Traveling Tips

 

Something is definitely wrong with me. My husband and I are taking Maisie to Israel on vacation while I’m six months pregnant. Just for fun…traveling with a toddler for 10+ hours… on a plane over the ocean. Yup, I’ve got a screw loose. And to add to the excitement, we’re doing a practice run to Texas this week to see my family. I think the men in white coats will be coming for me any day.

Of course, Maisie has logged a lot of air time for a kid who just hit her year-and-a-half birthday. She’s been to Texas, Colorado, Florida, Mexico, and even Holland. Most of the trips were to visit our various family members and the like.

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Amazingly, Maisie has never cried on one single flight—well, at least until this last trip when I was by myself. Then I got a taste of what all moms dread: dirty looks from nearby passengers while Maisie showed off her exhausted little lungs. I could see my fellow fliers thinking—not so secretively—“Can’t you shut that kid up? What kind of mother are you?”

Still, in general, Maisie is a joyful adventurer. She is usually creepily happy so it’s not like I’m the traveling mom extraordinaire, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.

For starters, tiny babies have problems with their ears popping—or not—on planes. The key here is to make sure you wait to give your baby a bottle or a boob just as the plane takes off. The sucking motion will help pop the ears. Have another bottle waiting for landing. If the bottle is rejected, then try a pacifier. If you’re flying a long distance, try flying overnight when he or she would normally be asleep anyway. Book the bulkhead and ask for the bassinet that hangs on the wall.

Whatever the age of the child, the real secret is to have a Mary Poppins-like, seemingly bottomless bag and filling it with just the right stuff. The bag has to hold the wonders of the world and still be light enough to lift along with a squirming, unhappy kid. I’m going to try a diaper backpack this next flight. Fingers crossed. The bag should be stocked with your basics… diapers, wipes, and sippy cups if you have little ones. Bigger kids need headphones so they can ignore you—or perhaps you can use them when they get too whiny.

The key is to fill it with snacks, but don’t just stuff a box of raisins in the bag. Oh no—wrap that boring ol’ box of raisins in paper. Unwrapping it will eat up an additional minute if you play your cards right. I wrap up all sorts of snacks in odd shapes and sizes. I even wrap toys. And another tip? Don’t provide any sugary tidbits or juice. The last thing you want is a kid on a sugar high strapped into a middle seat. I sat next to a mom once who fed her kid a pound of chocolate-chip cookies and then couldn’t understand why her kid was a living nightmare. Common sense is not very common.

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Older kids are pretty easy to entertain or at least that’s how it seems to this mom of a toddler. Give them a book, some colors, or a movie and you’re done. To my mind, entertaining a toddler on a plane is one of the hardest challenges on the planet. Neurosurgeons have nothing on moms flying with a 19-month-old. I basically walked back and forth to Cabo, chasing her up and down the aisle. The next time, we coughed up the dough for Maisie’s own seat and everything was far simpler. She’s used to being in her car seat so she was perfectly content to sit most of the time. Whew.

All kids will watch DVDs and the Fisher-Price Kid-Tough DVD player is a fabulous find. Your precious one can throw it across the airport and it’ll still work—but check the plane on which you’re flying. If each seat has a TV, you don’t need to lug the player with you.

iPhones also have a ridiculous amount of apps to entertain kids of every age. Maisie already knows how to do flash cards and other games on my phone and can search through the various games she wants.

 

As for books, I found a great one called “My Quiet Book” that has activities like zippers, buttons, laces, and the like. Wahoo!

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And two last things all moms must pack: the first, patience. Traveling with a kid is tough though exciting. Somehow, it helps me to try to imagine the world through my daughter’s eyes.

The last thing I always bring with me is a stack of scratch-off lotto tickets. I’ve only used them once. My line? “Hey, you lost the lottery sitting next to us. You’re due some good luck.” I got a wan smile which was far better than the dirty look my aisle-mate had been sporting.

Let’s pray I don’t have to break them out this week.
 

 

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