Kids on a plane. Wasn’t that a movie?

Let’s face it. Flying across the ocean – or to any other country, really -- takes a long time. And hours of sitting quietly strapped into a chair is not the kind of thing little ones enjoy. If your upcoming long-distance journey includes any members of the under-teen set, consider these tips and tricks for keeping kids and your fellow passengers happy.

Planning ahead is key

Beyond planning hotel accommodations, transportation, and activities at your destination, the flight itself should be part of the trip plan. Your plan should include strategies for optimum seat selection, snacks during your flight, and beverages to keep everyone hydrated. Bring activities that are engaging, but don’t include tiny parts that can roll away under an airplane seat and break someone’s heart. And, knowing what to do for ear pressure is important, too.

Keeping kids happy in flight

Take these four steps, and you’re halfway to creating a new generation of happy world travelers.

Dress everybody for comfort

Elastic waists, comfy tee-shirts, and slip-on shoes help kids stay comfortable and keep excessive wiggling to a minimum. A zip hoodie does double duty as a chill preventer and a nap helper.

Bring enough portable activities

Ahead of time, create a “travel tote” to be opened only during the flight to increase anticipation. Pencils and paper are easy and cheap. So are coloring books, puzzle books, and sticker books. Tuck in crayons, washable markers, and small games. Small electronics work miracles.

Use in-flight entertainment options

Many air carriers now include seat-back screens for movie-watching and game play. Be sure to take the earbuds offered at the start of the flight, and engage the kids in choosing what to watch and do. Taking advantage of in-flight entertainment also helps you conserve the charge on your own devices for that point when things grow desperate.

Be ready to take care of ear pain

Changes in pressure can cause ear discomfort. Have a stash of snacks and gum on hand since chewing can help relieve pressure. Showing children how to pinch their nostrils shut and blow gently as if they were blowing their nose might help, too.

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