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Blog: Traveling With Kids
Airline travel

There are lots of things about flying with children that can either be tortuous or possibly even enjoyable.

We last traveled as a family by air before Ian was born.  We visited the grandparents who were living in Paris at the time.  My memory of traveling home is of checking in.  We waited in line for about half an hour, then just as we were about to check in, the security people stopped chatting and decided to thoroughly check OUR bags.  Which were full on our way home and HAD been carefully packed.  Why security people choose to ask someone with a 2 year old who has already been waiting half an hour to wait some more is beyond me.  So then we had to fight with the suitcases as well as deal with an increasingly fractious toddler.  I don't remember much else about that flight I guess the rest was plain sailing, so to speak.  I love my husband in situations like this.  He's extraordinarily good at thinking of crazy things to keep Naomi occupied and entertained.  Easily accessible snacks help at a time like this too.

One of the things that has changed since I last flew with kids is the set of restrictions on what you can take on the plane.  The transportation security administration (TSA) has all the information you need on their website, including restrictions for infant food and tips on going through the security process with children.

When we fly with the kids we plan how we're going to travel through the airport.  That might be a non-issue in some airports or for older children, but in some airports the distances you have to walk can be substantial and when your 2 year old finally fell asleep for her afternoon nap an hour before landing after an eleven hour flight, she won't want to walk anywhere. I've traveled with both child back pack carrier and stroller through the airport. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  The main advantage of using a back pack is that you have both hands free, but you do have to carry the child through the airport.  The stroller can be taken right up to the gate, but it does mean that you need to push the stroller as well as the luggage which is not a problem if you are traveling with someone, but not so easy if you're traveling by yourself.

Another thing we think about when we're taking a flight is what time of day to go.  For long flights, we like to travel at night when the kids will (hopefully) sleep. For shorter flights, it's almost impossible to travel around sleep schedules with the long check-in times now, and the guaranteed-to-be-excited little people.  Sometimes it can work better to schedule your flight for the arrival time so that when you get there the kids can eat and then sleep.  

There's no denying that it's exciting to fly on a plane for little kids. Everything is new and out of the ordinary.  It helps to go with a bag of tricks to keep them entertained and (relatively) calmed down when necessary.  Favorite books, coloring books, dvd players (because although the planes have movies, even with the individual screens, often they don't have good movie choices for children under about 8.) Avoid games with small pieces as they are prone to get lost under or between seats.

And thinking of seats ask for bulkhead seats if your plane has them.  They are reserved for people with infants, but occasionally you can get the bulkhead seats if nobody else needs them.  They have slightly more room and your child won't be moving the seat of the person in front of them.

Whatever happens on your flight, it will be something that your kids will remember for some time.  Making it fun, trying to keep them fed and getting them to sleep if you can will make it easier on all involved.  Try to let them know what to expect ahead of time too - and what you expect of them.  Good luck in the skies.

posted on: 11/1/2007 1:00:00 PM by Katherine Macey
category: Travel

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Traveling With Kids

by Katherine Macey

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About Katherine:

Katherine Macey, Ph.D., is a professional organizer who is passionate about helping people improve their lives and achieve their goals. She works mainly with academics in their offices and with residential clients in their home offices.

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