Up, up, and away... or awry?!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wow, I've been MIA for awhile.. sorry about that! Life got in the way of my blogging! I'm back now, and I hope for good!

My family and I just returned from a wonderful trip to WDW a couple of weeks ago. I say it was wonderful because, on the whole, it was. Of course, though, when travelling with toddlers, there are bound to be some hiccups. The major bump in the usually smooth road that is our trips is always the flight. No matter how hard my husband and I try to plan out the activities for every last second of that 2.5 hour plane ride, something always throws us for a loop. I will get to that proverbial "loop" later, but first, I want to convey just how important planning for that flight is, and why, despite not being able to prepare for every eventuality, every "incident" only expands your wealth of toddler-flying-knowledge! I have to admit, my husband and I pretty much have every toddler-flying issue covered, but that's only because we've learned from each challenging flight. Here are some of our favorite tips:

My most important rule would be that: all rules go out the window! Does the thought of giving your toddler sugary snacks repulse you? Well, for a lengthy plane trip, you may want to think of making an exception. Coloring, movies, and books are great, but every parent knows that children's eyes never light up as bright as when they see a treat that's normally forbidden. The novelty factor plays a big role, and I will go into more detail about that, but the type of snack you choose also will determine how long it will hold your child's interest. A snack with small pieces (popcorn?) will keep them busy for awhile. A suggestion made to me once was a candy necklace. Picture a beaded necklace, but replace the beads with candy. This would surely occupy your tiny tot's thoughts and moves for awhile. Another suggestion which I have yet to try is a lollipop. No small pieces, but it takes time to lick a lollipop until it's finished. This is another good time consumer, especially for times when your child has to sit still and buckled in, such as take off or landing.

Besides candy, what else do children love? New toys! In the days or weeks prior to the trip, start a collection of new toys and/or activities that you know your child will really enjoy and keep them busy for awhile. If you don't want to spend the additional money on new toys, here is what I also do: at Christmas or birthdays, I put aside a few smaller toys that they receive as gifts and save them for plane rides! The most important part is making sure that the first time your child lays eyes on these is on the plane. It will completely lose its 'wow' factor if your child has a preview of what's in store for him or her. If I'm flying for a Disney trip, I try and make my toys Disney-themed to build the excitement, but that's just me!

If you have the resources to get your hands on a portable DVD player, or tablet, movies are great ways for your children to pass the time. Again, the novelty factor is big here! Having them watch the same shows they are used to at home may not have as great an appeal. Download, buy or rent some new movies or shows that you think they will like! They even have special earphones for children, so they are comfortable for them to wear, and won't be too loud.

I will say that we are currently preparing to take off for another flight with our toddlers, but this time the travel time will be 6 hours instead of the 2.5 that they are used to! We are beyond nervous because of the unknown, but we are preparing to take my own advice and hope for the best. Besides some yummy treats and snacks, and new toys, such as an etch-a-sketch, princess dolls, toddler lap top, books, etc., I also downloaded new episodes of Dora The Explorer, Chuggington, Sesame Street, Jake And The Neverland Pirates that she's never seen. Interesting activities I'm including are Play-doh, paint with water (no actual paint involved!), Color Wonder and brand new children's games on my iPad. If you have accesss to children's apps on your tablet or phone, these are also amazing at holding their interest!

I hope these methods help you on your journey with your toddler, but please remember, you can't plan for everything! On our most recent trip, we thought we would concentrate most of our flight preparation strategies on our 15-month-old, as we thought our three-year-old would be pretty self-sufficient. Well, we were wrong... as it was this little munchkin who ended up throwing a huge temper tantrum at the time of descent because she didn't want to put her seat-back tray table up or put on her seat belt! Like I said, children will always throw you for loops, but that's what they do! The best we can do is try and and minimize them! Our little lady will be getting her first lollipop at the time of descent this trip. ;-) Good luck and happy flying!

About this column

Danielle Perry shares the adventures and challenges of travelling to Walt Disney World as a family.


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