Travelling with kids is one thing and travelling with kids by air another! I would prefer road travel any day over air or rail when my kiddo is in tow but for long distances, you can’t help but choose air travel. As a parent, it is difficult to
- manage your hyperactive child and expect her to not jump around.
- find the loo empty just in time.
- convince the kiddo that the plane is flying and cannot stop just ‘coz she wants it to.
- keep her engaged.
- coax her to sleep on an overnight flight.
- look the other flyers in the eye when your kiddo is at her shrieking best.
The comfort of air travel that you once swore by now seems elusive but that is okay. We all have to go through this phase and learn how to manage flying with kids like a pro. You reach that stage eventually! Till then, here are a few tips to help you survive long flights when travelling with kids:
- Choose daytime flights if possible
Many people believe it is easier to take overnight flights when travelling with kids as the kids might go off to sleep once aboard but out of personal experience, I have come to the conclusion that it does not help. Kids are so excited by the whole thing (unless yours is a frequent flier) that they hardly shut an eye. While the kids are active throughout, you yourself will find it difficult to cope up. So choose a daytime flight that leaves you with enough energy to handle the kids. Moreover, in case of daytime flights, in case of any delay, you don’t end up with a cranky and sleepy child on the airport in the middle of the night.
2. Ask your child to carry a bag and utilise it!
Make your kiddo feel like a grown-up by telling her to carry her own backpack. Ask her to pack her favourite toy in it and then stuff it with diapers(if your child is young), tissues and wet wipes too. Air sickness can be nasty so you can never have enough of wipes and tissues.
3. Carry a tab!
Nowadays, even domestic flights have lcd screens and play a lot of movies and cartoon…still, and I repeat still, carry a tab or an I-pad stocked with your child’s favourite cartoon films or programs. You don’t want a bored child who dislikes everything playing on the lcd and throwing a tantrum due to the same. Even if it does not keep your child engaged for long, it will surely give you time to grab a snack or finish that meal!
4. Stock snacks!
Carry your child’s favourite crisps to ward off sudden hunger pangs that raise their heads in between meal times. A hungry child is never a happy child! Snacking even keeps kids busy. Anything for sanity!
5. Doodle is the best companion!
Instead of carrying papers, crayons and erasers, carry a doodle with an attached pen. Ask your child to draw everything she plans on visiting/activities she wishes to indulge in once the plane lands. If you have two children, carry their individual doodles- a sibling fight is the last thing you want!
6. Carry little surprises
A very great idea that I read somewhere and later implemented too- carry small surprises wrapped up well in wrapping sheets and gift them to your child after every one or two hours. She will be busy opening the wrapping, excited at the prospect of a new thing and will also be at her behavioural best if you tell her that it is a gift for her good ‘flying’ behaviour.
7. Make sure your child is comfortable
There is no need for your child to look like a runway model. Dress her up in pyajamas and layer her up in garments as per the climate. Even if it is cold outside, the temperature inside a plane is well regulated so don’t cover her in thick, warm clothes. Layering is the key! Get her an extra pillow, help her recline her seat and keep your fingers crossed…she might doze off!
8. Keep children away from aisles
Try to make your child sit at the window seat. She will not only enjoy the views but will also be safe of the trolleys and passengers coming down the aisle. It also restricts their activity as they cannot walk off without you knowing about it.
9. Carry an extra set of clothes in cabin baggage
This is a must! There are so many ways your child can mess up her clothes and yours too in the process- toilet accidents, throwing up, spilling food or drinks. So if you do not want to sit through the flight in not-so-fresh clothes, do carry an extra set of clothes in your cabin baggage.
10. Take it easy!
It might sound difficult after all the above mentioned but is not impossible. Just needs practise, is all. It is important to take a breather and remember that you are on a vacation and need to destress. Even if everyone around is giving you the eye, shut yours and relax- you are trying your best and that is all you can do! If you catch your child busy in watching a movie on the tab or doodling, catch a wink or two. A relaxed parent is a patient parent!
P.S. Do let me know if these work for you or if you have some of your own tricks up your sleeve for travelling with kids by air!