Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Works-for-Me-Wednesday: Travel Tips

I just returned from a 10-day ski trip out west with my entire family. From the east coast, it was a 3-1/2 hour flight...with a 7, 4, and 1 year old. Yes, I am crazy.

However, our return flight went much smoother after we learned a few lessons from the flight out. So, I'm going to share my hard learned travel lessons to save the rest of you the scars of battling a toddler on a flight.

1. Children under 24 months can fly free if they sit on a parent's lap. However, if you can swing it, BUY THE TICKET. It is worth every penny. Kids are use to traveling in their car seats and know what kind of behavior is expected of them. They are much more comfortable in them, especially in a new and overwhelming setting like an airplane.

We did not buy a ticket. However, it is required that if the airline has an available seat on your flight, they must let you have the seat so you can place your infant/toddler in their car seat. Out of the four flights we took, only one flight did not have an extra seat for us.

Unfortunately, that was the 3-1/2 hour flight. I won't traumatize you with the details, but let's just say at one point Jr. was running down the aisle, barefoot, gripping his socks in each hand. Good times.

If you don't buy Jr his own ticket, definitely take the car seat to the gate in hopes there is a seat available. If there isn't, they will stow the seat under the plane and bring it out again when you land.

2. Most pediatricians will recommend you "relax" your kid with some Benadryl with the hopes that they will take a nice long nap. However, some kids don't "relax" they actually rev up--like mine.

For those kids, dramamine does the trick. Contact your pediatrician for the right dosage. Just make sure you give the dramamine before you get on the plane. It takes about 30 minutes to kick in. Or if you wait until you're on the plane it could take up to 2 hours because the kid is so stiumulated by the sights and sounds of this new environment and before you know it he's grabbing the man's toupee in front of you and launching it into first class. Okay, it wasn't that bad---it was just the man's fuzzy hat.

3. Take lots and lots of snacks. The flight attendants were quite generous with their mini-bags of pretzels, but don't count on that. Be prepared with your kid's favorites. You won't be allowed to carry water, juice or other liquids through security but you can buy them in the concourse and carry on with you.

4. If you have older kids, role play what they will experience during the security screening. Although we had done that, our girls were still overwhelmed by the entire process. It can be a long wait and in-depth screening which can be daunting even for adults.

5. If you have an iPod, load it with your kid's favorite music. We also had about 8 Adventures in Odyssey episodes. This was a lifesaver when the girls started getting a little stir-crazy. You can even buy a splitter (Radio Shack, Wal-Mart, etc) so two kids can listen at the same time with headphones.

6. Take the mini-Play dough containers for a unique activity on the plane.

7. If you are traveling to the mountains, do a little research online about altitude sickness and kids. I have had trouble with altitude sickness in the past but never thought about the kids dealing with it. Our 7-year-old struggled with it, however, we didn't recognize it as altitude sickness at first. One of the keys is to drink LOTS of water.

8. Relax. I know that's hard to do when Jr. is kicking the seat in front of you and the very proper lady keeps turning around and giving you the evil fish eye, but most people do understand that it isn't easy to travel with kids and extend grace. Except maybe the evil fish eye lady. In that case, offer her a lollipop. Or a stiff drink.

9. Visit the Transportation Security Administration web site for the latest updates on what is allowed in your carry on luggage. They also have a good section about traveling with kids.

Trust me...a little preparation and knowledge will go a long way to making the journey pleasant for everyone.

And that Works-for-Me. For more great ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.


jb said...

Thanks for the advise. I had to laugh yesterday when you talked about the lollipops. If that was the same situation with my and my DH - I probably would have not completely explained the purpose of them either, and would see my kids with them in the first 5 minutes of the flight. I can picture my DH thinking - yum, lollipops - let's have them now!

Anyway, I had to share that!

Nikki said...

Thank you for such wonderful advice. I will keep this in mind for the next time we travel by plane. I like the Dramamine tip especially!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the tips, learned the hard way! :) We mostly travel by car, but many of your tips still apply!~

Tracy W said...

Thanks for such great tips. We'll probably employ plenty of them next winter at this time, on our 18+ hour flight home with the newest little Whitney baby :) And thanks for great photos of the kids - a big hit here as always :) Hugs from S to A and K!

weavermom said...

I'm glad to hear your trip wasn't TOO bad- 3 out of 4 decent legs is pretty good!