Monday, July 26, 2010

Flying to Rio de Janeiro with kids

Flying internationally with kids is not one of those parental things we necessarily look forward to. I was reading a friend's blog post about a domestic flight with kids (The Little Hen House) and it got me thinking.  Then I had two other friends ask me for advice about flying to Rio with little ones.  You see where this is going. 

Here are some sanity saving guidelines to follow:

1. You will not get any sleep on the flight.  Do not plan on it, do not even pretend to be hopeful about it. If you go into this like a warrior ready to take on Rome, you will be pleased with the hour you may manage.

2. Your kids will not like the airline food. Seriously, need I explain this one? Is there anyone who does like airline food?  That does not count if you are flying 1st class internationally. If that is the case, I am available to be your nanny.

3. This is not the time to be cheap when it comes to toys. Buy one decently complex new toy and at least one other cheap one (per child).  Do not show them these toys until in the air.  Better yet, don't even tell them they exist until you need them!  Do bring some old toys to entertain until you need the new ones. Yes, that means 1 carry on for entertainment. 

4. Snacks! Your kids will not be eating healthy on this trip. Please do yourself, your children, and all other passengers a favor and bring A TON of favorite snacks.  You can put these in the toy  carry on.

5. Children's Tylenol. This especially goes for the first flight.  Do not let your child scream in pain the entire time because you think that 3 drops of a medication is going to make their IQ drop 1/10 of a percent.  Hello. This is not the time to be irrational.

6. Speaking of drugs, DRUGS!  Hello, my name is Dramamine and I am your friend. Get a px from your pediatrician.  If they say, "no, you really don't need it", ask them if they are flying 16 hrs (2 planes) with your child/ren.  When they say no, repeat your request.  These kind of pediatricians royally piss me off. No need for your kid, you, or all other passengers to suffer. It's a night flight to Rio. I have a hard time simmering down enough to sleep, why would my toddler be able to do it.  Disclaimer, I do not recommend this for children under 1 year of age.

7. Be prepared for an adventure. It's going to be one. There will be laughs, tears, and heartache. You'll have enough material to start a blog after this kind of trip.  But that's what adventures are for. Enjoy it.  Seriously.


  1. So very true. Definitely designate one bag for toys/entertainment. When they are old enough, get electronic entertainment (Nintendo hand-held, etc). BUT, don't forget the non-electronic, for that take off/landing portion when they have to have it turned off.

    Also, yea, just assume you won't sleep. And understand that your child who normally goes to bed at 9 pm will stay up until 2 am on the plane, because the lights, novelty, adventure etc. will just wire him. Completely.

    And, don't forget the gum (if your child is old enough) for take off/landing, AND some sort of protein containing food item for breakfast, because what you get on the plane is a lie. We like granola or trail mix.

    Then - relax, because at least flying to Rio means you have a plane full of Brazilians, and Brazilians love children, even cranky ones. No one will be giving you ugly stares, which is the one blessing in flying to Brazil.

  2. Well I certainly can't resist commenting on this post! Just recently went through this exact torment/torture alone with my 2 year old on 2 domestic flights.

    I dread the day when I will have to do it alone internationally!

    No wonder I hate flying now. Used to love it because it meant travel, adventure, change of pace, etc. Now I can't stand it...for all the lovely reasons that you mention.

    Also wanted to point out...forget about trying to eat a meal in peace (this applies in all settings not just in the plane) and no movies! Unless you are lucky enough to get your little one to sleep. If I am, I'd rather sleep than watch a movie anyway.

    The ONLY thing I "like" about flying is the relief I feel when I hear the announcement that we are starting to descend.

    And when I'm in line to head off the plane, I meekly look around me to see how many enemies I've made ;-)

    One thing's for sure, I have 1,000% compassion for parents traveling with little ones now. If I can, I try to shoot them a smile or sympathetic glance, because I know exactly how they feel.

    After all, we all know "that look" we sometimes get!

  3. I think domestic flights are worse than international. The hours are strange and the flights are long enough to make the kids cranky.

    Flying to Rio isn't too bad because it's a night flight. By the time you take off, it's 10pm and the kids are exhausted. Set them up in their seat and they are golden.

  4. I'm going to look into the Dramamine option. I used it once, and it knocked me out, so I can only imagine what it does to a little one.

    Btw, would anyone suggest or discourage bringing a car seat on the plane to let the child sleep in the car seat the whole flight, including the long international flights?

  5. Make sure you do a dramamine test run first! Sometimes kids have the opposite reaction. Can you imagine?!

    We brought a car seat when Luka was 2 because we didn't want to check it and we needed it in SD. He's also flown without. I honestly think he was more comfortable with

  6. Jean, the carseat bit depends on your kid. When my youngest was 2 and 3, we used it for him. Past that, we stopped. With 5 in our family, and the way the seats are arranged, I get a seat with little guy (now 5) and the two of us spread out across our two seats; way more comfortable.

    We have a spare that lives at home on the US side so we don't even bring it with us as luggage anymore. We made the switch mostly for my comfort, though; way easier for ME to settle in and get comfy if I'm not smooshed against a carseat.