Keeping Children Occupied During Airplane Travel

Soraya Coffelt Airplane Travel

During the holidays, families frequently travel on airlines.  For some of us, it is just a short one or two hour trip, but for others, it can be for many hours.   When traveling with children, there are numerous things to consider regarding how your children spend their time and how they behave toward other passengers.  No person wants to be a victim of a child kicking the airplane seat from behind out of pure boredom or a lack of manners (I have been the victim of this many times) or having to deal with a cranky, restless child.  Parents are encouraged to be prepared.  Here are a few fun-filled activities to keep your children occupied during flights:

1.    Reading. Bring some of your children’s favorite books on board. You can read them to your children or let them read the books themselves. If your child is a fast (or indecisive) reader, it may be best to have a digital version of several books on a tablet or E-reader so they have options from which to choose.  Pop up books are especially entertaining for toddlers, but for smaller children, hard back books and pages are better!

2.    Crafts. Crafts can get fairly messy and many are not appropriate for planes, but one that has garnered a lot of popularity is sticker art. All you will need is a book of stickers and another book with blank paper.  Or, there are books with both stickers and blank sheets of paper together- how convenient! Your children will definitely enjoy making their own creations with the stickers.  In fact, you can encourage them to even leave a little decorative art piece for the crew.

3.    Movies. This is one of the easiest and hassle-free ways to pass the time. Watching their favorite movie - or a brand new one - will keep your little ones entertained for an hour or two.  There are children’s portable DVD players as well as small laptops that can be accompanied with headphones.  You can also search beforehand for episodes of their favorite TV shows and download them.  My sons would often watch the same shows over and over again.

4.    Doodling.  A nice alternative to a bunch of crayons is an Etch-A-Sketch.  It allows your children to create several drawings without dropping (and having to search for) a single crayon.

Bringing along their favorite snacks and drinks is also very important, as it satisfies their hunger and thirst and further prevents their ears from popping during takeoff and landing.  Often, it does not matter if they ate before they get on board a plane, as children always seem to be hungry or thirsty. 

All parts of family travel should be enjoyable experiences for you and others.  The key is to prepare beforehand.   Happy travels!

Explore Your Own Town or City: Have a Summer Family “Staycation”

I have written previously about taking family vacations during the summer.  However, it may be that you are on a tight budget and a family trip may have moved down the list of priorities this summer.  But, you can still have a vacation with your family without breaking the bank or crossing state lines.

“Staycations” are the perfect alternative to expensive out of town trips.  You might think that you have seen everything in your area, but there are possibly  many hidden gems still waiting to be found and this is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to do just that.  In addition, there usually are a variety of local discounts available from museums, historic sites, and other ‘tourist attractions’.

If you want to leave your home, you could stay at an inexpensive hotel to have the full “vacation experience”.  Many hotels give local residents discounts during the summer.  However, there are plenty of ways to have the luxury feel of a hotel in your own home.  For example, one of the best parts of any good hotel stay is the breakfast spread.  Plan on cooking a big breakfast (the kids can join too!), similar to that of most hotels, and serve it buffet style. Set the table with white tablecloths and a simple centerpiece and enjoy your private, yummy breakfast with the family.

After breakfast, select one or more popular tourist attractions to visit.  Try something new and different.  It may seem silly to be a tourist in your own home, but it can be fun and educational.  One of the main advantages is that you do not have to worry about the cost of transportation because you can drive to each destination in your own vehicle!  Try visiting museums, having a picnic in the park, going backyard camping, or just taking a stroll through the city or town.  In the evening, consider talking the family to a drive-in theater.

You can make a day or a weekend out of it. The schedule is completely up to you because transportation, location and the struggle that comes with being in a new place will not be an issue.  By the end of it all, you and your family will have seen, done, and learned so much about your own community that you never imagined you could.  Who knows? It might even become a family tradition.

What are Some Interesting and Fun-filled Summer Activities for Children?

    It’s summer.  Are you wondering about what to do with your children?  You have a lot of work at the office, but your children need summer activities to fill their time.  I came across this online article by Jen Hatmaker discussing 10 summer activities to do with your children.  She’s a wonderful writer and has come up with many fun and creative ideas.  

