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January 23, 2004 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-01-23

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Tell Me Why

@ -F r


wish famili

The Plane Truth

Finally, some really new ideas to help children — and parents — flying the friendly skies.


AppleTree Editor

trip is still two months away
and children are already
counting the days.
Parents are counting the
days, too — to know exactly how much
longer they have to stay sane.
Whether you're flying as far as Israel
or just taking a short trip across the
state, travel with young children is, in a
word,- exhausting.
What are the keys to successful travel
with little ones? Two words: planning
and creativity.

A few rules:

#1) Don't Overdo It

Many parents tend to drag enough
"entertainment" with them to amuse
their children for a lifetime. They've got
bags filled with books and crayons and
markers and mazes and pi 1771es and new
toys. Keep in mind two facts:
a) You're going to be dragging all this
for a long time and for a long distance
through the airport, and possibly letting
Security sort through it all.
b) Consider how much time your
children will really need to be enter-
tained while on the plane. Remember
that airplane trips include a snack, take-
off and landing, all of which, by them-
selves, often entertain children aged 6-

#2) Clipboard Central Station

You shouldn't lug a pack as heavy as
your encyclopedia set, but you do need
to bring something for children. The
best bet: a clipboard,
which means there will
always be a writing sur-
face and stuff will stay
together. Add a pen or
markers and a few
activities and you're
set. Consider making \ a l = \ \ t
few of these on single \"----
sheets of paper, then ------
just attach to your Clipboard Central

a) Grids for tic-tac-toe or connect-the-
b) Lightly draw an extremely plain-
looking figure, then ask your child to
transform it into a princess, or a favorite
superhero, or someone in the family.
Or, cut out a few large faces from
magazines and have children make them
into weird creatures.
c) Create your own Mad Libs, using
inside family jokes.
As to those expensive travel
kits for sale in bookstores, most
kids say they don't really use
them. Sometimes these kits
include board games the
children don't want to
put together or have
directions so long and
complicated it took
half the plane trip
just to understand

#3) Consider
Leaving The
A number of
children inter-
viewed for this article
said they wished they hadn't both-
ered to bring electronic stuff, especially a
Walkman. It meant dragging along
CDs, and then you could only listen to
a Walkman at certain times during the
flight. (It's not just cell phones and
Gameboys that have to be off during
takeoff and landing; Walkmen also can-
not be used at critical times.)
#4) Bring A Lot Of ...
It really does help with the air-pressure
problem. Always bring more than you
think you'll need, because children may
chew one piece and spit it out, then
realize their ears still feel
clogged and as for more. For
children 3 and younger, par-
of water or juice, since toddlers
often prefer eating gum to
chewing it. Another idea is
chewy candies, like gummy

bears. These are dreadful on teeth, but
require plenty of jaw work, preventing
those ear woes during takeoff and land-
Snacks. There's something about trav-
el that makes everyone hungry. You will
get something on the plane, but it's like-
ly to be minimal. Consider, instead, fill-
ing a large plastic bag with small baggies
of favorite snacks, like pretzels and pota-

to chips,
cheese sticks and
apple slices.
Plastic Bags. Any well-seasoned par-
ent traveler would like to give the Nobel
Prize to whoever invented these. Don't
leave home without them. You'll use
them for everything from general trash
(yes, the flight attendants come around
with a garbage bag, but rest assured
plenty of your children's garbage will pile
up before that) to emergencies (like bits
of candy that spill all over the floor).
Turns. A lot of children get sick from
air travel, and a Turns may just do the
trick — really, or just as a placebo. Be
certain to check with your physician
before administering any medicine to a

#5) It Pays To Go

Remember that the pilot will turn on
the seatbelt light and announce, "Flight
attendants, prepare for landing" long
before you can see the runway. Then,
you and your children will be confined

to your seats for a good 20 minutes.
When you're still about 30 minutes
from your final destination, it's a good
idea to have your children go to the
bathroom even if they insist they don't
need to.
There are few experiences more chal-
lenging than hearing your child say, "I
have to go to the bathroom — desper-
ately," when it's 10 minutes to landing.

#6) Diaper Do
Parents of children still in dia-
pers should familiarize them-
selves with the airplane bath-
room beforehand. Most planes
have a small ledge, just above the
toilet, which can be pulled
down for diaper changing.
Also look for paper towels
and the bathroom trashcan.
These are not the sorts of
things you want to be
searching for at a critical
#7) A Top Tip For
Children aged 2-4 are the
most difficult to manage on a plane.
One activity they invariably love is play-
ing with dough. You can buy it pre-
made in different colors and scents,
which will keep little ones happy for a
long, long time.
Pieces may fall on the floor, but don't
worry — you've got plastic bags (see #4)
to collect it all.
#8) Sleep On It
The ideal is to have your children get
a good night's sleep before the trip
because travel is exhausting. But there is
a benefit to their being tired: They may
sleep on the plane. Bring some of those
nifty eyeshades to help children relax.
#9) Another World
If you do get in the horrible bathroom
situation (described in #5) or if your
children don't enjoy flying, try creative
visualization. (You may want to prepare
scenarios in advance.) Have them close
their eyes and relax, then lead them on a

PLANE TRUTH on page 32





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