"Once the traveling ends, the fun begins."
In our family, Daddy-o happens to be from the other side of the planet, so most of our holidays involve long and expensive trips with our biggie-sized family. The most difficult trip involved 21 hours of air travel when I was five weeks out of my fifth C-section. When you have five children and your oldest is six, you mostly try to block these experiences from memory.
Things have changed for this busy mama. We recently did the same flight, but my sixth and youngest child is now 5 years-old and it was SO EASY. Being able to travel without diapers and strollers is liberating. Big kids can pack their own carry-on luggage and actually carry it themselves. I no longer look like a mule, lugging around bags and babies.
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We still get a lot of looks and there are still some challenges, but people no longer physically recoil in their seats when they see us board the plane. Rarely do I hear cries and shrieks from other passengers screaming “PLEASE DON’T BE SEATED NEAR ME!” like I often did in the past.
There are still some strategies that I like to implement to make for easier travel. Some are hang-overs from the old days, and some are new:
- Take away all of their electronics for a couple of weeks before the trip. As you board the plane, return them to your tech-starved offspring and let them know they can play until such a time that they bother you. Then put on your noise-cancelling headphones or pick a movie to watch.
- Pre-order the kids meals. Airplane food is not fabulous whether you’re a kid or adult. The kids are more likely to get chicken fingers, and less likely to get mystery meat with gravy if you get them the kids meal.
- Speaking of food, each kid should have a bag of snacks in their own carry-on bag. This will prevent them from nagging you for snacks and constantly repeating “I’m hungry.” Instead, they can help themselves (without interrupting your movie).
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- Seat them strategically. If there is a row of three seats, book the window and aisle for two of your kids. The middle seats book last so they might just have an empty seat between them. If the plane is full, the person stuck between them will happily trade with one of them. Also if you have two kids that bicker a lot, don’t sit them near each other. You don’t want to have to (you guessed it) pause your movie to mediate sibling squabbles.
- Steal barf bags. With all the car travel we do, airplane barf bags come in handy regularly. A prepared parent always has one of those on hand. You can find barf bags in my car, my laptop bag, my coat pocket and just about anywhere else.
Have you packed up your peeps lately? What survival strategies have helped your family arrive in tact and still liking each other?