You book your flights for a much-awaited family trip. But, although you’re excited about the trip, you dread the whole flying experience.
Stuck in a small metal tube with hundreds of other strangers and little wiggle room, it seems like air travel is torture for families. Little ones want to run around, play, and MOVE! There’s no opportunity for that on airplanes. And then, if your kids get upset, everyone glares at you.
Airports aren’t much better. Lines for security, food, and customs make layovers and even arriving at the airport to catch your flight very unpleasant.
But, with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can make flying with kids, if not enjoyable, at least more pleasant. What should you do?
Lower Your Expectations
As parents, we need to be realistic. If you expect your children to sit perfectly still (and happy) for a 3 hour flight, you’re in for a big disappointment. Prepare yourself mentally for a few tantrums, upsets and/or whining at the very least.
Remember, air travel is tiring and unpleasant for most adults, let alone kids. So, expect things to go wrong along the way. Having this approach will help you relax and accept these moments as they come.
Enlist Your Child’s Help
Even two year olds can help if you phrase things the right way. So, ahead of your trip, explain what’s going to happen. Tell your kids that you really need their help to make sure everything runs smoothly. Explain some of the things you’ll need to take care of such as passports, tickets, and baggage. Ask your kids to help by walking on their own, waiting patiently and being nice and quiet during key moments such as when you’re getting interviewed by a customs agent.
Your kids will feel like you’re all in it together, working towards achieving the goal of arriving at the destination if you ask for their help. Many kids can live up to the challenge and act even older than their age if you approach them in this way.
Pack a Goodies Bag
Let’s be realistic. You’re not going to get through this without some goodies. Pack some of your child’s favorite easy to carry snacks so that you can make it through a day of air travel. Flying often means you don’t have a chance to eat whenever you want and when you do get the chance, you might have a hard time finding something your kid likes. So, avoid that whole issue by packing snacks your child will happily eat. The last thing you want is a hangry child boarding a flight.
Also, your goody bag should include some new or exciting toys/distractions for your kids. It can be as simple as a new sheet of stickers, new markers or a new coloring book. But, it’s essential you have some fun activities to keep your child busy while sitting on that long flight.
Strategic Bathroom Breaks
Airplane bathrooms are a pain. Always plan strategic bathroom breaks just before your flights. This also goes for kids in diapers because fitting into that tiny airplane bathroom is difficult. Sure, you can use the airplane bathroom in a pinch, but there are often lines and turbulence that appears just when you need the bathroom most.
Also, if your childs isn’t potty trained for overnights, bring a diaper along just in case your child falls asleep on the plane.
Be Active When You Can
Time in the airport during a layover is running and jumping time. Your new calling is to lead an aerobics/dance class for your kids to get all those wiggles out! No, seriously, make sure your kids walk, run and move around while you’re in the airport waiting to board. The goody bags and digital devices are off limits when you’re in the airport and exclusively for airplane use. This will help make sitting on the flight much more bearable.
Flying with kids might not be a walk in the park, but you can make it more pleasant by following the above tips.
Do you have special tricks for surviving air travel with kids? We’d love to hear about your tips and strategies in the comments.