Kathleen in Florida writes:
How do I best prepare my 3 ½ year old daughter for her first airplane trip. We will be traveling from Florida to Michigan in October. I’ve already had her watch the videos on the TSA website to sort of familiarize her with the security screening process. However, I have no idea how to prep for the actual plane ride itself (other than stocking up on fun stuff to do during the ride). She is a very cautious child by nature and does best in new situations when I can prepare her much as possible on what to expect.
Age 3 and up is a pretty easy age to fly with. They are interested and engaged in their surroundings, can entertain themselves quietly for greater lengths of time, and no longer require diaper changes in those horridly cramped airplane lavatories. I still haven’t figured out how to get my daughter to stop kicking the back of the seat in front of her, though!
It sounds like you have done a great job preparing her already. I’m not even sure how you would explain the miracle of flight to anyone, let alone a little kid who doesn’t have much world experience on which to base the concept!
That said, I scoured YouTube to see if there were any videos of plane takeoffs and/or landings from inside the plane, and I stumbled upon this little treasure. A bunch of parents have commented on it, saying that it’s been very helpful in showing their kid what to expect on the big travel day. With the exception of a brief image of a pint of beer at the end, it is totally G rated (the lady made it for her grandkid). :)
Make sure you take gum for her to chew during takeoff and landing, so her ears don’t hurt from the pressure changes. And if you have some portable way to play DVDs, that can be a total lifesaver when the fidgeting sets in.
My guess is that with the preparation you’re doing right now, along with your modeling a cheerful and adventurous attitude on Travel Day, she’s going to be totally fine. Have a great trip!