Many people use their kids as an excuse not to travel. They don’t want to bring them along to certain places because they think, “They won’t even remember it,” or “It will be too much of a hassle to fly with them.” Even if your kids are young, you can still take them places. So what if they don’t remember it—you will! Kids can add to the adventure and can help you have the same curious spark that they do as you tour around new cities and different countries.
We will admit that flying with kids isn’t always easy, though. However, here are some tips to make it doable.
If you’ve run through an airport to catch a connecting flight, you know the importance of packing light. Keeping your carryon items organized and lightweight makes it easier to get from one side of the airport to the other. Because you are traveling with kids, you’ll still need to carry a lot, but overpacking lots of heavy items will make you want to stop frequently which will lengthen your already stressful walk through the airport. If you already have to carry a stroller or car seat, you won’t want to pack an extra heavy duffel bag along with it. Plus, packing light leaves you extra space in your suitcase to buy souvenirs you know your kids will insist on.
When your child is old enough, have them carry or roll their suitcase so they quickly learn packing and traveling responsibility—and help you carry less.
Traveling with kids requires extra planning. When you were a solo traveler or only traveled with one other person, you could play things by ear and be spontaneous. But with kids, you’ll want to plan. For example, you’ll want to bring plenty of diapers and wipes, plus a change of clothes. Some people advise bringing a diaper for every hour of flight time. When traveling, it’s smart to bring more than you think you’ll need—like an extra outfit (for you and baby) just in case there’s a blowout and you both get messy. Pack a plastic bag to keep the scents of such accidents contained.
Babies and small children have a hard time getting their ears to pop. So bring along bubblegum (if they are old enough), a sucker, or a pacifier that they can use during the ascent and descent that will help their ears adjust less painfully.
When you are planning, you should also keep in mind what you’ll all be wearing, when you’ll fly, and where you’ll sit. You and your family will want to be wearing clothing that makes security quick and potty breaks easy—no belts, buttons, or abundance of zippers. These clothes are also comfortable and will encourage sleeping on the plane. It’s smart to plan your flight time during their nap time or bedtime to encourage them to maintain their routine. Sit your kids farther from the aisle so they are less distracted by other passengers and flight attendants.
Show Up Early
The early bird gets the worm. Or in this case, early seating on the plane. Showing up early can help simplify the security and boarding process. It also allows you time to help your kids release their jitters by walking (a lot) and looking through different stores. Some parents appreciate the early boarding so their kids can settle in, while others prefer to wait until the last call so their kids don’t have to wait for everyone else to get seated. Whatever you decide, still show up early, this way you know you’ll make your flight.
Flights are boring. While the novelty of them is fun, they are basically car rides with more people, less legroom, and less to see out the window. So, it’s important to plan for bored children with entertainment. First, try to encourage sleep, but after that, bring a movie (with headphones) they can watch off your phone or tablet. Download different shows, music, and games that will keep them entertained for a while. If you don’t typically let your kids play with electronics, make flights the exception—you don’t want your kid causing a scene for everyone on the flight because they are bored. However, there are also ways to keep them entertained without relying on electronics – you could bring books or coloring pads.
Let them Help Plan
Children typically aren’t used to flying or traveling, and the change should come with some adjusting. Help your children prepare by telling them what they can expect and the fun things you’ll do on your trip. Having them help plan can increase their excitement for the trip and encourage better behavior during the flight. Sometimes the reason children misbehave on flights is that they are nervous. Help them fight their anxiety by reassuring them and reminding them what they’ll get to see and do once you reach your destination. Enrolling your child in daycare before you begin traveling together can also help them feel less anxious in new situations and around unfamiliar people.
Don’t let your kids stop you from seeing the world… let them see it with you!