Flying with a Sensory Sensitive Child

Tips for Flying With Your Sensory Sensitive Child

Does your child cry or cover their ears at loud noises? Meltdown when too much is going on around them? Shy away from crowds? If you have a sensory sensitive child you may be nervous about flying with him/her, but with careful planning you can have a successful flight! Here are the things I have found to be helpful for flying with a sensory sensitive child:

sensory sensitive child

photography by Sugar Maple Portraits

Practice

Start by helping your child know what to expect when flying. Check out books at the library on airports and flying; watch you tube videos of airports and airplanes; play “airplane” by setting up a few chairs and taking a “practice” flight, including going through TSA security checkpoints. Talk about the noise of the agents over the P.A. system, waiting in line, the noise of the airplane engines, the roller coaster feeling of takeoff and landing. Talk about turbulence and how it is like a boat on the waves. Don’t let these ideas overwhelm your child. Talk about them in a matter-of-fact way and back off if they start to get worried—return to talk about it another day.

Prepare

The way you prepare for your travel day will be the key to a successful trip with your sensory sensitive child. Minor setbacks like a spill on clothing or a scrape on the hand can ruin the day.  You may find that you need to have a little more on hand than parents of more flexible children. I take pride in packing for nearly every situation yet packing concisely. Here is an example of what I pack for my kids to make sure I have everything we need. A few of the items I’m always sure to have: a full change of clothes, Band-Aids, snacks, water bottles, blanket, toddler pillow (if child is very young), bubbles, tweezers. (The tweezers may sound random, but I’ve dealt with both ticks and splinters when traveling. Trust me, you want to have a small pair of tweezers with you always.)

Pack Sensory Activities

Whether your child craves sensory input or shies from it, incorporating a variety on sensory activities will your child remain calm. Here is a post I wrote on ways to incorporate proprioceptive activities throughout the travel day. I couldn’t believe it when a friend told me she packed just two items per child for inflight entertainment for their 8 hour flight!  That is awesome if your child is content with that, but most children need more. I find that a sensitive child does well with lots of different sensory input. I try to pack a variety of sensory activities for travel.

These are the busy bags I packed for my kids when they were 7 and 2:

Busy bag for a 5-8 year old

Busy bag for a Toddler

Provide Area of Retreat

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There are several things you can do to provide an area of retreat for your sensory sensitive child. A floppy hat, music with over-the-ear-headphones, noise-reducing ear muffs, a blanket tent, or a stroller canopy are just a few of the things you can provide to create an area of retreat for when your child feels overwhelmed. Family Travel Blog Walking on Travels shows a great way to create a Sleeping Tent on the airplane which could also provide a great place for a sensory break. You can find that post here.

These are just a few ideas for ways to help your sensory sensitive child enjoy their travel day. What other things help you and your child when you’re away from home? Do you have any tricks for averting a meltdown in public? I’d love to hear what works for you. Comment below or on our social media pages. Thanks for reading this post!

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Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors

What to consider before sending your children alone (as an unaccompanied minors) on a flight:

Are you thinking about letting your child to fly alone, as an Unaccompanied Minor, this summer for the first time? Maybe your child is still to young to fly alone, but you’ve wondered at what age he will be old enough? Every airline has different rules about the minimum age at which a child can travel alone, but even if it’s permitted, your child might not be ready.

 

(This post was first published on June 22, 2012 and updated on June 23, 2016.)

When I asked my friends and fellow airline co-workers when they would feel comfortable sending their child to fly on their own, I got mixed responses. In general people felt comfortable letting a mature 10 year old fly alone. Some parents felt that although their child was mature enough at 7, they wouldn’t let even their 13 year old travel alone because they don’t trust the other people on the plane and in the airport.

I’m not sure when I’ll allow my daughter Ella to fly alone. She is now eight, and I would not feel comfortable sending her on a flight as an unaccompanied minor.  A lot depends on your child. Not just their maturity, but how they respond to different circumstances.  I will say that as a flight attendant, I personally feel that under age 7 is definitely too young. Think about off-schedule operations like a medical emergency causing the need to land in another city. Would your child be able to handle the stress and uncertainty of a situation like this? Of course airline personnel will be responsible for and care for your child, but will the unexpected change in plans greatly upset your child? If so, he/she is too young to fly alone.

Unaccompanied Minors

What you need to know before sending your children as unaccompanied minors:

There is no babysitter on board.

Although you pay an extra fee for your child to fly alone, this is not a babysitting service and all that is promised is that the agent will hand the child off to the flight attendants and upon arrival the flight attendants hand the child off to the agent or party picking them up. They check the ID of the person picking the child up before releasing them. In flight there is not a designated flight attendant to care for or entertain your child. The flight attendants check on your child as they are able, but on most flights there is only enough time to get your child settled in their seat, brief them on emergency procedures, and inflight to offer a drink and snack. On a full flight there is rarely time sit and chat or play with your child.

Stay at the gate until the plane departs.

You are responsible to stay with your child until they board the plane and it is important that you stay at the gate until the plane pushes back. I recommend that you stay an extra 30 minutes or so to make sure the plane takes off and doesn’t return to the gate with mechanical problems. (I once had a 5 year old unaccompanied minor whose aunt dropped her off and didn’t stay. We ended up with a 3 hour delay waiting for a new aircraft. The poor girl just had to sit with me while we waited. Luckily I’m a person who loves kids and I did my best to entertain her.)

Tell your child to report anything odd.

You should tell your child that if anyone makes him/her feel uncomfortable, he should let an agent or flight attendant know. Give him permission to report this no matter what the other circumstances are (seatbelt sign on, etc.) so that if some creep is sitting by him they will not feel ashamed to tell someone. I hope that by giving your child permission to report something he/she is unsure about, this will help give them confidence an can stop a terrible incident like this one. As a flight attendant, I always try to tell kids this, but we are not trained to. Agents don’t always know who the person is sitting next to your child. They will try to sit unaccompanied kids together if possible, but now flights are more full and it is difficult to rearrange seating.

Don’t let a potential runaway fly alone.

If you have a teenager who really thinks they are above the rules and they don’t need the U.M. services, you shouldn’t send them alone. Flight attendants remind the child to stay seated until everyone is off the aircraft, but they cannot always tell if someone tries to get off the plane alone. The flight attendant at the door sometimes has other distractions or responsibilities during deplaning and can’t always see every person that exits the plane.

I once had a 14 year old on my flight who thought he was too cool to be escorted to his dad. I realized before every passenger got off the plane that he had escaped, but with minimum crew I wasn’t allowed (per FAA) to leave the aircraft until all passengers had deplaned. I finally was able to run out to find him and luckily found him in baggage claim with his dad. His dad thought nothing of it, so you see where the teen got his attitude that rules don’t matter. But this could have been a runaway opportunity if that is what the kid planned to do. Know your child. If they are not trustworthy, don’t send them alone.

Pack toys and snacks for your child.

Send a small bag on board with your kid with things to keep them entertained. Make sure it’s small enough to keep under his seat. Label EVERYTHING with their name and phone number. Make sure that the person helping them pack for the return flight also sends them with something to do in flight. On one of my flights a young child had NOTHING to do for the 3 hour flight. No book or toy, not anything. When I told the mother picking her up she said that she sent a bag full of books, toys and a Nintendo DS on the outbound flight. The child said they were packed in her checked bags. On most airlines there are not toys or entertainment systems on the flight for the U.M.s!

