This past weekend was the first time in two years that we’ve flown with our kids and the top thing we took away from the experience was: It’s helpful to fly with other family members. If you have to go to the bathroom there’s always someone else there who’s happy to sit next to your little one and keep them company. It helps to have an extra person around to break up the monotony of your kids sitting in their seats for long stretches of time, so why not play musical chairs with other family members and give your kids a chance to visit with some of their other favourite people.
Another thing we took away from the experience is that safety sets your mind at ease. We rented a CARES harness and borrowed another one from a mommy friend in a moms group that I belong to. This one little item set my mind at ease when we encountered turbulence since the kids were strapped into a five point harness. Just a little information for those who have never heard of it, the CARES Child Aviation Restraint System is designed specifically for aviation use for children age 1 and older who weigh between 22 and 44 pounds, who can’t withstand the jolts that are common in routine air travel, much less emergency situations, and which can cause them to flail forward or slide beneath the seat belt if they are not held securely in place. I felt more comfortable knowing the kids had it on and the kids seemed comfortable too because it was reminiscent of their car seat buckle system. Funny enough, even our flight attendants were impressed with it and kept bringing their fellow flight attendants from the other sections of the plane to have a look at it. As you can tell, I am a big fan of the [amazon_link id=”B004ECL4XM” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]CARES harness[/amazon_link].
Something else that we learned is that headphones are our best friend. We went with the [amazon_link id=”B0067U2FLE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Safe Soundz Kids Headphones[/amazon_link] with Volume Control, for ages 3-5 and they were wonderful. My kids could watch the cartoons on the plane, listen to their music or play games on my iPod Touch. My daughter kept hers on and listened to nothing for a good length of time just to dull the noise around her. Actually it was funny to see her walking around with her funky headphones plugged into her pants pocket. I had a strong vision of her as a teenager in those moments.
Another thing that we were glad we did was bring lollipops for take off and landing. Before we left, I knew they needed something to suck on but I also knew that I didn’t want to pump them full of sugar so I opted for [amazon_link id=”B000HDK0DC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Yummy Earth organic lollipop[/amazon_link] with vitamin C. These lollies are gluten free, nut free and free of high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes. They were so tasty; even the adults in our group kept asking for more.
In order to keep the kids occupied I packed both of their carry-on bags with home made pre-packaged activity kits. In the kits I had colouring sheets, goldfish and graham cracker snacks, easter eggs filled with candy beads and string to make bracelets, a painting sheet with q tips to use as paintbrushes and a little travel puzzle. Their carry-ons also had their very own travel sized blanket and blow up pillow. Both kids had a blast doing their activities and the great thing is, I didn’t have to break the bank because I got everything at the dollar store for under $15.
Finally, the big hit of our trip was the kid’s luggage. If you want your kids to carry their own bags, then you’ve got to make sure it’s super cute. My kiddies didn’t want to let their luggage out of their sights. They carried their carry-on and backpack everywhere they went. It also helped to alleviate boredom for the kids because so many people commented on their cute luggage and struck up conversations with the kids about their Heys travel tots luggage sets. They didn’t have time to be bored while waiting in line at customs or when the plane was a bit delayed etc. since they were thoroughly occupied with the attention they received from all the grandmas and grandpas asking about their penguin and ladybug luggage.
All in all, what I learned from flying with my kids is that you should come prepared. I let them know ahead of time what to expect, we talked them through every new experience, we stayed close and gave them lots of hugs and kisses so they’d feel comforted; we allowed them to safely explore their surroundings and gave them the autonomy to manage their own time. They enjoyed setting their own schedule for activities, snack time, watching tv or listening to music, cuddling with mom, dad or grandparents, having a book read to them or having some quiet time with their headphones on. The entire family had a wonderful experience flying and would do it again in a heartbeat. Every time my little guy sees a plane now he asks, “Mommy when do we get to go on a plane again?” It looks like my kids have inherited our love of travel and I am super excited to be able to walk along side them and help them to discover some of the many treasures our wonderful world has to offer.