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By: Dennis Breier

In our first post we discussed some strategies for taking your gaggle of children on a long road trip.  I have five, so that’s what I mean by “gaggle.”  However, traveling with any number of children is tough.  Why would you take children on a long road trip in a car?  So you don’t have to fly them in a plane, which can be exponentially worse.  Plus – and this is key – you can scream and yell at your children like a crazy person in your own car. On an airplane you have to act like Mother Theresa the whole time so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of 130 strangers.  So you’ve decided to take the brood on a plane to save some time, here are some ways to do it right, and maintain your cool.

1. Know What to Expect

You are going to get stared at and given dirty looks, especially if you have one or more children under the age of two with you.  This process will start when going through security and get worse as you enter the aircraft.  As you walk down the aisle of the plane to board, you’ll see the horrified look on everyone’s face that says, “If they sit next to me I’ll jump out the emergency hatch at 40,000 feet. Please God let these idiots keep walking.”

Don’t sweat it.  Frankly, these people all forget they weren’t born yesterday and they were, once a child.  You have to get where you’re going with or without your children, don’t let a bunch of people who only care about themselves ruin your fun, for a second.  

2. Dress Appropriately

We forgot to consider this the first time we flew somewhere and it was a nightmare.  You have to basically disrobe your children when you are going through security.  Shoes, belts, stuff in pockets, jackets, everything.  Do not put them in anything that is hard to take off.  For shoes, I recommend crocs that slip off.  Don’t put them in a belt because you have to take it off them.  By the way, don’t put them in belt ever. even for a regular day.  What kid wears a belt?  Belts are for professional baseball players and certified public accountants, neither of which describes your child.  Plus, they look stupid, and they look like you forced them into a belt.  Anyway, I digress, no belts, easy shoes, no socks, no coats, basically just bring them in a onesie and you’ll fly right through security.

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3. Save the Food for After the Trip

Ever try to bring a bunch of formula bottles and children snacks through security at an airport?  Sweet Jesus, all of sudden you’re standing at the end of the conveyor and the damn place turns into a chemistry lab.  They have to test the formula with some kind of acid strip, they have to open all the zip locks bags and check those.  It’s insane, and it takes forever, and you are one step closer to a full cavity search, which is not a place you want to be.  If you can help it, wait to grab your children their coveted fruit snacks until after you get off the plane.

4. Use Your Stroller as a Life Line

So basically you can’t bring anything on a plane with your children, but a stroller you can roll right up to the door.  Take advantage of this.  Put your carry-ons in it, your coats if you have them, toys for the children, iPads, whatever.  Everyone else has to carry all their stuff but you have a rolling shopping cart to take advantage of, so do it.  I don’t know what they do with your stroller once you get on the plane, but It shows up right outside the door when you get off, so I personally don’t really care if they have tied up to one of the wings.  

5. What Happens if There is a Breakdown, Or Worse, A Terrible, Terrible Smell

First things first, never apologize.  I see people do that all the time.  There kid is going nuts and their like, “I’m so sorry” to the people around them.  What the hell are you sorry about?  It’s a small child in a cramped space, his or her ears feel like they are going to explode, they can’t hear anything, and they can’t turn on any electronics yet.  Don’t worry about it.  There is no where you can go, so try to calm them down, realize you won’t see any of the people around you again, and think about how awesome your vacation is going to be.  Half the battle on a plane is not getting worked up.  There is really no reason for it.

The one thing you need to take care of right away is a hot steamy dump.  No one wants to smell that in an airplane.  Retreat to the lavatory immediately and take care of it.  I hate when you’re on a plane, and some kid has clearly ripped one-off in their pants and it just lingers in there.  Don’t be that person, please.

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6. Enlist the help of the Stewards/Stewardesses

These people are usually great with children on a plane.  It’s their job all day, every day.  If one of your children are having a breakdown, take them in the back and ask the Stewardess’ if they can see where they keep the food or something.  Believe, they’ll do it, they don’t want your kid screaming either.  If you need help, or have to take someone to the bathroom and are worried about your other children somehow ejecting themselves from the aircraft, ask the stewardess’s to watch them or something.  They are there to help you.

7. Miscellaneous Wisdom and Product Tips

If you are traveling with children over five, you need an iPad, or iPads.  Those things are like crack to a 5-10 year old.  I mean, if you’re into crack I guess, which I’m not.  Anyway, make sure you download some movies they like – and this is key – download the standard definition movies, not the HD ones.  They are cheaper, look just as good to me, and they take up way less memory so your children can still download Minecraft upgrades like it’s their last day on earth.

Great things to bring on plane in terms of food that won’t get treated like a threat to national security are fruit snacks, granola bars and my personal favorite, Baby Mum-Mum Rice Rusks.  Those rice rusks quiet down a screaming toddler in a hurry, and when they dissolve they turn into a sticky cement like mess that you can leave on the seats to spite the airline for smashing you and your lap baby into the smallest seat ever.

There are only two products you need as an adult while traveling with your children that will make it seem like you can’t hear them.  Beats Audio Headphones and whatever beer they are serving on the drink cart.  You can’t hear a damn thing with the headphones on, and the beer says, “I’m on vacation, so…whatever.”  When you look over and see your kid screaming bloody murder, you can just act like you can’t hear anything while you enjoy your favorite tunes and catch a little buzz.  

Lastly, you might have a kid that’s potty training and you have to take a four hour plane ride.  Forget about the potty training and buy Pampers Easy-Ups.  I swear to god those easy-ups hold more urine than a kid could possibly unleash.  I took one-off my son after our last long trip and it looked like a water balloon on the cusp of explosion and the lad was perfectly dry.  Ridiculous.  Plus, your kid will enjoy reverting back to his infant days, you don’t have to find the smallest bathroom on earth, and you can re-potty train him the rest of the trip. Yeah!

In conclusion, don’t sweat a trip on a plane with your little children.  Most people get all defeated and worked up beforehand which makes it worse.  Most people know what you are doing is hard and will be understanding.  For those that aren’t, who cares, you’ll never see them again.  Good luck on your next trip and hang in there!

Traveling With Children: Part I