Traveling by plane and Flying with Children with your offspring can be a memorable family adventure or a complete nightmare for everyone involved. The key ultimately is preparation. Here are some steps to ensure your trip is free from any “turbulence” caused by the little ones.
- The more crowded it is the more opportunity there is for aggravation and problems. If it is at all possible, try to book your flights for non-peak travel times such as the early part of the week Mondays – Wednesdays, in the middle of the day or in the evening.
- Pack plenty of entertainment for the kids to take advantage of during the flight. Include snacks, drinks, and fun little games and activities. Be sure to pack at least twice as much or more than you think you’ll need- this could help save you from disaster should you be delayed at any point during the flight.
- Pack fun and entertaining yet quiet activities such as books, activity/coloring books, travel-sized board games, playing cards, and CD players. Portable video game and handhelds can be a lifesaver but be sure they are fully charged and bring extra batteries!
- Remember to bring the headsets for the video games and CD players. You do not want to keep the kids quiet only to have your neighbors annoyed by the constant noise of their games and music.
- Prepare your child for the trip. Go through the process with them at home and explain everything that will happen in the airport. This can help calm them down and alleviate fears- especially during security screenings and boarding.
- If your child is old enough and is aware of the reasons for the security screenings, remind your child that it’s illegal to make any kind of jokes about bombs. According to the FAA, even a child’s jest can result in fines and delays.
In the Airport
- Allow for plenty of extra time at the airport. Everything takes much longer when kids are involved and the more kids you are traveling with the more time you will need. What would be a five minute bathroom break for you can turn into a 12 minute ordeal with a child in tow.
- Give your child safety rules, such as what to do if you become separated. Be sure to point out who the airport workers and security guards are so your child knows who to go to if they become lost.
- One way to pass time while waiting of your flights or killing time during a layover is to give your child a little “airport allowance.” Visiting the shops in the terminal area can kill quite a bit of time as your child searches for the perfect snack, toy, or book to buy for the flight.
- Even if you are adamantly opposed to using a child leash or tether, you may want to seriously consider it. Airports are insane and there is a lot that has to be juggled and passed around. There will be times you must let go of your child’s hand. Having the tether is just one less thing to worry about, and you can always take it off once you get through security or arrive at your gate.
- Take-offs and landings can hard because they can be quite painful for little ears. Help your child’s ears adjust to the pressure by offering chewing gum, hard candy to suck on, or a snack to help the ears pop.
- Drag out the use of toys by allowing only one at a time and setting a minimum of time that each toy must be played with once brought out. When a new toy is brought out, the other one must be put away. This will keep your child from breezing through all the toys in the first fifteen minutes and being bored the rest of the flight.
- Seat your child by the window as most will find the view fascinating. It’s also safer for kids by the window than the aisle because their arms and legs could get bumped and kicked by people walking the aisles.
- Remember, not all passengers appreciate the joys of children so do your best to keep them happy and entertained. If your neighbors seem ok with the occasional game of peek-a-boo over the seat that is fine. But if they seem to be getting annoyed, try to settle your child down with a movie, coloring, or a new book to read.
- Above all, try to look at the flights as a time to spend with your child as he or she experiences something new and exciting.
I would like to thank Sarah Jo Coryell for her help and perspective on this article.
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