Air travel is always a hassle, whether or not you have young kids in tow. Though sometimes necessary for family visits over holidays or summer trips, it can be difficult to take your young ones on long flights. Not to mention bringing them through hectic security lines and waiting forever at the gate in order to board. With summer fast-approaching, it is important to start planning your travels soon. In order to help ease the stress of flying with young kids, here are five tips on how to keep them in a good mood:
1. Here’s The Drill
Airplanes are a mystery to young kids – and even some adults. Before heading to the airport, explain the process of flying so that they understand. This is especially important if it’s their first time on a plane or if they don’t remember the last time. Definitely don’t forget to mention that you won’t be able to exit the airplane until landing. When boarded, ask if you may introduce them to the pilots as a fun activity and a way for them to understand how flying works!
2. Packing the RIGHT Way
Fill up your kid’s bag with some of their favorite snacks and toys to use while on the plane. Also, pack a change of clothes for them, just in case. It is better to be prepared than stressed out when your kid spills something on their shirt at the very beginning of a five-hour flight. Try to avoid bringing a kid’s roller bag, even if they promise they will hold on to it the entire time. Chances are you’ll end up having to drag it through the terminals in addition to your own bag when your kid decides they are tired or are having trouble steering. Instead, opt for a backpack that is small enough for your child to carry on their back.
During takeoff and landing, it is common for kids’ ears to pop and cause them a lot of pain. To prevent this, give them a stick of gum to chew during these times if they are old enough. When I was younger, I always looked forward to traveling because I got to pick any pack of gum I desired (though I always chose Juicy Fruit) for my trip. So not only do you prevent a crying child but the gum ends up being an exciting treat for your kids as well.
Keep your kids entertained by bringing an iPad or other tablet for them to play games, watch movies, and doodle on during the flight. Make sure it is charged before you leave for the airport because a long flight and a bored child do not mix well.
Food on the airplane is expensive. To avoid a child pestering you to purchase a snack box, pack some of their favorite snacks from home. You can even choose healthier alternatives than the chips and cookies that airlines offer if you so choose.
And remember, if the flight does not go as well as you had hoped and you end up with very antsy, distressed kids… take solace in the fact that you will most likely never see any of the people on your flight ever again!