Since we have lived on the west coast for the past six years, and the rest of the family has resided on the east, and since we have had two young children since moving over here as newlyweds, we have spent a lot of time crossing the country by air. For us, this has just been one of those things that you have to do if you choose to live so far away from the rest of your family, particularly when you have kids.
At first, I struggled with flying with the children alone. My husband has never been able to join us on the flight out. Since my mom lives quite a few hours away from his family, I’ve always gone first and visited with her. I’ve gone from the time my youngest was six months old, and up to this point she has probably made that flight with me a total of 6 times – or twelve cross country flights.
Needless to say, she has become a pro.
Now we have two daughters, and while it has become rougher to make the trip alone, we still do. As I prepare our entire family for our house hunting voyage, I thought I’d write out some tips that I have learned for those of you with young children who are facing a flight – and are feeling a bit daunted by the challenge!
- Pick up some goodies. Pull one out every hour or so. This doesn’t necessarily mean food, though a lollipop can last a long, long time on a flight! Instead, choose coloring books, books, new toys, and other small activities that take up some time and that are new to the kids.
- Pack a diaper bag filled with treats. Even if you don’t want your kids to have a lot of sweets, a special treat here and there is sure to keep them excited and happy for a while. Plus, I always tell my daughter she gets special juice on the plane, since we don’t keep a lot of sugary drinks here. Then she orders the cranberry juice, and she loves it, and looks forward to it.
- Use a sling if you have a little one. They are so handy when traveling through the airport to the plane, or when going to the bathroom while on the plane. If you have ever gone to the bathroom with child on an airplane, you’ll understand!
- In your diaper bag for the plane pack a plastic bag that can be used for trash. Believe me, you will accumulate a ton of it, from opening the new crayons to snacking on pretzels. Keep the bag under your seat and then hand it over at the end of the flight as the flight attendant collects trash.
- Also keep on store a ton of wipes. Kids get sticky on flights. They spill stuff.
- Take a small disposable camera for your kids and let them take photos of the flight. Yes, we have some great ones of the back of our seat, but we also have a few interesting and unique shots of my youngest daughter staring out the window, and one of the two daughters together, sitting side by side, that were all snapped by my oldest.
- Use a monkey backpack with a leash. If you haven’t seen these, head to Walmart and pick one up. You can clip it on your child who can then roam the airport, thus wearing him or herself out, in between flights or before the flight.
- Check those bags. Come on, shouldn’t everyone be doing this by now? It makes it so much easier to manuever up and down the plane aisle and to get off of the plane at the end of the flight. We only take on our diaper bag and the computer bag if we are taking the laptop so I can work, and then we have extra space beneath our seats for our legs and everything that falls onto the floor.
- Pack some favorite toys for the air ride. Barbies, crayons, etc . . . that will keep the kiddos entertained.
- Make it an adventure.
And most of all, have fun!