Emphasize proper etiquette for flying.

Hopefully your child has flown with you many times and you have already taught them basic airline etiquette. If not, make sure you do before they go. The flight attendant call buttons are not a toy and are not to be pushed every 5 minutes. Basically they are for emergencies or for if the seatbelt sign is on but you need something that can’t wait for the next time the flight attendant walks by. (Creepy person making you uncomfortable is a good reason to use the call light.)  See my post 5 Things to Teach Your Kids When Flying and review them with your child.

If siblings are traveling alone together, remind them to keep their voices at an acceptable “indoor voice” level. Remind them that arguing/fighting is NOT acceptable behavior. If you can’t trust them to behave without intervention, they shouldn’t be flying without an adult.

There have been only a couple of kids on my flights who I thought should not be flying alone. The majority of Unaccompanied Minors I have had on my flights have been competent and adorable. So don’t let these reminders scare you out of letting your child fly. Just be sure that he/she really is ready and can be responsible. If you have any questions about kids flying alone, feel free to ask them in the comments below, via email, or post a message to me on Facebook. I’ll help wherever I can.

Have you ever let your child fly as an unaccompanied minor? Do you have any words of advice to add? Comment below and I’ll update the post with your suggestions!

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9 Most Useful Things to Pack for the Beach With Kids

pack for the beach

My Favorites to Pack for the Beach:

 

Summer is here! Yippee! How many of you are heading to the beach with kids this summer? Have you thought about what to pack? Today I’ll share with you the things I find most useful to pack for the beach with kids. What are your top things to pack for the beach? Are your essentials listed here? If I missed your most useful beach items,  I’d love for you to add it in the comments section at the end of this post! Also don’t forget to come back next Tuesday, when I’ll talk about What to Do When Your Child Hates the Beach (coming 6/28/16).

*TRAVEL TIP: When flying to a beach destination, always pack swimsuits, hats, swim diapers (if needed) and a small bottle of sunscreen (3.4 oz./100mL or less to meet TSA restrictions) just in case the airline loses your checked bags. Then you can still head to the beach while waiting for your luggage to be delivered.

(Disclaimer: For your shopping convenience I have included Amazon links. When you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This goes toward the operation of this blog. I appreciate your support!) 

Floatation Safety Devices

pack for the beach

I fell madly in love with Puddle Jumpers when my daughter Ella was three years old (you can see my mini-review here). These Coast Guard approved life vests allow freedom of movement so your child can practice a full swim stroke while still receiving full floatation aide. Puddle Jumpers are more comfortable to wear than a standard life vest when just playing at the beach, so we were able to keep Ella wearing the Puddle Jumpers even when she was just playing in the sand. It also allowed her more freedom when we were wading, as I could hold her Puddle Jumpers life vest instead of carrying her, allowing her to feel the water more. I was a little disappointed last year, when my then 2.5 year old son, John weighed enough to wear the Puddle Jumpers life vest. This life vest doesn’t roll you to your back, as a standard life vest does. He couldn’t figure that out last year, so we had to go to a standard life vest.  I’m hoping the Puddle Jumpers work for him this year! Even if your child knows how to swim, if they are under five years old, it is said that they would not remember the life saving skills if in a panic. For children under 5 I like to play it safe and have them use flotation devices around the water unless I am holding them.

Sunscreen

Did you know that most popular sunscreens today have oxybenzone, a known endocrine disruptor in them? Read about it here. I have been looking for effective sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone. So far we have found success with the following brands:

Kiss My Face SPF30 Cool Sport

pack for the beach
This sunscreen has absolutely no scent, which is great for my hypersensitive daughter. It rubs in easily and seems to offer great protection from sunburn. I have yet to use it in the water.  I’ll update once we try it at the beach.

Babyganics broad spectrum SPF50+
pack for the beach

This rubs in almost as easily as sunscreens that don’t contain zinc oxide (which is known for it’s pasty white appearance). It protects my super-sensitive daughter, Ella, even when I apply it before she goes to school then  is outside several hours later. It seems to continue working after she gets wet in the sprinkler. Beach camp starts next week, so the true test will be how well it works there. I will update this post after her first week of using this at the beach.

Beyond Coastal Active SPF34
pack for the beach
My husband races sailboats for a living, so sun protection is extremely important for him. He is out on the boat for up to twelve hours some days, sweating and being splashed by salt water. If he is able to reapply sunscreen it is usually only once in the day, so his sunscreen has to be really water resistant. Also it can’t sting his eyes when sweat is dripping down his face. He started using this year and is really liking it.

For a list of safer sunscreen, check out this list from EWG.org.

Baby Powder/Powder Mitt

pack for the beach
The best way to get sand off your skin is by brushing it off with baby powder. For me baby powder is a beach essential. Inhaling the baby powder can cause damage to the lungs, especially for the younger children, so a powder mitt is a good way to go to avoid the powder flying through the air. This mitt is pre-filled with baby powder and you just put it on your hand and brush the sand off. If you have a child in diapers then you do not want to go to the beach without baby powder. Getting the sand off of their damp tushy is impossible without powder, no many how many baby wipes you use.

Mini Sand Toys

pack for the beach
When we go on a beach vacation I really don’t want to fill our bags with sand toys. Most of the time you can get sand toys at your destination, but I have found that they are usually overpriced. I hate packing extra things, but I also hate paying more that I should for cheap toys. We have a mini sand castle mold, shovel, and rake that I pack for any beach vacation. Then if we don’t have access to anything else at least there is something for the kids to dig and play with. This is not an essential item, but has come in handy many times. At home I keep it in the car for spur of the moment trips to the beach.

Waterproof Phone Case or Pouch

pack for the beach
Summertime means my phone lives in a waterproof case. I love the Otterbox series for great protection. I am using the OtterBox Defender for my iphone 5s. Otterbox doesn’t seem to have a waterproof case for the iPhone 6. I would try LifeProof if I had the iPhone 6.  Here is a link to more waterproof options for your phone.

Snackeez Jr.

pack for the beach
These cups are just the right size for a snack on the beach. Your child can sit on a beach chair, kick back, and have both snack and drink right in front of them. The one thing you need to be aware of is that they do drip out of the straw hole if turned over. Make sure they stay upright in your bag  and in the sand.

Vinegar

It’s smart to bring a small bottle of vinegar with you to the beach to use in case of jellyfish stings. You can read about treating jellyfish stings in my post here about one of our Beach Days in St. Thomas. I recommend using a refillable container to just bring a few ounces of white vinegar with you. I have tried probably fifty different brands of refillable containers over the years, and I am usually disappointed with them leaking after several flights. This set of refillable containers, however, has not disappointed me. I have been using these containers for about five years now and have never had a leak yet.

Hooded Towel Cover Up

pack for the beach

Lands End Neps French Terry Cover UP

This reminds me that I haven’t bought these yet this year. For young kids I really love having a hooded towel cover up. When they are wet and shivering, you can go ahead and remove their swimsuits so they will dry faster and put the hooded towel cover up on them to keep them dry and warm. Even if they want to walk around a bit, they stay covered and dry. We usually buy these cover ups from Lands End. You can find something similar on Amazon here.

Aqua Socks

pack for the beach
I LOVE aqua socks for the beach. Sand doesn’t get in them and they protect your child’s feet from rocks or coral. It also protects the tops of their feet from sunburn. I just ordered this pair for my daughter who is attending six weeks of beach camp this summer.

