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Travel Expert Samantha Brown Reveals the Affordable Toy That Stops Toddler Airplane Meltdowns

Samantha Brown Travel Tips Cheap Toy That Stops Toddler Meltdowns
Samantha Brown. Courtesy Samantha Brown

Just wave a plastic wand! Travel expert Samantha Brown says a bottle of 99-cent bubbles is all it takes to stop a toddler tantrum in the sky.

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“It changes their concentration,” Brown explained to Us Weekly. “Distraction is a huge key.” (Just remember: TSA only allows passengers to carry on liquids that are 3.4 ounces or less.)

Brown also advises against pre-boarding. When the host of PBS’ Places to Love travels with husband, Kevin James O’Leary, the couple divide and conquer. He gets on first, while she hangs back with their 5-year-old twins Elizabeth and Ellis. 

Samantha Brown Travel Tips Cheap Toy That Stops Toddler Meltdowns
A toddler crying on an airplane. Getty Images

“A young child really absorbs that stress from everyone that’s getting on the plane,” Brown explained. “And then when that plane takes off, and everyone’s quiet, that’s when the child releases it.” That’s why the Texas native prefers to hang back in the terminal with her son and daughter, while O’Leary puts their luggage in the overhead bins.

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Brown also noted that pre-boarding adds additional an 45 minutes to a trip. “If the flight is already long, you’ve just lengthened it,” she said. 

It’s also a good idea to put together a Mary Poppins-style bag of goodies to keep kids occupied. “Just go to the a dollar store and load up,” she told Us. When Ellis was younger, he loved playing with a roll of tape!

When traveling overseas, Brown feels it’s best for kids to adjust to the new time zone. “Just get them on a daily schedule,” she shared. “Get them outside and walking. One time I was so desperate, they were falling asleep at 3 p.m. and I gave them all the Oreo cookies they wanted. It was like, sugar, sugar, sugar.”

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No matter what happens, go easy on yourself. “Everyone’s out of their comfort zone,” Brown told Us. “Things are absolutely, positively going to go wrong. And it’s really important as parents to show our children that it’s OK. Your children are watching how you deal with stress, and change. It’s a really amazing opportunity to show kids how to get through difficult, stick times.” 

Places to Love season 2 premieres on PBS on Saturday, January 5. Check local listings for time.

With reporting by Marc Lupo

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