Best Gifts to Buy a Flight Attendant Mom

What this flight attendant mom wants for Christmas.

It’s that time of year…the time when relatives are asking for your Christmas wish list. As I’m completing mine, I am thinking of a lot of travel items that I depend on that I have worn out and need to replace after a good 10-15 years of using them. Ever wonder what a flight attendant mom wants for Christmas? Here are, at least in my opinion, the best gifts to buy a flight attendant mom like me:

(For your convenience I have linked to where you can purchase these products. Some of these are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through them I may receive a small commission. The funds will go toward running this website. Thank you for using my links, I really appreciate your support!)

 TempurPedic Travel Pillow– $129.95

neck pillow

For the past 16 years I have used this pillow. It functions as a lumbar pillow if I’m flying as a passenger and a regular pillow when I’m staying in hotels. I have the full size TempurPedic Pillow at home, but I actually like this small one better and I use it both at home and while traveling. There’s nothing like the comfort of your pillow from home to help you sleep well in an unfamiliar environment. This pillow comes with a case and can easily roll up to fit in the cylindrical case. It also compresses easily, yet maintains support, so it fits into even a full suitcase fairly easily when left flat. I actually bring a locking D-ring and use it to clip the pillow (in it’s case) to the outside of my carry on bag when I fly as a passenger. That way I have it on the plane for lumbar support but I’m not taking up precious space in my carry on.  I need a new one now because after 4 years of nightly use, mine has flattened a bit. So I can tell you that it lasts a long time. 1400+ nights sleeping on a pillow is really good longevity!



TempurPedic Eye Mask-$37.99

eye mask

I love this eye mask because it gives complete blackout. There is a little cushion under your eyes in this mask. This seals out any light and also pulls the mask away from your eyes, so you can actually open your eyes under the mask and it’s not pressing on them. I’ve become so comfortable using this eye mask that I actually find it harder to sleep without it. It’s part of my comfort routine. That is why, after having this for 8 years, I am needing a new one. If you are using an eye mask only when you travel, this could probably last a good 10 years.


Jackery Giant Portable Battery Charger– $129.95, current price $29.99*

Jackery Battery Charger

This little battery charger is great! I bought this last year for my husband so he could have a portable charger for his tablet. I have kind of stolen it for myself to take on work trips. I need one for myself so he can have it back.  I have several other small external batteries, but if you have an iPhone, you know the battery really drains fast! Most of my portable chargers just give my iPhone a little more time, but don’t actually recharge it. The Jackery Giant Portable Battery Charger not only keeps my phone running, it will bring the battery levels up even while using the phone. Recently I was spending time in Vegas with my sisters, and this little charger recharged the batteries of 5 iPhones and Galaxies, and still had juice for charging more. Although it’s quite heavy, at 2 lbs., it is worth having on hand when traveling, even if only for emergencies.

*Travel Tip: For safety, don’t pack battery packs in your checked luggage. If you travel with this, bring it in your carry on bag.

Dead Sea Mineral Hand Cream-$29.99, current price $21.90*

hand cream

Flying really dries out your skin. Working in the galley, frequent hand washing, and drying soap on the plane all contribute to this. In the winter my hands actually crack and bleed if I am not using a rich lotion regularly. I haven’t actually tried this particular hand cream, but it is on my list because of it’s richness and natural minerals. The TSA-friendly travel size of 3.17 oz. is great, so you can bring it on the airplane and reapply as needed.

Essential Oil Diffuser (Travel Size)- $98.99, currently only $26.99!!!

oil diffuser

Use of essential oils have gained popularity in recent years. I confess I was very hesitant to try them, simply because it was popular! Well, I’ve finally tried them out and have found them very useful. Just last week, my daughter Ella (age 7) was having a really tough time falling asleep. She tried for two hours and still couldn’t sleep. I finally put some calming oils in a diffuser in her room, and she was asleep in just five minutes! I haven’t tried this particular diffuser yet, but it gets great reviews and at 4×5.4×4 inches and less than one pound, it’s definitely the right size for travel.


Apple MacBook Pro

In my dream world, Santa brings me a MacBook Pro for Christmas…In my dreams. I suppose I should start entering contests to try to win one.


