I love insightful quotes and I read one recently that sticks in my mind. Consider – There are two kinds of people in life: the person you see in the mirror and the person you want to see in the mirror. This quote applies to us all on the subject of traveling with kids.
I think all of us can relate to this quote when we travel with small children, especially on airplanes.
We are usually patient and extremely understanding when we travel with our own children.
The limits of patience and understanding are quickly exhausted when we travel alone and have to deal with the children of strangers who seem to believe their kids are invisible.
The Virtue of Patience of When Traveling with Kids
I once sat in an airline seat on a multiple-hour, multiple connection flight with my then wife and her friend who had her small child with her. The kid was adorable, and I related to him as a friend of his mother.
Kids don’t ask to be born and don’t understand the world. During the last leg of our flight he cried for almost an hour straight.
He was probably responding to the pressure difference in the ear. Or, he was going stir crazy.
Two stewardesses came to our seats and asked us to quiet him. My sympathies were with the kid.
How our sympathies change when we are the strangers traveling near the children of other people.
The Horror of Traveling with Kids
On one flight I was on, a short-hop connection flight, there was a woman with two small children. One of them was baby. They were seated behind me.
That child soiled itself several times during the tail end of the flight.
The mother was near the restroom and she changed the child several times. There were a few times when she changed her child in her seat.
As a result, that area of the plane had a pungent, lingering odor of ripe diapers.
I didn’t say anything. What could I say? But I was annoyed. Every passenger in seating proximity was annoyed.
The mother gave a deeply embarrassed look to every passenger nearby. I remember it to this day.
There is only so much that a parent can do in the chaos of traveling with children.
If you’re traveling with children, especially small children, there are some things that you can do to make the experience easier.
Tips for Traveling with Kids
- Explain the trip thoroughly and what to expect before leaving
- New experiences can make kids anxious, uncomfortable, or overly excited, so talk it out and see if they have questions
- Have a mock or make-believe flight on your couch to help them prepare for the experience
- Accept that whatever can go wrong will go wrong and be prepared
- The patience of strangers is out of your control so don’t worry about them
- Get to the airport early
- Pack snacks, games, electronic, and toys for distractions
- Don’t over-pack or you’ll be dealing with your kids and lugging heavy luggage
- Always keep track of your children
- Put a piece of paper with your contact information in their pockets
Avoidance of Kids While Traveling is Becoming a Business
Japan Airlines unveiled an online booking feature in September 2019 that alerts you on a seat map where small children are seated.
There is now a business model to pander to travelers who don’t want to sit anywhere near small children. Maybe consumers will pay more money for this privilege in the near future.
The average family of four spends about $5,000 on vacation. It is cheap for parents to deal the chaos of traveling with children.
Maybe it will be easier for those traveling with kids if passengers can elect to sit elsewhere during booking.
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