Real talk about air travel with kids

My seatmate was cute, but also a handful

My seatmate was cute, but also a handful

Let’s face it: Even for those of us who consider ourselves “experts,” flying with kids is no easy task. I’m not saying you should go and give other passengers goody bags as a way to pre-emptively apologize for your kids being kids (like this NY Times author did this week). I’m just saying that sometimes, as parents, we just need to admit that the majority of the “getting there” part of family travel simply sucks.

I was reminded of this fact on three different occasions yesterday as we returned from Hawaii.

No. 1: Navigating the TSA checkpoint.

When we arrived at the airport to catch our flights, it was hot. REALLY hot. Like, so hot that those prone to sweating (ahem, moi) were sweating like Patrick Ewing hooping it up at Madison Square Garden in the heyday of the Knicks. And that was just when I was standing still.

On the TSA line, the sweat situation got worse. The kids left me with their bags. I was nominated to breakdown the stroller. Then I had to worry about my own stuff.

By the time I got through the scanner, someone asked me if I had just come in from a run.

No. 2: Reacting to the inevitable spills.

Little R, our middle child, is notorious for spilling at least one beverage at every meal. Not surprisingly, her habits don’t change on an airplane. This means that at some point on every flight, the child will spill something. It’s up to Powerwoman and me to minimize the impact of that spill on R and everyone else.

Normally we just bring a change of clothes and administer that change once R has soaked herself. But on this particular flight, when R’s spill soaked her own pants AND the backups—we had to get creative.

The solution this time: Wrapping our wet child in dry sweatshirts.

Yes, this means she was half-naked on a plane. Yes, it meant that the sweatshirt got pretty wet as well. But by the time we landed her primary pants were mostly dry. (My carry-on was another story.)

No. 3: Managing potty breaks on the plane.

Baby G got top priority at 35,000 feet, hanging with me in the only lavatory with a changing table while I handled her business. But when the two of us returned to the seats, BOTH other girls had to go, kicking off an out-and-back parade of Villanos from rows 19 and 20 to the aft lavs.

Don’t get me wrong; everybody went. But getting them back and forth was an effort, and getting them into the lavatory and reminding them to a) Not let their shorts touch the scuzzy floor, b) Not to fiddle with the flush button, and c) Not to freak out about the suction-sink definitely tested some patience.

It also necessitated a Dewar’s from the in-flight booze cart, FWIW.

The bottom line: Though some say the wonder of a trip is “in the journey,” when the journey involves air travel, it’s OK to be realistic about how unpleasant the experience can be.

Remember that the next time you’re traveling with your kids, or when you see a passenger who is.

Wandering Pod hits the LA Travel Adventure Show

What to look forward to at the show.

What to look forward to at the show.

I’m taking the family travel show on the road this coming weekend, representing the Family Travel Association on a panel at the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show.

My fellow panelists: Jen Miner from The Vacation Gals, Colleen Kelly from Family Travel with Colleen Kelly, and Margalit Sturm Francus, from Autistic Globetrotting (you can read more about our panel here).

The subject of our discussion is a subject near and dear to my heart—yes, we’ll talk about family travel, but we’ll serve up “real talk” that doesn’t sugar-coat the challenges of exploring the world with kids. If you’ve spent any time reading this blog, you know I’m a big believer in keeping it real. I’m excited to hear what my fellow panelists have to say on the subject, especially given their different areas of expertise.

(For those of you going to the show, again, our panel is Sunday at 2 p.m. PST in the Savvy Traveler Theater.)

In advance of our panel, Jen is participating in a Twitter party during which she’s giving away four pretty cool prizes. The party starts at 6 p.m. PST Wednesday. To get involved with the Twitter party—and to qualify for the giveaways—use the hashtag #LATravelShow and follow @TravAdventure on Twitter. I’ll be participating as well, so be sure to direct at least a few of your Tweets my way!

Furthermore, on Sunday, Tweet your questions to me at @mattvillano (again with the hashtag, #LATravelShow) and I’ll answer them live on stage.

See you there (virtually)!

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