Other things in my beach bag:

  • Towels
  • Swim Diapers
  • Diaper Wipes
  • Ziploc Bags (for trash, shell collecting, to keep things dry)
  • Snacks (avoid chocolate or things that will melt in the heat)
  • Water Bottles
  • Sun Hats (be sure to have hats with a chin strap or you may lose them in the breeze)
  • Insect Repellent (Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent performs even better than DEET products according to this study by the Journal of Insect Science, as reported by NPR in this article.)
  • Waterproof Band-Aids
  • Tissues (store in Ziploc bag so they don’t get wet)

What did I miss? Are there better items out there that I don’t know about yet? What do you pack for the beach with kids? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll check them out!

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Passenger Questions: Flying with Infant: After the Flight

flying-with-infants-1_thumb.jpg

What if Your Infant is Upset After the Flight?

after flight

What if your child is great in flight but upset and restless after the flight? Many people worry about their first flight with their infant, only to be pleasantly surprised to find it can be the easiest time to travel with a child. Infants are often quite happy with the new sights and sounds and are often lulled to sleep by the noise and vibrations of the airplane. This was the case for one of our readers, so he was perplexed when after the flight  his five month old was inconsolable.  I welcome passenger questions, so I’m glad he asked! He wrote me this email to see what I thought:

Yesterday we returned from our first outing that required air travel, and we found that while we were completely prepared for our flight, we were completely unprepared for the aftermath.

Our 5-month-old could not handle herself when we got home. We bathed her and fed her but she wouldn’t stop crying and could not fall asleep on her own. We think her ears were clogged or something hurt, but we don’t know what it could be. The exact same thing happened on our way there; uncontrollable cry and unable to go to sleep on her own.

We have another trip in a couple of weeks and we would like to ask for your input or ask the site’s community for advice.

Please let me know if you have any questions, your help is greatly appreciated.

I asked the father a few questions and he told me that she did not cry on descent and was not pulling on her ears at home. She was laughing during taxi (fun girl Smile). The meltdowns came just minutes before arriving home on the first trip and on the return she was fussy in the car seat and had a meltdown when they were unpacking the car. So the meltdowns occurred when it was finally time to relax after the travel day. After finally falling asleep at night she woke up fine the next day, happy and back to normal.

Has your child done fine during the travel day but been upset after the flight? What did you think was the cause in your case?

Here was my reply:

I am an expert only in my own experience, not a medical professional, but in my opinion she was experiencing a sensory meltdown. This is not due to social anxiety for her, but due to over-stimulation from the travel day. It’s not something to be overly concerned about, and it is likely to change or be different for her every time you travel and at every different age and stage for her.

The biggest way you can help is to help her regulate her sensory input. The main way to help anyone regulate sensory input is by adding something called “proprioceptive input” aka “heavy work”. Here are some ideas for ways to do this for a six month old:

-Joint Compression: massage arms and legs with gentle squeezing. 

-Body pressure: When your baby is in her stroller, car seat, or lying on her back, take your hand and press gently on her chest, while slowly jiggling her. The pressure is soothing.

-Tight hugs.

-Wrap tightly in blanket and hug. Rock if she tolerates it.

-Let her squeeze or squish putty or Play-Doh if she won’t eat it. 🙂

-Crawling: If there is an opportunity in your travel day to let her crawl or climb (maybe a kid’s area in the airport?).

If you do these activities throughout the travel day, it will help her maintain a balance and should help prevent the meltdowns.

I am not implying that your daughter has sensory processing disorder, as my daughter does. Every child as they are developing has sensory challenges as their neurological system matures. As you meet the needs that these challenges present, your child can develop typically with less struggle.

It doesn’t sound to me like her ears were an issue.

Another thing you can try is Hyland’s Infant Calming Tablets. They are homeopathic tablets used to:  “temporarily relieve the symptoms of occasional sleeplessness, fussiness, agitation, irritability, and restless sleep; unpredictable, irregular sleep; waking at night; crying; inconsolable behavior”. (Quoted from the company’s website.) They are approved for ages 6mo. and up. I used these for my kids. They didn’t help my oldest much but did seem to help my now 3 year old. As they have no side effects or drug interactions, they are worth a try in my opinion.

 

What do you think? Would you agree with my guess as to what was going on? Have you had a similar experience with your child? What other words of advice would you give to this father seeking answers? Do you have a question to ask? I’d like to start a series of “passenger questions” and would love to answer your questions there! Comment below or send me an email.

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15 Simple Packing Tips, Tools, Hacks

simple packing tips

Simple Packing Tips

I’ve been on over 130 flights with my kid/s plus a handful of road trips, so I’ve learned lots of packing tips, tools, and hacks.  For me, packing wisely is one of the keys to enjoying your family travel. But it can be overwhelming! Here are some simple packing tips I use when I travel with my family:

5 Simple Packing Tips

1. Use a Reasonable Suitcase
simple packing tips

When I travel as a flight attendant, I use a rolling suitcase. When I travel with my kids, I switch to a rolling duffel bag. I use a 26” rolling duffel bag. Anything bigger makes it difficult to remain within airlines’ weight restrictions. Paying for overweight luggage usually costs more than checking an additional bag, so it’s not worth going over on weight. Right now I’m using a 26″ Olympia Rolling Duffel Bag, which I like for it’s roomy interior and the 8 pockets. I pack all of my things plus both of the kids’ things in this bag. (My husband packs and brings his own bag when he travels with us.)

*BONUS TIP: When buying luggage, consider getting the ugliest or most unusual color so your bag is easily identifies and not confused with other passenger’s luggage. We are currently using a bright pink and a rust orange bag. My favorite was bright yellow. 

2. Create a List

As much as I’ve packed for my family, you would think I could remember everything I need without checking a list. Much of the time I do pack without a list, but I inevitably leave something out. By writing down what I need to pack, especially the items I will be adding last minute, I am sure to pack the most important things.

3. Create a Travel Emergency Kit

I like to keep standard first aid and medicines in a travel kit that always stays in my travel bag. I’ve also started packing an emergency bag, containing at minimum a headlamp flashlight, air filtration masks, and a smoke hood. You can take a look at everything I pack in my own travel emergency bag here: What to Pack in a Travel Emergency Kit

4. Set All Clothes Out to Review

I always set all of my clothes and the kids clothes out on the bed before putting them in the suitcase. Then I reduce what I have set out. Seeing all the clothes at one glance makes it easier to determine what we will really need.

5. Use Amazon Prime

If you are visiting an area in the US for at least one week, it may be much easier to order some things and have them shipped. If you are an Amazon Prime member, most items have free 2-day shipping. Diapers, formula, sunscreen, and snack foods are just a few of the items that might be better to have shipped than to pack.

5 Simple Packing Tools

(This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. When you use these links I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This goes toward the cost of operating this website. I appreciate your support!)

1. Carabiner

simple packing tips
I like to have one carabiner clipped to my backpack strap. I use it to hook on my preschooler’s C.A.R.E.S. Harness and Backpack Harness when we are not using them.

2. Chums Stowaway Equipment Strap

simple packing tips
I just bought these great straps but haven’t had the opportunity to use them yet. My kids like to travel with their own plush blanket, so I’m planning to use this equipment strap to tie up the blankets. I can then attach them to my backpack when getting on and off of the plane. I can imagine many ways these straps could come in handy. You could use one to hook a bag to your larger checked bag to make it easier to get to and from the car. What other ways would you use this?

