7 airplane travel hacks with kids

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Yeah! You got orders to (insert foreign country overseas)! You can already picture your kids in the international school, speaking with cute little accents and wearing local garments. Adorbs. You've got your housing picked out, adventures planned and passport photos taken. You're ready for your epic move ... except for that 13 hour plane ride. Have you wrapped your head around that yet? Before you grab for a paper bag and start hyperventilating, use our travel hacks to help make the emotional turbulence you're experiencing a little lighter.


Here are 7 Airplane Travel Hacks with Kids

1. Channel your inner Oprah

You get a bag! You get a bag! You get a snack! You get a snack! Channel your inner Oprah to get your kids excited about new, fun things. When we're doing a long plane ride, I make each of my kids their own carry on bag chalked full of fun activities and snacks that they wouldn't normally get (including lots of lollipops - the silver bullet of snacks, lollipops help their little ears regulate with changing air pressure and keep their mouths occupied, aka QUIET.)

2. Save the screens

Think of the iPad or tablet as your last resort. I promise, you will likely at some point need to exercise this nuclear option. Save it for when someone is getting super restless as a way to zone out. If you start with the screen, there's no turning back and it's hard to believe they'll get bored with that little zombie-inducer, but it will happen.

Before you leave, let them pick out and download some new fun games and movies and make sure you have headphones. Also, make sure your device is fully charged and you have a fully-charged back up battery pack.

3. Use the tray tables to your advantage

We love tray tables. I always bring wipes to de-sanitize those Petri dishes, and once that's done we play all the games. Playdoh, while ambitious, if you can do it with your kid, is super fun and a total time killer. I'll pack a flat tuperware to play "cards" in. Basically, you hold all the cards and have your kiddo pick one. Then you go through the entire deck having your child guess if the next card is higher or lower. Clearly if they draw a king or an ace they're awarded extra points and you have them re-draw until they get something closer to the middle. You'll strongly consider jumping off the plane while playing this game, but it is an easy time suck.

When my son was little, I brought blue painters tape and had him create a "race track" on the tray table and let him play cars on it. I asked the sweet man in front of him if he minded before I did it, and then I bought him two gin and tonics. Wins all around.

4. Never underestimate a sticker book

The power of stickers. I bought each of my kids 1000+ stickers and a plain white notebook and had them create scenes using colors and stickers. This lasted them hours. It was magical. Pro-tip: peel off the "outside" sticker borders so it's easier for little hands to peel the stickers themselves.

5. Bribery

I always let my kids pick out one toy at the airport store with the promise that they'll be good on the plane. This creates a powerful bargaining tool if anyone is upset en route, "I don't want to have to take away that $70000 stuffed cat I just bought you! Let's find something fun to do!" Bribery is the ultimate motivator. And who doesn't love another stuffed animal with a 200% markup?

6. Encourage sleep

Naps are a beautiful thing for both your kids and your sanity. Bring the usual snugglies with you to make your babes as comfy and cozy as possible. Whether it's a neck pillow, fave stuffy or blankie or D) all of the above, making it feel like naptime will make sleeping a lot easier. In the history of the world, I'm unaware of a child that has ever taken a nap at the suggestion of, "Let's take a nap." Instead, tell your little one to put their head down on your lap, and you're going to draw pictures on their back with your fingers and they have to guess the drawing. They'll think it's super fun for 2 minutes until they're sleeping. Amazing.

7. Get your own oxygen mask on 

You've heard this on every single flight: "In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead compartment. Please secure your own mask before helping those around you." That's right, plane warrior, help yo'self first. Get a good night's sleep the night before. Start your morning with coffee. Pack an extra set of clothes for your kids and yourself in case someone has an accident on you. Bring your own iPad to binge Netflix in the off-chance everyone is happy or sleeping. Set yourself up for every bit of success you can find.

Flying is rough, but the skies certainly are a lot friendlier when you have things to do and things to eat. Make your trip a little easier with our hacks and PCSgrades, designed to make moving as seamless as possible.

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

Chief Master Sgt. Jason Morehouse. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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