Air travel with kids…5 steps for survival.

Here are 5 tips to help you survive an international flight with children…with little to no hurt feelings. Whether you have one child or five (heaven help you if you have five), these tips have been tested (by me) and deemed keepers.

In Frankfurt, Germany waiting to board a flight to Atlanta.

1. Have a plan. That means getting airline seats ahead of time, making sure kids are separated (plan to sit in the middle so you can give the evil eye to both of them). Do not, I repeat DO NOT buy the plane tickets if you can’t select your seats. You will get screwed. You know that row of 11 seats on a lot of international flights? Usually it’s three seats, aisle, five seats, aisle, three seats. If you let the airline assign your seats at the gate, you and your doppelgängers are 95% likely to be in the middle three seats of the middle five. I’m speaking from experience. Just so “NO” to unassigned seating.

2. “The Bag”. You must have a small bag with travel tissues, hand sanitizer, breath

“The Bag”

spray, body lotion, bug bite cream (because someone will have one), tooth brush/paste, eye drops, ear plugs, Chapstick, eye masks, and facial moisturizer (so you don’t look like a gecko upon arrival). The kids know what is in the bag and when they need something, they’ll just ask for “The Bag” and I’ll hand them the whole thing…which I know, could end in disaster. I’m trying to teach my kids to pick up after themselves and not be slobs. If I lose a Chapstick during the trip, so be it. If it’s the cherry Chapstick, then I’m prepared to unleash the evil eye.

3. Snacks. Yeah, the airline will provide them but my son is in a huge growth spurt and is pretty much always hungry. My daughter is all about munching on a crisp apple mid-flight. My son will pretty much eat anything edible, and probably a few things that aren’t. Trail mix is a go-to snack as well as anything not too sweet. No one likes amped up kids on a cramped plane.

4. Electronics. God bless ’em. Our three-person travel party carried (clears throat): three laptops, three tablets plus two Kindle readers, and four cell phones.

ZJ reading her Kindle

Plus all the chargers. Yeah, it’s  excessive, but keeping kids entertained for 10 hours requires electronics. There were also chargers at each of our seats. Score! I adore reading about the parents who swear off electronics for their kids for some crunchy granola reason. Bless their hearts. They’ll learn. I don’t subscribe to their theories that electronics impair social development and learning. I consider my kids to be intelligent, social human beings. I like them a whole lot and even more when they aren’t kicking the seat in front of them or yelling at each other.

5. Economy Comfort + seats. Holy crap. I paid an extra $150 total for three seats in Economy Comfort + during our 2-hour stateside and 10-hour international flights. So.Well.Worth.It.

Love Delta Comfort +.

Besides the ample leg room allowing the kids can stow all those electronics under their seat, it also offers more movie selections. Best part: free liquor. Speaking of…

6. Liquor. Now, I’m not a lush, per se, but having a drink (or three) on a flight when children are involved is like manna from heaven. I made sure I kept hydrated (with water, just to clarify) while I dehydrated with assorted wine or liquor. Nothing says “my life is beautiful” more clearly than Firefly Sweet Tea at 35,000 feet.

Now for the parents of the screaming child three rows back, let me introduce you to Firefly. And you can borrow my iPad.

Zach on the receiving end of stink eye.