Airplanes + Kids = fun?!
I've been helping my sister Dacia move. I'm sad she's going (see post My sister is moving), I've helped her pack (see post Moving Tips) and now it's time to start thinking about flying across the country with four small children in tow. No problem!
I do not claim to be a pro at flying with children though I have done it my fair share of times. Once I was even stuck in an airport with my four kids, all under the age of 7 at the time, for 6 hours because of mechanical problems--great memories! My trips have taught me a few things about traveling with big groups of small people. First and foremost is that it can be done! Here's how:
1. Why does every tip list I write always start with planning? Because thinking about and planning it out ahead of time will solve 1/2 your problems before they even happen! Plan out your trip carefully. Try to consider the children's nap times and eating times when making your reservations. Think about bathroom needs when you are considering which seats to take. Think about activity levels when deciding what to pack for them.
2. Dress all your munchkins in the same color clothes. Matching outfits will likely get lots of oohs and aahs over their cuteness (of course their cute, their your kids!) but this is also a practical measure: people at the airport will immediately know that you are a group and if they spot a wanderer will know in which direction to point them. You will be able to keep a quick eye on them too and in case they get separated you will be able to show authorities the exact outfit-- on your other kids-- to be looking for. It is also a good idea to either write your name and cell number on their arm in permanent ink and/or put your business card in their pants pocket.
3. When possible have each child be responsible for their own flight supplies. Put a backpack on each kid with these supplies. I always liked to include: a disposable camera (for kids that were old enough), a small coloring book and 4 crayons, one book, 2 cars, a tiny stuffed animal or other comfort item, a drink with a lid, several individually wrapped snacks. I also liked to pack a few extra items for the kids in my own bags except these items I would wrap up like a present. Every so often I would present the kids with one of the small packages. They would open it and play with the little bear or the mini rubix cube or whatever. These were not items I had purchased--just stuff from home that I wrapped up--but the kids still thought it was great fun!
I hope these tricks work as well with her kids as they did with mine! Wish us luck as we get ready to take our flight to South Carolina with her four kids under the age of 7.