Friday, June 22, 2012

Trans Atlantic with Kids: 5 Tips For A Smoother Flight

Nice inflight entertainment!  Luke on his first trip to France.
Last week we traveled back to the states for a very special event, my sister's wedding!  It was a fantastic joy filled occasion and so nice to be back home with family.  The trip got me thinking, the plane ride from CDG to JFK was really not that bad, and I was alone with the kids on the return to boot.

Here is what I have come to realize about long plane rides with kids:

First, getting through security.  I have found going through security at CDG much much smoother and more kid friendly.  You don't have to take your shoes off and the staff are much more pleasant.  They treat you like a human being.  TSA leaves A LOT to be desired.  No real advice here, just be organized with your stuff.

At Orly, not sure if we will make the flight.
1.  Be mentally prepared.  You are about to embark on a looong hands on journey with your kids.  You will not be reclining, reading a magazine, napping at your leisure.  If a moment to kick back and relax presents itself, it is like a petit cadeau.  Keep your expectations really low for personal time on your flight and you may be pleasantly surprised!

2. New toys and games.  This is now a ritual to head to La Grand Recre (think Toys R Us) and pick up a new toy for each of the boys before our day of departure.  Little cars and trucks have been a big hit and keep them occupied for a surprisingly long time.  Travel sized games like Connect 4, cards, battleship are also great.  I keep this stuff separate from other toys so even if it's not new, they haven't seen it in a while.

3. Sandwiches and fruit.  Avoid the airplane meal at all costs!  Sometimes I ask for the tray without the hot dish to have the salad and the crackers.  I specify sandwiches and fruit because this is light, healthy, and my boys will eat this happily.  I usually let them eat it right before they pass out the drinks so their bellies are full, about an hour into the flight.  I make ham and cheese sandwiches with a bit of butter or mustard but anything that is not going to fall out or be messy would work.  I make a fruit salad and pack forks and plastic cups, it just feels more official than a piece of fruit.  Just make sure to secure it so it doesn't leak, I use masking tape for extra protection.  I pick up some pain au lait at the boulangerie for bread when I am in Paris because it is soft and yummy, baguettes can be a little tough for small mouths.  Also, toss in your food bag some disinfectant hand wipes for right before you eat.  You can also use the wipes to wipe down the tray and arm rests.  Don't forget paper towels or napkins!

4. Blankets, travel pillows, and snugglies.  These items are bulky but I am always glad to have them especially on an overnight flight.  It keeps them feeling reassured and helps them fall asleep.  Pulling them out right before "bedtime" lets them know it's time to rest.

How's my flying?  Theo sitting copilot on our last flight back to Paris.
5. Ipad and headphones.  Load this baby up with new shows and games and you will be a happy camper.  Movies have not gone over well so I stick with episodes of Diego or Curious George, whatever they are into at the moment.  I bought kid sized headphones and a splitter so they can both listen.

That's about it.  We prefer flying Air France, most of their planes have individual screens and their in flight staff is always so friendly and professional.  And they serve champagne in coach ;-)  Luke and Theo each have their own backpacks, and Luke is now big enough to carry his own pillow and blanket and some toys.  Theo's backpack is more for show than anything!  When I am feeling super neurotic, I stick an index card with our contact info in their pockets for worst case scenario.  I always feel like a sherpa on these journeys especially when without the hubs.  The destination is always worth it!