8 Ways to Make Flying with Kids Easier
As any parent knows, flying with kids can be a challenge. However, if you plan in advance, you can make any flight-even a long haul one-a breeze. Here are eight tips to help ease the stress in the airport and up in the clouds.
Move Through the Airport with Ease
If you are a frequent flying family, get a Trunki (the website has Canadian stocklist info). These hard cases double as ride on toys that make it fun and fast to get to your gate. Your child takes a seat, holds onto the horns and you just pull them along. They work with children ages three to six, and the case is big enough to hold a weekend’s worth of kids toys and clothes. Kids love these things, and in European airports it seems like almost every tot has one. For kids under three, you might want to consider investing in a car seat/stroller combo, which can be used on the plane for your child to sit in, and will eliminate the need for hauling two cumbersome pieces of equipment on your trip.
Role-Play the Airport Process
Some of the airport rituals that we are used to may be scary for little kids. Make sure they know in advance what is expected of them (you could play airport in the weeks leading up to your trip). Prepare them so they know their belongings (and maybe shoes) are going to be put through the X-ray machine, and that they may need to walk through the metal detector to the security guard on their own.
Relying on airplane snacks and meals often won’t cut it if you have a fussy eater, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything healthy to take on the plane when you get to the airport. Take little baggies of crackers and cookies, or pack a few granola bars to make sure that if your tot gets hungry you aren’t headed for a meltdown. Be sure to also pack an empty sippy cup or bottle in your bag (leave the lid unscrewed in your bag and security won’t need to check it). After you board, ask the flight attendant to fill it with milk or water so your child isn’t left thirsty between services in the air.
Get Toddler-Sized Earphones
Having child-safe earphones means your child can watch the in-flight movie with a set of earphones that fits them comfortably and won’t slip off.
Load Up Your Smartphone with Games
There are dozens of apps aimed at young kids, and if you put a few on your phone before you travel, they can be a great way to kill time (especially when used with child-sized headphones, so they can still hear their games without disturbing other passengers). For iPhone-toting parents, Sesame Street has some great games (such as Elmo’s Monster Maker, or Grover’s Number Special) to capture the attention of toddlers, as does Dora the Explorer, Diego and many more characters your child already knows and loves.
Put Some Favourite Movies on Your Laptop
If you’re travelling with a laptop, make use of it as a DVD player. Your kid may not like the TV options on the seatback televisions, but if you have a much-loved DVD (or five) ready to entertain them, it could stave off boredom, making it a much easier flight for you. You could also load up some kids movies on your smart phone, or convert the movies you have at home using a simple program such as Kigo Video Converter.
Grab a Few New Toys and Books
Packing a few new things to play with-such as a pack of cards, some story books or a small stuffed animal-will delight your child and help make the flight special.
Make Nighttime Flights Cozier
The last thing you want when you arrive at your destination is a cranky and exhausted child. This state of being may be somewhat unavoidable but up the chances of your child getting at least a little sleep by dressing them in pajamas for the flight, having a beloved snuggle toy on hand and being first to snag a blanket and pillow from the flight attendants. Child-sized neck pillows can also be useful, if your child is comfortable wearing one.