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Parenting

What do you do with a kid on a plane?

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I feel like we’ve spent a huge amount of time with kids on planes. Between moving to and from Germany, and traveling all over Europe, my children are well versed in traveling in planes, trains and automobiles. For them, it’s all fun and games.

For the parents, it can be totally overwhelming.

I remember when we first got orders to Germany, I sat down and googled “What do you do with a kid on a plane?”

It seems silly in retrospect, but we’re talking about tight quarters, and no room to do anything. Traveling successfully with kids comes down to a few key things.

Flying with Kids

1. Come Prepared

You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of things to keep the kids busy on the plane. I never have room in my bag for the kids’ goodies, so they each have their own bag for their own toys and snacks. This way, they can see what they have, and can choose what to eat and when, and what they want to play with, and I am not stuck wrestling with extra bags. Everyone two and older in my family has their own small backpack, and they are responsible for it on the plane.

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Excited about her new travel toy! (Can you tell big brother was a little jealous?)

One of my favorite travel toys are the LEGO® JUNIORS Suitcases. They are designed for kids ages 4-7, and are built to be a great first building experience due to the fun and easy to build models. What makes this particular lego set special is really the handy carrying case it comes in. It’s just the right size to fit in your child’s backpack, and it’s light weight for them to carry.

Even more importantly, it’s designed to have the kids build right inside the box, and has built-in organization to keep all the elements tidy.  It’s just the right size to open up on an airplane tray table, and thanks to the box, you are less likely to lose pieces on the floor of the plane.

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The Lego Junior suitcases are complete Lego sets, with all the little people and accessories the kids need to keep busy for a long time. Even though they are marketed for kids 4-7, my older son (9) loves to play with them too, so we travel with a couple different sets so they can build and swap sets on the plane to keep busy.

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Even our little one can follow the instructions- anything kids can do independently is a win for travel.

Other good travel toys are small cars to drive on trays, seek-and-find picture books, puzzle books and drawing paper (we just use pens- no sense in fighting with a box of crayons).

I put snacks in the outside pocket of the backpack. Each child gets a couple granola bars, some pretzel sticks (I like the big, long ones- they pack easier), fruit leather, and some hard candy to suck on in case their ears have trouble popping. They can put the rubbish back in their bags, so no mess gets left behind. Since each child has their own snack stash, they see what they have, and hopefully, don’t eat it too fast. I do still tell them when they need to wait, but having it in their possession tends to ease the begging and whining for food when we’re on the go.

2. Expect the Unexpected

One one trip back to Germany from the States, a giant storm was moving across Europe, and our flight was diverted into Munich instead of Frankfurt. For those of you who aren’t pros in Germany geography, that’s about a 5 hour drive. For a while, the airline debated bussing us up to Frankfurt, but eventually, after about 4 hours of sitting on the tarmac, they decided to try to fly again to a closer airport. By the time we got back in the air for our final diversion, the plane had run out of food, and our 8 hour flight had turned into a 16 hour adventure.

The good news was, the other families with kids combined resources, and soon we had a decent amount of snacks and goodies to keep at least the children on the plane in good spirits. Always, always travel with extra snacks, water, diapers, wipes, formula, toys… whatever it is that you need… take extra.

3. Keep Calm

Kids react based on what the parents are doing. If you are calm, and relaxed about your travel, it’s likely your kids will take the cue from you. This isn’t to say their ears won’t pop, and they won’t get tired and cranky, but you can try and set the tone by having a good attitude yourself. Smile and be friendly to the other travelers. Try not to snap at the kiddos if you get overwhelmed. Just breathe deeply, and know you’ll be there soon!

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What other travel tips do you have? Do you have favorite toys for on the plane? Let us know in the comments! 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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