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Florida Guide > Travelling

Plane Trips with Young Children

So you’re all set, ready to head off to Orlando for that dream vacation with the kids. Plane tickets have been purchased, you have probably packed a repacked three times already and yet your nervous and a little anxious, especially about that long flight to Florida with the kids. Now of course, if your children are perfect angels and listen to your every command, stop right here! I personally have travelled with my two girls on an obscene amount of flights since they were as young as 10 months old, so I like to think that I am a veteran on making flights with children smooth and can you believe fun for us all. Even with preparation and enormous experience I often dread the day that we head off…even thinking twice about the whole trip! But here are some great ways to make that flight fun and can we say, “bearable”?

Be prepared for boredom, overpriced bananas and juice at the airports, unexpected delays, extra, extra, extra security measures, uncompassionate flight attendants, o.k., even rude and evil flight attendants that hate children, lines of other travellers with out children who find you annoying and repulsive, being a donkey, tantrums of all kinds, ears popping on take off and landing, no food service on flights, baggage claim (you know what I am talking about here) and finally your sanity!

So now that you are even more terrified and ready to call the whole thing off, I have some tried and true things that you can do to give you a sense of control and happy children on your trip. Let’s start with the golden rule: your sanity. There just is no price for it while travelling with kids, so accept this now and open your wallet.

Let’s start with your carry on bag…”see what we can make today, ya, see what we can make today, with a great carry on bag and some imagination, let’s see what we can make today”. First is that it will easily fit over your stroller handles and that you can access any item within 10 seconds flat while it’s still hanging on your stroller. Do a test run. Don’t over pack as you will have to take your bag off the stroller going through security and when boarding. Contents should include; sippy boxes, a great variety of non sugar snacks your kids love, pacifiers ease ear popping, favourite toy and blanket, 3 diapers per child, wipes, and a change of clothes. Make a run to Target and pick out crayons, colouring pads, stickers, small 10/20 piece puzzles, beads and string, a new small vacation toy, magna-doodle is a choice toy, some short books, special candy for bribery and kids style wrapping paper. Just pick out items that are new and will hopefully captivate your child’s attention for as long as possible. Which by the way, I think should be clearly marked on all toys, “will entertain your child for 3 hours”, SOLD! You can grab a magazine for yourself too, as with these tips I am sure you’ll have time to read it.

The night before agree on what they want to wear then lay out the children’s travel clothes. Making them look cute doesn’t hurt, as more people are adoring of cute children than scruffy ones. If travelling with more than one child, matching clothes are helpful in keeping an eye on them as well. Lay them out with all your luggage, that should be by the door. If you are leaving early in the morning, I have been known to let them sleep in their travel clothes. A quick hair brush and vroom, into the car seats. You want to be a savvy traveller too, so wear black! It conceals all spills and is always fashionable. DO take a moment to make yourself presentable, as savvy moms get more help in airports. Print out your flight itinerary and have your ID ready. Have some cash, O.K., a lot of cash. With that kid style wrapping paper, wrap all your new purchases and pack them into your carry on bag. They will love opening them up and it’s a great time filler! Have sippy cups ready for the drive to the airport.

The day before you leave call your hotel and see if they can provide some common items for your arrival. Like diapers, wipes, milk, juice and a beverage for you, as you will deserve it! Some hotels can tell you of a local grocery store, such as Albertson’s that will make deliveries if they are unable to provide these things for you. It seems to me a waste of packing space to bring diapers and wipes, and after a long day in airports and on flights this is a luxury that I just love!

Weeks before you leave, surf the Internet for places you want to go while on vacation. You would be amazed at the special rates you’ll find. Let me tell you once you are here you have about 1500 brochures to sort thru and it can become a career deciding on what to do first and where these places are in conjunction with other places you plan on going to. Get maps printed out so that you can plan your days with limited drive time and maximum fun time. Orlando is a huge place and filled with not only a million other families on vacation, but a million people going to work. Anxious children and traffic can be ugly.

Have a plan, or somewhat of a plan that your children can be excited for. “ Jimmy, when we arrive we will spend the first day at the pool, and the first night at Downtown Disney. Doesn’t that sound like a great plan”!

You’re at the airport. Use the curb side check in!!!! It’s worth every penny. Do yourself a favour and check your car seat. It’s bulky and a pain when cramming into small rows. Reflect on how your child loves to sit in your car for long hours…do you think they will love sitting in that seat on the plane? Take advantage of pre-boarding. Or wait and be the last people boarding and let your kids rip it up in the waiting area.

You’re on the plane. Don’t be too anxious to pull out your goodies just yet. Let them take in the awe of their new surroundings, and wait for your cue…we all have our own special ones. Have our carry on bag easily accessible. You will get a good stomach work-out getting in and out of it a millions times, trust me. Try and get the most mileage out of each goody. You are going to be just fine and the kids will love all the things you have prepared for them, even if they never say thank you. Order a glass of wine and read your magazine while they colour, make bead necklaces, play their game and sip their juice. Do it now, right away as you will be required to participate in their bliss in a short time.

Lay-overs can be fun! Ask a maintenance worker at the airport where the play area is, they all have them…and make a mad dash for it. Depending on the airport, these places can be fabulous and are usually contained. In Minneapolis the play area is almost worth the flight just to the airport. Don’t keep looking at the screen at your gate, thinking it will miraculously change your flight to being on time. Just push that stroller to the play area…keep moving. There you can commiserate with other mothers, keep an eye on your flight status, and the kids get to move around.

You arrive. YEAH, you did it. Get your stuff ready to make a mad dash out of your seats...push and shove if necessary. I always have one of my children stand in the isle as a buffer…no one is going to push a child out of their way. Get going towards baggage and hire a helper. With in eyes view, have them wait with the children, close by while you fight for your luggage. “I want to get to the hotel…I do not want to get my rental car”!!! Take a cab and have Enterprise bring your car to your hotel in the morning. Just my opinion. But haven’t you been through enough already? To wait for the shuttle, lug the car seats, stroller, luggage and children onto it just to wait in the car rental line…no way, not for me. Take advantage of rental services that cater to you. Get yourself out of there! Get to your hotel and jump up and down…you made it honey.

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Page added on: 19 July 2004
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