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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Long-Haul Flights with Children

Enjoying a long-haul flight to the Mid-East with my 14-year-old, I considered how he, and our other children, are pretty easy travelers. Neither they, nor I, require mind-altering substances to make the trip. Anyone can do it if you alter the circumstances to your advantage.

“First Class, Mama, they’re going to upgrade us to First Class, I know it!” Petya has his visions of grandeur, but even if we end up in Steerage, I’ll be prepared.

Schoolwork – check. Leisure reading – check. I-Pod – check. In-flight movies within reason – check. Cardboard food coming on plastic tray – check. Grey slacks, black blazer, black turtleneck –check. He was set to go.

Petya was a happy camper.

Personally, I don’t believe in shlepping a lot of electronics for kids. (Between computers, phones, and hair stuff for myself, I have enough electronics to wipe out a small village. Well, make that a large city, actually.) Why should kids tune out when traveling to a wonderful, new place?

Okay, for one reason, I guess it may keep the child from kicking the seat in front of him. Having been the target of two girls under 10 who screamed and karate kicked my (yes, First Class) seat once on a transatlantic flight, crying wee-wee-wee all the way home, I remember my cabin-mates who congratulated me, a complete stranger, upon keeping my composure during the trip to the bowels of the earth.

Flight attendants refused to intervene and the mother ignored the children from many seats away, while the father had apparently taken a sleeping aid and was no longer in the land of the living, or at least conscious. I stood up several times and had a face-down with the girls, glaring at them, which helped for all of one minute. Then it was back to uncontrollable kicking and screaming FOR HOURS. Everyone was shaking their heads in disbelief. (Obviously, if I’m writing about this 100 years later, it pretty much scarred me for life….) I didn’t want my kids doing the same.

At Petya’s age and size, kicking the seat was not an issue. The question was more like: How are we going to fit this beefy young man into the ten-inch-wide seat next to me? His knees were practically up to his chin.

“Papa gave me power bars,” he whispers, as though he had rare rubies in his pocket.

“Let me see those,” I motion to fork them over. “Two hundred and forty calories!” I exclaim.

“They’ll give me power,” he stresses.

“Yeah, you’d better be powerful. That’s three times the calories of my granola bars!” I marvel, thankful to have the promise of a powerfully perky teen as my personal assistant.

As the long flight begins, he settles in to snuggle next to me, comfortably laying his head on my shoulder, stretching out his big feet in his slipper socks. I try to wrestle away from him the Duty Free magazine. The French flight attendants offer him more and worse snacks than any power bars. They shmooze with my young teen as he gobbles everything in sight, murmuring, “Merci, mademoiselle,” totally convinced of the fact that it’s going to be a great trip.

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