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Short Kids, Long Flight

April 29th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  7 Comments

Traveling with Kids

Actually, it’s not just a flight. Due to the vicissitudes of the global economy and our resulting (and oddly unshakable) penury, the best and cheapest way to transport the family from New York to northern Germany, where we will spend some vacation days relaxing with old friends in Vorpommerania, is this: flight from New York to Reykjavik. Reyjkavik to Amsterdam. Train to some backwater transfer station, another train to Berlin. It’s not quite travel by steamship, but in all it will take 22 hours, if we nail every connection.

So I’m busy right now charging up every electronic entertainment device I own, so that perhaps all of us can follow my son’s lead and wear diapers and zone out watching Star Wars over and over while urinating en place.

But here is a plea to all you more veteran travel-with-family travelers: is there any hope for us once the batteries run down? Any old-school tricks for transporting a two- and five-year-old across endless time and space? I’ve got time for one more trip to the store in my neighborhood. Should I buy beef jerky? Red bull? A copy of Marie Claire and three bottles of glue? Any suggestion not just welcome, but madly desired.

God save us all.


  1. dadwagon says:

    April 29th, 2011at 1:16 pm(#)

    Are you out of your fucking mind? –Theodore.

  2. Carly says:

    April 29th, 2011at 1:53 pm(#)

    OK, here’s our dilemma. We need to get 4 of us to Germany on specific dates in early August for a family event. Tickets cost $1500 in economy so we are using miles. Question #1: We have a reservation held (to expire in 24 hours if we don’t book) with a 45 minute connection from US-German city #1, going through customs in city #2 and passport control in #1. Is that 45 minute connection possible? The airline says it is.

    Question #2: We have the almost 2 yo sitting in my lap the whole way. We can get him a seat with miles on the way out but not the way back. The airline actually has the cojones to CHARGE you for the misery of holding a child on your lap on a flight to Europe–10 percent of a full ticket fare. Since a one-way fare is FOUR TIMES as expensive as a round trip fare, if we elect to get him a seat for the way out, we pay $444 for the privilege of holding him on the way back versus $183 to hold him both ways. Advice? Thoughts?

    Sorry I have no better advice for you, other than all 6 Star Wars movies, boatloads of candy (m&m’s did the trick during a recent 7 hour stint spent watching our flights leave without us in Newark) and multiple DVD players in case of malfunction.

  3. Matt says:

    April 29th, 2011at 2:05 pm(#)

    @Nathan: Carly’s right: candy, candy, candy. Preferably lollipops. Promise them second lollipops if they can finish the first ones without biting. Load up the iPad with shitty kids’ shows and easy games. Then mix Ambien in their sippy cups.

    @Carly: You’re fucked either way. But buy the extra round-trip seat.

    To all of you: Next week I’ll write up my full horrible adventures with child, wife, and in-laws in Taiwan. I’ll make it long so you’ll have something to read on the plane.

  4. Katrijn says:

    April 30th, 2011at 12:41 pm(#)

    My one advice would be to bring a universal adapter for your plugs and spy (maybe the children can help? They usually find them before you do) for available sockets wherever you’re sitting for more than five minutes.

    I have no experience with traveling such distances with a small child (my only child being six months old right now). All I know about is transporting a 8 weeks old infant from the Netherlands to Switzerland and back by car during which she mostly slept. However, she will be coming with us to Romania in september (by that time being almost 10 months old and most probably no longer breast fed, so that magical route to silence will be closed), so I appreciate all the wisdom you gain!

    And, if you get stuck in Amsterdam, feel free to contact me (I live in Utrecht, about half an hour by train) and stay for the night.

  5. Marlena says:

    April 30th, 2011at 7:37 pm(#)

    We are back from a trip to Okinawa, Japan. 2.5 hour drive to O’Hare, 12.5 hour flight to Tokyo. 3 hour flight to Okinawa. Here’s what worked: lollipops, a checked bag of food (no joke for when we were there and she was hungry at 4 a.m.), every computer device imaginable. Long lines for immigration and luggage – iPod with downloaded shows. Flight – laptop with shows. I also went to the Dollar Store and stocked up on stickers and stupid crap to surprise her every few hours. Keep feeding them.

    What was brutal was that she only slept 3 hours of that entire jog of travel, but once we arrived in Okinawa, it was nighttime, she fell asleep, woke up at 4, and we never had jet lag. It only took 5 days to recover coming home.

    So you’ll be “that family,” but cuteness helps, along with kid-sized head phones.

    If you can, get bulk head seating to spread out more, or fork over the money for extended leg room.

    Also, bring cups with lids/straws. The airline doesn’t have them, and they help immensely.

    God speed.


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