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Mother’s ‘weird’ travel hack to entertain children on flight divides opinion for being ‘wasteful’

Canadian mom shares her unique travel hack for flying with toddlers, but some people aren’t convinced it’s entirely mess free

Meredith Clark
New York
Monday 18 December 2023 17:54 GMT
Related: Family kicked off Delta flight after debacle over seating toddler in separate seat

A mother’s unique travel hack for keeping her children entertained on flights has gone viral, but some people believe it’s a bit too messy.

Nichola Knox, a content creator based in Canada, recently went viral on Instagram when she shared the unexpected item she doesn’t travel without: painter’s tape. In the video, which has gained more than 128,000 likes since it was posted on 17 November, Knox showed her toddler playing with green tape and sticking it on windows and foldable seat trays.

She demonstrated how she and her children use the tape to create extra cup holders, learn letters, and build makeshift snack holders. “Save this for your next plane ride with kids!” Knox captioned the clip. “Painters tape guys - I swear to you. It’s great on the plane but also on vacation. Label the kid’s cups, a band-aid for when your toddler ‘really needs one,’ taping over locks and drawers you don’t want them getting into. The list goes on. It’s forever the ‘weird’ thing I bring on trips.”

Knox’s travel hack was instantly praised by some parents as an easy way to keep their children from making a fuss on crowded planes.

“This is incredible. Huge brain energy. It potentiates their creativity, is ecological, mess free, and useful too,” one person commented under Knox’s Instagram post. “Incredible mom right there.”

“This is awesome! And way to go mom for having stuff to keep kids entertained!” another user said.

However, others weren’t convinced that the painter’s tape hack was entirely mess free.

“Please don’t encourage people to do this. Not everyone will clean up after themselves, leaving airline employees to peel tape off of all sorts of surfaces. It’s also wasteful,” one user wrote.

“Imagine cleaning up after these people? I would quit my job,” another person said, while a third critic commented: “And create tons of waste and garbage?”

In response, Knox took to the comments section to clear up any frustration over her travel hack. The mother of two clarified that she cleans up the tape after every flight, especially because she used to be a flight attendant.

“I clean it all up,” she replied. “I was a flight attendant for a long time so my seats are always left spotless.”

She replied to another user that she stores the four-feet of tape in a snack-size Ziploc bag.

“So much hate in every comment section I’ll never understand,” said one user, in defense of Knox’s travel tip. “I think this is genius as hell.”

“Can’t believe all the negative comments, love the creativity and versatility,” another supporter wrote.

Speaking to The Independent, Knox shared that she and her family began using painter’s tape at their home to create makeshift roads for toy trucks. She initally packed the tape for her two children to use in their hotel room when travelling, but soon learned that it also helped keep her toddler entertained on the plane.

“I’m all about encouraging moms to enjoy motherhood and keep doing the things they love, just with their kids,” Knox said. “My page is a lot of mom tips and showing our experiences of taking our kids on adventures, so I thought that this video would also help a mom who is nervous about taking their kids on a flight.”

Still, Knox wasn’t completely caught off guard by the barrage of negative comments from users claiming the hack was wasteful. “I’m always a little surprised by some of the people who just seem to love raining on a parade but it comes with the territory whenever you post anything online, even if it’s wholesome or meant to be 100 per cent positive,” she said. “I’m always up for a good internet debate though, so most of them were entertaining - I only had to block one person who was super over the top rude.”

While some people criticised the hack for making a mess, Knox maintained that the painter’s tape wasn’t wasteful at all, saying: “It kept my kids entertained, it didn't harm anyone, and we didn't leave a mess. It was left over from a home painting project from years ago and I think I maybe used four-feet max - less than what taping off one side of a wall would use.”

Despite the mixed reactions to her viral video, the mother of two shared that she hopes it will encourage fellow parents to book a flight with their children - regardless of their age. As for her travel tips, Knox suggested that parents should always have something for their children to eat or drink during the flight, and bring lots of snacks and baby wipes. When travelling with older kids or teens, she advised parents to let them pack their own carry-on bags, so that they can keep themselves entertained on planes.

“Try to enjoy the day as much as possible,” Knox added. “Take lots of pictures, play some fun games in the airport. Things are always going to go wrong and travel is going to be stressful but it’s your reaction to the stress that sets the mood for the day and for your family. Try and enjoy it and be prepared and the day will be great!”

Travelling with children on planes can be stressful, but another woman previously went viral after sharing her “free” travel hack for parents flying with toddlers. Last year, social media influencer Gabrielle Rashbaum shared the helpful flying tip to TikTok after her own family travelled from Los Angeles to London with a toddler in tow.

In the clip, Rashbaum explained that her family was flying with Delta Air Lines, which allows for bassinets to be used free of charge on international flights. “Our favourite toddler travel hack is taking red eye flights,” she captioned the TikTok. “Pro tip: on international flights bassinets are available free of charge.”

Rashbaum added that her family didn’t run into any issues reserving the bassinet, but noted that there are only two available on every international flight.

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