After years of traveling with kids, you learn what works and what doesn’t. You also learn that the terrible teens can be more trying than the terrible twos. Sometimes. Here are a few air travel lessons learned along the way.
1. Cross-Pack. Suitcases can get lost when you fly. Don’t pack one person per suitcase. Mix it up so everyone has clothes even if a piece of luggage is lost.
2. Check their backpacks before you leave the house. I had friends in the ‘80‘s whose boarding was disrupted because Junior packed some toy ammo. Nowadays, a toy toenail clipper could do it. Take an extra minute so there are no mistakes that interrupt your plans or scare anybody.
3. They may be adorable but when they’re miserable everybody will know it. Bring something intriguing your small child has never seen. Nothing interrupts a travel meltdown better than a funny gadget, new book, or small toy. It may not work for long, but the silence is golden.
4. Show fellow passengers you respect their space. It’s not always easy, but small apologies or an exasperated expression lets others know you are doing your best under difficult circumstances. And their “I’ve been there” glances will make you feel a little better.
5. Don’t let your child kick the seat or play peek-a-boo for an entire 3-hour flight with the person behind you. Pay attention to what your child is doing. It will make everyone’s travel easier.
6. If your kids bicker like mine did, sit between them when possible. I’d rather prevent a fight than break one up.
7. Video games and videos are great entertainment options for kids, but please include headphones. I’ve already listened to “Beauty and The Beast” a hundred times and 10 minutes of “Borat” was all I could take.
8. Ask for help when you need it. Traveling with kids can be stressful and cumbersome. Most strangers are happy to help, especially since so many have “been there”.