3. Refillable Containers

simple packing tips
I very rarely pack full size toiletries, but I hate spending the money for prepackaged travel-sized items! I love this set of refillable containers. The small tubs are perfect for facial cleanser and lotion. The larger bottles hold up to 2 weeks worth of shampoo and conditioner. I love how the set also comes with a spray bottle. I use this for my face toner. These lids have never leaked on me. I have bought many, many travel containers over the past 16+ years of flying, and these are the only ones I use now.

4. Travel Size Woolite

simple packing tips
Even if you’re staying somewhere that has laundry facilities, it is often useful to be able to wash a few things in the sink. Here is a post on why I recommend you always pack travel size Woolite if you are visiting a Disney Park. While there are other detergents you could use, I have found that Woolite works best for sink washing because it doesn’t suds up too much and it easily rinses clean.

5. Packing Cubes
simple packing tips

I go back and forth on my use of packing cubes. If you have a child ages newborn-3 years old, the cubes are really great. I use one large cube for all of my baby’s outfits. As the child gets bigger, the clothes get bigger, and you have to use several cubes for each child. Cube packing can really help keep things organized, though. Right now I use a small cube for each person’s socks and underwear, and large cubes for swimwear (all family members together). Then I pack our other clothes outside of the cubes. Experiment with this, but I think you will really enjoy the organization that cube packing can give. I do think that packing cubes work better when you are using a rolling duffle bag vs. a standard rolling suitcase.

5 Simple Packing Hacks

1. DIY Luggage Tag

One of the easiest ways to make a durable luggage tag uses just two things: clear packing tape and one of your business cards. Cut a long piece of packing tape and run it through the large strap on your bag. Double the tape over, stopping near the end to add your business card. Laminate the card using the packing tape and then cut off the excess tape. I’ll try to make a video soon to show how to do this.

2. Duct Tape

This tip comes from retired Flight Attendant and Author, Dixie Howell. She puts a few strips of Duct Tape on her suitcase. The ways duct tape can come in handy are endless! It can really save the day if your luggage tears, a zipper breaks, or a shoe falls apart. Bringing an entire roll of duct tape would add too much weight to your bag, but a few strips can be used when needed and don’t add much weight.

3. Multi-Purpose Items

Pack items that have more than one use in order to save space. Here are a few things that we use in multiple ways:

  • Aquaphor: Use for diaper rash, dry hands, to avoid blisters.
  • 2-in-1 Body Wash, Shampoo: Aquaphor is my favorite for kids.  *Use the travel-sized refillable containers listed above in this post.
  • African Black Soap: Shampoo and Face Wash — I have just recently tried Savvy Boheme’s African Black Soap and it is really great! I can use it for shampoo even with my thick hair (it’s so thick it’s twice the thickness of an “average” head of hair). I’ll be posting a full review soon, but this soap would be great for travel for multiple purposes.
  • Gallon Size Ziploc Bags: Use to pack outfits, keep clothes dry, contain soiled clothes, and for your child’s busy bag items.

4. Pack Sunglasses/Swim Goggles in Shoes

A great way to protect your sunglasses and swim goggles is to pack them inside a sock then inside your shoes.

5. Seat Pocket Trash Liner

simple packing tips

I like to reuse plastic shopping bags as trash bags on the plane. I always pack several in my backpack carry on. On many planes, the seat pocket can stretch out a bit, and these plastic shopping bags fit nicely to create a trash liner. fold the side of the bag over the magazines and the front of the seat pocket and you then have a place to stash trash as you collect it throughout the flight.

*Flight Attendant Tip: Please do not use seat pockets for trash without a bag liner. First, it’s a good way to spread germs. Second, cabin cleaners are usually rushing through the plane, with only a few minutes to clean the entire cabin. They are not often able to look into each seat pocket and often trash gets left behind. I’m sure it’s gross to you when you discover trash in your seat pocket. So try to not be the one who leaves trash there. And definitely never put a used diaper in the seat pockets. Diapers need to go in a bag (you can use an airsickness bag if you didn’t bring anything, I use pre-cut Diaper Genie bags myself) and then in the lavatory trash can. Don’t hand diapers to the flight attendants. The galley is no place for a soiled diaper!

What do you think of these simple packing tips, tools, and hacks? Is there one of these ideas that you want to try? I’d love to hear what works for you when you pack for your next trip. Share in the comments below or send us pictures on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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Breastfeeding on a Plane

breastfeeding on a plane

Tips for Breastfeeding on a Plane

Breastfeeding on a plane comes with some challenges. Some babies (mine) are overstimulated and won’t pay attention long enough to nurse. Some babies want to latch on for the entire flight. Mothers might be nervous that other passengers will stare or complain. You may be so squished in small seats that you don’t have room to nurse in your baby’s preferred position. Whatever worries you may have about breastfeeding on a plane, there are solutions! Today I’ll share with you a few tips for breastfeeding on your next flight.

When my daughter Ella was an infant, she would not nurse in public at all. She is so hyper-aware that every movement, every sound, every light caught her attention and would pull her away from nursing. Even covering her head didn’t help. She earned elite status on the airline when she was only ten months old, so you know there were lots of flights where we had to adapt. Luckily most children are far more interested in nursing than she was. I also supplemented formula with her, so I would pack formula sticks and water bottles for the flight. I pumped or nursed right before the flight either at home or in the airport bathrooms (I know, gross, right? I am happy to see nursing stations becoming a thing. There is a Nursing Room Locator App, where you can discover the location of airport nursing rooms.) Then if my husband was traveling with me I would pump during the flight, or if he wasn’t with me then I just went through the flight and pumped as soon as we got to our arrival airport. I had to be flexible with this. Once it meant pumping while sitting on the floor in the corner of first class. Once it meant pumping on the two hour long taxi ride home.  Click here to read my tips and tricks for Traveling with the Breast Pump..

Hopefully your baby is more flexible than Ella was. Hopefully all you are worrying about is the mechanics of nursing on the plane. These are some things that I found helpful:

Wardrobe

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My favorite things to wear while nursing allow for comfort, flexibility, and ease of use. This is what I used:

Nursing Tank

breastfeeding on a plane
Be sure to get the long tanks so that they don’t ride up on your waist.

Shawl Sweater

breastfeeding on a plane
I love wearing a shawl sweater while nursing. If your baby likes to be covered for nursing, you can take the bottom tip of the sweater and use it as a light covering. If your baby doesn’t like to be covered, please do not feel any social pressure to cover! As long as you’re not walking around the aircraft with your boobs out, you are fine. Take care of your baby and don’t be concerned with what others think. What I like about using a shawl sweater/nursing tank combo is, if you do want to be more discreet without covering your baby’s head, you can take the corner of the shawl which is opposite the baby, and tuck that into the tank strap. This will give you coverage across your chest without interfering with your baby.

Since we’re talking about wardrobe, I want to remind you to always pack a complete change of clothes, not just for the baby, but for you as well. You never know when a diaper blowout, vomiting (not just spit up), or major spills might happen. Always be prepared. Read more about why here: Travel Tip: Always Pack Spare Clothes (for Everyone).

