For parents, few things are as stress-inducing as flying with their young ones. Kids need to run around and release energy. When they're forced to hold onto that energy and are trapped on a plane for hours, they're liable to crack any second. They might cry, scream, kick the chair in front of them, or worse. If this your worst fear as a parent, fear not! These helpful tips will make your time traveling with your kids feel more relaxing than you ever thought possible.
Overplan for an Emergency
One of the most important things you can do when traveling with a child, especially for the first time, is to over plan. You don't necessarily know how your child is going to react to being stuck in one place for so be ready for anything.
Overpack snacks, buy plenty of water once you're through security, bring games, and have as many movies loaded on your tablet as possible. The quicker you can make the flight seem for your little one, the easier your life will be! You might even get some sleep!
Write Notes To Prepare Other Passengers
Realistically, there is no hope that your child won't cause a scene on the long flight. The best way to battle this problem is to write notes to your fellow passengers to apologize in advance. One parent even went as far as to include candy with the note.
Of course, this trick won't work on every passenger, but at least they'll know what to expect, even if they're not happy about it. If you pass out the notes early enough, they may even have enough time to request a new seat further away.
Extra Wet Wipes and Pull-Ups Will Ease Your Mind
To ensure you're prepared for every kind of emergency, and we do mean every kind of emergency, make sure you bring plenty of extra wet wipes and pull-ups with you. The chances you'll need either are slim, but what if you do?
Flights get delayed or redirected all the time. Maybe the flight is just too long and the bathroom is never free. Why worry about bathroom mishaps after they happen when you can make sure you're ready for anything first. And we do mean anything!
Keep Games Simple To Save Space
The first thing you should do before traveling with your child is to load plenty of games and movies onto your phone or tablet to keep them busy. When those run out of batteries, which they undoubtedly will on long flights, make sure you have a few other games packed away too.
One of the best games is I, Spy. You don't even need to pack any extra equipment for it. A card deck is perfect if you know any easy games like Go Fish! Keep it simple to save space, but make sure you're ready for when the batteries run out.
Use Backpacks For Your Carry On Luggage
Make you can always pick up your child if they get fussy by packing your carry-on luggage in a back pack. You'd be amazed by what difference having your hands free to deal with your child can make compared to dragging luggage behind you while yelling at them not to get too far ahead of you.
Of course, having your hands free will also make it easier to check in with your passport among other more practical things. You'll also be able to open a snack for your young one if they're saying "I'm so hungry I could die!"
Pack Each Child Their Own Mystery Bag
Keep your child entertained for hours by packing them their own mystery bag before a flight. Load it up with candy and cheap knick-knacks to keep them searching every pocket for more. It essentially creates a game for them to get more games!
One mother who has done this multiple times says, "We don't let them see it before we get on the flight and in it are cheap pocket money toys to keep them entertained. Things you can buy in supermarkets... They love it and get excited to open them as soon as we are up in the air."
Don't Assume Your Child Flies For Free
There's no faster way to ruin your family vacation then getting to the airport to learn you needed to buy a ticket for your child. A lot of people assume that if their child is under a certain age they fly for free. This is true on some airlines, but not all of them.
British Airways and Emirates will give you a discount for your child, but you still have to buy a ticket. Ryanair and easyJet have flat pricing for children as well. So remember, before you fly, make sure you have tickets for everyone.
Check In As Early As Possible
If you have a large family and you want to make sure you all sit together at the airport and on the plane then make sure you check in and arrive as early as possible. Especially around the holidays. As soon as online check-in opens up, do it.
Set an alarm the next morning for earlier than you plan. Maybe by about an hour. Pack as much as you can the night before. The earlier you get there with your family the happier you'll be.
Warn Your Children About The Police
Have some fun with your kids by warning them about the "Airplane Police," a specialized unit at the airport looking for bad children. Obviously, the "Airplane Police" aren't real, but your kids don't have to know that. They just have to know life will be easier for them if they behave.
The parent who suggested this tip said it "proved hugely effective in stopping my toddler climbing over seats, playing with the fold down table, kicking the seat in front and all the other things that passengers around you really love."
Pre-Order Milk For Your Baby
To avoid questions about the milk you're "sneaking" on the flight for your baby at security, pre-order milk to pick up after you get through the line. Not only will it get you through security faster, but it will also mean there's one less thing for you to pack!
There are applications you can download on your phone to pre-order milk from stores inside the airport terminals. By doing this you'll avoid lines at the stores, which tend to get pretty busy pretty fast. It doesn't sound fun to be stuck in line waiting for milk with a hungry baby!
