I recently experienced the joys of airplane travel with my 3 year and 19 month old boys. It’s one of those things that seems miserable at the time, but in retrospect, turns to it wasn’t that bad…, and before long, you are planning your next trip.
The trip down to Lake Worth started off well enough. It was an early morning, midweek flight so Dulles wasn’t too busy. By the way, the so called self checkin is anything but, and it only makes the checkin process slower. I guess it saves the airlines a few bucks…at our expense, of course.
What I thought would be the worst part of air travel with young kids was getting through security. The kids need to come out of the stroller, shoes and coats off, bags through the x-ray machine. There are special security lines for premium passengers. How about dedicated lines for families? Take note, if you are traveling, always get in the security line without strollers and small kids.
But the security check was easy compared to the trip back home, after the flight was delayed two hours in West Palm Beach, and we were well past nap times. My wife and I split up, I had the toddler, and she sat with the preschooler on the other side of the plane. A half hour into the flight, I couldn’t contain him anymore, so we went to stand outside the bathrooms with the flight attendants, hoping the noise at the back of the plane would sooth him to sleep. After a few minutes, we hit some turbulence and had to return to our seats. The toddler was NOT happy.
The meltdown started as we squeezed past the gentleman sitting on the aisle in our row, and I attempted to put the screaming kid in his window seat. I pulled out every trick I knew, offering crackers, milk, books, toys. Nothing could calm him. It is a scientific fact that a wailing toddler has the strength of ten men. He threw everything I gave him into the surrounding seats. By this time, everyone within five rows was staring at us and giving me the why don’t you do something look.
Meanwhile, I could see my wife with our preschooler on the other side of the plane. He had fallen asleep by now, and she was calmly reading a magazine and laughing with the friendly woman next to her. I recalled that Seinfeld episode – The Airport, where Jerry has a great time in first class while Elaine endures an awful ride in coach. Never again, I thought, as I quietly withstood blow after blow from this screaming kid. But, after 45 minutes he finally wore himself out to sleep, and now, one week removed from the experience, I find myself thinking It wasn’t that bad…I’m ready to take another trip.
Here are some tips for traveling with kids:
Leave the winter coats at home
It was around 30 degrees when we left, and we had to walk 10 minutes from the parking garage to the terminal, so the kids wore their winter coats. But once we were in the terminal, they didn’t wear them, and I had to carry the coats through the airport, onto the plane, make sure not to lose forget them in the hotel, and back home again. It would have been much easier to leave them home. I don’t think anyone ever froze in ten minutes.
Slip them a mickey
There is nothing wrong with drugging your kids before boarding a plane. In my case, my only regret is that I didn’t give him enough.
Earplugs and a straight jacket
When all else fails, there is one sure way to restrain a screaming toddler and drown out the noise during meltdowns. The people around you will hate you, but you can calmly read a book and pretend you don’t know what’s happening.