N.B. asks from Ashburn, VA on November 03, 2008
I will be traveling overseas with a 3.5 year old boy and a 1 year old girl the day after Thanksgiving to see my extended family. Is there any advice on what to pack and keep the kids occupied on a 20+ hour flight? Also, is there any moms with advice on a 13 hour time difference to readjust the childrens sleep patterns? It's only a 12 day trip so it's not much time to adjust.
So What Happened?™
Thanks to all the mom's the helped me out. I brought the kids books, little toys, play doh, and plenty of snacks for the kids and they did great on the long airplane ride overseas and back. We've all since recovered from jet lag and had a great vacation. Thanks again!
L.T. answers from Washington DC on November 04, 2008
I have travel several times overseas,additionally for every hour you sleep on the plane is equal to two to three hours on the ground. Now the best thing to do once you land is different, keep them awake depending on the time you get in; i.e. if you land in the morning they should not sleep until the same time it gets dark in the new country. This way they adjust more quickly to sleep but it will take a little more time to adjust their eating pattern. As far as toys go anything they like that they can carry in their own back pack helps. Hand held electronic games, coloring books, storie book, especially some of their favorite snacks all help.
A.R. answers from Washington DC on November 04, 2008
Whenever we went overseas with our little ones, we always had a drawing pad, the kind where you use the attached "pen" to draw, and then it can be erased. We also brought pads of paper, coloring books and crayons, a small, new toy to play with, a favorite small blanket, and a travel pillow, and a favorite stuffed animal. There will be movies to watch. We bought a small child-sized roller bag for each of them to keep their stash of stuff. Of course we packed snacks to...cereal bars, fruit snacks, granola bars, etc. They loved it. Hope this helps!
C.C. answers from Norfolk on November 04, 2008
Good luck with your flight. I had huge fears of traveling overseas with our 2 kids (they were 1 & 3). A couple of days before the trip we went to the store and they each got to pick out a couple of small new toys- that they were not allowed to open until we were on the plane-, a couple of coloring books, and a few snacks. For dealing with the time change, you have plenty of time now to try adjusting their normal sleep times a little bit each day so they are closer to being on their "new" schedule- but you will find the time change is much easier going out than it is coming back (be prepared for very sleepy babies when you return home). Hope this helps, enjoy your trip.
C.J. answers from Washington DC on November 04, 2008
I feel your pain with traveling overseas. We do it every year to see my husbands family in england - only 8 hours on a plane though! We always bring a portable DVD player for our older boys (7 and 4 yrs) and little toys and books for our youngest (2). We have traveling like this since my oldest was 6 months old and we have not really had a terrible flight. All of our boys have their own carry on backpack filled with their own things to do from movies, books, lego and matchbox cars. I will say that the one thing we never used to pack for our boys was things like tylenol and benadryl. You can not buy either of those products in europe. I also find that for the time difference and adjusting to it that we try to fly all day, leaving here at 8am and arriving at night in england. That way the boys arrive there and go straight to bed and then when they get up the next morning they don't really realize that there is a time change/difference. I hope this helps... C. J.
L.Y. answers from Norfolk on November 04, 2008
I did this quite a few times when my kids were that age. (Phila to Guam) I took a little bag and every hour I would pull out some little new thing. a snack or a toy or a book. Then they were looking for the next hour, not the whole trip. A little flashlight can be a fun toy. I also took "paint with water" coloring books and Q tips as paintbrushes. Silly putty can be fun in lots of different ways. Be sure to have a bottle for the baby to help clear the ears - and maybe gum for the 4 yr old -- or snack - it helps them swallow. For the 1 yr old - sing some songs quietly to pass the time.
Make sure YOU are as rested as possible! - and don't worry about other passengers. If your child is screaming, focus on your child. If you get flustered worrying about upsetting other passengers, you won't be calm enough to sooth the kids! Pray, relax, and know "this too shall pass". If you do it again when they are older, dress them alike. That way if one starts to wander, people will realize they go together. I used those wrist cords -- kindof like leashes :( so they couldn't get away from me in the airports!!
I would give them benadrill to get them to sleep on the plane during the future night-time. Once we arrived, we would try hard to keep them awake til night -- so they were so exhausted they'd sleep though the night.
One more thing--- prepare your family that your kids may be "out of sorts". It is a lot for them to handle and they may not be their usual angelic selves. Ask them NOT to judge your children based on what they see this visit!
On the other hand, don't lighten up on your discipline. The kids will have so much change, they will need to know that Mommy and her rules have NOT changed.
D.K. answers from Washington DC on November 03, 2008
As my family has been military up until this year, we have traveled a LOT. I have a lot of advice on how to stay sane traveling with small children as I did most of this myself without the benefit of my hubby's presence even though we were both Active Duty. Here goes:
The advice you got about time zones already is solid. Just make sure they don't sleep too much on the flight and they'll be ready to drop the evening you get in. Even if they sleep well on the plane, traveling makes for incomplete sleep. I read a study that suggested that most people don't drop all of the way into deep sleep when traveling so they still need sleep at the destination. I hope that's the case for your children.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Wear flip-flops or slip ons. It really helps! It's so easy to slip them off at security and back on and it's easy to kick them off once on the plane for more comfort.
