Food and travel (or rather travel for food!): the two experience that I have always valued and have tried to pass on to our kids. We are finally at that sweet spot where it is no longer daunting, but rather such a pleasure. I know you guys, I didn’t always feel this way. Before the kiddos, I always prioritized travel – even dreaming of selling all my possessions to buy a boat and set sail. Then I actually had these small people, and my priorities changed. House, yard, good school district – you know the drill. But now that they are a little older, we can finally have it all!
It starts with flying on the right airline. First, yes, I am one of those fliers that look up safety rating – I have a slight fear of flying. That aside, I try to always fly direct. And I have a handful of favorite airlines. On our recent trip to Africa, (yes, Africa, more on that later) we flew Emirates Airline, which is definitely very high on my list. This was our first experience with Emirates, we have heard really good things about it – they’re business class and first class is crazy luxurious – but ok, we are not in that demographic, so I can only give my opinion on their international economy class, which by the way, is pretty darn good.
First of all, check out the swag for the kiddos! They hand each child his adorable stuffed animal that turns into a blanket – cute and practical. After takeoff, a flight attendant came by and gave each child a carry-on bag filled with fun activities – they enjoyed opening and unpacking the bag filled with coloring books and games. We always allow the kids to pack their own carry-on with onboard stuffed animals and activities; however, on Emirates, they really did not need to pack anything. My kids are tv junkies – mainly because tv and video games are considered a treat – only on weekends and holidays. This is how we have always presented traveling and flights – these are special occasions that we plan for, save for, and look forward to. I think it really does set the tone for the entire trip, including the flight. And since it’s a special occasion, we have a “no rules” rule for flights.
Yes, that’s right, unlimited electronics and drinks for kids and adults! Emirates has the most dizzying choices of onboard entertainment with so many channels for movies, shows, music, and video games. The advantage is that my kids were entertained and did not complain once, NOT ONCE, on the 16-hour first leg, then 5-hour second leg trip. The disadvantage is that they did not sleep for most of the trip! The kids are also allowed to order drinks of their choice, and Emirates have great juice options with the usuals but also mango and pineapple. They brilliantly set up a snack and drink station in the galley so my kiddos love getting up and helping themselves. They have granola bars, cookies, nuts, and chocolate bars laid out. And mommy likes her unlimited drinks as well. I know, your not supposed to really indulge on alcohol on flights since its so dehydrating – and I’m not trying to promote disorderly public intoxication in these tight quarters – but I did mention that it is a long ass haul, right? Just space them out. And the kids and I drink tons of water – I encourage the kids to get up to get drinks and to use the bathroom as often as they need to. The little bit of freedom that they have to watch, eat, drink, and get up when they want makes a big difference for them.
I don’t always eat on airlines, we usually prefer to get to an airport early and eat before our flight. However, on such a long haul, eating becomes another activity. There are a few little details that I love about this airline. First, they bring out all the kids meals first. You do not need to request ahead of time, they just keep track of the kiddos, and they bring out their meals before the carts come through. The kids’ meals are different from adult meals, with the more typical kid food items and little treats. Now if your kiddo prefers an adult meal, just ask and they will accommodate. Secondly, their meals are some of the better meals around in terms of airline food.
The plane is the Airbus so it’s the 3-4-3 configuration. Economy is never roomy enough, but I have to say, it wasn’t terrible. It had a bit more room than other airlines. So choose the best airline you can with a bit of research. I know sometimes it’s a matter of just going with the best deal, some of the small differences in airlines and service can make a difference for those longer flights. That said, take the plunge and travel with those kiddos!
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