Dreading your holiday flight? We can’t take away all the stress, but we can make your flight a lot easier with these tips for flying with kids.
Let’s face it, flying with kids will never be a breeze. But with some planning, a few coping strategies up your sleeve and the right mindset, you can make it more of an adventure for you all. We’ve put together some essential travel tips and a checklist – just for you!
Planning, planning and more planning…
Did we mention that you need to do some advance planning?! By doing so, you can make your flight a whole lot more pleasant for parents and the children. So:
1. Book your flight carefully.
Consider flying at nap time and if possible, not overnight. Book seats at the back of the plane – nearer the loos and further from other people. Don’t forget to order child meals. And consider getting a seat for your under two’s – many airlines discount child seats and the extra wriggle room may be worth the money!
2. Let them know what to expect.
Explain what will happen at the airport, on the plane and when you land, so there are no surprises. You could practice going through security (don’t forget shoes that slip off easily) or sitting on the plane. And chat about expected behaviour with your little ones, is a good idea, possibly with the promise of a reward (but don’t give it if they don’t behave!).
3. Get them good & tired! If at all possible, let your kiddies run off steam before leaving for the airport. But don’t try to change their sleep routines to make them sleepy – they’ll probably end up cranky which you really don’t need…
Airport coping tactics
4. Keep moving. Walk around the airport as much as you can, so they’re happy (well, happier) to sit when finally on the plane. You could count or ‘collect’ certain types of shop, staircases, lifts, loos – and you can also…
5. Be a photographer. Tell the kiddies that someone special to them wants a report about the flight. Then take lots of photos and selfies together – you could even give them a (robust) camera of their own or a play one for the very small. Then look at the pics in the plane. You can also…
6. Be an explorer. Using a map you’ve printed or bought in advance (see our checklist [LINK]), place stickers to show the destination of planes you see at the gates or on the departure boards. Don’t forget yours! You can use the in-flight magazine in the plane, too. Get some practice in with our PlayMama App, with little explorer games tailored to their mood!
7. Use the toilet. Whatever else you do, pay a visit and/or change nappies if you have a baby before you board – anything to reduce the number of times you have to use the plane’s cramped facilities…Oh, and forget the potty training and use pull-ups! The alternative isn’t worth thinking about…
Coping tactics for the plane
8. Bring on the distractions. Be prepared with new activities you reveal one at a time – you can even wrap them like presents. Sticker books, toys (no small pieces), books, magic drawing board, triangular crayons (they don’t roll)…you get the drift. Portable DVD players and kiddie apps are also a godsend. Don’t forget the headphones and make sure they’re available to all children – you don’t want a fight. See our checklist [LINK] for more ideas.
9. Avoid seatbelt woes. If toddlers really don’t want to be strapped in, try telling them the belt’s magic and the plane won’t fly if it’s not done up – it’s a signal to the pilot that he’s ready to fly. Weave in superheroes or anything else you think will help – a true test of your storytelling abilities…
10. Drink a lot. That means water by the way, as tempting as the wine may be! Dehydration is a problem with air travel and will make you all cranky, so just ask for water throughout the flight.
11. Snack for energy. Pack some snacks to keep them going (and occupied). No sweets though, unless you want them bouncing off the walls – instead try cheese cubes, breadsticks, fruit – in personalised bags to avoid fights. See our checklist [LINK] for more ideas.
12. Dress cool and comfortable. It’s hot in planes and airports, so leave coats in the hold and dress light – you can always ask for a blanket. Don’t forget spare clothes for you and the kids in case of disasters. See our checklist for more flight essentials.
13. Look after ears. As you know, ears can be painful during descent if they don’t equalise. Swallowing helps, so nurse babies or give them a bottle and give older kids a drink. Chewing gum or really chewy sweets can also help – and you can play a yawning or face pulling game too, to encourage ears to ‘pop’. And ask your pharmacist if there’s anything they can recommend.
Things for the plane
Use a checklist. Why not use ours – we’ve made it just for you!
So, good luck with your flight – we hope we’ve helped! And have an amazing family holiday…