Fasten your seatbelts and...help!
Sorry for the slight hiatus. I've just come back from two wonderful weeks in Umbria and, a holiday being a change after all, my husband and I agreed a social media fast as well. Anyway, now that's over,I can get on with gorging myself again - phew!
So holidays with children...can they really be called holidays? Certainly, the travelling part with my children can sometimes be.....well, challenging.
Before I went, the journalist Rosie Millard published a book called 'Bonne Vacances: A Crazy Family Adventure in the French Territories'. Although I packed it in suitcase, I confess that I have still yet to read it (strangely the flight was not as good an good opportunity as I hoped.....) but I did see her interviewed about her trip and she struck me as a very brave woman! Her idea was to set out on a tour of the French Overseas Departments and Territories (the Dom-Toms ) with her husband and four young children to show the children it is possible to survive twelve weeks without Hannah Montana. During the interview she explained how they took very little with them, and her advice for in flight entertainment? Just a pad of paper and a pencil! I wish. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure my two little ones would not be kept entertained for a flight with so little.
I really love the idea of travelling light though I always seem weighed down with bags, duty free, books and magazines. So this time I was determined to pack smart but also be prepared with everything required to deal with whinges from the kids. Even if you're only doing a short 2 1/2 hour flight, there's still the journey to the airport, hanging around at the airport and possible delays, so I always feel much better if I am armed with various activities and little tricks up my sleeve.
Here are my suggestions for a happier flight:
- Make up a 'travel treat bag' which is only given and opened after take off! This could contain colouring books, crayons, mini jigsaws, small travelling toys, small 'sports style' water bottles, carby treats and dried fruit (as opposed to sweets).
- Ipod or Ipad
- Game boy.
- Sweets for them to suck to stop ears popping, but beware it doesn't make them too hyper.
- "I spy" type games
- Sticker books- especially ones that feature travel or different countries
- If you have an iphone, download mini vidoes from Itunes (cost around ï¿½1.30) and last 30 minutes.
- Wrap familiar toys in lots of different wrapping paper a la pass the parcel.
- For slightly older kids- a scrapbook that can be filled with tickets, post cards & mementos collected from the holiday (perfect for return flight)
You don't need all of the above (and probably don't have the space in your carry-on either!). Just choose a few and produce tactically throughout the journey. Hold a small special toy/present back, and produce with a flourish at the point a child's behaviour begins to wobble.
One final point: before I left, I was keen to get some more ideas from one of my seasoned traveller friends who recently spent some time travelling with a new born and a 3 year old. Six months of long haul flights. Crazy! I asked him what activities he used to keep his kids under control at 30,000 feet. His response was a roll of the eyes, a big sigh and the words "no toys or games in the world will keep a 3 year old happy on a plane for 12 hours".
Whatever your views, I think one thing is for certain. We should never expect our children to be adults, especially when flying. Their movement is restricted, there is very limited stimulation around and they're expected to stay quiet and still for long periods of time. So do be realistic and forgiving and everything will be a lot calmer...and more of a holiday!
Anyone else got suggestions for young children and air travel?