Comfort Matters in Family Life, Health and Travel

Comfort affects quality of life whether at work, in a hospital bed or airplane. I learned this as an entrepreneur, nurse, travel expert, and parent.

As a life-long, passionate traveler, viewing an employee’s perspective of air travel was fascinating. I quickly discovered comfort was also important for all involved in travel. Years later, I also observed comfort issues while researching the cause of crying kids and stressed adults on airplanes. Comfort for travelers is provided through safety, security, entertainment, and physical care.

We all react better to travel when prepared, involved, and comfortable. “I quickly noticed that illness, flight delays, and all the unpredictable aspects of airplane travel were easier to deal with when the small, practical details were addressed.” I recognized the need for education for travelers of all ages. When I was pregnant in 2003, I began researching the best products and tips for family travelers and with the help of over 20 travel experts. With these experts combined 450 years of experience, I wrote the book, “Jet with Kids” for parents traveling with young children. I wanted to provide practical information to increase the quality of travel for parents, children, and those sharing an airplane with them.

Traveling well with kids is not easy, but when has quality parenting ever been easy? Flying with kids requires preparation and wise decisions – beginning with safety.

Seatbelts on airplanes are in place to protect passengers of all ages from unexpected turbulence, aborted take-offs and crash landings. I communicate directly with members of the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency responsible for transportation accident investigations. They state the most difficult interviews after aviation incidents are with parents after the death of a lap-held child. Parents state, “They told me I could hold my child, but when the accident occurred, I couldn’t!” The reality is our loving arms are flung by forces greater than we can resist.

Our arms are not designed to be seatbelts, no matter how much love and determination we have to protect our child.

Many parents assume airlines wouldn’t allow unsafe options. The current reality is that airlines and the FAA admit they leave it up to parents to make the “right” decision to purchase a seat for children under the age of 2 even when not required to do so. This confuses parents, and they wrongly assume holding a child on the lap is considered safe simply because it is allowed.

Seatbelt warnings are not for decoration. Children held on laps have hit the overhead, been crushed into the seat in front by the adults’ weight. They have been thrown far enough away, one toddler died of smoke inhalation before his mother could find him. Everyone else seated in that section wore seatbelts and lived.

Each passenger, regardless of age, should be seated in their own seat and offered basic protection against the physics of air travel. Even a head injury can have devastating life long effects for a child.

Why not just wear a baby carrier to hold our baby close? Although fantastic for use in airports and destinations, carriers and slings are not designed as restraints and will tear right off our bodies upon impact. Why not simply buckle children into the same seatbelt as the parent? Tragically, a mother’s weight will crush her infant against the seatbelt causing internal injuries.

We lather on sunscreen, purchase organic food and buckle infants into cars because of education. Travel safely, self-sufficiently, and well. Buckle up.

As an independent registered nurse consultant who understands these practical needs, I work with various manufacturers from the medical, travel, and juvenile product industry to identify Products Worth Packing™. Whether addressing ear pain, diarrhea, in-flight safety or back strain from holding little ones, the Jet with Kids’ Products Worth Packing™ seal identifies products providing comfort and convenience.

Through travel seminars, national media, international contacts, and online resources, I now educate travelers of all ages about the importance of quality of life when traveling. As I learned from nursing over a decade ago:
it’s important to enjoy the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination.

Fifteen years after leaving my job as a nursr at the Mayo Clinic, my life path circled back. This time, it was my 6-year-old child wearing a little gown in a big hospital bed looking to me for comfort. My precious, world-traveling, frequent-flier-in-training son was about to be handed over to a clinical team for an unexpected heart procedure. I was confident in the ability of the team, but it was the touch on my arm, an empathetic smile and calming voice that defined excellent care and provided strength through comfort when I felt control being stripped away.

As I looked into my child’s eyes, I was reminded of my past patients’ regret in not living their dreams. It was at that moment, I decided it was time to fire up the reserve jets and live my dream!

My family will soon embark on a 10-month “travel comfort” research journey through Europe and the Middle East, to Asia, Bali, Australia, and New Zealand. From international flights, motorhome rental to hotel amenities, I will passionately research comfort that matters.

I am thankful for the gift of travel and my patients who taught me the importance of comfort.

Anya Clowers

Anya Clowers, RN, BA, is an independent nurse consultant (focus: customer experience), travel expert, and comfort specialist with a career and lifestyle spanning Fiji to Finland. Anya, her husband, and world-traveling son (32+ countries, 5 continents, around-the-world 8+month tour) call both USA (California) and Europe (Germany), “home”. and were created to help travelers of all ages ENJOY the Journey!


May 2, 2011