Nursing Pillow or Not?
breastfeeding on a plane

When your baby is teeny-tiny, you might find it helps to use a nursing pillow. Many new mothers get so used to using this that they go ahead and bring it on their flight. Do what you need to do, but I would personally not recommend bringing a nursing pillow. In most cases the seat you are in doesn’t really have room to use your nursing pillow without intruding on your seat mate’s personal space. Most of the time the armrests are in a good position to rest your elbow as you hold your baby. I would just bring a small baby blanket (which you should be packing anyway, for your baby when it gets cold) to fold under my elbow for a cushion. If you really want to bring a nursing pillow, don’t bring the full size one. This travel nursing pillow might work better for you:

How to Handle Comments

To be honest with you, in spite of news reports like this one emphasizing intolerant passengers and crew, in my experience (16 years as a flight attendant), it is extremely rare to get a passenger complaint about a mother breastfeeding on a plane. If passengers near you says anything, our mama bear instinct is likely to rear up, understandably so. But a conflict on the airplane is never a good thing. If it’s possible to ignore the person, then try to. If not, ask the flight attendants to intervene. If a flight attendant happens to be the one with the issue (again, not something you need to have anxiety over—I believe the stories about this happening are potentially the only times they have happened, fewer than ten out of billions of flights), try to see where they are coming from. If they are making an unreasonable request, such as asking you to nurse in the lavatory, calmly ask if the FAA or airline requires that. Try to gently help them see that they are being unreasonable. But if you are completely exposed, midriff, breast, and all, for an extended amount of time, it is understandable if someone asks you to cover yourself. As long as they are not asking for you to cover the baby. A latched baby on exposed breast, however, is no problem. We just don’t want the entire breast out while baby is sound asleep on the other side. That’s reasonable, right? Just last month I had a passenger who was a new mother. Her baby nursed then fell asleep on her mother’s breast, so she remained uncovered but with the baby on her chest. No one batted an eye.  If anyone had a problem with it, they didn’t say anything.

Do what works for you

Does your baby like to be covered when nursing? Cover your baby. Does your child hate being covered? Don’t cover your baby. Are you really modest? Wear a nursing tank and shawl sweater so you can feel comfortable. Does your baby pop on and off when breastfeeding? Don’t sweat it. The most important thing when you are feeding your baby is your baby. Don’t worry about what other people think or say. Realize that the people who typically cast judgment about breastfeeding will likely cast judgment regardless of how you are nursing. Once I was shopping in Target with my infant (who was a very fussy baby with colic and reflux), and he needed to nurse. I didn’t have time to sit, so with the help of a baby carrier, I nursed him as a pushed the cart. I actually had him completely covered, head and all, with a nursing cover. You had to really look to even see that I had an infant attached to me. Still I got hateful stares from an older man passing by. I cannot fathom why he would have a problem with my nursing on the go, but apparently he did. Whatever. Don’t let people like that affect your inner peace.

breastfeeding on a plane

Do you have public nursing tips to share? Or a story about breastfeeding on a plane? I’d love to hear your comments below!

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Getting Seats Together on Your Flight

Flight Attendant Tips for Getting Seats Together on Your Flight

Seats together: you might assume that booking tickets together means your seats are together, but that’s not usually the case! It can be so frustrating if you are flying with your family but you and your child do not have seats together. There are many reasons why this happens, some avoidable, some not. But don’t panic! Today I’ll share with you my tips, as flight crew and as a mom, for getting seats together on your flight.

8 Steps to Follow in Order:

Seats together

1) When booking your tickets, select seats: the best ones possible.

Many people who don’t fly frequently don’t realize that you need to actually select seats in order to have specific pre-reserved seating. Although you bought a ticket, most of the time you don’t get a seat assignment unless you select one Usually then on the day of the flight, tickets without seat assignments are randomly assigned through the computer. Passengers are often shocked to learn that they don’t have a seat assignment at check in when they had booked their ticket eight months in advance. (Southwest is the exception, they don’t give pre-reserved seat assignments. See link at the end of this post for details on getting seats together on Southwest Airlines.) When you select your seats, the seat map will show what is available. It may be that there are not enough seats together (at least without an additional fee) for your whole family. Don’t worry yet. Book as many “good” seats as you can (window and aisle) so that you have something decent for the agents to work with on the day of your flight.

If you can’t get seats together (without paying extra fees), move on to step two:

2) Immediately after booking, call to speak directly to an agent.

Sometimes an airline agent has access to seats that might not always show on the seat map you see at booking. But not always.

If the agent can’t help you, move on to step three:

3) Keep checking weekly for seats together.

Seats may open up as people get upgrades or change flights. If seats open up then you may be able to get the seats together.

Bonus tip:  Even if you did get decent seats at booking, it is a smart idea to regularly check your reservation and seat assignments, especially if you booked tickets well in advance of your travel date. Sometimes, when the airline makes changes in equipment, seat assignments inadvertently get dropped. It has happened to us several times. The worst thing is not noticing it until the flight is full. You can complain to the airline that your reserved seat is gone, but they can’t in turn pull the seat from another passenger. That just creates the issue for two people, making the situation even worse! The wise thing to do is keep a close eye on the reservation. If seat assignments get dropped then call right away (or select seats online again) before the seating selection is too slim.

seats together

Has it happened to you?

Tamara Gruber, family travel blogger from We3Travel, said:

“I actually find this happens a lot when we book really far in advance (like trip to Europe booked 6 months in advance) and they switch equipment, shuffle us around and never tell us unless we check. I always select seats (unless I have to pay extra to do so) and I definitely have an assumption that I’m going to get the seat I selected, but we have often been shuffled and separated. I’ve even checked in the night before, seen my seats were as they should be, and then at the gate been pulled aside because they moved me and separated my daughter and I and made to wait until everyone else was boarded (there goes the overhead space) and then they found us seats together. At least that time they tried to help. Usually I’m just told to ask passengers to move.”

If you’re still not having any luck on getting seats together on your flight, move on to step four:

4) Check in for your flight 24 hours before departure.

If the airline you are flying has online check-in, be sure to use this option. Even if you are checking bags at the airport. (You can add your bags once you are at the airport. If using a machine to check bags, select an option like “check bags” or “reprint boarding passes”, depending on the airline/machine.) If the flight has seats available at that point, you will receive a seat assignment. If you don’t have seats together on your flight, this would be a good time to again visit step two: call an agent.

If you’re still waiting for seats together, move on to step 5:

5) Ask for seats together when you check in at the airport

seats together

Whether you check bags curbside, go to a kiosk check-in machine, or speak to a ticketing agent, you can inquire again about getting seats together on your flight. I know it will be very frustrating at this point if the agents are still unable to get you and your family seated together, but don’t take it out on them! On a full flight they cannot move passengers around without their consent (just think of how mad you would be if they did it to you), so just thank the agent for looking and move on to step six:

6) Ask the gate agent for seats together

Again, on a full flight the agent may not be able to do much. I’ve seen many agents bend over backwards, even calling up passengers, to try to get seats rearranged for a family. But remember, most of the time the gate agents have a very short window of time to get planes out in time. They may not have the time to rearrange seating. Have patience if they seem perturbed by your request. It’s not usually that they have a bad attitude or even that they are annoyed by the request, it may be just that they are overwhelmed with all they have going on with the flight. Most airline employees really do try to present their best side at all times, but during a stressful day there are bound to be moments where we’re not so good at hiding our frustrations.

If the agent can’t help, seems irritated, or says to work it out on the plane, take a deep breath, trust that it will all work out, and move on to step eight:

7) Ask the flight attendants for help/Appeal to passengers around you

When you board the plane, let the flight attendants know your seating situation. It’s a little tricky at this point, because there is a lot going on during boarding and the flight attendants have other responsibilities as well at this time. Usually if I’m at the boarding door and a family approaches me about getting seats together, I will tell them to go ahead and take the seats that would get as many of them together as possible and we will sort it out once the passengers are all on board.