    Some examples are:

  1. Let your kids make videos or movies with a smart phone.  There are many free apps out there to help.
  2. Do “Mystery Thursdays” (or any other day of the week that fits best with your schedule).  The kids know that the family is going somewhere that is fun but it’s a complete surprise.
  3. Go through your children’s closets and toy bins and donate what they do not use anymore or have outgrown.   Try connecting with a needy family.
  4. Cook some very special meals with them.  Take out those cookbooks and search together to find the best recipes.  Have fun buying the ingredients, following the recipes, and then cooking.  Ms. Hatmaker mentions that she and her daughter cooked some meatball subs that were so delicious that they couldn’t stop talking and bragging about them. 
  5. Have a family boot camp and exercise together. 

To read her article and more of her ideas, CLICK HERE.

Let Your Children Help Plan Summer Vacation

As with any and everything having to do with your children, I highly recommend planning your summer vacation with them.  Are you considering traveling with them or just taking time off from work to spend a few days with them?  If your children are old enough, allow them to assist in planning.   
    
An article on the website www.schoolfamily.com actually recommends that parents let their children do the planning because they will learn many life skills.  First, sit them down and explain to them what is involved.  Give them a budget and have them come up with the plans.  Will it be a family road trip or a cruise or something else?

Second, give them a deadline within which to come up with their plan and then have them present it to you.  Third, have them get travel brochures and maps or print off the internet information about the various destinations and types of trips.  At the destination they select, ask them to develop an itinerary – what will the family do each day?  After the trip is selected, assign tasks to each child.  For example, have one child be the photographer and another child keep a written journal.  

There are unlimited ideas that parents can adopt to help make this summer vacation memorable. To read the article, click here.

Choosing a Good Summer Camp for Your Children

As summer vacation approaches, many parents are searching for a good summer camp for their children.  First, you must decide if you and your child are ready for an overnight camp or just a day camp nearby.  And, then, what type of a camp should you send them to.

It is recommended that children under 12 years should not attend an overnight camp away from home. I fully agree with that.  We sent our older son Zachary to an overnight camp at the age of 8 for 2 weeks.  His father and I thought he was mature and independent enough to enjoy it.  He told us that he did enjoy it, but did not want to attend an overnight camp again.  Of concern to us was the bullying stories he told us about after the camp concluded.  He certainly had some adjustment issues being so young.  

In regard to a day camp, I encourage parents to spend time investigating the camp and its counselors and supervisors.  Also, speak with other parents and get their recommendations.

Importantly, visit the camp location.  Find out what is on the daily schedule.  Just do not put your children in a day camp because they need a babysitter.  Look for camps that will accentuate your children’s gifts and talents.  Zachary is very athletic, so we often put him in a sports camp.  Our youngest son James is artistic, so we tried to put him in a camp that would help him develop that gift.  

Take the time to research and investigate what is the best camp for each of your children.  You will be happy that you did. 

Include Visiting a Library at Your Vacation Spot as Part of Your Family’s Travel Plans

    Have you ever thought of visiting a library at your vacation spot as part of your family’s travel plans?  I’m sure that, at first, this may sound strange or odd.  But, take a few minutes to think about it.

    Libraries all over the US are seeking ways to better serve the public.  Most of them have very active children’s sections with regular readings, puppet shows, children’s art displays, and computer activities all aimed at fostering a love of reading. 

    My parents retired to live in a senior citizen community just north of Orlando, Florida.  When we visited them, we, of course, included trips to the many theme parks in the area.  But, that wasn’t all – we also regularly visited the Orlando Public Library.  My sons had interesting adventures in the children’s section amongst the great books available! Their imagination was the limit!

    Search the internet about the library located at your vacation spot.  The website www.publiclibraries.com is helpful to find one with just one easy click.  On the website for the Orlando Public Library, I found some very interesting topics for adults and children: a class on learning how to pack healthy lunches for kids; a talk on family adventures by a travel author; “end of summer” events with costumes and prizes; and much more. 

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt