How to survive a LONG flight with kids

How to Survive a Flight With Little Ones - Tips from a mom who's traveled the world with her 3 kids in tow... AWESOME link to free printables!!!When my twins were 5 and my youngest was not yet 3, I flew with them from Dallas to Shanghai.  Alone.

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.  My husband was already in Shanghai and we had arranged for a helper to accompany me but there was a last minute problem with the plane tickets.  Over the course of the most stressful 48 hours of my life, we had rescheduled tickets, had tickets canceled, and had new tickets charged to the tune of $93,000.  When we finally got it all straightened out, the flight we needed to be on had exactly 4 seats left.  Me + my 3 small children…

So I did it. Almost 20 hours of traveling, and you know?  It wasn’t terrible. I was even able to film little snippets of it, which you can watch below… (skip to the 2 minute mark if you want to see the delirium hitting)

Pretty cute, huh?

So how do you survive your flight with your little ones???

  • Reserve a seat near the bathroom on the plane.  This way, if you have multiple kiddos, you can help one get to the bathroom and still keep an eye on the others/not be too far away from anyone with a little separation anxiety. Arrange the seats so that you and your littles can get in and out of the row without making others get up.  It will feel like you’re making a million bathroom trips and it will be soooo much easier if you feel like you aren’t disturbing someone each time you go. 
  • Bring an empty sippy cup for each child.  These stackable Take and Toss cups are great – they come in a variety of sizes plus you can choose sippy top or straw top. They are super light, and since they stack nicely – you can stick them all in your purse and pull them out when the beverage service starts.  Because let’s be real, on a plane – even most grown ups could use a lid! (Also, take as many bottles of water as they’ll give you, as often as you can.  Nothing’s worse than waiting on a flight attendant with a whiny “I’m thirsty, mama” child threatening to turn into that kid if not attended to in time.
  • Think LIGHT & SMALL for your carry-on items.  Even though kids are allowed a carry-on suitcase and personal item, I highly recommend that each of you only bring ONE small, light bag.  Take one carry-on suitcase for the entire family if it’s really necessary, but if you have any layovers – you’ll most likely be carrying the bulk of whatever you brought, so make sure it’s manageable.
    Also, it’s important to think light & small for your kids activities (suggestions below!!!) for a few reasons.  I made some rookie mistakes on that flight that I’ll never repeat.  These printable activities below?  I organized them all in super cute binders for each child and was oh so proud of myself.  Until we got on the plane and tried to use them.  Those airplane trays are smaller than you think.  Trust me.  If you want to make a binder, get one of those tiny adorable ones.  Then print your activities in a landscape 2-up layout, that way you can cut them in half and hole punch them for your tiny binder.  Or just don’t do a binder.  Whatever.
  • If you’re worried about a kid who won’t stay buckled (why the heck are airplane seatbelts so easy for kids to unbuckle?!?!?!? I mean, in an emergency, I’m sure it’s great, but if you want my kid to stay buckled for 15+ hours – a little help, please!) Where was I? Oh yeah, if you’re worried about that.  Grab a super fun, printed pair of knee socks and cut off the toes.  Slip the sock over one end of the seatbelt, buckle, and stretch the sock out to cover the whole thing up.  Out of sight, out of mind. 
  • Last but not least, you can’t have too many snacks.  Who knows if your kid will eat the airplane food, so it’s always good to have back up just in case.  I made single serving tubs of awesome combos like goldfish and raisins, pretzels and m&m’s, oh – and I brought snack baggies of straight up marshmallows for when the going got rough.  Hey man, you do what you’ve gotta do.

You can totally do this.  And these free printables will help! 

Robots-CollageThis awesome robot coloring page!  photo courtesy: dabblesandbabbles.com

farm-animal-finger-puppet-cat-mouseFarm Animal Finger Puppets!!! and so, so much more on this site… photo courtesy: mrprintables.com

Have them try drawing silly expressions on these blank faces… photo courtesy: dabblesandbabbles.com

Made-by-Joel-Paper-City-Vehicles-3This site has tons of amazing Paper City printables! photo courtesy: Madebyjoel.com

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