Example:

If you have a family of four, and the best seats you could obtain are 17A (window) 24F (window), 25E (middle), and 10E (middle, extra legroom), I’m going to suggest that you sit down in row 24 EF and 25EF and then when passengers come to those seats, ask if the person in 25F  would swap to 17A, then ask 24E if they would be willing to swap to extra legroom at 10E. If the other passengers are willing to make these trades then you will end up with two pairs of two seats, one in front of the other.

seats together

Most of the time the seat swaps work out before I, as a flight attendant, am able to get to you to help. But if you are still not seated together, the flight attendants will do their best to rearrange you. Yes, every once in a while you will get someone who has a bad attitude and doesn’t understand how important it is for your family to sit together on your flight. I would recommend asking a second flight attendant for help if you are able. Often when met with an attitude it is about that person and whatever is going on with them, not about you. Another crew member may be able to intervene.

As a last resort move on to step 8:

8) Seat your youngest child alone.

**Before you try this final tip, ask yourself how important this really is. Do you have a ten year old that really will be fine sitting a few rows away (and might even enjoy the independence)? Do you have two sets of seats together, just not all seats together? If you can put up with the less-than-ideal-but-workable seating, then do so this one time.**

If you’ve come to this step then after trying all of the above steps, then there really isn’t much more that can be done. The only thing left is to appeal to the conscience of the passengers around you. If you put your youngest child alone, give them a pep talk about being fine without you, then surely other passengers will notice that this cannot happen and someone will offer to help. If you child starts to cry, all the better. Does anyone really want to be the one responsible for your child when he’s upset?

seats together

Hope for the Future?

The frustration of not getting seats together on your flight is a very valid one. It happens more often than it should. But know that taking the first steps, especially 1-4, will reduce the chances of you getting stuck with seats spread out all over the aircraft. There is actually legislation being considered which is attempting to require airlines to offer better availability for families to obtain seats together at booking. Family travel blogger Corrinne McDermott tells all about it in this article, Introducing the Families Flying Together Act #FFTA.  I personally feel that this act needs to be more clear in it’s wording, or else nothing will change. Under the current language it appears to me that all the airlines would be required to do is have a pop-up when you’re booking a group ticket that states that you may not be able to get seats together. I would like to see airlines make seats together available any time a child under 12 is in the group of tickets (as long as there are actually seats not booked, just blocked). At this point so many seats are blocked for premium passengers and for additional fees, the families who travel infrequently are the ones who suffer for it.

Do you have a nightmare story to share of a time when you were separated from your kids? Share in the comments below! Malaysian Meanders has a doozy of one that they tell about here: Major Fail Sitting Together on the Airplane.

Here are some additional tips and stories from other travel bloggers about getting seats together on your flight:

Walking On Travels: Get Seated Together on Your Next Flight

Trips With Tykes: It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Seat Me Next to My Two Year Old on a Plane

Malaysian Meanders:

Points With A Crew:  Family boarding on Southwest Airlines – tips and tricks on how to get to sit with each other

Tips for Family Trips: Five Risks of Buying Third Party Airline Tickets

seats together

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Fear of Flying? Flight Attendant Tips to Overcome Fear

Flight Attendant Tips to Overcome Fear of Flying

As a flight attendant, I meet a good number of passengers who are afraid of flying. This fear usually increases during turbulence. Most of the time the passenger is able to remain calm enough to not disturb others around them, but occasionally the fear overtakes them. I even had a passenger once scream, “We’re going to die!!!” What do I do in these situations? How do I help fearful passengers calm down? Here are the ways I try to help my passengers overcome their fear of flying:

Fear of Flying

First I want to tell you about my most fearful passenger I ever had, and how I helped him calm down. Before we even finished boarding, we knew this passenger was going to have a tough time. Right when he came onboard, he asked, “Is it too late to buy extra life insurance? I forgot to buy extra in the airport!” We were flying on the 767-200, 3-class service, and I was working in business class, left side. He was sitting in business class on the right side. The flight attendant working on that side offered me $20 to swap places with her, she knew the man would be more drama than she could handle. I swapped with her and the flight began without incident. About an hour into the flight we went through an area of turbulence. The seatbelt sign came on and I began to walk through the cabin to check that everyone had fastened their seatbelt (as required by the FAA). The turbulence got a little worse, to the point where I needed to hold onto the seats to keep my balance. My fearful passenger grabbed his armrests and started screaming, “We’re going to die!!!” I rushed over to him, grabbed his shoulders, and told him, “It’s going to be okay. You need to calm down!”

He took a deep breath and said, “Okay…maybe I should take another Zanax.” “I don’t know, sir, maybe you should. But you need to stop yelling and you need to calm down.”  He took another deep breath, said, “Okay, I guess as long as I see that you’re not scared then I don’t have to be.” I wanted him to understand that even if I did get scared, he could still trust that he was safe. I told him, “Actually, even if I am knocked to the ground by turbulence and break my leg, as long as you are sitting with your seatbelt on, you will be safe.” He did take another Xanax and was able to relax enough to enjoy the rest of the flight. He offered me a tip at the end of the flight, knowing that he was a little more work than the typical passenger.

The thing about fear of flying is that it is mostly irrational. People know this, they know the chance of a flight catastrophe is slim, but they fear it just the same. These are the things I tell my passengers when they confess to me they are afraid  of flying:

Visualize

Fear of Flying

During turbulence some people begin to fear the plane will drop out of the sky. I tell them to imagine they are in a boat, riding the waves. The boat is built to ride the waves, just as the plane is built to ride the air “waves”. In fact, the plane is even safer in turbulence, even extreme turbulence, than a boat is in extreme weather. When you imagine the plane as a boat, it suddenly seems less scary as you realize that the rocking and rolling is a normal part of the ride.

Trust

Fear of Flying

In one of my flight attendant training classes we watched a video of the stress test that every airplane goes through before ever flying. The airplane is put in a huge wind tunnel room and winds stronger than a tornado are created. In other words, conditions that the airplane you are in would never be put through are tested. In the video you see the wings of the airplane flexing up and down, which at first can seem a little scary. But then you realize that the flexing is what keeps the wings from snapping right off. So it’s a good thing, like a palm tree flexing in a hurricane. It’s what keeps it from being knocked down. Knowing that the plane is built to withstand conditions far more extreme than what you would ever encounter might help. Trust that you are safe when you are in your seat with your seatbelt fastened.

Recall Facts

Most people know these facts, but when fear hits, it can be hard to recall them. Before you fly, give yourself a refresher on these statistics:

I asked my friends and fans what things helped them overcome their fear of flying. One of our readers, Mike Stratton (writer at Mike’s Place: Travel Adventures of Mike Stratton), who has flown 525,000 miles (and never once been in an airplane accident), had this to contribute: (edited to fit blog style)

You could fly every day for something like 25,000 years without being in an accident, and when (if) you are [in an accident], chances are you would survive. The great myth is that aviation accidents are destined to be fatal, but the odds are anyone involved in an aviation accident is more likely to survive than perish.

