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Dear AsKA Mom, What advice can you give me for traveling with kids? Sometimes hubby is along, sometimes not. If I’m going international, is there anything special I need to know?
Thanks so much for your question! It elicited a lot of responses from our mothers, and hopefully much of this advice will be useful to you. So, read on from our wise mothers…
First of all, Mom MK points out don’t feel bad for the other passengers and don’t let yourself get worked up because of them. I have been “them” and while a screaming child is annoying, we’re not taking care of them, you are and you’re stressed enough. NW adds It`s quite simple: those who have kids will understand and those who don`t have no right to judge. Keep repeating this mantra in between slugs of vino and the trip should go smoothly.
Many of our mothers also reported in that you may have some issues in traveling with your husband on the same flight. If your husband is the perfect traveling companion with kids, count your blessings and give him an extra pat on the back. For all the rest of you, a few words of wisdom, if we may. First of all, realize that he probably won’t know the schedule/routine as well as you, and so may be waiting for orders (in which case, command away!).
Next, a lot of kids prefer to run to “Mom” when bored/tired/out of sorts, and fathers see and realize this, again making them feel unneeded. Many fathers want to help on flights, but just don’t have the same type of intuition that mothers have, and so don’t realize when they can help out until we’ve boiled over.
Our best advice is to set some ground rules with hubby, so he knows how he can help out on the plane (change diapers, walk with toddler, play/draw with kids, take turns eating and holding each other’s trays…) ahead of time, and that will keep cooler heads. OK, now that we’ve got that settled, onto making a pleasant flight with your children:
Stick to the Schedule: MK points out that this is key. LZA agrees, and believes this should especially apply to the eating schedule.
Practice Airplane Sleeping: MK notes that a good thing is to try and develop a technique to put them down to sleep in your arms, maybe a baby carrier for example or a certain position with a certain stroke etc if you don’t already have one. In my case I practiced being able to put him down after he’s fallen asleep and putting him to sleep right next to me, in other words in a bassinet on the plane. It wasn’t easy but soooo worthwhile!
Bring Favorite Foods: In fact, MK brings only the favorite foods onto the airplane. MMO brings enough to feed a small army. HE noted though that one time her child ate more than usual and got sick the rest of the trip, so keep an eye on how much they eat!
New Toys: HE says that she packs 1 activity per hour of the longest flight, each in its own bag. Since my kids are 3 years apart, they each need their own set but it is worth it. Here are some preschool/toddler examples: http://proverbsch22vs6.blogspot.jp/2012/05/travel-activities.htm. MMO notes that sticker books are also great. JEM keeps a box of toys that her child sees only when they fly, so that way the same toys “feel” new each time.
Walk: JEM feels that people don’t mind if you get up and walk awhile with your kids. My son is high energy, so he enjoys just going up and down the aisles. I believe passengers would rather be exposed to that than to a screaming/restless kid. She also points out that many airports today have play centers for children, which are worth it in terms of trying to get a lot of the high energy out of children before they board the plane. Even walking up and down the terminal will help.
Other Tidbits: This would mean things like packing extra clothes for everyone, including the adults. JF points out that if you are traveling alone (ie, without the other parent), especially to Canada, you should have a consent letter. Check out: Consent Letter for Children Travelling Abroad – Travel.gc.ca. JEM recommends getting and using a child harness as soon as your child is old enough, and checking your car seat through checked luggage. It’s less to carry, and gives your child a bit more freedom on the plane.
In a nutshell, a wise mother once gave me great advice for flying: be prepared for the worst, but expect the best. These words of wisdom are very true on an airplane. If you can imagine what your nightmare flight would be like, and what you would do in that situation, you’ll bring the right equipment on the plane. But once you get on the airplane, expect the best from your children, and display that attitude. Kids are smart; if we’re anxious, they will be too.