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Travel Tips From A Festival Promoter Who Flies With His Toddler Every Single Month

If you’ve ever struggled to placate a screaming kid mid-flight, you know what it’s like to be stuck between a rock and a few hundred passengers staring daggers into your back (or your front, depending on what row they’re in). In that moment, you probably thought to yourself, “How do people do this?” Pasquale Rotella is glad you asked.

Rotella is founder of Insomniac, the promotion company behind EDM festival goliaths like the Electric Daisy Carnival, which feature up to 400,000 people dancing for days on end to A-list DJs and more pyrotechnics than Michael Bay’s Fourth Of July party. He’s on planes at least once a month, and, for the past 2-and-half years, he’s had daughter Rainbow Aurora with him more often than not. If getting from A to B with your kid involves a plane, Rotella has some advice for you. Particularly if “B” stands for “Burning Man.”

Whatever Rainbow’s current nap schedule, it trumps everything. Flights are scheduled to ensure she’s settled into the plane before nap time, to increase the odds that she’ll sleep on the flight. Rotella finds this is an easier method than trying to explain to a screaming 2-and-a-half year old why her nap had to be rescheduled just this once.

What He’s Packing (For Her)
Rotella is never without a book for Rainbow: “Sofia The First, Things I Do With Daddy, London Town, or any of those Dr. Seuss books,” he says. Her current toy obsession is the Disney Glitter Glider dolls, but in addition to distractions, he makes sure he’s prepared with a basic first aid kit, plus arnica gel for bruises.

Dealing With Security
“I try to opt out as often as possible,” Rotella says of the newfangled security scanners, because scanner + stroller = chaos. As long as he’s carrying a kid, security will be accommodating, he says, but admits that it’s the lesser of 2 evils. Not only does it slow things down, but “They treat her great; they don’t treat her stroller that great.”

Dan Paluska

Handling Pre-Flight Fiascos
Rotella never shows up at the airport without a Plan B — he knows when the next flights are and what he’ll have to juggle if necessary. He also makes sure the wife and kid are on the same page: If things get too crazy, they’ll wait for the next one. Granted, that’s not always an option for everyone, but it helps to keep it in mind when you’re planning the trip initially: Is it a once-a-day flight? If it is, are there ways to get to where you need to be with a connection? Having that laid out beforehand can save a whole lot of stress when a full diaper explodes down your shirt 5 minutes before boarding.

Stopping A Meltdown
It may be too late for you, but Rotella’s biggest piece of advice is simple: Limit TV time at home as much as possible. His move at DEFCON 1 is to pull out the books. DEFCON 2 is toys. But, when staring down a DECON 3 tantrum, he whips out the tablet and punches up a movie. “She doesn’t get to watch TV often at home, so it’s a special treat. I don’t know how that would work for someone who lets their kid watch a lot of TV, but she is completely fine every time. It never fails.

Pasquale Rotella

Now Your Kid Is Traveling Like A Champ — What Festival Should You Bring Them To?
Rainbow’s been to Burning Man, the Electric Daisy Carnival, and another festival called Nocturnal — Rotella recommends looking for events with cool natural surroundings, so you can let them run around a bit, away from the music and crowds. And the one festival that he found the most kid-friendly isn’t even an EDM event. “We went to Lollapalooza, and they have a section called Kidzapolooza that’s one of those festivals that are special for kids. She did some planting, and some painting. She got her face painted. She got tattoos. That’s going to be an annual trip for us because it was a lot of fun. It actually inspired me — I want to do a small event in the daytime in a park where families can come. Same concept, but with the sound and culture that we have at our events. You can’t get in unless you have a child who’s under 10.”

Somebody better let Rave Mom know.