During my airline flight to Cancun this year, I immediately knew what this travel post should be about. I sat with my 11-year-old twins who have been riding planes since age 1 and had the luxury of people watching. As many of you know the excitement of an impending trip is such a great feeling for many of us, but unfortunately for children, this experience can be scary, frustrating, and exhausting. I watched as children screamed, cried, and were getting yelled at in the airport and on the plane. I also watched many parents try to use their phones to help their emotional children by showing videos with very mixed success especially with the very little ones. Yet when the little ones did quiet down, it was often watching mine or other children active at play.
So, what can we do to improve this transition from airport to vacation for our younger ones. My first recommendation is to channel your inner Mary Poppins and be prepared for anything your child may want / need during this leg of your journey especially remembering to pack yummy snacks like chocolate, gummy bears, or a coveted Snapple. Also, make sure you pack an array of activities because who knows what your child may want this time. I like to pack crayons, coloring books, a favorite book, some toys including cars, dolls with brushes and clothes, magnetic blocks, playmobil sets, card games, puzzles, etc. The minute you are sitting by the gate start the fun, don’t wait because you are setting yourself up for some boredom / tears that may not be easily overcome. Instead whip out a puzzle, spread a blanket on the floor and get play time started.
Now for those of you who have tried this with no success, I have to admit I went a little further than just packing things to do. We all know how kids like unwrapping presents just as much as the actual presents. So go scope out your local dollar store for cheap new toys for your kids and also buy a roll of wrapping paper while you are there. Then place all the wrapped gifts in your carry on. In my case, whenever one of the twins got a little antsy, I would let them select a wrapped toy, open it, and when they are done with the new toy, I’d let them stretch their legs a little by throwing out the wrapping paper. Any time fatigue set in, I started the cycle again. I was initially so surprised that we had no emotional breakdowns and didn’t even go through all my gifts with both the departure and arrivals of our journey. Not only does this set you up for a successful trip but it also will be a memory your kids will never forget. If you’re like me, you love to travel. I hope this trick helps you love to travel with your kids and instills a love for travel in your children.