Taking children on holiday can be a very exciting time but travelling and flying as a family can be quite a challenge. Busy airports and confined spaces like aircraft cabins can have the potential to stress us all out at one time or another, but a little preparation can make the whole experience of travelling with children more pleasurably.
Take a look at our helpful guide for some great tips to make flying with kids less stressful and a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Plan your flight
Try to plan your flights around bedtime. Evening flights can be more expensive, but it might make the flight slightly easier if your child is asleep for some of the time. A travel pillow is a must if you are flying at night.
Talk about what to expect
If it is your child’s first flight, tell them what to expect. Children do so much better when they know what happens so talk them through the journey and explain baggage check-in, the security process and what to expect when they are on the flight. Explain that their favourite teddy will have to go through the security scanner and that airports are big and busy places.
Leave plenty of time
Allow yourself plenty of time so you are not rushing; remember going through the airport with children can take longer than it did when you were just a couple. Adding in an extra half an hour will give you a little more flexibility for those extra toilet stops etc.
Encourage carry-on luggage
Let your children pack and carry on their own small piece of carry-on luggage; it will minimise your weight burden as well as build on their excitement. Make sure they don’t just fill their bag with toys; slip in a change of clothes and snacks too.
Pack for all eventualities
Your changing bag will count as your carry on so make sure you’ve got everything you might need and also factor in the possibility of delays. Take baby wipes and extra nappies. Include a comfort item whether it is a favourite teddy, blanket or special game. Take a change of clothes and plenty of healthy snacks like cereal, granola bars, cheese string or raisins and remember to take drinks; drinking bottles can be filled with water at various point throughout the airport departure lounge.
Take a new toy or jigsaw, a magazine, a new colouring book and crayons or something that they have not seen before. Providing a new activity for each hour of the flight will have a more attention-grabbing pull and will keep them entertained throughout the flight.
Bring your stroller
Swap out your heavy-duty pushchair for a light umbrella type stroller as there are easier to maneuver around the airport and you will also be able to take this direct to the airplane door.
Prepare for air pressure
The change of air pressure can make children’s ears pop so provide them with something to suck on like lollies or boiled sweets or get them to drink will all help with that ear pressure discomfort. Get them to drink or suck something right after takeoff and make sure they start to drink or suck on something again during the last 30 to 45 minutes of the descent.
Avoid bored and fidgety children by bringing along an iPad, smartphone or tablet loaded with your child’s favourite TV shows, films or games. Remember to pack child size headphones so they don’t disturb other passengers.
Meet and greet airport parking
Meet and greet airport parking also takes the hassle out of travelling with children as you can drive your car straight up to the departure terminal and be met by a meet and greet driver. They will then also meet you directly outside the arrivals terminal with your car on your return.
And remember to slow down, go with the flow, have fun and try and make the whole experience enjoyable for everyone!