Holiday season is upon us and odds are good you will be traveling in the next few months. It’s bad enough to fly on a long flight as an adult, but for kids it can feel like a cruel punishment. Come to think of it, that’s probably how it feels for many a parent when traveling with children. But flying does not need to be that way. With a bit of planning, and some enthusiasm – real or otherwise – flying with children, even toddlers, can be fun. Okay, it can be managed and much less stressful. I’m fairly confident a 10+ hour flight is never fun, though I’ve not seen what goes on up there in first class.
Here’s a list of things we take along on long flights with Reina and it has made all the difference in keeping her engaged and content sitting for hours on end while hopping back and forth across the Pacific. Reina is now 3- and a-half, but I’ve made two solo flights with her at age 2 and 3 and about half a dozen more with Savvy too. Here’s what goes into our carryon:
1. One or two Coloring books – don’t forget the crayons
2. Two sticker books or water paint books (paint books with paint already on the pages are very convenient and easy to use on the plane)
4. Something new, but small, from Duplo or Lego
5. Mini size 10 pack of Play Doh and a few tools
6. Pipe cleaners or Wikki Stix (more below)
8. Deck of cards or similar sized small games
9. Two changes of clothes (we’ve never needed them, but I wouldn’t want to be in need at 35,000 feet)
10. Favorite plush toy
11. Snacks, lots of snacks
Reina loves to fly, but doesn’t care much for airline food (who does?), so I pack lots of snacks. We have even managed to take favorite drinks, but it did depend on who’s doing the security screening as to whether the drinks made it on the plane. While you are at it, throw in some goodies for mama and baba too. Why should you suffer?
If you can find them, Wikki Stix are great for flying. Basically, they are simply string coated with wax (think tacky pipe cleaners). They don’t make a mess, can be attached to the hard surfaces of the seat back and kept Reina busy for over an hour on our last flight in September.
Whatever you bring, getting some new goodies to surprise the kids with is a sure way to increase the amount of enjoyment a child gains from an activity and ensures that they spend more time using the game/toy/activity. Dole things out as the flight wears on, that way there are new things to look forward to. I count a trip a success if I’ve still got an item or two left untouched in the bag as we land. After all, we’re not sleeping at the airport (hopefully) and Reina will need something in the car ride to the hotel.