March Break is just around the corner, and while it’s not too late to book a vacation for you and your darlings, the idea of getting on an hours-long flight might be giving you pause. Airplane travel with your little cherubs in tow might seem like a crazy idea but it’s the kind of crazy idea that’s 100 per cent worth the effort! Sure, flying with young kids requires the patience of a million saints but once you get to your destination you will sigh with the sweet, victorious relief of a survivor.
Honestly, though, flying with your kids is not as tricky as you might imagine. Years ago, when I fell in love with an Englishman, I also unwittingly signed myself up for a lifetime of long haul flights. Through trial and error, I’ve traveled with one, then two, then three kids. And if I can do it, you certainly can!
Here are some of my suggestions that have helped simplify our airplane journeys over the years.
Rein in Your Fears
If the idea of flying makes you break into a cold sweat, try a few (or all) of these childcare-friendly ways to relax:
- Abuse lavender, eucalyptus or any other relaxing essential oil. Put it in a small roll-on or mini spray bottle (less than 100 oz.) and then go hard on that bad boy. Sniff it up! Breeeeeathe in the calm. Releeeeeease the stress.
- Consume 1 or 2 glasses of wine (or another beverage of your choice). I usually go with something light in colour, in case it spills.
- Make: “Fake it ’til you make it” your in-flight motto. Knowing that the kids are watching and taking cues from you may help you appear calm when you are actually crapping bricks. I’ve found shouting “woo hooooooo” or “weeeeeee,” as we bounce around during turbulence, somewhat effective. If you feign good times the kids won’t worry and when the kids are cool, half the battle has been won.
Be prepared AF
Pack all your basics and consider some of these extras. Make sure to choose a backpack (because you are not an Octo-mom and you’ll be needing free hands, a lot).
- Wet wipes, even if you don’t have bums to wipe. They come in handy for a variety of reasons.
- Medicine for the kids and for the headache you may develop.
- Drinking bottles or sippy cups. This prevents spills and allows kids to keep a drink on the go even when their tray is down (useful for take-off and landing in case they feel pressure in their ears).
- A back-up outfit for little people. And, it doesn’t hurt to throw in an extra top for yourself. You could even #KonMari an entire outfit for you (just in case).
- A few empty grocery bags. They’re good for packing up your garbage at the end and for wet/yucky clothing.
- A book, a secret chocolate bar, a magazine or a kindle, because you never know, you might luck out and snag a break!
Pack a Bag of Tricks
Channel your inner Kindergarten teacher or Pinterest mom, whomever you need in order to pack an awesome bag of tricks. This bag needs to be strategically packed with goodness for the neverending playdate that you and your kid(s) are about to embark upon.
Pack your backpack full of activities/games/toys (as listed below). Release them as slowly as possible (ie.one every 30 minutes). This slow release is key…
- print a stack of colouring pages from the internet (ie. Paw Patrol, Doc McStuffins etc.)
- Turn some of these print-offs into: “Art” (which can be gifts for grandma). This simply involves mounting them onto colourful construction paper. They are “very special,” so you have to spend lots of time on each picture
- Crayons (or washable markers)
- Stencils and shapes to trace
- Colouring/activity books from Dollarama
- An empty sticker book to fill with a variety of easy to peel stickers
- A lap tray with a beanbag bottom is very useful for toddlers (and even pre-schoolers) as they can’t easily reach the plane trays. I know it sounds a bit excessive but it helps keep them on their bums
- A few plastic take-out containers (the rectangular ones) to put crayons, stencils, and stickers in (they sit flat on the tray and are less likely to spill than a soft pencil case or cup)
- Letter paper, envelopes & postcards to write or draw on
- Lined notebooks for story writing (they can tell the story and you can write it)
- An endless supply of snacks. Note * often times you can order a special kid’s meal online as well
- Pack a never seen before mini tea set, some farm animals (who can join in the tea party, some blocks for their village, and some foam letters because C and D like to have tea too
- Bring some favourite toys from home and wrap them up in gift wrap to add a few WTF moments to the flight
- Obviously bring a tablet and comfy earphones, fully loaded with games, movies, and songs
Travelling with the kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare, just pack that bag of tricks, take a deeeeep sniff of your lavender and remember, it won’t last forever.