Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to Survive Long Trips With a Preschooler Without Going Crazy


What does your kid do at 6AM? Mine has been walking into my room and yelling “ARE WE GOING TO PARIS TODAY!?”

And then when I say not today, she lets out a big sigh and then asks when is the Easter Bunny coming back because she’s out of candy.

Her excitement is contagious, but I worry about one thing: the 12-hour plane ride.

(Why did they have to build that Paris so far away…)

Our previous long airplane ride of 13 hours when my daughter was nearly 2 didn’t go well at all. We made the unintelligent decision of giving her Benadryl on that flight which had exactly the opposite effect we wanted. It made her irritable, extremely cranky, and borderline hyper for about 4 hours.
When we later told our pediatrician about the strange outcome of the miracle drug, we found out that giving a child Benadryl to make them sleep is a myth completely made up by people that don’t have kids but love giving out parenting advice because they watch a lot of TV and have cats.

Well, not really. I made the cat’s thing up. But wouldn’t be surprised if they did own them.

Some tips I’ve gathered so far on flying with kids:
  1. If they understand what money is, bribing works.
  2. Take new toys that they haven’t seen before. But make sure the toys don’t talk or make noise – especially if they have Dora or her live-in boyfriend San Diego.
  3. Bring a portable DVD player, or even better an iPhone with lots of movies and preschool apps.
  4. Take a redeye flight. But don’t tell them that it’s a redeye flight because they might think zombies are on the plane.
  5. Bring plenty of snacks, and use Souplantation packaging whenever possible.
  6. Create an Art kit – tape, crayons, stickers and activity books – all with Princesses feeding unicorns near a Christmas tree on them.
  7. Convince why cats are evil and why people should never own one. 12-hours should be more than enough time to have some affect.
  8. Talk about how great it is that there’s a KFC in Paris and that’s only a few blocks away from where we’re staying! (I swear I didn’t plan that- it just magically happened that way.)
  9. Introduce “Where’s Waldo” books on the plane. Make up other stuff to find that isn’t there.
  10. Bring a Nintendo DSi – not for her, but to keep me occupied.

So tell me -- what tricks do you do when taking your kids on long trips?

26 comments:

Laura said...

My husband and daughter play a game in restaurants that would work in an airport or even on a plane - at least for a little while:

They take turns drawing objects that they see. Kind of an I-Spy game. The other person has to guess what it is - hopefully before the draw-er finishes drawing.

For smaller kids, the parent can just do all the drawing. Unless you are a really good guesser! Happy travels!

furiousBall said...

i recommend drugs, for both you and the child

Otter Thomas said...

I like furiousBall's idea. Drugs are good. I am glad to see you are still crusading against cats.

nonlineargirl said...

The only problem with letting them watch videos on the iphone is that then they know they can watch videos on the iphone.

Krista said...

Go to the Dr. and ask for some Promethazine. It is cough syrup that makes them sleepy (codene!) and reduces urinary output. Also good for kids who get carsick, stops nausea. The best stuff ever invented!! Good luck!

Dan said...

The whole videos on the iphone worked well for us on both our to and return trip to the states recently. Other stuff that worked was wrapping the activity books and toys up so as to make them more exciting.

How to Party with an Infant said...

#9 is a great idea. I have a Where is 'Osama Bid Laden?' book that she loves.

Thanks fort he tips--I'll use them for our upcoming trip to San Francisco!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Not only bring the portable DVD player, but get an external battery pack, which can give you 3-8 hours extra life depending on what kind you buy.

There is nothing worse than the DVD player going out mid-movie. Except when you've got 10 more hours of flight left.

Good luck.

Kelly said...

So you're getting a Parisian cat?
cool.

Dad Stuff said...

What works for us is separate flights. Just kidding. Books, snacks and some sort of silent electronic device.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Oh I pity you. Wait, I pity the fellow passengers sitting next to you :)

If Benadryl doesn't work, well dude, up the dosage and giver her a full bottle instead. Ops, I think I'll get arrested for saying that.

Have a great time in Paris! :)

painted maypole said...

bag full of new stuff. every time.

Smanatha said...

I had a hard time with my kid....I was so tired from the long flight and with my kid being very noisy, I had constant headaches. Thanks for the advice though, next time I go on a long flight again I'll keep that in mind!

www.Kitubi.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damla said...

I have gathered different blog posts on the subject, added yours to the comments: Airplane Travel or Airplane Trouble? - with kids

http://www.4tips4links.com/index.php/2009/03/11/airplane-travel-or-airplane-trouble-with-kids/

socaltransplant said...

It's been a while for me. I had four kids, 13-21 years. I recommend Colorforms. I found them art Toys R Us in the game isle. In a car we used to use an old 9x13" metal cake pan with a lid and those magnetic letters. Holds the letters inside when you store it under the seat. Flip it over to play with the letters on the bottom. Good luck!

Holly said...

I don't have any kids so I haven't used any of those tricks, but I have to comment and laugh at #9! What a mean (but cunning!) thing to do! HAHAH!

andi said...

Honestly, my kids are still too young to consider taking on a long trip (and have all of us arrive back home alive). But, when the time does come, I'm not above bribery. Especially of the chocolate variety.

Super Mega Dad said...

Man, I'm glad I didn't try the Benadryl trick on our flight to the Bahamas!

One thing that kept my little guy busy for 8 straight hours was the emergency instructions. He just kept reading it over and over again. I have no idea how he kept himself entertained with that thing for so long. Mind you, I'm not complaining.

Artist Unplugged said...

The colorforms are good and so are stickers. Take more spare clothes on the plane than you would think. On a flight to CA, my daughter started early in the flight with diarrhea and I went through every extra piece of clothing and diapers I had. It was miserable, I rammed her head in the wall to try to change her in the bathroom...they were the type you dare not perform in your lap in public! Little kittens work very well......

Artist Unplugged said...

Oh yeah, don't forget your copy of 'Aristocats'!

Anonymous said...

The promethazine will do the trick, my infant never slept and it did the trick, especially on overseas flights. By the way, it IS NOT a cough syrup, does NOT contain codeine. It is quite often used for motion sickness. If your pediatrician will not prescrible you can always pick it up in Paris over the counter at a chemists/pharmacy. In the UK it is called phenergan. For sedation in children, 12.5 to 25 mg dose should work. Look at this for further information:
http://www.rxlist.com/phenergan-drug.htm

creative-type dad said...

Artist Unplugged -- Wow! I'm feeling pretty lucky that we had no bouts of diarrhea.

Steely Dad said...

Love the blog!

I recently went on a trip with my two kids. You can read about all the gory details here http://www.steelydad.com/terror-in-the-skies.html
The return flight wasn't much better.

The best way I know to get your kid to behave on the plane is to threaten to throw them off! Just kidding. With a three-year-old it's not so bad; you can keep them busy but for a one-year-old, that's a different animal because they don't understand threats and nothing keeps them occupied for more than a few minutes. I think they need to have a "kid" section on the plane.

I only had to fly for a few hours. Good luck with Paris, bro!

Octopus Grigori said...

One more: Tell the kid you're going to play the license-plate alphabet game, and they should keep a sharp eye out the window for other planes and their license plates.

OR tell them that you'll be flying through UFO territory and they should keep an eye out for UFOs; the first one to see an UFO gets to go for a ride on the UFO.

Yeah, I don't have kids.

Octopus Grigori said...

Hahaha -- I thought all the discussion above about Colorforms was actually a discussion about the merits of CHLOROFORM. Hahaha.

Don't arrest me! 8 \