According to travel experts, parents traveling on an airplane with kids should always have a carry-on bag with them that is filled with items they may need during their flight. Among the supplies that are typically recommended are snacks, wipes, a spare outfit, a lightweight jackets and age-appropriate forms of entertainment. I benefited greatly from following this advice when my girls were younger. But, my list of trip essentials never stopped there. I actually took several additional things with me when my family of four traveled together and none of them were ever shoved into a crowded overhead bin or stuffed under the seat in front of me. The things to which I’m referring are traits that I tried hard to carry within me to increase the chances that all of us would have a comfortable travel experience and that I would arrive at our much-anticipated destination with my sanity intact!
The first trip essential or trait is creativity. One of the first times I flexed my creative muscles while traveling was when my youngest daughter became whiny midway of a flight that was several hours long. Every attempt I made to calm her down failed. Then I remembered how much she liked taking off her shoes. So, I offered to trace her feet and hands in a blank journal we’d packed. Realizing this meant her shoes and socks could come off, her disposition immediately improved. So did mine. As a matter of fact, that desperate attempt to calm an upset toddler resulted in a long art project that included both of my girls. And, their excitement about the fact that they could be creative while flying on an airplane ended up kicking off a fun, recurring vacation tradition that lasted for a several years and resulted in the creation of various arts and crafts projects including a colorful beaded necklace one time and bedazzled flip flops on another occasion.
Another thing I take with me is my ability to be flexible or go with the flow. Trips, especially those involving airplane travel, have a funny way of reminding us parents that, in life, we won’t always be in the driver’s seat—literally or figuratively. Often, we’ll have to go along with someone else’s rules or even end up doing something we’d never do in a different setting. For example, I’d never intentionally walk barefoot in a public building—or allow my children to do so—but that’s exactly what happened the year one of my daughters and I wore sandals to the airport. We had to remove our hard-soled shoes, place them on the luggage belt to be scanned, and walk barefoot through the metal detector on the gritty floor. Yuck! And, the year my girls’ checked car seats didn’t return with the our luggage, I committed another first: I let them ride in our friend’s car without their seats when he came to pick us up from the airport and take us home. In both situations, I had to refrain from getting bent out of shape because of the unexpected. Fortunately, the car seats arrived later that night and my husband went back to the airport the next day and retrieved them.
I also try to take with me the ability to remain calm, even in the midst of chaos. I got practice with this one years ago when my curious and adventurous older daughter was around four or five years old and darted away at full speed from the passenger checkpoint as my husband and I gathered up our belongings from the belt. I guess, in her mind, all of us adults were simply taking too long! At first, I got nervous because she wouldn’t respond to my requests for her to return. But, then I noticed a uniformed man I believed was a National Guard and felt relieved, assuming he’d stop her as she ran passed him through the terminal. I was wrong. Much to my surprise and disappointment, he just watched her speed past him. Fortunately, I thought of employing the tactic that made her stop running and allowed us to catch up to her: the yelling of her name combined perfectly with my stern “you’re-going-to-regret-it-if-you-move-one-more-step” face! I remained calm, but I was very loud!
So, if you’re planning on traveling by plane with your children or grandchildren (or work as a nanny for a family that will be traveling), try to remember to take along the above-mentioned trip essentials. It is my hope that, in the event that you need to use them, they will prove to be helpful and set the tone for a relaxed, peaceful and enjoyable trip for you, your family members, as well as your fellow travelers.
Photo Credit: The above photo was taken by the author of this post and owner of this site.