Monday, 23 February 2015

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Last week we ventured out and took the kids on their second trip via airplane, south to Florida to visit their snow bird grandparents.  It was great to get away and get outside every single day for a week, but more on that later.

This was our first time taking to the sky with two toddler/pre-schooler forces of nature and I thought I'd share our air travel successes (and failures) with the minions to help anyone planning a holiday with their little ones.

toddler in a car seat, travel with little kids
Try carting two of these beasts of seats all over an airport.  I dare you!

7 Do's and 7 Don'ts of Air Travel with Little Kids:

DO: Pack your children their own little backpacks including favourite small toys, soft cover books and anything else that will help keep them entertained on the plane or when there are delays (because there will be delays).

DON'T: Expect that they will want to carry these backpacks when you need them to most.  This will usually be your responsibility, until they urgently need an item at the bottom of the knapsack at the worst possible moment

DO: Book your seats in advance.  We ended up booking the day before both times and ended up at the back of the plane, which added in time boarding and exiting the plane.  Although the back of the plane is closer to the washroom for little ones, the choice is yours.

DON'T: Rely on the airline to feed your children.  Because of timing issues we ended up rushing onto the plane very quickly, without having a chance to grab some breakfast that morning (beyond two baggies full of Cheerios). We decided that we would purchase the minions a fruit tray and some hummus and crackers, unfortunately by the time the flight attendants got to us, at the back of the plane, all they had left was Pringles.

DO: Consider putting newly toilet trained children in pull up diapers "just in case".  Long lines and obligated seat time can be a recipe for disaster, even for the best trained newbies.  Also be wary of the call button in the plane's washroom, I had to physically restrain Molly from pressing it on more than one occasion.

DON'T: Be surprised when your daughter refuses to go in her diaper anyway and insists on visiting the facilities 30 seconds after you've been called for boarding.

DO: Look into what entertainment is going to be available on the flight ahead of time.  Air Canada Rouge doesn't offer any in flight entertainment unless you bring your own, or want to pay $10 US to rent a tablet. We had one portable DVD player on loan from Nana and Papa that could only be used one child at a time and bought both Chris and I separately 22 minutes of peace and quiet.

DON'T: Purchase your child an over sized packaged milk, unless you're okay with them spilling it all over the airport floor and then again later all over you within the first twenty minutes of your flight.

DO: Figure out what counts towards your checked baggage before you pack for your trip.  We opted to bring our gigantic car seats because rental costs were $20 per day, per seat and I knew that we could check them for free.

DON'T: Leave the house without figuring out a way to secure these monstrosities of seats to your luggage.  You may end up carrying them around the airport for two and a half hours often with a tired and cranky child sitting inside them.  Note: after two and a half hours dragging the car seats around Pearson airport I would have paid the $240USD we saved to set them on fire and NEVER HAVE TO SEE THEM AGAIN.  I assume this would have resulted in my being placed on some sort of no fly list.

DO: Consider bringing a hiking carrier. Ours came in very handy for Jack at the airport and during some of our travels.  We knew exactly where he was (and that he wasn't trying to climb on top of the luggage carousel) which was a huge relief.

DON'T: Count on any time to get any reading of your own done, unless you're really curious about Clifford the Big Red Dog. Any reading you manage of your own should be considered a HUGE bonus.

DO: Bring your patience.  Airports can be stressful when only travelling with adults.  Adding kids into the mix requires infinite zen.

DON'T: Worry when your daughter tells the customs agent that her name is Cinderella (Molly), they're trained to handle elusive toddlers.

To read about our travels to Vancouver and Seattle with the minions when they were 10 months old click here.

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