I’ve taken a few flights with my son, and one cruise. Travel with kids can be hard, but my friend Roni, the Travel Guru, is guest posting today with some tips to help keep us stress free.
1. If at all possible, don’t have a layover.
There are some that feel it’s better to have a layover so you can break up the flight for your kids. I disagree. Flying and sitting in the same place for hours can be really hard on kids and if you can arrive at your destination with one flight, all the better for the little ones. If it’s not a possibility to have a direct flight, then give yourself plenty of time between flights. If I was traveling with children I would try and have at least three hours between flights. Why? Your child needs to be able to run around a bit and get out some of the energy that has been balled up during the first flight. Many airports have play areas for kids so check and see if that’s true for your connecting airport. If so, give your family enough time to be able to relax and play before you get on the next flight. Also, you will probably be hungry and want to sit and eat. Whether you have fast food or take the time to sit in a restaurant, you want to be able to relax and not rush through your meal. Hopefully if you have to have a layover, your child will run and play and be nice and tired for the second leg of your journey.
2. Have plenty of snacks for your child.
This is essential as many airlines do not provide food and the food you can buy is not always very good. Fresh fruit, nuts, and crackers are always good choices. Unless your child is allergic then of course that won’t work for you. Only you know what snacks are best for your family but whatever choice you make, bring them in baggies or plastic containers as that minimizes mess. If you bring something like an apple or an orange I’d suggest cutting it up and/or peeling it before you get on the flight. That way, your snack will be ready and you won’t have to worry about making a mess in your seat by trying to peel fruit.
3. Bring headphones.
Have you ever say next to someone who didn’t have their headphones and they felt like it was appropriate to play their game/music/movie at a level that everyone around them could hear it? It’s really annoying and you don’t want to be that annoying passenger on the plane. It’s really considerate to make sure your children have headphones if your kid will be playing with electronics. Your fellow passengers will appreciate the fact that you aren’t making everyone in your immediate vicinity listen to their games.
4. Buy toys from the dollar store.
If you just want some cheap toys for the plane ride go to the dollar store and pick up some things, they have great items that you can purchase for very little money. Crayons, coloring books, stickers, and the like are wonderful little things to occupy your child. Since things are so inexpensive, you can get plenty of choices for your kids and if they lose them you won’t be upset. This way you can leave your expensive toys at home and you won’t be stressed if your child loses one of their toys because you only spend a dollar on each thing.
5. Make sure to bring a change of clothes for your child.
I can’t stress this enough. Sometimes when you get to the carrousel your luggage won’t be there. If that is the case you don’t want to be stuck with nothing to change into for you and your child. Pack an outfit or two in your carry-on bag along with any toiletries you may need. Also pack something to sleep in just in case you will have to wait until the next day to get your bag. Also, accidents happen all the time on planes when people travel with kids and if you check your bag and need to change clothes you won’t be able to do so until you get to your destination.
6. Prepare your child for the long flight.
It’s not really fair to expect your child to sit in a seat for hours if it’s not something they have done before. You can have practice sessions at home. I wouldn’t suggest trying this just a few days before the flight, this needs to be done well in advance. For instance, if you are going to be flying on a 5 hour flight, try sitting with your child on the couch for an hour without letting them get up. See how many things you need to keep their attention during that time period. Then increase it little by little so you can gage how many times you think your child may need to get up during that flight. Of course this won’t be exact but this can help you to prepare. If your child can sit and play with games the whole time then great. But your child may not so you need to know that and then you need to figure out what can be done to keep him or her entertained during the flight.
7. Bring medication.
Even if your child isn’t sick or isn’t prone to sickness, bring over-the-counter meds that may be helpful in the event your child gets sick. Motion sickness, Diarrhea, cold, flu, allergies…these are all meds that you can be prepared for. Get your 3.4 ounce bottles and fill them with the liquids you need. Make sure to label them so you know which is which. And by all means, make sure you keep these with you on the plane and do not put them in your checked bag.
Is there anything you would add to this list?
How do you get through a flight with your kids?
Roni Faida is a trilingual (French, Spanish, English) Certified Tour Manager and a licensed elementary school teacher who hold an MBA. She has taken the travel knowledge from her 20 years of experience of traveling the world and is now blogging about it so others can benefit from her expertise in packing, planning, and navigating the world. She writes at www.the-travel-guru.com