Moving on from the bigger items now to a few stocking stuffers:

Banana Saver-$4.58

banana saver

You may laugh, but this banana saver is a really great product! I have it already, but lost it somewhere in our move last year. I love bananas, but of course traveling with them makes them absolutely gross, bruised and squishy at best, ruptured and sliming your bag at worst. This little plastic case completely protects the banana. I have even put them in my checked bag and the banana arrived as fresh and unbruised as when I packed it. Needless to say, this is also a great product when flying with kids.

Ear Plugs– $20.55 (15 pair)

ear plugs

Self-explanatory. Sleeping in hotels can be challenging. Noisy neighbors, loud talkers in the hall, ice machines, elevators, airplanes, car alarms…..Ear plugs can save the night and give you restful sleep. That’s so important for a flight attendant. Another thing I always travel with is a sound machine. I have a fairly new one, so this doesn’t make my wish list, but if you want a good night’s sleep when traveling, add this to your packing list.

 Totes Mini Auto Umbrella-$22.00 (currently $14.49)*


Umbrella Totes

Just because it’s always good to have an umbrella with you, and this is small, lightweight, and pretty.

Extra Long Charging Cord for Apple iPhone $29.99 (currently $11.99!)*

iphone charger

Hotels never seem to have enough outlets, and the ones they have are hidden behind beds and nightstands. I would love to have a longer charging cord to plug my phone in overnight.


Airborne Grapefruit

I really feel like I stay healthier when I take Airborne regularly. Also it helps a lot to ward off dehydration. Grapefruit flavor might sound weird, but this is my favorite flavor of Airborne. It is very mild and less acidic than the orange version. I haven’t been able to find Grapefruit flavor in stores lately, so I was happy to discover that it’s still available on Amazon. Great price in the Subscribe & Save option, too: currently just $0.49 per tablet when you select Subscribe & Save!


Nutraluxe Lash MD– $59.99

Nutraluxe Lash MD

It has nothing to do with travel, but I have really short eyelashes, and this stuff works! I’ve tried it before with success but I stopped when I ran out, so my lashes are back to short and straight. Haha. Someone buy me this, okay?


What do you think of my list? Do you use any of these items when you travel? Comment below with your favorite travel items.

Don’t forget to follow Cloud Surfing Kids on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! I share most of my travel tips on Facebook and Twitter, and most of my pictures from the sky on Instagram.


*Listed prices are subject to change, both higher and lower. Amazon frequently runs sales and they change often.

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A Peek at the Gaylord Texan Lone Star Christmas

Last week I stayed at the Gaylord Texan for a work conference. I was excited to see that the day of my arrival was the start date of the Lone Star Christmas Display!  I have twice visited The Gaylord Texan in years past for the purpose of visiting Santa with Ella and her cousins, who live in Texas. It is always an elaborate and beautiful display and the children love it! There are many events in which you can participate, and prices can really stack up fast, so I thought I would give you a quick glimpse of what types of things you can see there, even if you don’t want to spend money on the events.


This star it at the top of the main atrium in the Gaylord Texan. It is truly amazing to gaze up at it!

Visiting the main atrium is free.  Just walking through the Gaylord Texan is a beautiful and entertaining sight. They do charge for parking: $15 for 0-2 hours,  $17 for 2-4 hours, and $19 for 4+ hours.

The Gaylord Texas Lone Star Christmas has 1.5 million holiday lights, 12,000 ornaments, a 52-foot rotating Christmas tree, miniature train sets, and a life-size gingerbread house (made of real gingerbread). There are also stilt walkers, singing cowboys, Santa and Mrs. Claus, balloon artists, and festive music. You can roam the facility and enjoy viewing all of this for free.

Pictures with Santa. Packages from $21.99 to $49.99 (See price list here.)

Gaylord Texan Santa pics3

Above are pictures of my daughter Ella at the Gaylord Texan Lone Star Christmas. She was 20 months old in the bottom picture, (that’s when she earned elite status on our airline!), 2.5 years old in the picture on the left, and 4 years old in the top right picture. I wish we could make visits to the Gaylord Texan Christmas a yearly tradition, but 3 out of 7 is not too bad. Ella loved visiting every time but we did not participate in any activities except photos with Santa and exploring the decorations, train sets, etc.

You can make reservations for your photos with Santa to avoid the long lines. Visit Main Street Santa to reserve your time.