Regulation, Oversight and Standards of aircraft care are very stringent: Every 6 years or so an airplane undergoes a “D” Check, where it is essentially stripped down to bare metal and inspected thoroughly over a 2 month period and then rebuilt, like new. Flight systems are engineered with multiple redundancies, with many layers of flight safety built into both planes themselves and air traffic control.  A plane can take off on one engine, can fly on one engine, and can generate its own power in the event of a loss of electrical power, a RAT (Ram Air Turbine) to thank for that. The aviation industry is much safer today compared to 1985, 1975, 1965, etc. Satellites and communication and sophisticated computers keep the highways in the sky flowing more efficiently and safely.

“Tell them not to worry, and enjoy the ride, because flying is one of the great joys and benefits of living in the 21st Century.” -CSK reader Mike Stratton

Your odds of dying from a fall down the stairs? One in 157,300, according to this post on air safety in The Economist. David Ropeik, a Risk Communication instructor at Harvard University, found in 2006 that the odds of dying in a jet airplane crash are one in 11 million. (source: International Business Times). Maybe we should focus on holding the handrails when walking down the stairs.

fear of flying

(The graphic here says that one in 8,015 die in a plane crash. It’s important to note that the statistic here includes ALL aircraft, not jet airplanes only. The chance of dying in a jet airplane crash is only one in 11 million. Still, the chance of being killed in a motor vehicle crash is one in 112. Big difference no matter which number you use, and most of us don’t get anxiety when driving cars.)

Additional Resources:

If none of these ideas helps you, here are some additional articles and resources to help you overcome your fear of flying:

8 Steps to Overcoming Your Fear of Flying

Confession: I’m Terrified of Flying Even frequent flyers have this fear. Travel blogger NomadicMatt shares his experience and tips:

Book: SOAR: The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying (Amazon Affiliate link) I have heard from many passengers that they overcame their fear of flying after going through SOAR. Below is a review and information on the Pilot who developed the program. I haven’t read this myself, but the many positive reviews are testament that it works quite well.

“SOAR is more than a program of effective exercises to treat fear of flying. SOAR provides a relevant and understandable explanation of how the nervous system—as it works outside of awareness to protect us—overreacts and puts us into a state of anxiety when flying. SOAR provides the toolkit to educate the part of the brain that is below consciousness and involved in regulating anxiety to more accurately evaluate risk related to flying.”  —Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation

About the Author

Captain Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. worked on the first Fear of Flying program at Pan Am and founded SOAR in 1982. He is a licensed therapist, and lives with his wife Marie.

Do you ever get fearful when flying? What types of things help you get over your fears? Tell us your tips in the comments below.

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Seven Natural Ways to Prevent Motion Sickness

Seven Natural Ways to Prevent Motion Sickness

Do you get motion sickness? How about your child? There are worse things of course, but in the moment there is nothing worse than vomiting on an airplane. Almost everyone who flies a lot experiences motion sickness—at least the nausea part of it—at some point. I really hate to use medications unless absolutely necessary, especially for my children, so I like to try every natural remedy first before using something like Dramamine. Today I’ll share with you seven natural ways to prevent or treat motion sickness so you can be prepared and hopefully prevent it from happening to you or your children. At the end of this post I also share a few flight attendant tricks to help you feel better during motion sickness even if you didn’t pack any of the items on this list. I welcome your tips and tricks in the comments below.

(Disclosure: For your shopping convenience I have included Amazon Affiliate links in this post. When you make a purchase through these links I may receive a small commission which will go toward the operation of this website. I appreciate your support!)

1. Ginger


There was a Myth Busters episode on motion sickness. They built a spinning machine, blindfolded the unlucky subject, and spun him until he vomited. Then they tested popular motion sickness remedies and spun him again. The only thing that worked for him (other than Dramamine, which made him completely loopy and drowsy) was ginger. You can get ginger in many forms, including child-friendly flavors. I personally do not care for ginger at all, so I move on to the other remedies for myself or take the Ginger Tablets you can swallow.  Here are a few options of ginger products that you might enjoy:

  • Ginger Rescue Chewable Tablets for Children—We tried these and they have a very strong ginger flavor, so they were too “spicy” for my kids. But with the highest ginger active compounds of any brand, they are some of the most likely to work well. They are worth trying at the current low price of $5.49 with Amazon Subscribe & Save (you can cancel your recurring orders or change frequency of shipping).
  • Gin-Gins Chewy Ginger Candy—My mother says these are the best ginger chews she’s ever tried. Both tasty and effective for nausea. These are individually wrapped so it is really easy to toss a few in your purse, backpack, and diaper bag to have on hand at any time.
  • Natural Ginger Tummy Drops—All natural and gluten-free these ginger drops have great online reviews. These are also individually wrapped, so great for travel. They make these in peppermint flavor too, so if, like me, you are not a fan of ginger, the peppermint ones should also help with motion sickness.
  • Queasy Naturals Chews—I have not tried these and they don’t have many reviews, but they caught my eye because one review said they are just like Starbursts Chewy Candy. My eight year old daughter, Ella loves Starbursts, so I know she would like these (although not the ginger ones for her). These come in Sour Lemon, Ginger, and Cherry Flavor.
  • Gravol Natural Source—There are several different formulas of Gravol, some containing medicines. Gravol Natural Source contains only Ginger Root. For ages six and up, Gravol Tablets are easy to swallow and contain 20 mg of certified organic ginger.
  • Ginger Simply Gum—This will not be as effective as regular ginger root, but it does contain ginger oil, which should help a little with the nausea.

2. Homeopathic Tablets


The first thing I use for myself and for my kids is Hyland’s Motion Sickness Tablets. The tablets have no taste, they quickly dissolve under your tongue, and they really seem to help. My daughter Ella gets motion sickness if we are in the car for more than 30  minutes and on winding roads. I give these tablets to her before we start the drive and she when she takes them she rarely feels nauseated. The nice thing about these is you can continue to take them as needed throughout the flight and there are virtually no side effects. These are good for ages six and up.

Prevent Motion Sickness

3. Lollipops


This is a good one to have on hand. Although these Queasy Pops Lollipops are marketed for pregnancy induced nausea, they will help with any nausea. Lollipops or sour candy provide a nice distraction from that icky feeling your child is  experiencing. The only problem with these lollipops is that only half of the flavors are kid-friendly. My kids will not eat the peppermint, ginger, or cinnamon ones, but they like the mango, sour raspberry, and green apple ones. I keep the others for myself.  I like to always have a few regular lollipops (like these Yum Earth Organic Pops) in my travel bag for a treat or distraction any time. Regular lollipops will help reduce nausea a little, but the Queasy Pops also have essential oils that help eliminate motion sickness. (Lollipop travel tip here.)

4. Eat Smart

  • Eliminate Dairy: Flight Attendant Mom Martha shared with me that when she flew with her toddler regularly, he was vomiting on every flight. She tried eliminating dairy on travel days, and it worked! He didn’t experience motion sickness any more after that.
  • Hydrate: The times that I have experienced motion sickness have also been when I was thirsty. Be sure to hydrate with water before and during activities where you might get motion sickness. If you’re already feeling nauseated be sure to just drink a little bit at a time.
  • Eat Carbohydrates: Just like when a pregnant mother’s nausea is reduced by consuming dry crackers, carbohydrates like crackers, cereal bars, pretzels, etc. might help reduce feeling of motion sickness. I have found eating a bit of protein and carbohydrates before travel really helps ward off motion sickness.

Prevent Air Motion Sickness

5. Sea-Bands


Sea-Bands are wrist bands that have a little button which you place on a certain point on your wrist. It is meant to put pressure on an acupressure point that helps reduce nausea. These come in both adult and kid sizes and are so lightweight they are easy to pack in your carry-on bag “just in case”.