Plan Flights For When Your Baby Sleeps
Plan flights around your child's sleep schedule to help keep things calm in the cabin. Babies and young children can fall asleep anywhere, so you might as well fly when your kiddo is used to going to bed. If you're lucky, they'll sleep through the entire flight.
The only problem with this tip is if your child is excited to fly. They might not want to sleep and fight the urge, which could lead to tantrums and bad behavior. You know your child best, but this might be something worth trying!
Make Your Child Go To The Bathroom
We've all heard children say, "I don't need to go" before big accidents happen. One of the worst places for this to happen is at the airport or on the plane. Make sure before anything big happens they go to the bathroom, regardless of what they say.
Are you about to board the plane? Make sure they go to the bathroom. Are you about to get on a train for a few hours? Make sure they go to the bathroom. Are you about sit down next to a stranger for six hours? Do your neighbor a favor and make sure your child goes to the bathroom first!
Act Out Scenarios With Your Child Before The Flight
Are you the parent of a finicky flyer? Before you even leave for the airport, you should act out any scenario you think might be helpful to calm them down. Let them play the role of the pilot, the stewardess, or even the passenger to see how stress-free flying can be.
This tip was suggested by a Russian blogger who tried it with her kids. "Play everything that normally happens onboard," she writes. "This really helps to avoid pre-flight and in-flight panic." We think this tip is worth a shot!
There Is No Such Thing As Bringing Too Many Snacks With You
If your child is old enough to eat solid food, but not old enough to stop complaining when they're hungry, bring as many snacks as humanly possible. Mix up the variety with different kinds of fruit and crackers. Drink mix-ins are a great way to make water fun, too!
One parent online described their snack kit as a "snackle box." They packed grapes, strawberries, goldfish crackers, Oreos, rice cakes, animal crackers, mini peanut butter sandwiches, applesauce, and chocolate covered raisins. Like we said, there is no such thing as having too many snacks.
Never Leave Home Without Your Tablets And Headphones
We've said this multiple times already, but it's important enough to demand it's own slide. Even if you try and limit your child's screen time at home, there's nothing wrong with increasing it on the road. You'd be amazing how long a movie, game, or music playlist can keep them distracted on a long flight.
Make sure to bring headphones, too. Even if your kiddo is playing a game, we guarantee they'll want to hear all the silly sounds it's making. The rest of your flight won't, though.
Be Prepared For Tummy Aches
One risk you take flying with a young child is them getting sick. Do you know yet if your child gets motion sickness? You only get one sick bag on the airplane, so it's smart to pack a few extras just in case.
Hopefully, that won't happen, by why take chances? There plenty of reasons to take chances playing the lottery. There are zero reasons to take chances with your child getting sick on the first or fourth flight.
Don't Give Your Kids All Their Toys At Once
By now you know how great an idea it is to have plenty of toys around to keep your child distracted. It's also just as important to not give your child every toy at the beginning of the flight. For some toys, don't even let them know you brought it.
By keeping a few toys as secret surprises, you're prepared for when your child gets tired of everything else you brought and is on the verge of throwing a tantrum. If you had let them know about the toys in the first place, they would probably not have been as entertained for as long.
Plan Short Flights, Even On Long Trips
This option is more for parents with bigger pocketbooks, but if you have kids that need to run around, book several short flights instead of one long flight to get where you're going. Make sure you're at each airport for a few hours too.
By doing this, your young one can run around until their exhausted and sleep on the way to their next destination. The bottom line is kids need time to run around and play, so if you can find a way to include that in your travel plans you should.
Remember That Flying Is Supposed To Be Fun
Flying can seem like a hassle as a parent. You have to do all the planning and packing. At the end of the day, it's important to remember that flying is supposed to be fun. That's what your little one thinks, at least.
They're probably really excited about their first flight. They get the opportunity to see the world from an entirely new perspective. We know it might be hard, but it will help you as a parent to try and remember the wonder that filled you when you got on an airplane for the first time. It's okay to smile.
Trust Yourself, You Got This!
The most important thing to remember when traveling for the first time with children is that you're capable of doing it. You know what you're doing. You've known since the first second you saw your child how to raise them. You might get stressed about it, and that's okay, but you're also stronger then you may realize.
Even if you make one mistake, you'll probably have nine other victories. Focus on those instead of the one little thing that goes wrong. Have confidence in yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.