Every air traveller’s worst nightmare seems to be getting stuck next to a screaming child for an 8 hour flight. When your the child’s parent, the nightmare can be worse. You do not have to hold your breath and hope for the best. Here are some tips for flying with kids without alienating other passengers in the process.
Keep your expectations realistic – air travel can be tough on children (as well as adults). Don’t expect perfect behaviour, and don’t freak out if your child act up. Stay calm so you can deal with whatever problems come up.
Explain the procedures. Prepare children for what they are likely to encounter during the trip, ie crowds, delays, lines etc. Practice going through an airport screening line so they feel better knowing what to expect.
Decide between direct versus connecting flights, especially for international flights. I recently took my children from Perth Australia to Los Angeles with direct connecting flights via Dubai. In hindsight now i would have preferred an overnight in Dubai to rest, shower and have a nice meal, before tackling the second 16 hour leg of the flight. Our trip was 27 flying hours in total with a 2 hour lay over in Dubai, we arrived exhausted with no clue what day or time zone we were in. Depending on the age of your children decide which type of trip suits your family best.
Schedule naps. If possible pick a flight that coincides with your kid’s sleep schedule. If they can take a nap at their usual time, or get a good night’s sleep on a red eye, they will be more refreshed and better behaved upon arrival at your destination.
Meals – if you child is a fussy eater they may not like airplane kids meals. Bring their favourite snacks and meals for one part of the journey at least. Hungry kids are agitated kids in small environments.
Visit the doctor prior to flight – check there are no illness’s or ear infections. Also check what medications you can bring if on international flights in case of sickness whilst away. You dont want to get stuck at customs because you have brought medication not allowed in that country.
Dress for comfort – loose fitting clothes around the waist, pack a jumper, and bring spare clothes in case of spills. If your child is not night time toilet trained bring nappies too. I always fly with spare clothes, toothbrushes, hairbrushes etc so you can feel refreshed when flying.
Bring toys or small teddies to occupy your children when flying. Some airlines have fabulous consoles with TV and radio, but not all airlines, so pack a small lightweight item to entertain your children.
Last of all give your kids movement breaks at least every hour, otherwise they will feel like caged animals. Children are energetic and like to play and do not cope well with being confined for long periods of time.
Good luck parents I hope using these tips will give you a more enjoyable flight on your next journey