Spring Break Travel Questions from Kids

Airplane wing taken out the window

Spring break might be over for some kids, but there are still a lot of families traveling on the planes.  I’m not sure if parents are taking the kids out of school, home schooling, or if perhaps there are schools with a really late spring break.  Most of the families seem to be having a good time, the parents may be tired and the kids a little rambunctious – it’s spring break, after all – but every day it reminds me how families choose to make travel a priority.

Kids are full of questions, whether they’re experienced travelers or first timers, and they’re not afraid to put it all out there.  From questions about flight etiquette to other information, here are some of my favorite questions from spring break – along with a few answers (always slanted to be appropriate for the child’s age).

What makes the plane stay up in the air? Sure I took physics, but there’s no way I can explain the concepts of lift, thrust, speed, and all that other stuff to a 10 year old.  I barely understand it myself, often preferring to think that it’s all just smoke and mirrors.

Why do I have to turn off my iPad, iPod, or whatever other game or music player they have? Kids will just blurt out the question that you know adults are thinking and mumbling about.  There is plenty of debate about whether or not leaving these things on can endanger flight or not.  But that discussion doesn’t really matter when you’re on the plane right now.  A bunch of guys sitting in offices somewhere have decided that they need to be turned off and made it a regulation.  The rest of us have to ensure compliance with that regulation.  At least until such time as another group of guys sitting around in an office somewhere decide to change it.

Why do I have to wear a headset to watch my movie? I realize that you may not need to wear when at home or in the car because your parents want to hear what you’re doing.  But on the airplane there are a hundred or so other people who want peace and quiet.  So everyone has to wear a head set, or turn off the sound, if you’re using something that makes noise.

What’s that? Whether it’s asking about something on the airplane or out the window, I always try to explain it is.  For kids that are fearful travelers, getting answers to questions about the plane can be calming.  We often don’t know what’s out the window as we can’t see out, but we can often call the flight deck to get a question answered.

Do you have any cards? No, we don’t, although sometimes we have color books or paper to draw on.

Can I go up to the cockpit? During flight this is a big NO, but during boarding or deplaning there may be an opportunity.  Depending on time constraints, and what’s going on in the flight deck, many crew members will show a child around, let him put on a captain’s hat and pose for a photo.

When are we going to be there? For kids that can tell time, I tell them the truth – it will be four long , boring hours.  OK, I don’t embellish, but giving them a real time frame usually helps them.  For a child that can’t tell time yet, or doesn’t have a watch, I explain it based on what will happen during the flight – before we land you’ll have time to watch a movie and then have something else to drink.

I want kids to have an enjoyable and safe flight, whether they’re traveling alone or with their family.  I don’t always have the answers to questions, and answering is often a matter of timing, but there’s nothing like watching a child discover the fun of seeing the world.

Does your child have a travel question?  Leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Photo credit:  author’s collection



Travel Blog Mob

This post is part of the Travel Blog Mob’s salute to Spring.  Read what the other “mobsters” have to say:

Travel Green with Kids! Tips to Make Family Vacations Eco-Friendly from Ciao Bambino

Spring Ahead on Planning Your Summer Trips from BootsnAll

Go Skiing (But Not On Snow) from Spot Cool Stuff

It Might as Well Be Spring from Nerd’s Eye View

Celebrate Earth Day with Free Admission at a US National Park from the Vacation Gals

Spring is Here! Get out Into the World – Or Bring It Home from Wanderinng Educators.


Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

10 Responses to “Spring Break Travel Questions from Kids”

  1. April 19, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    what great questions!! our daughter always wants to know where the bathroom waste goes. LOL!

    • April 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      @wandering educators,

      Somethings you really DON’T want to know. It’s like a giant port-a-potty in the sky, and all goes into a holding tank to be emptied on the ground. Yuck!

  2. April 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    You’re obviously not a Troll Dad. My dad used to love making up ridiculous and frightening answers to questions like these!

    • April 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm #


      It’s a wonder you don’t have a phobia about travel! But look at it this way, now that you have kids of your own you have someone to torment, too.

  3. April 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    My 18 yo: What’s the drinking age at 35,000 feet? Both daughters: “If it is possible, can you please move us a few rows away from our parents?” Both still, always: “When are we going to be there?” 🙂

  4. April 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    We get that first one a lot. And at least here in the US (it may be different in other countries), it’s the same as on the ground – 21. And if you have a baby face, have your ID handy. We card.

    In all seriousness, I have had kids ask to be moved away from their parents. Or, when separated, they don’t want to be moved together. I’ve always wondered what the story is with that.

    And as my dad said, if you keep asking, we’re NEVER going to be there!

  5. May 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    My son is 13 years old. You’d think this would be the ideal bonding time for some great father and son time, wouldn’t you?
    He has questions that revolve around world shattering issues such as [1] how many movies are there? [2] can I stay awake for the entire trip and play games? and similarly to what Margo said above [3] what’s the drinking age in a plane when we’re over water.

    He’s an out and out geek 🙂

    • May 9, 2011 at 10:51 am #

      @Martin Cooney,

      I think those are pretty consistent questions from all 13 year olds. Here are the answers:

      [1] None usually. On a long flight maybe one. On a real long flight maybe two.

      [2] Ask your mom or dad. But let me tell you, I have to stay awake all night long and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

      [3] If you have to ask, you’re not old enough.


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