You’ve probably heard about or had to live through the horror of getting stuck beside a screaming baby on a long-haul flight. Bored and angry toddlers can easily create havoc for parents and surrounding passengers alike. That is aside from the problems that parents have trying to keep up with their kids on top of all the logistics of flying. However, with the proper preparation, there are some things you and your family can do to make sure that your traveling experience goes as smoothly as possible. Here are nine essential tips for when flying with children.
Plan on Providing Entertainment for Your Children
Don’t expect your kids to sleep on the flight. You can ask for the kids to visit the cockpit, but you may not be allowed to do so. So for your own sanity and that of everyone else around you, bring multiple activities for your children. You can bring a tablet or eBook reader, but realize that they may get bored with it, break it, or the batteries may run out at some point. For that reason, you should bring backup entertainment options like coloring books and crayons, sticker books, story books, cards and stuffed animals. For younger children, bring at least one favorite blanket for them to hold on to.
Bring Snacks for Your Children
Let’s be honest – your kid may not be able or willing to eat the fancy lunch they’re serving on the flight. You might not want to trust them with the roast beef and green beans, or they may be allergic to the main course. Bringing snacks that they like ensures they won’t go hungry. They may not be happy when told dinner won’t be served for another hour or all of the sandwiches that they like may have been eaten by the time the stewardess gets to you, so having food they like ensures they won’t melt down because they’re hungry.
Plan Toilet Stops
Plan to make regular toilet stops, and then make extra stops when you’re going to be in line. This means you should go to the toilet right before boarding the plane. Give your kids limited liquids while on the flight so they don’t have to go to the toilet every five minutes.
Go for Early Boarding
Take advantage of early boarding if you can. It is easier to get your children and your luggage in place when there are fewer people in the aisle. This is the time you’ll be able to get assistance, if you need it. You may not even have to pay extra for the privilege. If the airline asks whether those with small children or otherwise need assistance boarding, speak up. Then see if you can get someone else to get the stroller and three carry-on bags in the overhead bin.
Invest in Rolling Car Seats
One of the simplest ways to save your sanity when traveling with young children is investing in an airline-approved car seat that rolls. Now you don’t have to juggle several suitcases and car seats. The ideal model will let a sleeping or busy toddler sleep in the car seat as you pull them along.
Connect with Other Parents
Whenever possible, connect with other parents on the flight. You could strike up conversations with them about their kids and yours, and your kids could entertain themselves by talking to their new best friends. It certainly doesn’t hurt if you can get spare diapers or tips from another parent. However, this doesn’t get you out of your responsibility to pack enough wet wipes, pull ups and diapers for your children.
Be Ready to Talk to a Flight Attendant
If you have a child under two, you should be ready to talk to a flight attendant when you board. They need to know if you’re going to have the child sitting in your lap during the flight. Knowing the rules on asking for a bottled to be warmed or how to handle diapers in advance helps you avoid potential disasters, because you cannot put them in the toilet. Don’t forget to ask how to hold the baby during takeoff and landing.
Prepare Them for Pressure Changes
Children will complain about their ears popping when you’re on a flight. Discuss this in advance, and know how they can alleviate it. Hint – that’s by yawning or chewing gum. If the children are old enough, bring gum on the flight so you have it on hand. For babies and toddlers, give them pacifiers or a bottle to have the same effect.
Know Your Rights
There is a chance that your flight will get cancelled. Make sure that you know your rights regarding flight cancellation compensation before you leave so you’ll know the procedure in case something happens. Services like AirHelp can get you several hundred dollars back that you could otherwise leave on the table. You should also know about the travel perks that may come with your credit card or travel rewards program, such as immediate cash payment if they lose your luggage for instance.
Follow these tips, and you’ll avoid many of the mistakes that make others regret traveling with their children. Furthermore, you will all be in a better mood when you reach your destination, ready to enjoy whatever awaits.