Putting up with the minor discomforts of air travel isn’t that much of a problem for most people, considering the advantages it offers. However, even the most seasoned fliers can get stressed just thinking about flying with kids in tow!
Fortunately, flying doesn’t have to be riddled with trouble all the time when you’re traveling with kids. If you’re worried about that impending trip, here are 4 tips for stress-free air travel with your little ones.
#1 Prepare in Advance
A little bit of planning and preparation can go a long way in helping you stay relaxed for the length of your flight and vacation! Whether it’s packing an extra set of clothes in your carry-on or making hotel reservations early on, being prepared means not having to worry in the event your child has a diaper blowout or if you don’t find accommodation last minute.
Having a checklist always helps ease the tension. If you’re traveling to a new place, get the lowdown on kid-friendly places and list down activities and tours that your kids will enjoy.
Prepare your kids for air travel by talking to them about the trip. Tell them exactly what’s going to happen and how much time each leg of the journey will take. Don’t be afraid to mention probable long wait times, but also tell them that you’ll have fun doing activities and playing games together!
#2 Take the Earliest Flight
Taking the first flight out means getting less sleep- you might have to wake up as early as 3 AM and check-in by 5 AM! On the brighter side, fewer people are ready to fly early in the morning, so flight tickets are cheaper. Most importantly, flight disruptions have a domino effect, so by flying out early, there’s almost no chance of your flight getting delayed or canceled.
Not having to deal with such surprises, traffic, and long queues will keep your mind at ease and help you breeze through air travel with your kids. If you’re thinking how you’ll manage to get your kids up that early, just put them to bed early in their travel clothes! Wake up a bit earlier, get dressed, finish your last minute packing, load up your car, and finally, load your kids into the car.
Toddlers and younger kids might not even wake up until you get to the airport. Even if they do, they’ll probably go back to sleep. If you have older kids, explain the schedule to them beforehand so they can freshen up before you leave.
#3 Beat Boredom
Kids get bored easily, especially if they have to remain confined to small spaces for an extended period of time. Don’t end up having a meltdown yourself; just aim to beat boredom and you’ll have it easy!
For toddlers, pack picture books and sticker books, and some crayons to keep them entertained. A favorite stuffed toy will help them feel better. Do pack some vinyl stickers too- they stick to airplane windows and can make story-telling sessions interesting. Don’t pack a lot of toys as you might accumulate new ones when you buy kids’ meals.
For older kids, have them carry their own little backpack. This gives them more space to carry things they want to, and you won’t have to lug around a lot of things either. Discuss with your kids what things they need to carry and help them pack- a change of clothes is more important than that set of plastic dinosaurs.
Keep your tablets and mobile phones loaded with age-appropriate games, apps, and movies for the airport and in-flight entertainment. Don’t forget to take your chargers! Additionally, a small set of board games like Ludo (with magnetic pieces) and a deck of cards can help kill time.
#4 Keep Hunger Pangs at Bay
A hungry kid is a cranky kid! That applies to adults as well, so pack enough snacks for your kids, for yourself, and for any other adults in your party. Place snacks in your carry-on, and if your kids have their own mini luggage, let them carry individual packs of food and snacks.
Avoid liquids, and foods like gel packs, pudding, and yogurt as they might not be allowed through security. If you want to have some dips, pack single servings into airtight pouches and freeze them. By the time you get settled in your seat, they’ll be ready to eat!
Your best bet are foods like cereal, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, string cheese, crackers, fruit roll-ups, and pickles. Carry fruits and vegetables like clementines and edamame that require peeling but are non-messy. These foods are filling and also double up as an activity!
Consider cutting up carrots, cucumbers, apples, pears etc. and snacking on them with some hummus or peanut butter. Tip: A quick soak in salt water followed by a rinse will prevent your apple and pear slices from turning brown.
Avoid messy and stinky foods! Roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, and cubed tofu are other great options. Do keep treats handy- mini cookies and marshmallows, chocolates, jellybeans, and the like can be reliable ammunition during a meltdown.