Wednesday, May 16, 2012

9 things to do when you're not flying with kids

Right now we're between trips. The kids know we're headed to Sweden this summer, but it's far enough off that we're not catching travel fever just yet. There are of course lots of fun, travel-related things you can do between trips to prepare for future trips and have fun at the same time. For example:

1. Watch the airplanes - My son loves to watch the planes. We live on the flight path of Vancouver International Airport (though the planes don't fly all that low where we are), so we see lots of airplanes every day. When he was little, we'd lay in the backyard and watch them fly by. These days, he's also into plane-spotting at the airport.

Plane spotting at the airport or at a good spot nearby the airport can be a lot of fun for kids. You can learn to recognize different airlines by their colors and the logo on their tails, and you can learn about different aircraft types. Flightline Aviation has one of many online plane spotting guides.

2. Read about planes - If you have a child that likes to know how things work, reading non-fiction books about planes might be something they'd really enjoy. There are lots of different books like that out there including:
Learning about planes can also help an anxious child become less anxious since they will know what is happening during a flight: what makes the strange noises? what makes air turbulence? and so on.

3. Pretend you're on a plane - One way to prepare for air-travel with kids is to play airplane. Put some chairs together and pretend you're boarding the plane and flying. Kids can take turns being the pilot!

4. Shopping for cool travel gear - I like to "window shop" on the internet: it can use up a lot of time, but as long as you don't actually order anything it's cheap entertainment. Plus, there are so many fantastic travel gadgets and cool travel gear out there, for example:
5. Dream up your next trip - Read books, magazines and newspapers; watch movies; hang out on Pinterest... and you're bound to find a lot of places you would love to go. I enjoy thinking of the places I'd go if I had the time and money to go where I pleased. And some of those dreams can  become reality one day!

6. Read about airlines - There are all sorts of articles about airlines, and surveys that rate their service and performance. Being an informed traveller is always a good thing. Skytrax is one good site for finding out how other travelers rate various airlines. TripAdvisor can also help with this, and their survey about travel habits is pretty interesting as well!

7. Plan your airplane exercise program - Stretching and moving on board really helps you feel better on a long flight. I've been looking at the airplane yoga moves, and think I'll be trying some out on my next trip!

8. Consider new travel snacks - On a long haul flight with kids, a good stash of familiar, tasty and hopefully healthy snacks is a must. My newest addition to the snack-list for our next trip is bagels. The kids like eating them with no spread or other extras, and compared to other baked goods, bagels won't get crushed so easily in the hand-luggage.

9. Explore your destination - If you have a trip already planned, it's a great pastime to talk about that place with your kids, look at maps and photos, and read about it in books or online. My kids love looking at maps and seeing where they've been and where we live and where we're going. They also really like looking at old pictures from previous trips.

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