Things not to Google should include: 'Tips for air travel with young kids'
But actually I did learn a few helpful tips as I get ready for a 13-hour flight with my family
The time has come.
For weeks I have tried to not think about the sheer chaos that could unfold on a 13-hour direct flight to Dubai with my four-year-old and five-year-old.
Every time my husband brought it up I would say, “I don’t want to think about this right now. Later.” Well friends, that later has arrived.
I resisted the urge to Google: “tips for air travel with kids,” and “how to help kids get over jet lag,” until of course, a few days before our flight. Now I’m in Google advice pandemonium.
If you have ever flown halfway across the world before, you know how much it can tire and irritate even the most resilient adult. I have made this trip countless times in the past 17 years, flying home almost every spring or summer to visit my parents who live in Dubai, and then onward to Pakistan where the rest of my relatives live. I always hate it – no matter how many movies, books, crossword puzzles, knitting projects and distractions I have with me, I can’t help but feel restless and cranky.
I also always have to ask my husband, “when will someone invent teleportation?” And then my sci-fi fanatic husband (and love-of-my-life) will go into a long scientific diatribe about how it is just not physically possible unless I can somehow clone myself...I never remember the rest.
One can dream, though.
So imagine how much worse a long, gruelling flight must feel for young children: Stuck in an airplane seat for hours, no idea what jet lag is let alone the concept of time zones. I need to brace myself for the worst possible scenario: Screaming, crying children begging to get off the plane. Maybe if I prepare for this outcome, anything else that happens will be easier to deal with, right?
So back to my Google advice pandemonium: There are SO many tools and devices out there now that claim to ease air travel. Things I could never have imagined myself, like an inflatable footrest that can turn an airplane seat into a little makeshift bed perfect for a toddler or small child to curl up in. Apparently it’s a must-have so we bought those.
Then there are the bizarre travel pillows, some look like life jackets – but it’s a pillow? I scrolled past that. There are dozens of “lists” of what to bring on board, from tablets for the kids to snacks and their favourite stuffed animal. Our kids don’t have tablets – we borrow them from the public library. Will they be happy with colouring books and crayons? Will every kid be sitting there with a tablet and my kids will feel hardcore FOMO? I just don’t know.
I also don’t know how we plan to deal with the ear pain and pressure that happens during take off - more Googling required for this query.
My five-year-old asked to bring her stuffed whale, Willie (yes, that Willie), along with her on the plane. The problem is that Willie the stuffie is about half her size, so I had to say no because the likelihood of a parent carrying Willie through the airport feels too high.
Then the four-year-old asked me to pack “all the birthday cake granola bars.” Ok, noted.
Jet lag also has me a bit freaked out. Will the kids be wild and awake at 2 a.m. Dubai time for days on end? What if they want to sleep during prime beach time during the day? I hope the desire to hit the sandy beach and collect seashells will be enough to keep them going.
I made the mistake of reading some parent blogs about jet lag. Apparently travelling west is easier than travelling east... I guess we’re doomed then. I did learn, however, that exposing kids to daylight as much as possible could help them adjust to their new time zone better. I also learned that sticking to mealtimes also helps your body adjust. So no burgers for breakfast I guess.
Despite all of my anxieties about the plane trip and onset of jet lag from a nine-hour time difference I am so incredibly excited to experience this first long-distance trip with my children.
I also can’t wait for them to meet my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time. It will be a memorable trip. I’ll just think about that warm, fuzzy part instead of everything else.
I also can’t forget about the adorable letter my five-year-old wrote to our cat, Luna, to inform her of our upcoming travel plans.
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That brought tears to my eyes, especially with the kids meeting all your extended family, how wonderful! They're so cute, the pics, the letter, the requests and I'm sorry about Willie, hopefully Zara will be ok with a smaller stuffy. I'll bet they do better than you think. Kids can be so resilient. That bed sounds adorable, I wish I had that when I took Paul to Ireland at 15 months of age. No Google to help me back in 1988 and changing a diaper in those bathrooms is a whole new kind of hell. I'm excited for you guys, can't wait to hear all the stories, your next few posts. Should be great.
Just think of the beautiful beaches here at your doorstep and all your favorite foods. Safe travels and I am sure kids will be ok and sleep through it🤗