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July 02, 2007

Another article - e-published same day

published this article in their July e-newsletter.

Aviation and Organization; Tips From A Travel Mom
By Caroline Fernandez

Long distance travel can be an adventure. Traveling a long distance with kids can be stressful. Creating a family flight plan is a good feature to incorporate into your travel agenda. Not only for organization but for your dear sanity!

Choose your travel time
My most successful family transatlantic flight departed shortly after the kids usual bedtime. We made the departure time a great theme for a “pj party” trip. After a light snack and a relaxing bath at home we took the kids to the airport in their pjs. Our fellow passengers really enjoyed the cute factor of the pajamas. Plus, the kids were so distinctive in their Spidywear that we could easily spot them in the crowded airport.

Having any “kid down time” whether it is a short nap or the night’s sleep is a huge bonus for family long distance travel. DO incorporate comfortable clothes and sleep routines into the travel plan!

Booking Seats
DO book a Bassinet (a.k.a. sky cot) at least 48 hours in advance (through your airline) for infants. Children over 2 years of age must have their own seat. The seating strategy of getting a bulk head seat (for more leg room & extra play space) is a nice theory. In reality, the arm rests on these choice seats do not rise to the “up” position, thus your child cannot fully spread out across their seat/your lap for comfortable sleeping.

DO encourage kids to try using the bathroom/enjoy a diaper change in the terminal. The terminal facilities are, quite honestly, cleaner and more spacious than the aircraft WC.

DO place a ziplock bag, containing diapers/extra underwear, baby wipes and a full change of pjs, in the mesh pocket in front of your seat on the aircraft. Whether your child is an infant or school aged, my bet is that you will be using this ziplock bag frequently on the trip. You never know when the seatbelt sign will hold you to your spot, in spite of motion sickness emergencies, unintentional spills or necessary hand washing situations. Plus, your fellow passengers will appreciate the fact that you are not frequently opening the overhead compartment – a treasure chest of falling danger.

On international flights, DO pre-order your child’s meal (through airline at no extra charge). Examples of the choices available are hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, sandwiches, brownies and raisins. I have had the experience of pre-ordering a child’s meal only to have the steward run out in-flight. DO pack your own snacks in your carry-on.

Solid food products, such as chocolate, sandwich, fruits, vegetables are permitted in your baggage. All liquid food such as yogurts, pudding and jam are submitted to the restriction of 100 ml (3.4 oz).

In some cases, formula, baby's milk, or temperature-sensitive medications may be refrigerated on board free of charge – check with your airline! Bring your own sippy cup, plastic juice box or bottle (disposable pre-sterilized bottle liners are great for long distance travel). A crewmember once delayed the takeoff of a small flight by minutes, so that he could deliver a warmed bottle of milk to my seat. Not one of the morning passengers begrudged neither the baby nor the delay; they understood the bottle meant more to my baby’s ears than to their schedules.

Medication and personal items
DO pack medication in its original containers and place them in an easy to reach pocket of your baggage. A customized first aid kit is also advisable. Include the child’s regular pain relief medicine, motion sickness medication, plus adult varieties for yourself. DON’T forget colourful band aids – not only as first aid components but as boredom busters/rewards for young travellers.

DO place personal items (i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste) in clear plastic bags. Passengers are permitted to bring liquids, gels and aerosols through security screening at Canadian airports provided that the items are packaged in containers with a capacity of 100 ml / 100 grams (3.4 oz) or less, My family once missed a connecting flight and had to stay overnight – sans baggage – in a Paris no-star hotel. Thankfully, we kept our personal items in our carry on luggage. We washed the baby clothes with my gentle facial cleanser, brushed our teeth and took full advantage of deodorant the next morning. It may seem a pain to take up valuable carry-on space with toiletries. However, when you travel you have to plan for the road blocks as well as the transit time.

In-Flight Activities
- New books, favourite books, books on tape and colouring books.
- Crayons, stickers, writing journals and tattoos
- Portable DVD
- MP3 (filled full of kids songs and soothing music)
- Blank greeting cards are a great activity; create a custom Thank You card for your cabin crew or pilot (they will LOVE that).
- Dollar store toys; purchase a selection and bring them out slowly to get full advantage of the “new toy” interest. (don’t feel badly if your forget them on the plane…their value was amortized on the flight!).



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