Sanity Travel Tips 4: Other People’s Kids

So you are single? Or married without kids? You can’t afford business class, so you’re sandwiched in coach? Read Fizgiggery’s incredibly practical travel tips. You’ll feel better about air travel. I promise.

But what happens when you’ve prepared everything to turn your 6-hour flight into a high-altitude spa, and suddenly you find yourself seated next to someone else’s “little darling”?

Hopefully the Little D’s parents will be like my friend Amy–a mother of three–who is a much better person than I am. She says:

  • Buy drinks for the adults around you if your children are less than perfectly behaved. It will smooth many ruffled feathers.
  • Also, remember how annoyed you used to be at kids kicking your seat or screaming on a plane, and try not to get mad at or self-righteous at others. Yes, they have no clue what you’re dealing with (or they’ve forgotten), but air travel is that much worse with loud or bumptious children. So take the glares in stride, do your best to persuade your child to conform to airplane behavior, and offer that drink.

But on your next flight, if you are stuck with a wild beast-child next to you, whose parents are totally oblivious and are definitely not purchasing you drinks, then try these tips from Marisa (who wrote a fabulous Barefoot Contessa Smackdown post recently)…

How To Use the Items in Your Seatback Pocket to Entertain Someone Else’s Child

The bachelorette weekend has come to a close. Nursing a wee hangover and grinning at the memory of your wild exploits, you settle into your aisle seat prepared for a three-hour flight home. All of a sudden, your freewheeling, child-free life of disposable income and limited responsibilities is interrupted by someone else’s darling in the seat next to you.

You didn’t envision playing Mary Poppins today.

But it’s time to put your big girl pants on and just deal. Don’t turn into a glaring curmudgeon… there’s already plenty of them on this flight and that poor mom or dad sitting next to you doesn’t need another hostile glance. We’re all in this together, so let’s make it fun.

Look in the seat pocket in front of you: these will be your tools for the next three hours.

1. Barfbag Puppet Show: Collect all barfbags from your row. Using ball-point pens or any other school supplies you can find, decorate them with funny faces, mustaches, hair, or accessories. Be sure to drag out this step to consume more time. [Editor’s note: Good thinking! Are you sure you don’t have kids? Also, I love that this one involves collecting ALL the barf bags you can find.] Then it’s time for the show. Add silly voices and familiar storylines from Disney movies–the whole process might consume thirty minutes.

2. In-Flight-Magazine-Turned-Children’s-Book: The reading material won’t keep a child riveted (“Boise’s Top Ten Steakhouses” didn’t have you hooked, either) but you can use the in-flight magazine as a delightful “I Spy” book. Flip it open and play twenty questions. The smaller the kid, the simpler the game. For a two-year-old, just ask, “Do you see a whale?” or “Show me something that’s green!” For an older child, make it a little more complicated. “I see something that’s small and gray. Can you find it?”

For older kids, there’s also the ever-hilarious game of “Find the Craziest Piece of Junk in the Skymall Magazine.” Each contestant gets sixty seconds to find the wildest item in the catalog, and then face off. Who will win: the rock that contains an outdoor speaker, or the BBQ tongs with built-in thermometer and AM/FM radio? Game on!

3. Someone is Hiding on This Plane! While the concept of in-flight stowaways will not entertain paranoid adults, you may be surprised at how entertaining this game is for little ones.  Find out the child’s name. Then open your palm and tell them that there’s a “Mini Michelle” or “Mini Max” on your palm. All of a sudden, the little fairy flies away! Where did he/she go? Ask the child if they can see where their miniature fairy self went. Let them get it completely right on the first try (“Wow! You are so good at this game!”). Then make it a little more challenging. Have the kid ask you “Is it in the seat pocket? In the window? On my head?” You can take turns, too, with the child “hiding” the miniature fairy and you doing the guessing.

4. Fall into a Deep Sleep: If you’re really not in the mood for Supernanny duty, it’s time to collapse into a coma. Put in your iPod earphones and close your eyes tight. At first you might have to fake that you’re asleep, but after twenty minutes you might just trick your body into conking out. If that doesn’t work, it’s Miller Time. Sure, alcohol prices on planes are extortion, but that might be the best fourteen dollars you’ve ever spent.

[Note: This is the last installment of the travel series for now. But I would love to link over to your great travel tips, or post your ideas! Just write a comment and I’ll get in contact!]

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6 responses to “Sanity Travel Tips 4: Other People’s Kids

  1. Barfbag Puppet Show is BRILLIANT!

  2. Excellent ideas… Now if only I could do #4!

  3. These are brilliant! Any tips for dealing with a cranky adult? (I usually prefer the screaming child on the grounds that s/he 1- can’t really be blamed and 2- won’t share the painful details of a recent conversion, car problem, or divorce.)

    • I have been known to kick people’s seats, but I’m working on my passive-aggressive tendencies. Won’t pulling out a book in Tamil and pretending you don’t speak English work? ;)

  4. Pingback: Sanity Travel Tips 3: Surviving the Road Trip | momsicle

  5. Pingback: Sanity Travel Tips: Flying with Young Kids | momsicle

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