These are the other paid activities available:

  • Ice! Two MILLION pounds of hand-carved ice featuring the theme: Christmas Around the World.
  • Snow Tubing (this looks like fun to me, but I would skip it if you actually have snow where you live)
  • Milk & Cookies with Mrs. Claus
  • The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt
  • Gingerbread Decorating Corner sponsored by Peeps
  • Santa’s Snowball Throwing Workshop
  • Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Breakfast
  • Friends of Rudolph Meet & Greet

Details and prices of these events can be found here. There are discounts available for Marriott Reward Members and for AAA members. You can see details of those discounts here


All of these activities are really great, but if you are trying to not spend money, you really can enjoy the festivities without all the paid activities. When we visited with the kids in years past thtey were perfectly content to have a picture with Santa and walk around viewing the beautiful decorations. There was no begging to do more. If you want to partake in the paid activities, my top three choices would be ICE! (although at freezing temperatures, you might want to skip bringing very young children/babies), The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt, and Snow Tubing (if you don’t usually have snow where you live).

I really liked the local art they had displayed to keep you busy as you wait in line for the ICE! Exhibit. The theme was Thankfulness. I really loved the child’s drawing who said they were most thankful for travel!


Here are the photos I took in my walk through the Gaylord Texan. I did not get the chance to see the Ice! Exhibit, as my meetings took up all of my time there. Since my visit was on a weekday and the display had just begun, there were no crowds. Keep in mind the crowds will be heavy, especially at night and weekends. There are lots of displays that offer a good photo opportunity, you could stand in front of the giant Santa boots, the “see no evil, hear no evil, smell no evil” snowmen, and of course, the giant Christmas tree. Or do what I did, and take a selfie with a reindeer or a Nutcracker!


Things to Know

  • The Gaylord Texan Lone Star Christmas is running November 12, 2015 to January 3, 2016.
  • The Ice Exhibit is COLD! They will provide parkas with pockets. You might not want to bring your smallest children to the exhibit.
  • The events get very crowded! Be prepared for long lines and weaving around crowds. We found the atmosphere enjoyable in spite of the crowds in years past. Observing things like the toy train and giant gingerbread house you don’t really feel the crowd around you since there is large open space in front of you.
  • Be sure to walk through the side atrium and hallways for even more decorations. If it’s a nice day out, the riverwalk trail in the back outside is gorgeous.


Have you ever visited The Gaylord Texan Holiday events? What did you think of it? Would you go again? Share your experience in the comments below or on our Facebook page. We’d love to see your pictures too!


You can find Cloud Surfing Kids on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Stop by and say hello!

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DFW Airport for the Holidays

Are you flying through DFW Airport for the holidays? We will be! I was excited to learn of some new things the airport has to offer to help make your trip more pleasant:


DFW app

DFW has returned with a new and improved app – the perfect addition for your holiday travels. With the latest app, you’ll have everything you need to discover DFW and what’s next.

Features in Version 3.0:

  • View your flight information on the enhanced flight dashboard
  • Stay informed with live flight information updates
  • View the latest weather forecast for DFW and your desired destination
  • Overview map of DFW’s Parking products with detailed information on rates and availability
  • Browse through over 200 shops, dining options, services and explore what’s within 5 minutes from your gate
  • Navigate DFW through our interactive map with turn-by-turn, detailed directions
  • Within the map, view information, menus, and photos on points of interests

The feature I like best for flying with families is the “Services” page. You can search services to find children’s play areas (Gate A13, B12, C14) and Nursing Rooms (I’m disappointed to see there is only one, at A18). I learned there is a yoga studio at D40 as well as a new one in Terminal E! And Power Charging stations throughout each terminal. The app can tell you where the nearest charging station is.

What I’d like to see in the app is up-to-date wait times for TSA security checkpoints. The way DFW is spread out, you could walk to the next TSA security checkpoint if the one you are at is backed up. But you wouldn’t want to lose your spot in line if the next checkpoint has just as long of a wait.




If you are traveling through DFW Airport and enjoying the holiday displays, take a photo! Share on social media using the hashtag #DFWfindJOY. Word on the street is there might be an elf in the terminal giving treats when people use the #DFWfindJOY hashtag. I’m curious to know! We’d love to see your holiday travel pictures too! Use hashtag #CloudSurfingKidsholiday  if you’re flying through DFW with your kids (or any airport) and posting photos of the holiday decorations.

