July 26, 2021

First plane trip with Ilinca - Don't be afraid to travel with your kids!

At the cause of the pandemic, we only now got to travel by plane with Ilinca, at 1 year and 5 months old. We went on a holiday last year, but we used the car. 

First thing first, don't be afraid! I had a million and one emotions about the flight, because I had experienced some horrible flights next to children and yes I was bothered and yes it is not funny and I didn't turn a blind eye just because children are children. Well not anymore that is, as I now know my child is not a screaming child in the plane. Fingers crossed it evolves from this. 

As I've said, I wanted this first flight to be a positive experience for Ilinca first, for us second and third for the people travelling with us. And if you are reading this blog post it means you are also a responsible parent trying to do its homework. 

A bit of context, Ilinca is a calm kid most of times, smiling and interacting with strangers, but as we all have not so great days, she has them, too. Also, I've read online about the ear popping during takeoff and landing of the plane and how that is not so nice for children or babies and that is one of the reasons they start fussing and screaming in planes. So I've researched how to avoid that, mostly because I don't want Ilinca to be in any pain and I want her to enjoy every trip with us. 

1. Prepare the flight

I know they don't look like they understand much, but it was actually proven that by the time they are eight months old they understand 100% everything you are saying and doing and feeling. I was so excited to go to Romania and to prep for everything that Ilinca just emulated my feelings. Also, I've talked to her, told her we are going on a trip, involved her in making the luggage. I know it sounds dumb, but it worked.

2. Do your homework

It's a pandemic, so I should not probably point this, but prepare all your paperwork so you are not delayed and annoyed or bothered or nervous, because kids feel everything. So if you are zen or as close to zen as possible, they will be zen also. So your vaccination QR code, or test results, passport, other papers you might need for the child, have them at hand.

3. Act as normal as possible

Before the flight I love to browse the duty free shops. I don't buy much, but I love to smell, to touch and after what seems like an endless lockdown, to act normal in an physical store gave me a positive attitude and Ilinca felt that. Because we had luggage we were two hours before the flight in the airport, so we took pictures in photo booth, we had lunch, we walked and saw all the planes through the windows and we were telling her that one of those planes will take us to Romania. Granted, she did not know what Romania was, but as we were excited to go there she was excited also.

4. Don't get fooled by the priority boarding

I know they let people with kids board early, but imagine an energetic child on board of a closed case waiting for everyone to find their seat and for the flight to be checked and for everything to be OK and then for an unknown, to them, movement to happen and then the ears popping... come on. I would fuss and cry at this point. Fortunately for us the flight from Luxembourg to Bucharest is not a big one, but we boarded close to last as we would normally do even without Ilinca and in the meantime she listened to some books and watched the unknown people. 

5. Prepare for takeoff and landing

Your ears pop during takeoff and landing, your ears pop if you descend a hill in your car, children have ears and they pop, too. Fortunately for you, you know that you swallow once and your ears are fine, but explain that to a child. So at the pharmacy they have popsicles for children or you find them on amazon, but check the ingredients and that they are appropriate for the child's age. Also, prepare a bottle of milk or water, again depending on your child age and give it during takeoff. Ilinca uses pacifiers, so we were good with that, she was fine, we had no ear-popping emergency. 

6. Pack a lot of activities

I think there was a rule, a new activity every five minutes or something, but let's be serious for a second here. I am on that plane to entertain my child? I have no intention of landing a nervous wreck just because for two hours I was a clown, I am sorry. I've packed her favourite plush toys, she did not need them. I've packed games, she did not need them. I've packed a toy-phone with music, she did not use it. I've packed a few books with music and those were the winner. You can find them in Carrefour, they are 10 euros, you have 69 to choose from  and Ilinca loves them. Indeed I have bought two new ones for her to listen, but as the planes are noisy she was a bit frustrated that she could not hear the new ones, so the old ones were fine. You can give in and download some cartoons on your phone or a small game, even if you don't usually allow your kid to play with screens. There are a lot of reading, writing gadgets in our day, your kid should be interested in something, right? See what he/she likes to play with a pack lots of those. And also give them freedom to do, feel, see, touch everything they want. Don't hover over them proposing an activity every five minutes, don't be annoying!

7. Involve the child 

At the same time, don't just let them be, talk to them, show them the magazines if you have them, show how the table folds, show the pockets and what you can do with them, teach them to listen to the attendants instructions, ask them what they want once the attendants start bringing the food and drinks, teach them not to kick the chair in front even though the person sitting there is a stupid shrew who leaned back her chair as soon as she sat on it and did not bother to put it straight not even when she saw there is a kid in the back or even when the rules asked her. 

Our experience

After doing all the above, Ilinca was calm and enjoyed the flight and did not scream once. She was tired and wanted to see and experience everything so at the end she gave in and fell asleep. She woke up when we were in the rented car, so after a two hours sleep. 

When we came back, she was fine for most of the flight up until she started fussing. She did not like the seat-belt, because she saw people removing it, she did not like how the table was placed, she wanted to unstick a sticker from the seat in front, she did not like the books... she was tired. So she cried for like a minute, not even close to what I have experienced as a childless person, and then she fell asleep. And she slept until the next morning, as we landed around 9 p.m.. 

Will this all work for the next flight? I have no clue.

Will this work for you? I don't know that either.

I have the best intentions writing this post, but if you are the parent of a screaming child during flights, then you are the parent of a screaming child. At least you did all you could, but it happened. 

Have a happy holiday! And try to be as close to zen as possible!

As usual, I hope you liked reading this post as much as I've enjoyed writing it, and see you on Insta @mademoiselle.ralu

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