Up in the air about summer travel? Imagine how excited your kids will be when they peer out the window and see the aircraft head into the sky. That's the stuff of memories. We're not going to gloss over the hard stuff. Air travel requires moms to be on their A-game. Here are our parent survival tips for air travel:
Plan smart: Buy your tickets early and map out seat assignments so you have a block of seat together. A united team is essential for success. Opt for the early flights. According to Forbes.com, 86.2% of flights that were scheduled to arrive between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. arrived on time. The breakfast hour had the highest punctuality of any Department of Transportation-measured time slot. The worst time to fly? Any time after 8 pm. You've got to weigh what's worse on time with awake kids or delays with the possibility of a sleep kid. Tip: Try for bulk head seats. Once in the air, we set down a blanket and let the kids play on the floor.
Do what you can at home: Print your boarding passes at home and check in at home. The less time you spend at the air port the better. We also bring snacks from home. Cheese and crackers, apples, dry cereal, granola bars all get stashed in my bag (plus a little chocolate for emergencies). Nothing is worse than being stuck on board without food. Hungry kids=misery for all.
Packing smart is essential. You'll need three designated areas: Carry-on, check at gate and checked bags. Carry-on's should include the list of basics I wrote about here. The items you'll want to check at the gate include strollers and car seats that are not approved for airlines. Checked luggage will encompass the rest of your loot.
A bag for every kid: In the bag pack a back-up outfit, snacks and amusements. We love the zoobie pets. Theses animals can be a pillow, blanket or fuzzy pal. Don't count on the airlines for entertainment either. Investing in a portable DVD player may save your sanity (just keep in charged). Crayons, Play-doh and other art supplies are also essential--don't forget a notebook for doodles. Treat kids to a few new books to make the trip exciting. And we always wrap up a few trinkets in wrapping paper to make the trip even more exciting for the kids.
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Entertainment: We love showing the kids maps of the destination. Print out a few from home and bring them along to color. Also bring a national map and show your kids the distance and mark your progress. This About.com article has a great list of Travel Games and Crafts and Mom's Minivan has a full list of family entertainment good for any road tip.
Exercise it key: Sure it's nice to board early and set up you're on-board world, but I'm of the mind to let my kids run free as long as possible before I load them into the air craft. If you plan to board early, make sure you let the kids do some laps in the air port to run off built-up energy. Once on board, plan on frequent bathroom breaks. Don't wait too long or you'll run into meal service. Encourage everyone in the family to take periodic stretching breaks.
Keep in mind that the plane ride is part of the vacation. Kids pick up on your enthusiasm. If you make it an adventure they will follow your lead.
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