by Dawn Hall
(San Diego, California, USA)
The person who first coined the phrase “flying the friendly skies” was obviously not traveling with young children!.
If at some point in the future you will be finding yourself on a cramped airplane with a rambunctious toddler (or two), first of all let me offer my condolences. As the mother of two boys and a veteran of the so-called friendly skies, I have been in your shoes more than once.
Yes, I know – you don’t need my sympathy, or my empathy, or my condolences. You need help! So, for what it is worth, here are my words of experience (errr, I mean wisdom) on how to survive your next trip:
Toddler Air Travel Tips #1: Do not use the white paper bag in the seat pocket in front of you as a paper airplane!
It does not matter that you spent a small fortune loading your carry-on luggage with goodies aimed at keeping your two-year old entertained for hours. There is an unwritten rule that dictates that your toddler will get bored within the first fifteen minutes of departure.
That white paper bag in the seat pocket in front of you will begin to beckon to you, with the promise that if you transform it into a paperairplane or an origami sculpture, that the tiny passenger sitting beside you will be well-behaved for the next two hours of your trip.
Stop – don’t do it! Trust me, as soon as you dismantle the bag, your toddler will upchuck everything he ate for breakfast. And guess where that spew of regurgitated food bits will be directed. Yes, that’s right – you will be the unwilling recipient! Your pants, your shoes, yes, even your brand new luggage, will be covered in the once-digested remains of his breakfast.
My advice – as soon as you board the plane, locate the paper bag and place it where you can grab it within a moment’s notice. And do not touch it again, unless you need it for its intended use.
Toddler Air Travel Tips #2: Do not let your toddler out of his seat when the fasten seat belt lights turns off.
I don’t have to tell you that toddlers have a difficult time sitting still for two minutes, let alone two hours. Their little legs were built for running, kicking and jumping.
With that in mind, prepare yourself for the fact that your toddler is going to whine, and squirm, and complain, and squirm some more. However, no matter how much he squirms and complains, do not unfasten his seat belt. If you do, be prepared to regret your decision. Why? Well, freed from the constraints of the seat belt, he will wrestle past you into the aisle, and then his inner instinct to run will take over. You can only imagine the rest of the fiasco that will take place.
My advice – do not unbuckle your child’s seat belt for any reason. Better yet, bring his car seat with you on the plane, and strap him in good!
Toddler Air Travel Tips #3: Never make eye contact with the other adult passengers!.
Unfortunately, the majority of your co-passengers will not be sympathetic to your situation. There is something about flying, perhaps it’s the cramped conditions, the high altitude, or the recycled air, that makes them forget that they were once children, or had children, or that the world would end if it were not for children. To them, you are the enemy.
My advice – you should avoid making eye contact with the other adult passengers on the plane. Spare yourself the stares and glares, because what you do not know will not hurt you. You have enough on your plate, without adding a big side helping of guilt.
Finally, keep your expectations realistic. You will survive this journey. Perhaps, you will even have your own travel tips and words of wisdom to impart when it’s over!