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Flying with kids 101

We’re off to Marrakech, Paris and London in 10 days for April vacation and I’m in the process of preparing for our trip. New York to Marrakech will be a somewhat long flight, we are flying overnight to Paris, then hopping on connecting flight at Charles de Gaulle airport. Altogether, probably about 10 hours of flying time + a 2-hour layover, but part of it will be at night, so not too bad. On the way home we’re breaking up the trip so it’ll be a simple flight back from London to New York.

Still, we need to be prepared with plenty of entertainment for the flight, the airport, and any downtime/delays that may happen during our trip! Our kids have become great flyers now that they’re 5 and 8, and I think it’s because we’ve nailed our carry-on packing list with everything and anything that we might need during the journey. Of course we no longer have diapers and baby stuff to deal with… but it’s back to square one as soon as the little one arrives in the fall!

Tip #1. Load up one (or two) iPads with a selection of movies your kids will love, from old favorites to interesting new ones that’ll keep them interested during the flight. Our kids especially love having the iPad on the plane because they’re never allowed to use iPads unless we’re traveling – so it’s an extra special treat for them when we go anywhere! In addition, I’m always concerned about keeping my kids’ hearing safe so I researched the best headphones for children, and these are the ones we ended up choosing. They come in a variety of colors so they’re super cute, and you can rest assured that excess volume isn’t permanently damaging your kids’ hearing.

Tip #2. Art supplies. Although no one wants to travel with messy paints and crazy glue, we always love love love having art supplies on trips, not only for the plane, but also for rainy days at the hotel, calm-down time right before bed, lazy mornings when mom & dad want to sleep in (fat chance!), etc. The kids love having their colored pencils from home on trips, it calms them down to draw a picture here and there, and as I said we keep them off the iPad unless we’re actually flying, so drawing’s a nice activity for them to do.

For younger kids, I also like this travel art supply set:

Tip #3. Buy one book per kid at the airport bookstore. Could be a book, a comic book, a coloring book, a word search book, a crossword book… anything that’s new and fresh and a “gift” that they pick out for themselves will be a huge source of entertainment during the entire flight.

Tip #4. When it’s time to go to sleep, whether on the plane, at the airport during a layover, in a taxi or car, or wherever, it’s nice to give your kids a soft and cuddly blanket that means “sleep time.” Thought associations are a powerful tool to get your kids to calm down when it’s time to get some rest, and when you’re away from home, it’s nice to have an item that they know means “good night” – especially when dealing with different time zones! I love this machine washable, inexpensive blanket that feels soft and cuddly for my kids to sleep with. In addition, these silky eye masks keep out the harsh neon lights of the plane when your kids are ready to go to bed.

Tip #4. Snacks – healthy & not healthy! Keeping the kids fed and hydrated is a huge part of the equation if you want kids that are well behaved and happy. It’s unrealistic to rely on the flight attendant’s measly selection to keep your kids fed during flights, especially as they might get hungry during take-off or landing, when the flight attendant needs to remain seated. Plenty of water and healthy snacks (like fruit and cheese sticks) keep them grounded and full. You want to avoid a massive sugar high (soon to be followed by a terrible sugar low)!!! But having a special treat on hand (like a homemade cookie brought from home) will definitely come in handy as a last resort (we’ve all been there!) to avoid a fight or breakdown at the end of a long journey.

What are your tips for traveling with little ones?

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