…weigh the benefit to risk on this one) and a few small, noiseless toys. PLEASE NOTE: we do not pack a portable DVD player, computer, or any other electronic device on our travels. On an overseas flight we would probably consider this, but seriously, there is nothing worse than the potential meltdown that can occur when the *bong* * bong* goes off and the flight attendant dutifully announces that “all electronics must now be turned off and stowed”…and there is still 30-40 minutes left of your flight. We like to avoid that situation. (Not to mention the fact that anything that has a battery back up needs to be taken out of your bag and put into one of those lovely gray bins at security. Not worth the hassle for us.)

3. We review the “activity itinerary”, expectations for the day and the airplane rules the night before we leave and again on our way to the aiport. We try to keep it light and fun so that it seems like an activity that we are all participating in, not just us hammering rules down their throats.

We have had nothing but success with this for all of our family travels, which is quickly approaching double digits.  Even the flights that had connections, were delayed or were at odd times of the day.

So, without further delay (I know the suspense is killing you), I present to you…THE AIRPLANE RULES:

1. No kicking the seat in front of you. In fact, keep your tootsies off of it all together.

2. No playing with the tray table…either up or down…pick one and stick with it.

3. Shhhh…quiet. People are trying to read, sleep or think. As adorable as we think your rendition of Twinkle Twinkle is…trust us, no one else wants to hear you screaming it at 30,000 feet.

4. No touchy on the window shade.  What is it with this thing and kids? It goes up. It goes down. No matter how strong the attraction, this is a hands off item in our aisle.

Yep. That’s it. That’ the whole shebang.

4 rules. Anticipation of airplane activities. Execution of those activities.  5 hours of sitting in an airport and flying through the air has never been so easy.  When you add the carry on baggage only (meaning no schlepping around an unsightly amount of shhhtuff) this makes for a pretty enjoyable day of travel.

If you are good at sticking to the rules at home. Then sticking to these won’t be any more difficult. These are our secrets of success (knock on wood).

You know…there are some adults that I can think of that might benefit from these rules ;-)

Happy traveling!

P.S. If you travel with your kids, don’t forget to sign them up for frequent flier miles.  They add up quickly and you can transfer them over to your account to make enough miles for free tickets faster.

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