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Bill and I started traveling for work when our oldest was 3 weeks old. Because we’re actors we have to go where the work is, and until Desperate Housewives came along, work was always a plane ride away, usually a very long plane ride. I remember one ill-fated trip 17 hour travel day from Halifax to Los Angeles, when my 2 year old cried for 10 of the 17 hours! I am not exaggerating. Everyone hated us and I hated us too. Since long airplane rides with small children are right up there with getting a root canal in terms of enjoyability we had to learn strategies for staying sane. I know there is the fabulous ipad and dvd players available (right up there with penicillin in terms of lifesaving inventions), but there are times when you can’t whip out that (insert ipad game) or they get bored with A Bugs Life the fortieth time they watch it.
Here are some tips I learned from good friends:
1. Wrap little toys in tin foil. Just take all those little figurines, or plastic whatever’s and wrap them up all shiny. Then put them all in a big zip lock baggie. You can hand them one at a time or give them the whole bag. As they unwrap the toy and throw the tin foil down, you pick it up and sneakily rewrap it and put it back in the Ziploc. This is good for at least half an hour.
2. A couple of wet washcloths in a baggie, it sounds simple, but so necessary for faces, hands, spills, etc.
3. Scotch tape. My husband once flew with our daughter when she was 3, and brought scotch tape (genius!). She taped her whole seat and the tray table but it kept her busy for an hour (that is the equivalent of 4 hours in toddler time). Here is the bad part, taking it off! But I have since learned that you can get cool band aids with great designs and pictures to stick on things and they always come off. If this option is too pricey – stick with tape, just rip it off quickly.
4. Small dry erase board, with a few erasable markers, they love this. There is a cool one that has a dry erase board on one side and on the other a magnetic chalk board by Melissa & Doug Magnetic Chalk Dry Erase Board.
5. Small Tupperware cups with snacks that are fun to eat: raspberries or olives that they can put on their fingertips. Try refrigerating grapes, cucumber slices, and sliced bell peppers they are yummy and help rehydrate your little ones while you fly. When I am desperate I will pull out a Ringpop because it is 20 minutes of shear bliss silence, but you do get the sugar boomerang.
Okay, last note. Again my friend Rebecca, has a go-to kit for children and adults when flying. I have to preface this by saying she is a bit of a germ freak, but I guess you could say I am a bit of a hygiene freak so choose your side. She puts together in a small pouch:
Anti-bacterial hand wipes – to wipe down all surfaces of your seat (See! Germ freak).
Neosporin or Saline nose spray – put a bit on your finger and line the inside of your nose, or just spray the saline in, sounds kind of gross and would do both in the privacy of the airplane bathroom, but helps the nasal passages maintain normal moisture levels and that helps the body’s natural defenses.
Hand Sanitizer – When you can’t get to a sink.
I don’t go to all these lengths, but I do use the saline spray. I travel quite a bit and I haven’t gotten sick on a plane since I started following her advice.
[Photo Credit: Henning Wagenbreth]