Planning a family vacation in a distant locale often involves an airplane ride, which needs some planning of its own.   There is some debate about the ethics of doping up very young children; I would have, but mine fell into that small percentile that had adverse reactions to the soporific effects of Benadryl.  Lucky me! 

My kids are a little older now, and planning for a long airplane trip now involves some pre-flight engineering:  The night before we fly, we plug in our portable DVD players and charge their batteries.  Then we download their current favorite songs onto the iPod.  We charge that MP3 player overnight as well.  THEN we take the kids’ DVDs out of their jewel cases, and into one travel DVD holder.  Pack them. 

That should do it for our kids’ consumer electronics travel needs, unless you count their two Tamagotchis as consumer electronics (jury’s still out at my end).  Then:  Pack two doodle pads, pack their markers and colored pencils.  My older daughter likes her math quiz book – still can’t believe we share DNA – so we pack that.  Pack my younger kid’s favorite book, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins for our eldest, in case the desire for some in-flight reading kicks in.  Pack some childrens’ card games, such as Go Fish and Uno.  Whew! 

The next morning, we try to basically get up and go.  When a trip involves young kids, they often are so excited about flying that they’re too distracted to do anything else anyway.  So, we help them with breakfast, wash their cereal bowls (it’s such a bummer to come home from a vacation, only to be greeted by a sink full of dirty dishes), and load up the car.  The big luggage went into the trunk the night before, so all we’ve got is the carry-on bags – into which go the fully charged DVD players, the spare battery packs, the iPod, the DVDs, doodle pads, markers and pencils, math book, reading material, Tamagotchis, Go Fish and Uno.  And of course, their tooth brushes and favorite stuffed animals.  Hence, the traveling family heads off to the airport. 

We get to the airport 2 hours early, as recommended by multiple travel experts. After the usual security rigamarole, we settle into the seats by our gate and wait to board.  While we wait, my daughters 1) draw 2) take a math quiz 3) play Go Fish and Uno 4) play with their Tamagotchis 5) listen to their Kids Bop songs on daddy’s iPod and 6) look at the DVDs we packed.  Finally, it’s time to board.  Hurray!  Our family vacation is about to begin!   

…But when we get to our seats, they look despondently at our amassed collection of child-friendly activities.  “We don’t like THESE movies.  There’s nothing to do.  We’re -” (I can’t believe I’m going to hear it) “-bored!”  Maybe it’s time I tried that Benadryl again.