TIPS FOR FLYING WITH CHILDREN
Let’s face it, air travel with kids, especially a toddler, can be challenging and stressful. They may become restless and fidgety, agitated, cry, and have tantrums. Add to that the air pressure on the ears, the confined space, and the unfamiliar sights and sounds, and flying becomes an overwhelming experience for little ones and parents alike. To make the experience as enjoyable as possible, here are some suggestions for people who are considering taking a trip with kids:
BEFORE THE FLIGHT
Informed kids do better, so explain to them what to expect in terms of security screening, boarding, seatbelts, etc. If possible, reserve your seats in advance and select a departure time that fits in with your child’s regular schedule. So for example, if your child usually sleeps at 2 pm, book a flight that leaves by that time and ensure an active morning to burn off excess energy. Also, everyone should try to get a good night’s rest the night before the trip.
In terms of seat selection, either book your seats towards the back of the plane, which is where the toilets are typically located, or in the front row, as some airlines reserve these for families with young kids. If you’re planning on traveling with a young child, you might want to check if the airlines have the facilities to accommodate nappy changing.
DURING THE FLIGHT
Eat a good meal before you leave home, or, if you have time, grab something to eat at the airport, especially if your travel is overnight. Usually, full bellies result in a nap… fingers crossed! In your hand luggage, pack some low sugar snacks (pretzels, crackers, and granola bars) rather than sweets should the kids feel peckish during the flight. A packet of wet wipes and hand sanitisers are super handy for sticky hands and little messes.
Bring entertainment devices like smartphones or tablets loaded with their favourite movies and games, but pack headphones so other passengers are not disturbed.
Other activities like colouring-in books, crayons, and reading books can be useful to keep children entertained. Bring along a comforting item from home that they can cuddle if they feel anxious or consider fun surprises or treats at various intervals during the flight.
Popping Ears – some tried and tested tips to alleviate pressure on the ears are breastfeeding, bottle feeding, pacifiers, yawning, chewing gum, and swallowing water.
Take a snapshot of each of your kids using your phone; it might come in handy if one of them gets lost amid the crowds at the airport, for instance. Keep copies of your passports, boarding passes, and other travel documents in case any one of these items gets lost during your trip. Additionally, point out airport staff to your kids should they need assistance and highlight the importance of following the cabin crew’s announcements and instructions on the flight.
Air travel with children is anything but stress-free and there will indeed be stress of some sort while you are busy cruising above the clouds. You will probably spend most of the flight entertaining them, feeding them, and cleaning up after them but if you have done all the necessary planning and preparation you can certainly reduce the stress. Hopefully you get to arrive at your destination with your sanity intact. Enjoy the quality time with your family and making lifelong memories.