DFW Tech

  • FREE WiFi throughout the aiport, provided by AT&T
  • FREE power outlet (check app for locations)
  • Enhanced cellular service for those not connecting to WiFi

Airport Tips

  • Give yourself extra time to combat lines, enjoy the decorations, and create a calm atmosphere for your family.
  • Don’t bring presents wrapped (in case TSA needs to see what’s inside).
  • Sign up for TSAPreCheck to save time in the lines.



Are you flying through DFW? Send us your photos! We’re not planning to be there until the end of December, and I’d love to see what festive spots you find at DFW or any airport! Share with us in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Don’t forget to tag #CloudSurfingKidsHoliday!

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Passports With Purpose—Help Give the Gift of Reading


Give the Gift of Reading

WorldReader Kenya


My kids, Ella (age 7.5) and John (age 2.5) love books so much! Their collection doesn’t even fit in our bookshelves. It’s hard for me to imagine not having unlimited access to books. When I learned that Passports With Purpose was working with Worldreader this year to bring digital readers to five libraries in Kenya, I knew I wanted to participate in this project.  I can only imagine the joy and knowledge that these books will bring to so many lives in Kenya! For this reason,  I have teamed up with Go-Go Babyz, who generously donated two of their TravelMate Deluxe Bundles, so that not just one, but two lucky participants will win this great prize! (You must have an U.S. shipping address to receive this prize. There may be other prizes in the catalog without this restriction.)

This is my first year working with Passports With Purpose, which is an annual travel bloggers’ fundraiser. They started in 2008 and now over 200 travel bloggers from around the world team up to offer travel-related prizes. Each $10 donation gives you a chance to win one of these great prizes being offered. I think one of the best things about this fundraiser is the fact that 100% of the proceeds (excepting PayPal fees) goes to Worldreader. The e-readers will provide about 6,250 children, teachers, and parents with access to more than 50,000 books! More information about the project can be found here. The books will contain both English and Swahili fiction and non-fiction for all ages, as well as Kenyan textbooks.

About the Go-Go Babyz TravelMate Deluxe Bundle

TravelMate Cruizer Bundle


If you read my blog, you know that I am a huge fan of Go-Go Babyz, and especially their TravelMate products. I have been using their products for over seven years, and for hundreds of flights, and I recommend the TravelMate products to everyone who flies even just once a year with their child. The TravelMate Deluxe turns your car seat into a stroller. You simply snap or strap your own car seat onto the TravelMate, and you have an instant stroller, with telescoping handle, hands free foot brake, and swivel front wheels for easy steering. And I mean easy steering! You can easily steer with just one hand, which is so helpful when you’re going through the airport! You have that second hand free to make a phone call, carry another bag, or (most important to me, ha-ha) carry your coffee.

It is undeniable that flying with your baby or toddler in a car seat is the safest way to travel, and of course you will need a car seat at your destination. The Go-Go Babyz TravelMate Deluxe is my favorite solution for transporting a car seat through the airport  and does double duty as a stroller for your child as you travel. This is ideal, too, if you’re exploring a city and need to take a cab ride. You have the car seat with you for the safety of your child, and the TravelMate Deluxe quickly and easily folds up.

Included in this Bundle Package:

  • TravelMate Deluxe
  • TravelMate Handle Pouch and Storage Bag
  • 6″ rear wheels provide smooth ride on a variety of surfaces with hands free foot brake
  • Swivel wheels in the front for easy maneuverability
  • Unique folding system allows for compact storage, convenient transportation and one handed lock and carry
  • Universal toddler and infant car seat attaching straps included (safe lock infant seat specific adapters available separately)

We have used the TravelMate Original and the TravelMate Deluxe Cruizer, as well as the Handle Pouch, which is included with the TravelMate Deluxe in this prize package.  My reviews of the Cruizer and Handle Pouch are found here and here.  The handle pouch is very useful. It’s perfectly shaped so that you can find everything in it without things getting jumbled at the bottom of the bag.  In my review of the handle pouch, I show what items I pack inside. You will be amazed at how much the Handle Bag can store and keep organized! The TravelMate Deluxe Cruizer that I reviewed is similar to the Deluxe offered here, but this one has smaller wheels than the one I tested. This is nice, as it makes it more compact for storage and stowing in overhead bins or car trunks. I love that this bundle also includes a storage bag. I need to order one of those for myself!


