Just as the plane is leaving the runway, your child loudly screams, “I have to go pee!” Kids get hungry and bored. They love kicking the seats. They throw toys and get sick from the motion. When kids fight in a car, you can stop and pull over. On a plane, you’re stuck in your seats. A loud toy in a car annoys only the driver. What amusements work well on a plane? Airline travel is always a challenge with kids. Read my list below for tips.
1. Restricted items: Flying has changed dramatically over the last few years including what can and cannot be brought onto a plane. Check the website for your airline in advance of your trip to avoid unnecessary delays at security checkpoints. Food staples for your child, like water and yogurt, seem harmless but have restrictions.
2. Fears: Are you clutching a rosary and saying a prayer? Your kids will pick up on your fears. Kids need reassurance. They get easily scared. Tell them flying is safe and fun.
3. Clothing: Dress your child in comfortable clothing for the flight. Airplane bathrooms are tiny so make sure you can put on and take off your child’s clothing easily. Dressing your child in layers is also a good idea, as you never know what temperature it will be inside the plane.
4. Activities: Pick quiet activities that don’t require tiny pieces. Games, puzzles and Polly Pocket size toys scatter quickly and are easy to lose. Activity books, magazines and Magna Doodles work well. Let them take pictures of clouds with your digital camera.
5. Prompt: Kids cause delays, especially when travelling. It’s better to spend time at the airport watching planes and shopping than trying to rush a cranky toddler. Unexpected bathroom breaks, spills on clothing, water fountain fascinations and minor injuries are just part of everyday life for most children.
6. Illness: It’s hard to know how your child will feel on the plane so you should be prepared for a variety of common illnesses. Pack gum and candy for the takeoff and landing to protect your child’s ears. Bring Gravol and Tylenol pills (not liquid) in case of fever or motion sickness. Pack favorite stuffed animals or blankets for the flight. Even if your child doesn’t nap, comfort items are soothing.
7. Pictures: When you travel with children, don’t forget to take pictures. Snap pictures of the airplane, the airport and your child with their luggage. Do you remember what things looked like when you were a child? Memories fade quickly but looking at pictures will help them to remember.
8. Preparation: Prepare your child in advance for the experience of flying. Explain the process to them, what will be happening; what it will feel like and important facts they should know. Tell your children about x-ray machines and baggage carousels. This is especially important for children who become anxious in new situations.
9. Earphones: If you are flying with small children, bring your own earphones on the plane. There is usually entertainment on a flight and you don’t want your children to miss out. Airlines let you purchase earphones for a price, but sometimes the earphones are too big for small children and won’t stay in their ears. It’s an easy flight for everyone when your kids are amused!
10. Flight times: Make sure to choose your flight time wisely if you are travelling with a child. You know what time of day your child is generally awake and happy. If it is not a long flight, don’t plan for it to be during naptime or bedtime. If your child doesn’t sleep, they’ll be overtired and cranky.
Flying with children doesn’t have to be a bad or exhausting experience. Share your child’s excitement. Study the ant-size buildings on the ground together. Marvel at what the clouds look like when you are flying through them. Make a game out of gathering your luggage from the baggage carousel. Children easily pick up on your attitudes and it’s up to you to make the experience of flying memorable and fun. Good luck and happy travelling!