Saturday, August 6, 2011

Traveling with kids & getting the evil eye

This story caught my eye in my local newspaper, The Vancouver Sun, this morning.
The study questioned 1,000 British parents about the experiences of travelling with children to discover the main stresses and strains of family holidays - most of which are connected to the reactions of fellow passengers.
More than half of parents have been made to feel bad when their child cries or misbehaves on holiday, and four in ten have found themselves on the receiving end of "evil stares" from other holidaymakers, the survey found.
Fellow travellers have asked one in four parents with noisy kids to move away from them, with one in ten being asked outright to keep their child quiet.
I can totally relate to this. As a traveling parent, it's really easy to get more stressed out by how other people react to your kids crying or acting out, than by the behavior itself. Even if you don't see anyone giving you the evil eye,  you can still feel that stress build up inside because you figure other passengers want to give you the evil eye, whether they're showing it or not.

Over the years, my experiences on board with my kids have mainly been good. Many people understand that traveling by plane can be tough for little kids, and they do have compassion for parents who are dealing with a crying child. Sure, I've been on the receiving end of some evil eyes and nasty comments too, but that's been the exception rather than the rule.

The article I linked to has some good tips on how to make travel easier on yourself and your kids, and you can find more tips in several post on this blog, including:
Here are some things I try to keep in mind when my kids are acting less than perfect, and I can feel myself sweating and stressing out over how other people will react:
  • This too shall pass. Whatever my kids are doing it will eventually end, even though it might not feel like it at the time.
  • Try to maintain a sense of humor. Often, my kids only get more upset if they sense that I'm worked up or upset. So joking about something, or bringing out a goofy puppet, can be pretty effective. More on this in my post Traveling with kids: 5 ways to maintain a sense of humor.
  • Come prepared, but know you can't prepare for everything. As a parent, you do the best you can and prepare as much as you can, but kids are not perfect, life isn't perfect, and airplane travel can bring a lot of unexpected stuff with it. All you can do is deal with it as best you can.

Some people advocate child-free flights, but that seems like an extreme measure to me (but then I'm biased obviously!). Child-friendly flights and compassionate fellow-passengers is what I wish for when I travel.

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