Last month my husband and I arrived at the airport, toddler in tow, to begin our 25-hour journey from Toronto to Vietnam. Every person we spoke to about our trip said "you're so brave!" To be honest, I hadn't really thought about it. We'd been to Southeast Asia only three years earlier, so we knew the lay of the land and there was never a moment when we hadn't considered taking our son. (Okay, time for full disclosure already: there was *one* moment when I asked "should we leave JR with Grammy and Grampy instead?" My husband wouldn't even entertain the thought, so that was that.)
And you know what I learned? That we often underestimate our children. My son cried for a total of 15 minutes in the 14th hour of our first flight. And only then because he had finally fallen asleep to be woken up by turbulence - enough to make any of us cry! And I would venture to say that, as long as you come prepared, the journey can be half the fun.
Top Tips for ENjoyinG the JourNey
4. Never underestimate the power of the treat. Most airlines are good about bringing snacks, drinks, and small toys for the kids, but packing your carry-on with treats means you're not relying on a (hopefully) empathetic (and available) flight attendant. Before a long flight, I visit the local dollar store and find a few toys that I think JR might enjoy. I also pack his favourite lovey, a roll of painter's tape, some stickers, juice boxes and a few never-fail snacks (rice crackers, puffs, etc.). I wrap the toys and hand one over whenever he seems to be getting restless. The painter's tape was probably the smartest item in our bag of tricks. JR loved ripping pieces off the roll of tape and sticking them all over us and the seats. It served a dual purpose as we soon discovered: after JR had pressed the "Call Attendant" button a dozen times in five minutes, a piece of tape nicely covered the button, erasing that innate toddler need to press all visible buttons.
5. Go with the flow. A detailed plan for the journey will end up in the same place as your birth plan: lining the bird cage. Be prepared, but don't have expectations. The best strategy is to be flexible, because you may find that your mile-a-minute pre-schooler wants to do nothing more than sit on your lap and watch cartoons, while your normally sedate 11-month old wants to run up and down the aisles. Your fellow passengers aren't the enemy and are usually happy to smile and coo to your children as long as they see that you are genuinely making an effort to make the journey as comfortable as possible for your family.
When you're relaxed, your kids will read that and take their cues from you. Remember - a journey of a thousand miles...begins with a little preparation.
Do you have any secret travel tips you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them!