Donate And Earn a Chance to Win!

During this two week period, Sunday, November 8, 2015 11:59pm EST to Wednesday, November 18, 2015 11:59pm EST, you will be able to donate $10 on the catalog of prizes. For every $10 donated, you earn another chance at winning your selected item, and all proceeds go to Worldreader.  To make your donation and earn a chance at winning a TravelMate Deluxe Bundle, click here. To view the complete prize catalog and make your donation, click here.

A Book is a Dream


Will you join me in this effort to help bring e-readers and books to children, parents, and teachers in Kenya? Donate $10 and get an entry to win the Go-Go Babyz TravelMate Deluxe Bundle. Maybe your kids are out of car seats and you don’t need this item. Check out all the other fabulous travel related prizes that bloggers have contributed for this project. There are lots of great items! You can find the complete catalogue of items here. Remember, each $10 donation gets you another entry towards winning that item! You can find the complete catalog here.

Click this logo to donate and get a chance to win prizes:


stacked-logo copy


Thank You!

Thank you for reading this post, and for considering a donation to help bring the gift of reading to others. I would love it if you would share this post with your friends and encourage them to participate as well!

A huge thank you to Go-Go Babyz, who generously donated the prizes of (2) TravelMate Deluxe Bundles. Give them some love by following on Facebook and Twitter.  And thanks to TBEX Travel Blogger Conferences, who also sponsor Passports with Purpose.

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Ways to Help Your Child Be Calm on a Plane


Airports are crowded, busy, and noisy. This constant bombarding of the senses can make your child anxious. Even if they are not visibly stressed, all of the stimulation does challenge their senses and can be tiring. If you have a child with autism or Sensory Processing Disorder, this is even more true. Here are some ideas for ways to incorporate proprioceptive input, aka “heavy work”, in your travel day.

Children with sensory processing disorder have difficulty managing sensory input. When traveling through an airport, their senses are bombarded by lights, noises, crowds, scents….the list goes on and on. It is likely that your child with Autism or SPD will be on high defense when traveling through the airport and on the airplane. Proprioceptive activities (also called “heavy work”) help “increase attention, decrease defensiveness, and modulate arousal.” (As described at, one of my favorite resources for SPD information.) I have found that even for children without Sensory Processing Disorder, adding some of these activities helps keep them calm on the plane.

My daughter, Ella (age 7), is a “sensory seeker”. So she craves extra sensory input and really enjoys the flying experience. Still, her senses are constantly triggered as she notices and takes in every detail of what she sees, hears, smells, etc., and it is easy for her to get overwhelmed. When that happens, a meltdown follows. These are some of the activities and tools we incorporate in our travel day to help her remain balanced and calm.

Activities-Waiting In Line

  • Have your child wear a rash guard, slightly tight, to give him/her that feeling of pressure on the skin. (Test this in advance to see if it’s something that your child likes or not.)
  • Have a (controlled) “arm wrestle” by just pushing against each other with clasped hands.
  • Thumb War. I am not positive that this helps a lot, but it seems to for my daughter, Ella. When one thumb is pinned, keep it pressed down for 5-10 seconds for deep pressure. Even if it’s your thumb that’s pinned, the pressure they are giving can help.
  • Give your child’s forehead pressure by putting one hand on their forehead and one behind their head. Push slightly for gentle pressure.
  • Jump up and down in place.
  • Squeeze each other’s hands or give hand massage.

Activities-In the Airport

Autism Sensory tools

  • Let your child use a ride-on suitcase. See our review of the SkootCase Rider here.
  • Have your child wear a backpack if he/she will. This is a classic way to provide “heavy work”. Keep this in mind for the school year as well.
  • If you are using a stroller or a rolling suitcase, let your child push or pull it.
  • Take a break from walking and do wall push-ups
  • Seek out children’s play areas so your child can climb, jump, and spin.


Activities-On the Plane

  • Hand or Arm massage
  • Forehead pressure (as listed above under “waiting in line”)
  • After takeoff place the child’s backpack in their lap for weight.
  • Have your child squeeze their knees together while sitting in an upright posture. This will also help relax the muscles in the lower back.
  • Have your child push his/her own hands together in a “praying hands” position. Activities for the “Busy Bag”

Activites for the “Busy Bag”/Toys On the Plane

(For your convenience, I have created an Amazon store with the items I list below. You can find it at the bottom of this post. If you shop in my Amazon store I may receive a small percentage of the sell, which will help offset the cost of running this website. The cost of the product is the same to you. I appreciate your support!)

