Culture On Board: Enjoying your Airline Experience

ENJOYING YOUR INFLIGHT EXPERIENCEThe first time we really noticed culture on-board was on a flight from the USA to Austria via Austrian Airlines.  Instead of waiting 9 hours to arrive in a new country, we stepped instantly from Washington DC into Austria as we boarded the plane.  The Austria-red outfits (including somewhat shockingly red nylons), the classical music, and the Austrian-German accents put us instantly in a traveling state of mind.  They served Ottakringer beer, a delicious light beer made at a Viennese brewery, and Almdudler, something like Ginger Ale and known informally as the national drink of Austria.  We were in the air, but we were in Austria too.  I don’t remember that they served Wiener schnitzel but they just might on some special flights. Read more »

Old-fashioned In-flight Fun

We traveled a lot when our kids were young and entertaining them in planes, buses, cars, and restaurants was a challenge.  I recently cleaned out our travel box and found some of my old favorite, mostly homemade, old fashioned, travel tricks.  These cheap and easy finds helped me not just endure our adventures but truly enjoy traveling with my kids.

felt bookMy Travel Book: I took an old 3-ring binder, a light, plastic 1” binder, and I converted it into a travel activity book. It only came out when we were “on the loose” so it was new and exciting every time.  Inside were several cheap, plastic, transparent pencil holders.  One held small toys.  At the time of this photograph, it was a collection of linking monkeys from an old-fashioned “Barrel of Monkeys” game.  Read more »

Tag Teddy

How many teddy bears, favorite stuffed animals, or blankies have been left on board and lost forever?  Too many!  They slip between the seats when kids are sleeping, get tucked into unexpected places, or get missed during the hubub of gathering adult valuables and cranky kids at the end of a long flight. It’s a tragedy you should do everything to avoid.  Grab a luggage tag at check-in, fill it out, and attach it to the bear, rabbit, or blanket corner. If it doesn’t attach naturally, use a safety pin. Even if you have already written your name and phone number on this item (which you should do!), the tag will get folks’ attention. When you fill out the tag, write “Best Friend – Please Return” or some other note that will tug at the heart of even the grumpiest airplane cleaning staff.  Include all your contact information for the next week.  Hopefully, your child will be quickly reunited with her friend.

This post inspired a story on Mampedia about why we’re so careful to tag stuffed “security” animals, Tale of two Bunnies.  Here’s a photo of me, Ashley, with Bummy taken Read more »

Seat Mates

Seattle skyline – Taken by my seat mate on my last flight

Inflight, I’ve met fabulous people.  It’s a funny phenomena.  A few years ago, I sat next to a man about my age and, during a long delay, we discovered that we both gave a lot of Powerpoint presentations.  We passed the time by opening up random Powerpoint presentations on our laptops and sharing them with each other.  How geeky is that?  And, who would have guessed that I could have found a seatmate so like-mindedly geeky?  

I’ve had four more strikes of good luck recently.  First , a young PhD student in environmental engineering traveling home from a college reunion.  Next, an undergraduate returning from an invited Microsoft recruitment event.  She loved it and was hoping for a job when she graduated.  My last flights were particularly lucky.  Coming home from North Carolina a few weeks ago, I sat next to a mother of 5 who home schools all her children.  We are such different people that we might never cross paths during our regular life but, on board, we found philosophical connections and exchanged parenting advice.  I gave her our website and hope she takes a look.  On the very next flight segment, Read more »

Neck Pillows: Baggage or Brilliant?

My kids were gifted some kid-sized neck pillows full of pleasing beans and sand.  I was worried about one more thing to drag around.  Nope!  These are super because they make reading a lot more comfy and they give an air of luxury to an otherwise dull plane flight.  Would I take them on a 3 month trek across Asia?  Nope.  Will I bring them on the next cross-country trip to see relatives?  Absolutely!  They get plenty of use between flights on the bed at home too.

In-flight wonders of a plastic bag

Plastic bag in action!

A simple trick to make de-boarding a little easier and keep your kids belongings organized on-board – put all of your kid’s stuff in a plastic grocery bag before it goes into the seatback pocket.  Nothing goes directly into the seatback pocket except trash waiting for a passing flight attendant.  Everything you want to keep goes in and out of the bag.  At the end of the flight, all the little toys, papers, books, homework assignments, and snacks can just be pulled out of the pocket and popped back in the carry-on.  (Give the rest of the pocket a final check just in case – especially the first few times you try this).

Newark (EWR) – 4 hours of it!

 You’ve got your kids.  You’ve got your carry-ons.  And, you miss your connecting flight … now you’ve scored four glorious hours at one of America’s classic airports.  Jackpot!!  First stop, something to eat.  We started at Ruby’s Diner.  It’s a fun experience if you want a burger and some really yummy french fries.  The only remotely healthy food on the menu is a Caesar salad.  However, in the front case they sell cups of fruits, little packages of cheese cubes and grapes, and a yogurt parfait.  “Everybody loves parfait.”

 OK, now you’ve blown one hour and you want to make the best possible use of the next three.  This is a great time to get started on next spring’s science project.  Few venues offer such an easy opportunity to collect mountains of scientific data Read more »

Babies, boobs, and airplanes

 Flying with a baby might seem intimidating, but it’s a lot easier than flying with a toddler.  Babies don’t cry particularly loudly, they don’t want to get up and run around, they don’t kick the seat in front of them, grab germy handrails, order sugary drinks, play loud video games, drop their toys, or say embarrassing things about other people very loudly.  In exchange for a little milk, they will lie peacefully through the whole ordeal. 

On my first flight alone, breastfeeding was pretty stressful.  First, I was seated next to an older woman who asked that I move.  I don’t know why exactly  but she was clearly not at all interested in observing any feeding or changing activities close up.  Not interested at all!  I was then re-seated next to a young guy in a fancy business suit.  “Great” rattled sarcastically in my head.  I started to wiggle around, trying to figure out how I would ever discreetly feed this baby who was now making motions and noises that were definitely not discreet.  The man looked at me, smiled, and Read more »