We are swiftly approaching the festive season and summer holidays (where has the year gone?) I am sure flights are booked and holiday plans are in order and are literally counting down the days, if not hours, until your departure.
The only damper on your excitement is your kids. Their excitement is palatable and their shrieks and joy is the best sound in the world, but that in conjunction with aeroplane rides the combo can be volatile. In short, flying with kids can be disastrous.
It comes down to teaching your child respect and good manners and for the childless flyers to have just a little bit of patience and tolerance. But also teach your children manners and respect and to be considerate of the other flyers around them.
Here are some tips to make flying with children feel a little less frustrating.
When planning a holiday with a child it’s very important to do some research and planning ahead of booking your trip. This will include what your airline charges for children, should you take your stroller or can you rent one, does your destination have the option of renting a car seat if you are renting a car. If at all possible travel in the morning with kids. Most importantly find a family-friendly destination.
Make travel day exciting. This is especially effective with little ones. Make it feel like a holiday, build anticipation and treat travel day as a special day.
Be sure to talk to your child about the flight and the other passengers. You can’t guarantee a smooth trip but it’s always good to try and be considerate.
Time is of the essence when travelling with children. Book in online if possible and pre-book your seats. Arrive at the airport early so you have enough time to organise yourself and still check your luggage in with ease.
If you’re not very organised and don’t have plenty of time, it’s a definite way to get yourself frazzled before your trip has even begun. When your holiday starts out stressful, it tends to stay that way for the whole trip. As a parent of a toddler, you would know by now that a frazzled parent equals a toddler who knows they can circle for the kill. It’s stuff nightmares are made of. Don’t put any extra stress on yourself. Make sure you have plenty of time to check in, get something to eat, change a nappy and do all the other random and unplanned things that tend to occur with a child on your hip. Whatever time you think you need, add an hour.
Ensure you have the correct travel documents when travelling. When travelling abroad be sure to check which documentation is required when leaving your country and entering a new one. For ease of access keep all your documents like visas, passports, birth certificates etc. together for ease of access.
PACK EXTRA CLOTHING
ALWAYS pack extra clothes, for yourself as well. Accidents happen and they have a bigger tendency of happening if you are not prepared.
SNACKS SNACKS SNACKS
No child is going to eat the “artisan” pastrami ham sandwich that is featured in the airline’s menu. And by the time the snack cart gets to you in the back of the plane — where they banish all of the children — there are no more sandwiches available because all the childless-couples have devoured them up front. You are likely stuck with the option of either Tuna and Kale salad or something called Vegan Crisps. So make sure you bring ample snacks on board. A small bag of surprise gummy bears (although sugar won’t be your first choice) when things are really melting down can be a more effective lifesaver than those oxygen masks.
PRESENT YOUR CHILD WITH GIFTS
Wrap up small toys that you can present to your child as a reward for being good every half hour or so. (This is very effective on long haul flights) They don’t have to be expensive and can even be your child’s old forgotten about toys (yup, I’m a strong believer in reusing old toys).
ACTIVITY BOOKS AND GAMES
Don’t be the person who asks the flight attendant for a pencil and a cocktail napkin out of desperation.
Stickers are great for keeping children entertained for a while – just give them an empty water bottle to decorate or some scrap paper. Bear in mind that you will probably end up having to unpeel stickers from the back of the seat in front and from various parts of your child’s body, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping them quiet for 15 minutes.
For older children, you can bring colouring books, activity books and even playing cards.
GAMES AND APPS
When all else fails, offer the iPad. Especially on long flights, when you need an assortment in your toolbox. Download some of your child’s favourite apps, movies and videos. Try and avoid the screens about an hour before you want your child to sleep (if travelling at night). Be sure that your device is switched to flight mode.
If your child is on chronic medication it’s of essential importance that you pack it and have it on hand. Remember to pack the prescription as well, even if you have enough medication.
Whether they’re out of routine, jet-lagged, or eating less healthily, kids always seem to get ill on holiday. Dampen the impact of broken nights, frayed temperaments and fevers by packing an easy-to-swallow medicine such as Calpol. Other basic ingredients in your first aid kit should include antiseptic wipes, plasters, sting treatment, and a thermometer.
Ear pain in children while flying
The change in cabin pressure during aeroplane take-off and, in particular, during descent and landing can hurt a child’s ears. Swallowing eases the pressure, but the trick is getting your child to swallow at the right time.
Try to feed your baby or child while taking off and landing. Give your child something to drink or eat. If your child is old enough give them a lollipop.