CAT | Flying with Kids
April 10, 2013
Even if you are a diehard techie; every flight demands at least 15 – 20 minutes on take-off and landing without electronics. It doesn’t sound like much; but, as every parent knows, time moves at a snail pace when kids are strapped in a seat and bored. Make this time into fun time with these tips.
- Have a plan for boarding the plane – including activities and snacks in a convenient spot (preferably an outer pocket).
- Don’t turn on electronics before take-off. You will have to turn them off relatively quickly and that leads to tantrums and stress for parents and flight attendants trying to prepare the plane for departure. For toddlers, this is a great time to break out the flashcards and, for older kids, the Usborne wipe and write activity cards are perfect.
- Settle in the kids with an activity and a snack (our kids get M&Ms on every flight) while you stash bags and get organized.
- Travel activities and snacks should be stored under the seats. Save the overhead bin for things you do not need during the flight (just in case the fasten seatbelt sign remains on longer than expected). For long haul flights (over 8 hours) I have a normal amount of activities and snacks in my bags under the seats and a re-stocking bag with additional snacks and surprises stashed in the overhead bins.
- Prepare for landing 60 – 90 minutes before you anticipate beginning the descent with a trip to the bathroom or a diaper change. Use this break to power down the electronics, tidy the space and switch to other activities. We find activity books or magnetic play scenes work well for landing.
April 3, 2013
Spring break has come and gone for the TravelKiddy family and I wanted to share our lessons learned (or relearned) from our recent flight.
1. Magic Pen Painting and Invisible Ink products are instant entertainment for kids and adults. You can find our selection here. These will be a definite addition to the next rendition of activity kits.
2. I was skeptical about our new sticker puzzles and almost didn’t order them for TravelKiddy. My five year old had the Princess Sticker Puzzles on our trip and absolutely loved it. She is an avid puzzler and this was a convenient way to bring along puzzles without worrying about lost pieces.
3. Pack snacks for long flights. Honestly, I should know this but had gotten lazy about really focusing on the necessity of snacks. On our 4 hour flight, the airline was out of almost all food by the fifth row – there were a lot of hungry people at the back of the plane.
4. Don’t rely on the electronics. The movie option on this flight was definitely not kid friendly (I wasn’t thrilled that they could even see the screen!). I know that iPads and laptops make ideal entertainment for kids while traveling but kids get restless and bored quickly and sometimes electronics just aren’t enough. Manipulative puzzles, games and activity books can provide much needed variety. Plus, travel time is an ideal time to reconnect with your kids and start (or end) the vacation on a memorable note.
5. Ask for an extra cup (or save yours). These cups are handy for holding crayons, game pieces or building parts while flying.
6. Make a trip to the bathroom as soon as the “service” portion of the flight is over and/or at least 60 minutes before the descent. On our last flight, the fasten seatbelt sign was turned on mid-flight and remained on for the remaining 2 hours of the flight. The flight was full of kids and more than one parent was literally running up the aisle carrying a child when we arrived at the gate.
November 25, 2012
Are you flying with the kids for the holidays? Check out our flight-tested, kid favorite travel games for kids:
1. 12 in 1 Magnetic Travel Games ($8.50): From classic strategy games to fast-paced race games, the dozen games in the self contained unit are perfect for travel. The pieces are self contained in the back of the unit but it helps to have a dry cup handy to contain the pieces as you are getting them in and out.
2. 50 Things to Spot in an Airport ($10): You would be surprised at the breadth of things found in an airport! This game is perfect for killing time while waiting for a flight or on long layovers. Kids of all ages will have fun discovering things in the airport. The backs of the cards contain interesting facts about airports and the items to find.
3. Visual Brainstorms ($15): Visual puzzles, brain games, mazes, encoded messages, math challenges and more will have kids engaged and amused for hours. The range of difficulty gives you one game that can entertain kids of multiple ages.
4. Mini Tangoes ($5): It’s the ancient Chinese game of Tangrams in a size that’s ready for travel. Keep one handy to use while waiting for the plane, in flight or anytime. Makes a great stocking stuffer as well!
5. Squiggle ($7): Take plain doodling to a while new level with Squiggles and Squiggle Seek and Find. Keep one hidden and use as a surprise mid-flight!
November 12, 2012
The bags are packed (and double checked for kid contraband), you are efficiently packed to clear security and you have allowed plenty of time – how are you going to entertain the kids during the wait in line?
- First, and most importantly, relax! Kids feed off your anxiety and there is literally nothing you can do to make the line move faster so take a deep breath, smile and make the best of it.
- Keep a small activity kit handy – stickers, wind-up toys, blank paper, small brain-teasers and crayons can entertain kids for at least a little while. If nothing else, the fun of getting something new will stop the whining.
- Play games – rhyme words, do math facts, see who can remember the most nursery rhymes (sometimes you can include those waiting around you with this one!), try to remember the words to songs – you get the idea.
- Count things – ball caps, people using crutches, red suitcases, etc.
- Try some stationary physical challenges: test who can stand on one leg the longest or jump in one spot.
- Keep a destination travel guide and/or map handy and have the kids read about the destination and find the hotel on the map (this works great on the way home to help kids remember where you’ve been).
- Electronics are great but use caution – some places frown on iPhones in the security line.
November 6, 2012
Thanksgiving is fast approaching. If you are one of the thousands of people flying the friendly skies this holiday season, these tips will help you pack so that you clear security with ease.
- Know the rules. Take 5 minutes to check the rules at TSA.gov to make sure nothing has changed since your last flight. This applies even if you are a frequent traveler!
- Pack smart. Remember the 3-1-1 rule and make sure all liquids and gels are in an easily accessable quart-sized zip top bag. When in doubt either leave it at home, put it in the bag or include it in your checked bags.
- Double check your carry-ons. Kids have a strange habit of sneaking things into their bags – glitter wands and silly putty will guarantee an extra security search.
- Avoid lotions and soaps containing glycerin (note this is just about all of them!) while packing and handling your bags. Traces of glycerin on your bags can subject you to extra screening.
- Keep those electronics handy! You need to pull out all laptops at the security line, don’t bury it underneath a bunch of other things. If traveling outside the US, it is likely that you will need to remove your iPad or tablet from your carry-on as well.
- Dress for success. All coats and bulky sweaters will need to be removed. Instead of hassling with taking them off at the security checkpoint, tuck them in an outside pocket of your carry-on bag. Better yet, check them! Adults and kids over 12 will need to remove shoes. A note of caution – kids under 12 will be required to remove their shoes if they set off the metal detector so avoid boots and stiff shoes with metal sole supports.