Tips for Flying with Kids
If, like me, you don’t have a nanny travelling with you, or a private jet, it’s easy to feel a little anxious about travelling with young children. Parenting is hard enough on the ground, so the thought of being trapped in a confined space 40,000 feet in the air, with hundreds of other people around you, is enough to make you reconsider the idea of travel altogether. That’s where I come in to help.
Below are some tips which, I hope, will make flying with children a little less daunting. These tips are based on my ten years’ experience as an international flight attendant and years of travelling the globe with my young family in tow.
Here are my TOP TEN TIPS for airline travel with young children:
1. Patience and extra time
As a parent you know everything takes longer to do with your kids are in tow. Allow yourself extra time to get to the airport, plus additional time at the airport. Besides the standard airport routine, you’ll need to consider stops for nappy changes, snacks and little legs, without the stress of missing your flight. Most importantly, pack your patience. If you’re calm and relaxed, it will rub off on your child.
Flying is extremely dehydrating so make sure you all drink lots of fluids before, during and after the flight, particularly mums who are still breastfeeding. If your child is having bottles, be prepared and pack extra formula in case you’re delayed or diverted. Throw out the meal schedule and give your baby extra bottles to keep them hydrated. Finally, allow time for the crew to heat bottles on the flight using boiled water as there are no microwaves up there.
3. Look after yourself
It’s like we say on the safety demonstration, fit your oxygen mask first before helping others. If you look after your own needs as well as those of your child, you’re going to have the energy and stamina to be able to care for them throughout the whole journey. I know this is easier said than done, but just remember you’re important too.
4. Getting around
The best thing I did was invest in a second-hand, good quality stroller. It’s lightweight, yet sturdy, so it’s very useful both at the airport and when you reach your destination. Most airports will allow you to take the stroller to the gate so you can keep your child strapped in safely as you move through the airport. Ask the check-in staff to tag the stroller so you can hand it over at the gate. If you’re lucky enough for your child to sleep in the stroller, just remember most airports will require the stroller to go through the security scanner at some point!
5. Carry-on luggage
Leave the designer handbag and baby bag at home and invest in a backpack. My backpack is a lifesaver as it leaves my arms free as well as ensuring the weight is distributed evenly. Plan ahead and pack ten more nappies than you think you need. Not only will you be in the air for a certain amount of time, you’ll also need to be prepared for the hours on either side of the flight, as well as any delays that may occur.
6. Digital entertainment
Upload new apps and episodes of your child’s favourite shows, remembering on most airlines you can’t access wi-fi in the air. Even if you’re travelling on a premium airline with fantastic in-flight entertainment, you’ll have additional time waiting to check-in, board and collect baggage, which is when the iPad can be extremely useful.
If you’re travelling on a night flight, or you want your children to sleep on the flight, dress them in their pyjamas. Comfort is paramount here and the more comfortable they are, the better your journey. Pyjamas are also a cue that it’s time to sleep. To give them a better chance of sleeping, don’t forget to pack their usual comforters.
8. Ear aches
Little ears can experience pain as the aircraft pressurises when ascending and descending. Make sure your little ones are sucking or chewing as this can alleviate the pain. It was fantastic when my babies were breast and bottle feeding, as I would feed them on take-off and again when landing. Now I give my kids, aged two and five, something to suck like a lolly.
9. Be prepared during flight
I recommend leaving a couple of nappies and wipes in your seat pocket to avoid having to negotiate the overhead locker and go rummaging through bags each time you need to change your baby. I divide wipes into re-sealable sandwich bags and store them everywhere. They are so handy, not just for nappy changes, but to wipe little faces, sticky hands and remove stains from clothing.
Pack a small pencil case with stickers, crayons, etc. and some paper to keep little hands and minds busy. Don’t pack big toys and books as these are a hassle to carry around. Instead consider picking up books and little toys as you go, which in time become great mementoes of your trip. You’ll be amazed at how few toys your children can survive on while you’re away. Encourage your little ones to explore the new environment they are in and use their imagination to make up games.
I hope these tips give you the confidence to travel with your family so no one has to miss out on the wonderful experience of exploring new and exciting places.
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