  • Scratch and Sketch Art Activity Book
  • PlayDoh (Don’t forget this needs to be under 3.4 ounces and in a Quart-sized Ziploc bag to get through security). Rolling pins and PlayDoh scissors add extra input.
  • Stress Ball
  • Mini Etch-A-Sketch
  • Erasers (The action of erasing with a rubber eraser gives deep pressure. Bonus if you get an eraser that can double as a fidget toy.)
  • Fidgets
  • Small dolls with comb or brush (I’m not positive that this counts as proprioceptive input, but it is definitely calming for Ella.)
  • Bubbles (I like to always have a mini bottle of bubbles in my Quart-Sized Ziploc bag of TSA-approved liquids. It comes in handy for extra-stressful moments like during a delay or when your child or another has just had enough. As a flight attendant I have stopped in the terminal to blow bubbles for a crying toddler.)
  • Sticker Mosaic (These tiny stickers require great focus and are a great chance to work on fine motor skills. You’ll have to keep an eye out for dropped stickers, but this is a nice activity, usually for ages 5-9, depending on ability.)


Chewy foods and resistive sucking give proprioceptive input also.

  • Gum (Some kids love sour for extra sensory input. Stride Sour Patch Kids Orange is Ella’s favorite.)
  • Granola bars
  • Raisins
  • Gummy Candy (we love the kind from Trader Joe’s, which is naturally colored and real sugar instead of corn syrup)
  • Fruit leather
  • Sports Bars (Ella loves the original Power Bar)

Resistive sucking is also useful:

      • Lollipops
      • Water bottle with resistive straw, such as CamelBak
      • Chewable Necklace or Tubes
      • All of the items mentioned have been listed in this Amazon link for you to easily find. By clicking this link, I may receive a small commission on the products you buy. This will help offset the costs of running this website. Thank you for your support!

Categories: Autism, SPD, Special Needs, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Child has Autism (or SPD): Should I tell the Flight Attendant?

I’m part of a group for parents of kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In that group the parents often ask for tips for flying with their child. Although my daughter Ella was only recently diagnosed with SPD, I always knew she needed a little extra assistance coping when her senses were overwhelmed (or under stimulated, as she actually needs MORE sensory input in many cases). Many, if not most people with autism have sensory processing disorder, but it can also exist without the autism diagnosis, as it does for Ella.


photography by Sugar Maple Portraits, used with permission

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder, in a nutshell, is when a person doesn’t process information from their senses the same as a typical person. They often feel imbalanced and have difficulty coping with additional sensory input, not only in our commonly-known five senses (sight, sound, taste, hearing, touch), but also sensing movement (proprioceptive) and where you are in your surroundings (vestibular) . A person with SPD can have an aversion to different types of sensory input, like when clothing tags or shoes are intolerable, or they can have a craving for sensory input, like needing to spin or constantly humming. Sometimes a person with SPD becomes so overwhelmed they are simply unable to cope with the surroundings and they may act out. Meltdowns, sometimes including screaming and possibly flailing or punching, crawling under the seats, or running might be the result.


Parents want to know every tool they can use to make the flight go well. For parents of children with SPD, the added stress of wondering if your child will have a meltdown in flight makes parents more worried. It doesn’t help that there have been several incidents recently where families were kicked off the plane, allegedly because of an “out of control” child. (You can read about that in this response from Autistic Globetrotting, a great resource for traveling with Autism.) I usually tell people to let the flight crew know about their child’s sensory issues at the beginning of the flight,  but I wanted to hear from other flight attendants to see if they agreed on that advice.

I put this question to a group of flight attendants to see what they thought:

If a family came onboard with a child who had autism or “sensory issues”, would you, as flight crew, prefer they let you know in advance about the child’s issues, or would it seem to you like they were looking for attention or special treatment? If the child was prone to meltdowns, would it help you to know there was a neurological reason behind it?

The answer overwhelmingly came back: I would want to know.

Here are a few of the responses I got:

“Always good to be informed…It’s nothing to be ashamed of or worried about hiding and [it] only leads to further understanding.” –Melian S.

