Traveling by air these days comes with enough stress as it is, from long security lines and carry-on restrictions to pat-downs and potential X-ray exposure. Add children into the equation, and you might be tempted to call the whole thing off before you even leave for the airport.
Thankfully, yours truly has been there, done that. Before you cancel your flight, consider these travel tips for flying with kids. Following them helps ensure a tolerable — dare I say enjoyable? — flight experience.
Put your kids in their comfy clothes.
No matter what time of day you are flying with kids, taking care to dress your children in comfortable clothing will ease your stress level as well as theirs. If your flight leaves early in the morning, put your children to bed in the clothing you’d like them to wear on the flight. This will make getting up and to the airport on time a lot easier. If you’re catching a midday or red-eye flight, dressing them in presentable yet relaxing clothing will make getting them to nap on the plane amid all the excitement possible. My boys have successfully flown cross country in their comfies a couple of times, and believe me — it helped.
Have comforting items easily accessible in carry-on luggage.
Traveling by plane can be unpleasant and even down right terrifying for some children, particularly those who are unaccustomed to the loud noises and close quarters. Bringing their comfort items, such as stuffed animals or baby blankets, and making sure to place them someplace you can get to them quickly will provide them with the extra security they need to feel more at ease. The key here is making sure you can grab them quickly. If your kids are anything like my oldest, the concept of having to wait to get these items out of overhead storage means nothing to them.
Bring something to help with pressure changes.
The ear clogging that occurs during take-off and landing as a result of pressure changes can be HORRIFIC. Most adults are able to handle and even regulate the ear discomfort that present during a flight. Young children, however, may not have this capacity. Ensuring you have items to help them with this task, such as pacifiers for very young children and gum or suckers for older children, will make altitude changes more tolerable for them. Pro tip: Inviting the binky fairy over to take away that pacifier right before a scheduled flight is NOT a good idea. They’ll be fine if you wait to wean until after vacation.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Page 2″ ]
Keep entertainment close at hand.
Anyone who has ever traveled by air a significant distance knows how bored and restless passengers can become. Children are even more susceptible to these feelings, especially when they must sit in the same spot for hours on end. Taking care to bring a few core entertainment items will aid in keeping children happy. A laptop and DVDs are a great distraction once flight attendants give the go-ahead for electronic devices. For the non-tech travelers out there, books and travel-size board games also help the time pass without incident. My kids love to both play games on the iPad and color.
Stock up on food and drinks to last through the flight.
Children tend to get hungry every couple of hours, making bringing drinks and snacks on board a flight a necessity. TSA regulations prohibit travelers from bringing liquids measuring over a few ounces past the security checkpoints (with the exception of baby formula or breast milk when declared at security). Still, travelers can bring solid snack foods and can purchase other food and beverages once they have entered the terminal areas. Stocking up on these items before boarding the flight is an important measure toward keeping children happy and comfortable on board, particularly if the flight is a couple of hours or longer. We still joke that our son Ewing ate his way from Detroit to Phoenix, but hey — it worked.
While the mere mention of traveling with children sends some airplane passengers into panic mode, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as expected. By following these tips for flying with kids, you can look forward to a (hopefully) hassle-free trip.[/nextpage]