6. Essential Oils


There are several essential oils that are said to help relieve nausea. I have not tried these myself. Lemon and peppermint are promoted as good oils for nausea. There are also several blends available, including this one with ginger, lavender, peppermint, and spearmint. I like this aromatherapy inhaler which contains oils of ginger, peppermint, and orange. Keep in mind that to some children, the smell of peppermint actually feels like burning. You might want to try it at home first. Lemon oil would be a good option for young children, or for those sensitive to peppermint. To use, just put a dab on a tissue and hold it up to your face to breathe in.

7. Coca-Cola

I asked my flight crew today if they had any tips to add here. Flight Attendant M. Rodriguez told me a trick her mother has used ever since she was a kid: take small sips of Coca-Cola. Apparently the cola syrup in small doses can act as an anti-nausea medication. Even the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was advised to drink flat Coca-Cola to combat morning sickness. It is best to consume the Cola at room temperature, as flat as possible (pour about half a cup and let it sit for a while so the bubbles go down before sipping a little at a time).

If  you didn’t pack any of the above recommendations, some flight attendant tricks to help reduce nausea:

  • If there is an air vent above your seat, turn the air toward your face.
  • Put a cold wet paper towel on your forehead or neck.
  • Take light sips of Ginger Ale.
  • Chew or suck on ice cubes.
  • Suck on any hard candy or chew gum.
  • Avoid trying to read or watch video during turbulence.
  • Take a few small bites of any food. (Sometimes motion sickness is made worse with hunger.)

Do you have any natural motion sickness remedies to add? Have you tried any of these and found them to be useful (or not)? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Or you can comment on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page. I’m posting travel tips here at CloudSurfingKids.com every Tuesday. If there is a topic you’d like me to address, or a question you have about flying, let me know!

Happy Cloud Surfing!!!

Prevent Motion Sickness

 

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Quick Tips for the First Time Flier

Quick Tips for the First Time Flier

Tips for First Time Flier

As a flight attendant mom I am often asked for tips for a first time flier. The whole purpose of this website, Cloud Surfing Kids, is to help parents feel prepared when flying with their kids, and I love sharing tips that work for me and that I see working for other families on the flights where I’m working. Here are a few ideas to get you started as you prepare for your first flight with kids:

Talk about the Flight before the Travel Day

CSK Airplane Sunset

Talking about what to expect when you fly can help reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown. You can even take a “practice flight” in your house. Walk through waiting in a couple of lines and the security checkpoint–where you’ll put all of your things (including favorite toys) through a small tunnel and meet them on the other side, walking to the plane, sitting in the seats and buckling seat belts. Talk about staying in your seat when the seat belt sign is on. A first time flier won’t be familiar with cabin pressure. Talk about the funny feeling you might get in your ears when the plane descends and how it can feel better when you yawn, chew food, or drink water. Mention that the funny feeling gets better as the plane gets closer to landing. (Don’t fear ear pain from air pressure. Although it is horrible, it really is not that common. As a flight attendant I only see about 5% of my passengers experiencing ear pain, if even that much. On most of my flights I don’t have anyone complaining of ear pain.)

If you have a sensitive child it might be helpful to let them know the airplane engines are loud. You can find a sample of the ambient airplane noise on many white noise machines, if you have one at home, or if not you can download a white noise app on your phone that usually includes an airplane engine sound. Some other ways to prepare for a flight with a sensitive child can be found here: Ways to Help Your Child be Calm on a Plane.

Pack Wisely

When I’m traveling with my young kids I find it much easier to check our large suitcase. Even if you have to pay extra, it really is worth the money to not have one more thing to carry on the plane with you. If your children are older (I would say more than ten years old), you might be comfortable bringing luggage on the plane. When packing, plan for as many scenarios as you can (medical needs, delays, food, etc.) but be as compact as you can. When I pack for myself and my kids, Ella, age 8, and John, age 3, I use one 26-inch rolling duffel bag for my checked bag. Then I pack a backpack for me to carry, a rolling backpack for Ella, and a  mini Backpack for John. Then I bring a small cooler for food (one that can fit under the airplane seat) and a small open tote bag where I shove anything extra that doesn’t fit into the bags mentioned (blanket, camera, sweater, etc.).  Always, always bring enough food, medicine, diapers, formula for at least twice the hours of your expected travel day. Read here for more explanation on why I say Always Pack Spare Clothes for EVERYONE traveling. If you have a child in a car seat, I highly recommend buying or borrowing my favorite tool, GoGoBabyz TravelMate Wheels, which snap onto your convertible car seat to create a stroller.

Be Prepared

As I said above, everyone’s biggest fear, ear pain, really doesn’t happen that frequently. That said, ear pain when flying is more common in children because they have shorter Eustachian tubes than adults so fluid is more likely to build up in their ears. If your child has a cold or stuffy nose from allergies, you want to do as many things as you can to prevent ear blockage. Here are my tips for flying with stuffy noses for children, and for adults, read my Flight Attendant Tips to Prevent Blocked Ears.

Combat Fear of Turbulence

Tips for First Time Flier

Some first time (and even experienced) fliers are very fearful during turbulence. There are two things that sometimes help my fearful passengers when we are experiencing turbulence:

  1. Imagine you are on a boat, rocking in the waves. Even when they are big waves, the boat (plane) is safe. You’re just rolling on the waves.
  2. If you are buckled in your seat, you are safe during even most extreme turbulence. Even if carts are thrown to the ceiling and slammed to the floor, in your seat buckled in you are safe. The plane is designed to withstand greater than hurricane force winds, which is a condition far beyond any you would be flying in.

Cloud Surfing Kids C.A.R.E.S. Harness

If you, as an adult, have a fear of turbulence, try not to show that to your kids. I was on a flight with Ella when she was just 3 years old. Shortly after takeoff, we encountered wake turbulence. Wake turbulence is turbulence that forms behind an airplane. It only affects your airplane if you are too close to the plane in front of you. Our plane dropped about 15 feet very suddenly. I reached over to grab Ella, who fortunately was buckled in her C.A.R.E.S. Harness. Even buckled up I watched her lift off the seat about an inch. Most of the cabin screamed, and I looked at Ella to gauge her reaction. She exclaimed, “Woo hoo! Let’s do that again!!!” For her it was a fun roller coaster ride. So even if you are fearful during turbulence, try to let your kids have fun with it (with seat belts safely buckled).

Take a Picture

Don’t forget to take at least one picture to preserve the memory of your first time flying! It’s great if you can stop by the cockpit during boarding to say hello and ask if you can get a quick picture in the cockpit, but if that isn’t possible, just be sure to take a few snapshots of your kids during the flight!

Cloud Surfing Kids Cockpit

Summary

Flying can be stressful, and flying with kids just adds to the potential for stressful situations. But it can be so much fun to! Try to give yourself as much time as you can to get through the airport and to the plane so that you’re able to relax and let your kids enjoy and explore the new environment. When things don’t go exactly as planned, imagine yourself a palm tree, flexible and swaying with the wind, never breaking. Both in the airport and on the plane things will go more smoothly the more you engage with your kids. Even for toddlers it helps if you describe the things you’re doing and give them an idea of what is coming next.

What questions do you have about preparing for your first time flier? You can ask me in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I’d love to hear from you! If you’re already an expert at flying with kids, I’d love to hear a few of your top tips! If I get some contributions I’ll create a post including your tips!

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