“Travel is stressful enough, I’d like to offer any help I can to the parents.” –Megan B.

“Being aware can prevent many safety related issues from happening. It’s never wrong to be over informed.” –Ben-Lee F.

“[Let us know] ahead of time so that the crew could assist and overlook any behavioral issues they may have. Some people, [even] Flight Attendants can be cruel without thinking.” –Christine G.

“I’d rather know than not know and then do or say the wrong thing if the child acted out.” –Heather P.

“It’s absolutely better to know in advance. I feel like they are more attention-seeking if they wait until a situation flares up and it gets out of hand.” –Sean P.

“…it would be nice to know in advance to diffuse anything and help the parents out any way possible. Many of our passengers may not be very educated with different sensory issues and they might assume something [threatening] is happening [when] that is not the situation.” –Matthew P.

“…Please tell me so if there is a meltdown I know how to handle it…If we know [then] we can [also] help the family for their privacy. So they won’t be judged [by other passengers].” –Sofia H.

This one summarizes all of the above sentiments:

Flight Attendant Emily Y. said, “As a mother of a son with Asperger Syndrome and one with “run-of-the-mill” autism, I’d let someone know mainly so that when the flight attendants addressed them they would know why they might have to ask their question twice or allow an extra beat for an answer. As a flight attendant I would want to know for the same reason I’d want to know if someone were prone to seizures or other predisposed medical issues…so I can ask the questions, “Will you need my help? If so, what can I do?”


photography by Sugar Maple Portraits, used with permission


So yes, if your child has unique needs and might have an outburst in flight, it is best to let the flight attendants know at the beginning of the flight. When is the best time for this? During boarding is best so that they will be informed before anything might occur. Yes, this is one of the most busy times for a flight attendant, but we don’t mind you giving us important information during this time. If you try to talk to a flight attendant and they are too busy and push you aside, try again in a few minutes or when the next flight attendant walks by.

Another way you could identify yourself is by letting the gate agent know and asking him/her to pass the information along to the flight attendants. This way the flight attendants can come to you as they have time during boarding to ask how they can best assist you if your child has a meltdown.

Many airports now have programs for those with autism. There are at least 16  U.S. airports that now participate in this program. They include “practice flights” and self-identification methods so the airport employees can understand and respond appropriately if your child is having difficulty. You can read about the latest program implemented at LAX airport here.

You might also be interested in this post: Flying With Autism.

Do you have questions about flying with autism or sensory processing disorder? Ask in the comments below.

Are you following us on social media? I post travel tips, blog posts, pictures and more on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’d love it if you follow and share! Happy Cloud Surfing!


Categories: Autism, SPD, Special Needs, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Car Seat Safety when Flying

Something that is very important to me is car seat safety. Three years ago today, Becky Fletcher, friend of my sister’s, lost her 6 month old baby when they were rear ended. Although her baby was actually in the car seat properly, Becky’s mission is to make sure everyone knows proper installation and fit. From this article in, which tells the story of the event: “Ultimately, her message is not that car seats are ‘100 percent guaranteed, but what you do have control over is being absolutely sure you’re using it correctly’.”

Car Seat Safety

A lot of people feel like car seats on vacation are not as important as at home. I see people at the airport jump into a cab with their toddlers and no car seat. Traveling with car seats truly can be a hassle. But there are many ways to make using car seats on vacation less painful. Here is a 3-part series from Trips With Tykes with all you need to know about flying with car seats. I couldn’t have written it better!

Flying with Car Seat

Whether or not you bring your car seats with you on your trips, please do check these links for information on safely installing and fitting your car seats. It is said that 68% of us are not using our car seats correctly. Be sure you’re not one of them. The last thing any of us wants to worry about in the event of a car crash is, “Did I install my car seat correctly?”

Please share this post and these links with your friends. If even one life is saved with the knowledge of proper car seat installation and fit, it is worthwhile.

Picture Guide to Car Seat Safety (Daily Momtra)  I really like this post with photos of the right and wrong way to adjust a car seat. lists by state the places where you can have your car seat checked for proper installation:

The Car Seat Lady is a great resource with safety tips and videos, car seat reviews and fit tips, and more.