2. Pack small pillows for the kids and your own regular pillow and kids favorite blankies. Take a Boppy if you have one, it's great for on a plane and fits very nicely in a plane seat with a small child (like your one year old). It makes a very nice and snuggly little nest for the little one to sleep in and prevents too much rolling so you don't have to worry too much about them rolling onto the floor. Especially if you keep a hand on it when you take a little nap yourself. It's a lot to lug around, but if you bring a stroller, most of it can be hung off of a stroller or stuffed into the basket with your diaper bag very handily. I even manage to hang my older son's backpack (which holds all of his stuff and his blanket) off of the stroller handle too. The boppy fits very nicely over the pulled back canopy. You can use one of those space saver bags (not the vacuum kind, but the rolling kind) on the regular pillows and blankets to make them easier to get onto and off of the plane.
3. Let your older child stretch out on the floor in front of his and his sister's seats for sleeping. Pad the floor with the airplane blankets and lay your own full size pillow on top of those for your 3.5yo to actually lay on and he will be super comfy with the addition of his own blanket. You can use his smaller pillow for your neck and head.
3. Pack about 5 small toys each that your kids have never seen before. They don't have to be expensive, you could even go to the dollar store. Just make sure they have something to hold interest. Like a cup and ball game or those little games where you have to tilt them to roll the balls into holes etc. Give them one toy at a time and space them out throughout the flight by alternating a new toy with coloring or a DVD on a portable player if you have one. Make sure to bring coloring supplies that won't make a huge mess. I recommend the crayola line of no-mess markers and paper. Normally my kids use the regular messy kind because the mess is a part of the fun, but there's no room for the mess on a flight. Also bring regular paper and crayons. Bring a notepad of regular lined paper too, so you and your older child can play tic-tac-toe, or MASH or any number of other simple pencil and paper games. You can even make your own up on the spot with very little effort. You can also use this paper to teach your son how to make paper airplanes, or any oragami you may know. Make sure to bring a few tried and true favorite books and one or two that are new. (I recommend: Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, When the Wind Changed, Mouse Tales, Frog and Toad All Year, and of course Dr. Seuss books for your older child and plenty of board books with lots of visual interest for your little one.)
4. I also recommend that your carry on be a backpack as well as your son's. You can split up just about everything between two backpacks (I usually even have room for my purse in mine) and stuff any little extra odds and ends into the diaper bag. Your backpack should be the heavier of the two of course, so I recommend taking the art supplies, DVD player etc. in your own backpack as well as the books and reserving the space in your son's for his blanket, his changes of clothing and the dry snacks. Any drinks purchased in the terminal should be put in your backpack.
5. For snacks take a large plastic ziploc baggie with: another smaller one in it of dry cheerios, Quaker chewey bars, string cheese (the protein is very helpful with diminishing crankiness, and they keep well enough but throw out the leftover ones when you get in), a sleeve of Ritz crackers, something sweet like fruit roll-ups, some cookies if you feel like baking or buying them, and some of the gerber fruit and cereal bars. Throw in anything more specific your kids love that's light and dry enough to go in your son's backpack. Oh and keep the kids hydrated. Air travel is very dyhydrating and that can cause headaches which will make you all miserable.
6. Make sure that the baby had at least two more sets of clothing in the diaper bag (I usually include several shirts, they get dirty faster and they're small enough to stuff several in.) Your son should have one complete set of clothing extra, including sock and underwear, and maybe another extra shirt here too. Here's something most mom's don't think about... pack yourself an extra shirt or two (I usually use T-shirts because they're compact and comfy). Your kids are likely to spill on you a time or two and you would be uncomfortable in a stained shirt. Take one sweatshirt or light jack for everyone, these can double as neck rolls on the plane at sleeping time. Don't forget your kids pajamas. It seems like a lot of hassle to change them into in on an airplane, but they will sleep better with this signal of sleepy time and more comfortably because their pj's are familiar.
7. Finally, pack a small (under the size restriction) bottle of hand sanitizer. You can use in on toilet seats and sink handles and anything you and your children may need to touch that is of a dubious hygenic nature.
I know this sounds like a lot, but if you lay it all out on your bed (or wherever) you'll see that it's really not so bad after all. Most of it is pretty compact stuff and you should be able to manage with two backpacks, a diaper bag and you stroller for carrying all of it around.
Let me know if you need any other advice about this. I feel like my kids and I have spent our whole lives in airports and on planes. :) Good Luck!
S.K. answers from Washington DC on November 04, 2008
Lots and lots of Benedryl...just kidding!
Toys, hmm. Magna-doodles are great. Nothing really small or with small parts, you'll never find everything when you land. Make it a rule they can only have one thing out at a time.
And snacks you know they like. Don't take anything in just bags or wrappers if you can help it, pack them in a rubbermaid thing or something of that nature, so they don't get crushed and all you have is crumbs.
Seriously, if there is a safe aid (regular dose of Benedryl?1) to them sleeping on the plane if you're landing in the morning, it would be GREAT! Are you flying straight through, or is there a stopover somewhere?! EEK!
Good luck! -S. Kav
E.T. answers from Washington DC on November 03, 2008
My daughter refused to sleep much on our last plane flight to Europe (Only a 6 hour time difference). We all took a nap when we checked into our hotel and then went to bed and got up based on local time that evening and next day.
As we had been going for 36 hours at that point, it wasn't hard to sleep. The reset to local time was pretty much complete after the first day. We were tired, but functional on local time.