READER TIPS

35 Tips for a Successful Flight

Avoid a serious case of cabin fever with these 35 tips to keep you—and, more importantly, your kids—happy, healthy, and distracted on even the longest flight.

Always pack an inflatable beach ball in your carry-on!

(Jon Cannell)

9 Smart Ways to Keep Kids Entertained

SCULPT A MASTERPIECE My daughter had a great idea to keep her five-year-old (and the rest of us) entertained. She brought a roll of aluminum foil, and we spent hours "sculpting" hats, flowers, wings, and anything else we could imagine. The time flew by, and it was a breeze to clean up. Honey Pettigrew, Danville, Calif.

SCULPT ANOTHER MASTERPIECE When I travel with my kids, I always stow a package of colorful pipe cleaners in my carry-on. Being creative and twisting them into various shapes keeps them busy for hours. The best part? Pipe cleaners aren't messy or loud, and they don't take up a lot of space. Meghan A. Usmani, Queensbury, N.Y.

GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT To keep my three kids quiet while flying or on a road trip, I created the Magazine Scavenger Hunt. I look through three different magazines and find an item for each to look for, such as a lady with green shoes or a cherry pie. You can customize the difficulty level for any age. Each time, the winner gets a quarter, second place a dime, and third place a nickel. Sure, the game costs a bit of money, but we then use their prizes as souvenir money. Tiffany Bloshenko, Dallas

CHANNEL YOUR INNER MARY POPPINS Nothing quiets children faster than a new plaything! So before taking a trip with the kids, I spend $20 for 20 toys at the dollar store. I take out one at a time, and when the thrill is gone I take out another. The plane ride is over before they know it! The toys also come in handy for other children on the plane.  A dollar is worth it to stop a crying child three rows up! Cheryl Dela, Buffalo, N.Y.

... OR YOUR INNER JIM HENSON When there's a fussy kid near me on a plane, I tear out a page from the in-flight magazine and fold it into a puppet—the same design as the paper fortune tellers we made when we were kids—and then draw on two eyes. The little ones are usually so amused that they stop kicking the seat in front of them, giving me—and their parents—a much-needed rest. Toby O'Brien, Hurricane, Utah

MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE NEIGHBORS Before I took my son on his first flight, I printed out stickers saying: "I'm sorry if I'm a little fussy. This is my first flight, and it's a bit overwhelming. My parents are doing the best they can, and they appreciate your patience. Owen, 8 months." I attached the stickers to candy bars that I gave to nearby passengers. We all enjoyed the flight! Carrie Rodriguez, Beaverton, Ore.

FINISH UP YOUR HOMEWORK My kids often end up doing homework on the plane. To avoid having to pack a lot of paper in my carry-on, I create a makeshift dry-erase board by mounting a plastic sheet protector on a piece of cardboard. We slip math problems inside and work them out with dry-erase markers. We can wipe the surface clean and retry as many times as necessary without wasting paper. Gloria Carion, Cincinnati

KEEP YOUR KIDS DISTRACTED My child receives countless goodie bags at birthday parties. I stow the small toys (crayons, stickers, games) away for when we fly. They're the perfect size for carry-ons, and we don't care if they get lost. Onboard, I can dole them out and prevent those "terrible twos" tantrums. Susan Goldman, Beverly Hills, Calif.

TENT YOUR TODDLER For quiet time on a plane, clip one end of an airline blanket under the top of the folded-up tray and the other end under the headrest (behind the child). Voilà: You have a "tent" that lets your toddler take a better nap on the plane. We put this together one night when we were stuck on a runway for almost six hours, and it saved a very bad travel day. My child rarely naps anymore, but he still asks for an airplane tent, if only to play inside. Roy Youngblood, Chicago, Ill.

14 Tricks for Relaxing While You're in the Air

GET A MASSAGE Treat yourself to a golf-ball foot massage. During a long flight, or afterward in your hotel room, take off your shoes, put a golf ball on the floor, and roll it under your foot. It's a great stress reliever. Practice a bit before you try it on a plane, so that your ball doesn't go rolling down the cabin, tripping other passengers. Dawn Yadlosky, Centerville, Ohio

TAKE A NAP On long flights, I bring a one-gallon plastic bag with a large safety pin stuck through the corner. I put my eyeglasses case, a small hearing aid pouch, a deflated neck pillow, and some sleeping pills into the bag and pin it to the seat in front of me. When I'm ready for some sleep, I take out and inflate the pillow, swallow a sleeping pill, and place my eyeglasses and hearing aids inside the bag. I never have to worry about sitting on or losing my glasses and aids. Stewart Woodward, Lafayette, Colo.

SEE EARTH FROM ABOVE!

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