This is how we manage getting our car seat through the airport, using GoGoBabyz TravelMate, which attaches to the car seat, turning it into a stroller. You can read more about how we manage the car seat in these posts: #1 Travel Item Flying With Toddlers A Mom and Two Kids Fly Standby


Categories: Blog (Cloud Surfing Adventures), Flying with Infants, Flying with Toddlers, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Review of Flying With Kids App

I was asked to check out and weigh in my opinions on this new app: Flying With Kids. It’s an app that gives great advice for parents flying with their kids, especially babies, and gives a lot of great information!

Disclosure: I received this app, Flying With Kids, for free for the purpose of giving my feedback before it launched. I am reviewing it on my own initiative and my opinions are my own. I am not being compensated for this review.


The Flying With Kids app gathers tried-and-true methods and puts them all together in an app that is easy to navigate. There are many useful tips, organized within 4 useful categories: pre-flight, in-flight, distract, and sleep.


Tips from booking the flight to what to bring to airport tips.


Articles to help soothe your worst fears about flying with babies as well as tips on entertaining the baby and what to do when nothing else is working.


Soothing music videos featuring smiley babies, cute animals, and more.


Pleasant instrumental children’s lullabies.


The fun part is the Panic button. Slide this button, and you find a page that you can edit to share a message with those around you.





Whatever you want to type here as baby finally is going to sleep and you know that uttering any sound will mean you have to start all over again. I think I’ll edit mine to show an encouraging message to cheer me up if everything is going wrong.

Are you planning to fly with your baby soon? Check out this app! Available on  iTunes, it costs just $1.99 and can definitely help you save time and money in the planning aspect, as well as your sanity in flight.

Categories: Flying with Infants, Reviews, Travel Products, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

My Interview with Rudy Maxa’s World Travel Radio Show

I had the privilege of being interviewed by Rudy Maxa on his radio travel show: Rudy Maxa’s World. We talked about a few tips for flying with kids. If you missed it live, you can hear the podcast here:

Rudy Maxa’s World June 20, 2015- Hour 1

I actually made a rookie mistake as I had a whole page of notes in front of me on things I thought Rudy might ask me, but the six summer travel tips I was supposed to talk about? Nope, didn’t write that in my notes. I thought he would be prompting them and I was so worried about “dead air” that I didn’t want to pause to think of my post. In short, I froze.

Luckily Rudy Maxa was an excellent host and graciously got me talking about some other travel tips.

**Disclosure: I was not paid to be on the show, and I am not being compensated for this blog post. Everything that I speak positively about reflects my own experience  and is not influenced by any outside party.

The entire hour is worth listening to but if you’re in a rush, I come on just after the 30-minute mark.  Here is the lineup:

  • Consumer travel expert Charlie Leocha of discuses upcoming DC legislation affecting travelers.
  • Host of a new public television series, “Dream of Italy,” Kathy McCabe offers a strategy for booking a trip to Italy now.
  • Johnny Jet explains when to travel to find the best airline fares.
  • Flight attendent mom Beth Henry & blogger shares six summer tips for flying with kids.
  • TechCraver Jason Harris suggests last-minute techie/travel gifts for Father’s Day.

I feel very honored to have been invited to participate in such a great show. If you haven’t checked out Rudy Maxa’s radio show yet, you definitely should! It’s so full of great travel tips and ideas. My Dad listened and had only one complaint: “Only wish he had people on for longer segments. In the three segments I heard I would start to get interested in the subject and then he was on to someone else.”

Well, I think that shows that Rudy Maxa has great interviews and great topics! You can listen to his show streaming live on Saturday mornings and they actually keep looping so you can tune in any time. Podcasts of each week’s shows are released on Mondays. Tune in! More details here:

Categories: Blog (Cloud Surfing Adventures), Reviews, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tampa Airport Tiger Tale

When you lose something at the airport you feel the odds are that you’ll see it again. When this 6 year old boy named Owen lost his beloved stuffed tiger at Tampa Airport, not only did the employees ensure it was kept safe until it could be reunited with the boy, they took the tiger on an adventure and documented it! What a special story they Owen will now be able to share! Read about it here:

Tampa Airport Tiger Tale


Publicity gimmick or not, this was sure a great way to brighten a little traveler’s day! Way to go, Tampa Airport!

Categories: Blog (Cloud Surfing Adventures) | Comments Off on Tampa Airport Tiger Tale