Whether it’s for a business trip or a holiday, traveling 38,000 feet in the air is definitely a unique experience. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), more than 8 million people fly every day; and you can expect that this number will rise as the years go by. But if you’re a frequent flyer, you also know that air travel can be stressful.
This involves canceled flights due to a sudden change in the weather, missed connecting flights, to even forgotten documents and lost luggage. Now, what happens if you also have a bored, tantrum-throwing child?
Because of the assumption that flying with kids is going to be twice as stressful as flying alone, many parents avoid bringing their children for air travel. But like with any other “real-life” experience, it is better to start them early. The good news is, flying with kids is no rocket science. Here are three tips on how you can make air travel a breeze.
Opt for an Organized Backpack
Before packing your items, call or email the airport and airline to know about their weight limits and regulations for baggage. This way, you don’t have to unpack your things as you explain to your cranky child why you can’t bring some of his/her items to the plane.
According to CuteLittleDarling, it will also be more practical to use a backpack instead of shoulder bags or handbags.
Backpacks allow you to use both of your hands freely. This will make everything faster and safer since you can hold your passport in one hand while the other clutches your kid’s hand. Airports can be crowded, and with a little kid, you have to be extra proactive.
After you have compromised your way to the stuff that your child can bring, you can keep everything in a backpack diaper bag. Backpack diaper bags have more compartments than your typical backpacks. It might even surprise you with how much it can carry compared to a bag with fewer pockets. The market offers a lot of varieties, so it’s impossible that you won’t find the best backpack diaper bag for your trip.
While you’re packing, you should also have a separate bag for essential things. This bag contains your wallet, smartphone, and important documents. You can even include milk, diapers, and change of clothes for both you and your child. Most parents often neglect their own change of clothes, but you can never be too ready with kids.
Bring Snacks and Activities
Like with any other travels, be prepared for complaints from your kid. Children have lower tolerance when it comes to sensations, such as ear popping and motion sickness during flight. You can give your child a gum or a lollipop to distract them.
Snacks are important because chances are, your kid will not like airplane food. By the time the cart reaches you, the meals that your child might like may have been picked out by the other passengers. However, avoid bringing foods that might encourage bathroom breaks and sickness. As a countermeasure, always bring a separate trash bag and a sick bag.
Kids can also be very persistent in asking how much time left there is for the trip. To minimize their boredom, try giving them a different activity every hour or less. The variety of activities keep their excitement level high throughout the flight.
If you brought gadgets, use them as your final option. You can even give your kid a screen time longer than their typical gadget usage duration. This way, they can see it as a treat, while you have more time to relax.
Book Your Flight Early and Check Your Seats
Planning ahead of time can make a tremendous difference whether you’re with a kid or not. But when you’re flying with a kid, you can make the experience advantageous to you by simply booking a flight early.
For example, if your child usually naps after lunch, you can schedule your flight around this time. This way, your child will most likely sleep during the flight. But what if you have no choice and you’re left with the schedule when he/she is likely to be active? You can try tiring your child out with physical activities (at home or in the airport playground.) This allows your kid to exert his/her energy before having to sit for a long time. And if your take-off is scheduled early in the morning, make sure that your child gets a good night sleep. A child that has rested well is less likely to be moody.
Another thing that you could plan early on is your seats. The last thing that flight attendants want is you arguing with them to seat your whole family together. As for the seat positions, both the front and back seats have their advantages. Front seats are usually reserved by airlines for those with young children. This placement is also less bumpy than the back seats, so if your child is more prone to motion sickness, front seats are your best choice.
As for the back seats, they give you the advantage of being close to the bathroom and other amenities. The back seats are also closer to the flight attendants in case you need something. However, it will still be more convenient if you schedule toilet stops with your kid before getting on board.
Lastly, a good tip is to make use of early boarding. Passengers who need extra assistance or those with small children have the privilege to get on the plane first. This is very useful as you don’t have to cram your carry-on quickly in the overhead. This might seem like a small advantage, but when you’re surrounded by many passengers and a child urging you to go faster, early boarding makes a huge difference.
At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for the behavior of your kid/s. You don’t have to add to the stereotype “parent with a kid” that everyone dreads being around with. By doing simple proactive steps, air travel becomes as simple as it should be. Treat every opportunity as a learning experience for both you and your child; even if it is not on land.