Monday, September 16, 2013

Flying with a toddler

As most of you know, my family recently returned from two weeks in Morocco. Although we have traveled with Severen before (I have flown solo with him a few times, too) this was the biggest trip for us. I thought I'd share with you what I packed for him on the plane, as well as what I wish I had packed.

Severen did a great job, mostly because my husband and I performed hour after hour of our most dazzling parenting stand-up comedy/entertainment routine to date. Especially on the flight home from Paris to Detroit, when Severen looked at me with sad toddler eyes 30 minutes into the 9 hour vol and whimpered, "All done, Mama." I think we both aged a year on that particular flight. But honestly, it was pretty much what I expected it to be.

Liked best . . . 

Take a special bag just for the kiddo. Good move. Although the little backpack was too heavy for him to carry very long, it was helpful to have all of his diversions in one place rather than mixed in with my stuff. Things get so chaotic on those long flights with all the taking out, putting back, taking out. "Where are the raisins, honey?" "I think I saw them in the bag with your contacts next to the tiny raccoon. But that was a while ago." (GOD HELP US). I kept his toiletries, jammies, etc. in a different spot, btw.

Stickers, stickers, stickers. When there is nothing else to do, put something sticky on your face. We took Band-Aids, Post-It Notes, and car stickers. We stuck these all over the place in our aisle. The Band-Aids were extra awesome because he loved to open them. Bonus: It was easy to clean everything up when we landed. No harm, no foul.

Little toys for a little space. The small animals and cars we brought along were way more popular with Severen than I anticipated. He loved it when we ran the cars all over the seat backs, made them leap over armrests, etc. It was like a little racing course. And the animals could have "snacks" on the tray tables, play hide and seek, walk with us around the cabin, etc. They could even make tracks in the Play-Do!

Great flight attendants. I nursed Severen a lot on our flights - all six of them. I asked for lots and lots of water for him and me, in addition to what was served. Oftentimes, instead of a little cup I was given a whole bottle of water (score!) We also got extra bananas and bread. We even got a whispered invitation to stretch out in a secret, empty row for a little while.

Next time . . .

Take an ipad. Some good friends of ours gave us this advice and we just didn't get it done. If we take a long trip like this again, I would love to have one with some fun apps for him. There were seat-back TVs on the Trans-At flight, and we had toddler headphones at the ready,  but Severen wasn't interested. He is a little too young to be excited about unlimited TV access. He did love the remote, though!

I'll take bigger beads for the threading activity. Severen tried hard to work with them, but most of the time they just slipped away from him. I would like to make an official apology here to the person who had to clean up tiny pony beads from our seats and aisle. I tried to keep that situation under control, really I did!

Bring more snacks from home. I brought tomatoes, blueberries, dried fruits, crackers, etc. on the way there. But it still wasn't enough. There were a few times when I just really, really needed to give Severen something to munch on and I didn't have anything. Fail. I also learned the hard way that if you don't request an in-flight kids meal (Severen just had regular meals), your child won't get served first. Because we were near the back of the plane, we waited over an hour while the rest of the cabin got dinner en route to Paris with a very tired, very hungry boy. I finally got up and fetched his meal. Duh. I could have done that right away and averted an hour of fussiness.

That's what I can remember. Have you traveled with a small, mobile person before? I'd love to hear your "Liked Best / Next Time" comments below!


redmenace said...

This is a great list! Did I see wicki stix in there? Those are awesome. Also, Melissa and Doug make triangular crayons that don't roll off the trays -- brilliant! Finally, a roll of tape provides tons of entertainment:) Nice to see you guys and I'm SO impressed you did that trip!

Wild Tea Party said...

This is a great post Duff, I'm so glad to see you could travel with Severen and make it workable. I feel a mix of total sympathy for the kid and annoyance at parents when they bring nothing for their poor child to do on the plane. Because frankly, 30 minutes into any plane trip even I say, 'All done!'

Actually, can I get one of those backpacks for my flight to Dublin in October?

Kate said...

Fabulous post, Emily! I love the sticker/band aid idea,as well as the animal tracks in playdough I'll be stealing those ones for our next flight!

On our last flight to the UK we took: new snacks from Trader Joes (new to Owen); fun things like dried beans (actually really yummy!) freeze-dried strawbs, and interesting looking crackers. We took new books with lots of stuff for conversation (O just spent 45 mins looking at and talking about "1001 Things to Spot on a Farm" today - we'll take something like that or Richard Scarry's Busy town). And then new toys/games. The emphasis for us was on things that O hadn't seen before. O also loves looking at photos or video clips of the family/friends on our phones or laptop so that keeps him occupied for a while. Finally we ended up walking up and down the aisle with him A LOT. He got to wave to everyone on the plane and make lots of friends and we had tons of fun trying to intervene before he tapped sleeping people on the leg to say hi.

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