My sister, if you loyally read my previous blog, is headed out to Italy next week with her husband and her 3-year-old. If your toddler is anything like my niece, then she will squirm in her airplane seat, then slide out under the seatbelt and onto the floor, and when told to sit still, will start to cry a long, crescendoing wail until the entire plane is ready to send her and the parents out the emergency exit. And the airlines have also long ago figured out to stop charging the child rate and charge children at the adult rate, even though the children never sit in their own seats anyway.
Of course, I only hear about this from their point of view, because the one time I flew with her, a two-hour flight from Chicago, she was as well-behaved and happy as could be. I found tearing apart SkyMall with her was a very occupying activity. However, my niece is a well-traveled three-year-old. At four months, she went from DC to San Francisco for a wedding, then twice at six and nine months to visit me in Los Angeles. We all traveled to Istanbul (picture by the Blue Mosque, right) when she was a year and a half (but I was on a separate flight), and then they all visited me when I lived in Paris (picture, left, with her dad by Notre Dame). And then she went on some local trips to Boston and Chicago, but I think it was after that Paris trip that my sister swore off flying with her until she was 18. Apparently she did make friends with a male flight attendant who taught her to say “merci!” everytime he brought her something.
Anyway, I’m not claiming to be an expert at flying with kids in any way, I am only writing this based on my sister’s experience.
1. Pack light. You’re going to have to check luggage whether you like it or not, so fill it with diapers. Whatever extra room is there, add your clothes.
2. In your carry-on, bring extra clothes for the kiddo and for you, in case the kid is anything like I was and flying will induce projectile vomit. Then bring extra wipes and tissues.
3. Also in your carry-on, bring the following: an Ipod with his/ her favorite songs, lots of books, crayons, coloring books, notepads, itty-bitty tupperwares filled with goldfish crackers or cheerios (leave the candy at home), toys that don’t involve many parts, an extra blanket and their best stuffed friend.
4. A note about the best stuffed friend. My niece is attached to her bear, Spartacus (though we just call him Bear, and my niece also recently gave Bear a gender transformation so he is now a she). To avoid the catastrophe that would follow should Bear ever go missing, Bear comes attached with a collar and leash that clips to my niece’s clothes so Bear doesn’t go missing in the streets of Florence or wherever they’re traveling.
5. My sister is also experimenting with a portable DVD player so she can watch hours of Finding Nemo but is unsure whether carrying an extra battery is worth the weight and effort.
6. Bring a bag of foam earplugs for your seat neighbors. Apologize often. Be aware that even if you’ve become immune to her singing at the top of her lungs that other people have not.