Take your kids overseas, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. If you’ve flown with children before, you’ll know where I’m coming from. If you’re about to undertake this mammoth task for the first time… take note. It’s never going to be drama-free, but with a few handy tips under your belt you might be able to arrive without feeling too frazzled!
We cannot underestimate the importance of a clean change of clothes…and not just for the kids! If you’re travelling with a small child, pack yourself a spare pair of trousers in case you end up covered in spilt milk (or worse). Kids can get themselves into all sorts of sticky situations, and you’ll be glad of a spare set of clothes so you can at least arrive at your destination looking less disheveled than you feel.
Burn baby burn
Use your time in the airport to let the kids burn off some energy. This is also great for stop-overs. Don’t waste precious time watching movies or playing on phones…save that for the plane! Get them to run laps around the terminal, or find a quiet place to have a family dance party. Who cares what you look like! Just get those kids moving.
Stop the pop
The feeling of having their ears pop can make little ones panic. Encourage them to suck on a boiled lolly or drink from a sippy cup as the plane takes off. Allow your baby to breastfeed or have a bottle to minimise the effects. And if the kids start crying, this can actually help ease the pain of popped ears so apologise to those around you and let ’em wail!
Tech is best
Yes, yes, we all have good intentions when it comes to smartphones and tablets. All bets are off the minute you get on that plane. Try not to get hung up on how much screen time your kids are being subjected to, and enjoy the peace and quiet. Load your iPad with games, TV shows, songs and movies to keep them entertained. Make sure you bring headphones if you have them and for goodness sake… pack a charger!
Bags of fun
Look around on the internet for some ideas, and pack your kids a “plane bag”. Fill it with snack and cheap trinkets like stickers, crayons, colouring books, mini Lego set… whatever might keep them occupied for ten minutes! Some people suggest wrapping each tiny toy (time consuming, but worth it!) so that it becomes a game for kids, they get to unwrap a new surprise every hour.
There’s nothing worse than a case of mid-flight hangries. Bring plenty of snacks to keep kids of all ages entertained. Try to avoid a lot of sugar and processed foods, as you don’t want to subject a plane full of people to a hyper toddler with an upset tummy! Full fat yogurt, bananas, apples, almonds, popcorn, boiled eggs and cheese squares are all ideal. You should also encourage your kids to stay hydrated with water throughout the flight.
First is the worst
It’s very nice that airlines allow families with children to board first, but we can tell you there’s definitely benefits to boarding last! Sure, you might not have a lot of overhead compartment space left, but at least your kids won’t have to spend ages on the plane waiting for the other passengers to file in and settle. Boarding can take a while. Make the most of the time you have and let them run off steam in the emptying departure lounge.
Timing is everything
It’s not always easy to choose what time you depart, but if possible try to leave as close to your child’s normal bedtime as possible. Late flights mean sleepy toddlers, which is a bonus for everyone involved. If you’re taking a short flight, the morning can be go.
Feature image: Victoria Gloria