I was talking to my sister-in-law today about travelling with wee peeps. You see, MOMD (and all of his family, for that matter) are Newfoundlanders. And if you know anyone who was born in Newfoundland that no longer lives there, you know there’s nothing they like to do more than go home for a visit! My sister-in-law lives on the exact opposite side of the country though – just outside of Vancouver BC – and so it’s a helluva trip for her and her family to go home.
Despite this, they are talking about somehow making the trip this summer, with their 2.5-year-old and their 5-month-old (at the time of the potential trip).
As it happens, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in flying with little people. Because I married a Newfoundlander, and we have made our fair share of trips to see the family too. The first time Connor flew, he was 5 months old. IMO, this is the BEST time to fly!! The babies are settled enough that they’re usually not too fussy, you’ve got your feeding issues ironed out (mostly), and if you need it, baby Tylenol still knocks them out. I’m kidding! Of course I don’t advocate for needlessly drugging your kids; but it really does knock them out at this age.
Next time we flew, it was just before Connor turned 2. And this, this was THE WORST time to fly. Because he was under 2 years old, he was still free to fly, so we didn’t have a seat for him: First mistake. The second mistake was thinking that if we flew over naptime, he’d sleep. BWHAHAHAHA… oh, what were we thinking??? Needless to say, he did not and the flight was awful because he was exhausted and wanted his own seat, like a big boy. He flew again at 3 years, 4 years, and then just this Christmas when he was 7. And of course, we flew with Sam too for the first time this Christmas and he was 3.5 years old.
Anyway! All of this is to say that over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to make flying with little kids easier. Not every child is content to watch TV or movies for 3 hours or more, and all of us need some stimulation of one sort or another. And so it is that I give you my tips for flying with your kids:
- Pack a bag for each child you’re travelling with, filled with new toys that they have never seen before. Great things are play-doh or clay which can buy you lots of time, especially if you have some cookie cutters. You can make all kinds of imagination games with these shapes! I also like the water colour/washable paint sets. You know, the ones where the paints are dry, and you wet your brush with water, and then put the wet brush on the paint, and then on the paper? These are great for travel because the mess is minimal, and easily cleaned up if an accident should happen. Magna doodles are great too; and they don’t make a mess! When we flew with the 3year olds, we made sure to have decks of cards that were age appropriate. We got this deck of cards for playing “go fish” that had turtles, sharks, fish, mermaids and so on as the faces, so it was really easy to ask for what you wanted. The 3 year olds loved this! Include a new colouring book, a fresh pack of crayons or markers as well as some new little toys (like cars or blocks or dinosaurs). Some new books are great too.
- Pack lots of snacks. Treats, things they don’t usually get to eat, and things that take a fair bit of chewing to get through. These are especially important during take-off and landing, to avoid the ear pressure issues.
- Pack an extra set of clothes. No matter how old they are, you never know when a drink may be spilled. There’s always the chance too that they will refuse to use the loud toilet on the plane and have an accident of a different sort. And a wet, messy kid is absolutely no fun. For anyone.
- Expect to work really hard during your flight. I remember when flying meant cruising through 2-3 trashy gossip-like magazines, reading a few chapters of my book, listening to some music, and maybe even watching the in-flight movie if I was interested. Flying was almost a treat; a vacation before the vacation even. Sometimes MOMD & I would even play our travel Scrabble game. Not so when you’re travelling with youngsters. You are going to parent longer and harder than you normally do in a 3-hour window, because you’re cognizant of all the other passengers around you and you do not want to be “those people with the kid(s)”.
At the end of your flight, you will be exhausted. Just expect this, so that you are prepared. And if it turns out your child is the perfect little traveller and had zero issues as you flew from one side of the country to the other, make sure you give thanks.