Friday, May 16, 2008

Flying Through The Air With The Greatest Of Ease

In just about a month the kids and I will be heading back to Japan. As in just the three of us- Bailey, Sophie and me- as in the first time I am going to attempt an international flight with no other adult to rely on. It kinda makes me a little nervous.

I know that I need to simplify- less carry-ons, less luggage, less toys with little pieces that will have me crawling under seats to find them; but I was just wondering if any of you moms out there have any good advice or ideas about air travel with little ones. I have gotten pretty good at the airplane thing when there is another responsible adult around to help out, but I am not sure how to handle it on my own. The kids are generally pretty well behaved on the plane, but you just never know. . . . . .

Help! Please?


Terri Vu Deterding said...

if you have one, bring a portable dvd player. we couldnt have survived long flight or car rides without it. and lots of snacks, my kids (2yrs) can gnaw on an apple for verrrrry long time. good luck, i'm sure you'll do fine!

Sarah@mommyinjapan said...

A portable DVD player sounds awesome but if you can't get that, I usually bring a lot of candy or snacks and dollar store toys. Every hour I alternate giving them one or the other. Plus if the toys are cheap, I can afford to throw them away if I don't want to take them off of the airplane. Another thing I do to distract is sing songs that have actions to them. Like Patty-Cake or The Itsy-Bitsy Spider or songs like that.

Above all, remain calm and your kids will sense that and remain calm themselves.

Also, pray for nice neighbors. I once had to fly with an almost 2-year-old while I was pregnant. The plane was totally crammed so there were no extra seats to give us. When I sat down, my neighbor was a 40-something business man and I just felt that for sure he was going to be totally unforgiving of any nonsense on our part. But it turned out he was a dad of two young girls and he was absolutely great so you just never know.

Gina said...

Terri's right about the portable DVD player, we don't travel without it! We bought our first one about 6 years ago and then we replaced it with one 2 years ago maybe. And ours is *region free* so it can play all the Japanese DVD's and also the American ones. Keeps both of my boys occupied whether we are travelling 18 hours to get to Denver from Japan or 8 hours to fly to Hawaii or even for a short 3 hour flight to Guam, doesn't matter it keeps them totally busy and quiet for the whole flight! : ) I also bring lot's of snacks. And plenty of extra DVD's so they can switch the movies.

You might also wanna pick up some coloring books too Trisha : ), I recall that used to help me too. Although now, all I gotta do is bring the DVD player and that's enough to occupy my 2 kiddos, thank god. : )

I also liked Sarah's ideas too! : )

Sherry said...

I always travel alone with my two kids from Japan to Texas and back again. If I waited for my DH to be able to go with me we would never go home. In my experience it isn't nearly as bad as you imagine it will be and your kids will probably surprise you-in a good way. LOL!

I do what Sarah said. Go to the dollar store/100 yen store (depending on where we are obviously) and stock up on all sorts of junk there - coloring books, crayons, sticker books, origami paper, little plastic cars, card games, whatver I can find and etc. I fill up each kids' bag with that sort of stuff and lots of snacks. My kids also love to wear those glow in the dark bracelets on the plane since it is dark for a lot of the trip. They really really love those things.

All that dollar/100 yen stuff is great because it has no real value. If you lose it somewhere, it breaks, or you just don't want to bother carrying it off the plane with you, it is no big loss. Also, most of it isn't heavy and the kids can usually easily carry it themselves in a backpack.

LJ said...

Hi Trisha!

I haven't been on in a while and see that you'll be traveling soon! I had to fly by myself with the kids back to Japan from NY this past January. What airline are you taking? If you call them before your departure date they might be able to offer you special help at the airport. I took JAL and told them ahead of time that I was traveling alone with two young children. An attendant met me when I arrived Narita and helped me through customs up to baggage claim. I don't know what is your departure city, but in NY JFK they make you take off your shoes and belt, so its good to wear shoes easy to slip off and on. hmmm as for the flight yeah I wish I had a portable dvd player, but I'd have to bring only dvds both kids would want to watch - I imagine mine would probably argue over what dvd to put on. Somehow we managed on the 13-hour flight without one. We'd walk a lot to the back of the plane. Also the plane had tv monitors at each seat and the playhouse disney channel. That entertained them for a while. I agree with lots of snacks but nothing that will be too gooey! I don't know if you have a choice on departure time, but I found that a later flight was better for me. On our way to NY from Tokyo, we left sometime in the afternoon. The kids played at the airport during our wait so by the time we'd boarded the plane, they had exhausted themselves enough and slept much of the flight. When they woke up it was nearly time to land. Hope some of this was helpful.
Have a fun time there and a safe flight back!


Vicky said...

If you could choose a later flight it would definitely help, as does getting to the airport early so you don't have to rush the kids down the loooong, loooong corridors at itty bitty toddler pace, all the while convinced that you are going to miss your flight. Get as far as you can in the check in process then let the kids run - make them run!!

On the plane, yes, lots of little snacks, lots of little toys, do your best NOT to annoy the fellow passengers but if the kids cry or whatever you can't help it and you will never meet any of the other people again, so ignore them! Pray for a couple of nice baachans sitting near you - more than once my kids have been taken over for hours at a time!! (And once I had an utter snotbag of a man on a crowded flight and an 11 month baby - he turned to me as soon as he sat down and said in tones of ice "Keep its hands off me" I didn't make tooooo much effort after that introduction!!)

Good luck! Whatever happens, no matter how bad it is, it is a finite thing and it WILL come to an end! And you'll be HOME!!!

Helen said...

I'm not really giving advice as I'm not a mum and I've never traveled with children. I used to be your typical "Oh bl***y H**l, there's a baby next to me" singleton. However, one flight I heard the flight attendant tell a new mother that the baby would probably cry at take off and landing because it would help them equalize the pressure in their ears. Ever since then, just knowing that there was a reason for babies to cry on a flight made me feel sooooo much more charitable! (If someone complains you might want to mention it to them!)

And now, as long as they don't kick the back of my chair, I really don't mind them on planes.

Amy said...

I am all about the DVD player. The other thing too would be a Leapster hand held game with headphones for your son. That may keep him happy for awhile.
I hate to say it, but something to help them sleep. I'm not all for drugs, but having a friend who travels internationally with her 4 kids, she gives them a little Benadryl around bedtime so they can get a nap on the plane. She says that the hardest thing is when the kids get overtired and almost wired, too hard to get them to settle down once you reach that point. I've had a moment like that and my son just started to cry and cry. I thought the people on the plane were going to toss us both out the window!
I would also call ahead and cry/beg for bulkhead seats. The more room the better, which I'm sure you know by now.
I did a 10 hour trip in the car by myself with the kids, and bought a handful of cheap movies on before we left. I also took them to the store and let them pick out some snacks that I would never allow them to eat otherwise. Told them it was going to be like going to the movies all day, and it was! They were very happy.
Good luck girl! Check a stroller to carry all your stuff around the airport before you leave. I could not do it without my stroller. Stuck one in there, had my backpack, and made the other hold my hand.