Holiday Flying with Children: Tips to Avoid Kiddie Meltdowns

Now that your holiday travel family is increasing take time to sit with the toddlers and explain their big adventure. Story books about “My First Plane Ride” are invaluable. Insert their names as the main characters. Show all the lights and gadgets. Explain everything simply and straight-forward. Don’t take anything for granted. Even the small detail of the X-ray machine and conveyor belt could instill sheer terror as it “eats” Teddy.

The Age of Techno:

Thanks to today’s technology, DVD players, Game Boys, Leap Frog, iPods, MP3 players and all the attachments and apps for all ages are very affordable. Hit upper-end garage sales, eBay, Craig’s list, Goodwill and all the great sales. Teach the teens about coupons, trade-ins and pawn shops. Don’t forget extra batteries and appropriate chargers.

Plan ahead and save yourself last-minute panic and extortion. Frontier Airline’s economy class offers seat-back screens for a nominal fee. Virgin America and JetBlue’s are free. Kids from age 3 to late teens can be occupied for hours with a pencil and notepad. Throw in some technology, a few rolls of sticky tape and “you rock, mom!”

Backpacks and Diaper Bags:

Toddlers and teens demand their independence. Give them their own backpacks loaded with their books, arts and crafts, techno and stuffed animal (not the favorite). My kids preferred their “pillow pets” ; compact, hypoallergenic, one owner and no fighting.

There are so many fantastic all-in-one diaper bags. Compressible multi-compartments and hidden pockets allow mom security and flexibility. Hide the plastic and American Xpress checks; leave that shoulder bag home.

Diaper bags with built-in insulation and water-proofing function as great coolers. Pack the GoGurt, fruit roll-ups, juice boxes, sandwiches, raisins, nuts, cookies and other favorites. Most airlines offer free beverages for the little ones, but watch the energy drinks. Even adults experience some interesting results with guarana, ephedrine and caffeine. Mix that with the confines of a small airplane cabin, and you’ll be using those rolls of tape for more than arts and crafts.

Candy is always dandy. Reward good behavior. Don’t sweat the purported “sugar rush.” The Straight Dope’s Cecil Adams cites medical studies regarding the sugar rush myth. If delays or unavoidable glitches occur and you can afford it, pull out the plastic and buy a round of drinks for the passengers within earshot.

Infants and Toddlers:

The best life-saver, if your children are still infants, is to pay the extra fee for direct flights instead of connecting routes. The peace of mind speaks for itself. Traveling during non-peak times, red-eye flights, mid-day and Mondays through Wednesdays offers less crowded flights. Early boarding fees will get you bin space directly over your seats with the kids settled in quickly. Southwest Airline’s Early Bird boarding only costs $10.

The cheapest most stress-free time to fly is on the holiday itself. Catch the earliest flight on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day and you will reach your destination in time for the celebrations. The younger children will still be calm enough on a direct link, the airports are near-empty and there’s always extra employees grateful to help with luggage and sleeping infants.

Security Facts:

Good news from T.S.A. (oxymoron, anyone). The Transportation Security Administration states,” policy changes affecting security screening procedures for the under-12 set will be rolled out in a matter of weeks.” This entails fewer “enhanced” pat-downs for youngsters and they will not be required to remove their shoes at security checkpoints. There are exceptions to every rule. Remind the older teens there still may be metal detectors and hands-on. Rest easy, weary traveler. Unless you are on the F.B.I.’s watch list or strapped to an explosive device, T.S.A. will never, ever separate you from your children.

Pittsburgh International Airport has just opened a T.S.A. approved express security lane for passengers with a single carry-on bag (no purse or laptops). Testing is underway at Atlanta, Dallas and Detroit on the so-called “trusted traveler” program for pre-selected passengers. They are only required to donate a quart of blood and their first-born child. Just kidding. But they do have to divulge their complete itineraries.

Group Travel:

If your extended vacation plans include a cruise to an exotic island with a large quantity of people, go luggage free. Several companies will ship luggage (pay per pound), golf clubs, skis, bikes, infants’ car seats and essential equipment, fragile instruments and other articles for flat rates. Delivery is guaranteed within 1-5 business days. The longer the shipping, the cheaper the cost. You receive premium service, full guarantees and security at a nominal price. Try this link for reviews and pricing of Luggage Free.

I would highly recommend reviewing this site from the T.S.A. experts, especially if you are traveling abroad. It contains anything and everything regarding airline security: videos, FAQs and contact information.

Fair winds and following seas. Happy holidays!

Richard Greenwood,Flying With Kids: Navigating an Airport With Toddlers, Parents Magazine
A more2explore S.r.l. Web site,Kids can Travel, Family Vacation Ideas and the Tools to Get You There

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credit-Crimfants/copyright-Wikimedia Commons. caption-Crying Child

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