Tips for flying with kids
Traveling is exciting, but it can also be exhausting and stressful – especially if you’re flying with kids in tow. I’ve taken my daughter to Europe twice to visit family and she traveled like a pro. In a few days, I’ll be travelling again, but this time with a five year old and two year old – YIKES.
A direct flight to Germany is about eight hours, but we rarely have a direct flight. So add a couple of hours for a stopover and a few more hours checking and picking up luggage, security checks, and traveling between airport gates. Needless to say those eight hours quickly add up to 20 hours of travel time before we finally arrive at my aunt’s house.
Here are my favourite flying tips to help keep you sane and your kids happy when traveling overseas.
Don’t make your toddler walk
No matter how much your child loves to walk, chances are pretty slim that they’ll walk hand-in-hand through the airport. I made the mistake of checking our stroller on the way home from Germany when my daughter was two which resulted in a full blown temper tantrum. Depending on the age of your child, there are several options to transport your child quickly, safely and hopefully tantrum free through the airport. For newborns or crawlers, a baby sling works well and baby backpacks work well for toddlers, but a stroller is your best option. Not only are they the fastest mode of travel, airlines offer free plane-side check-in. And if your kids want to walk, you can use the stroller to transport your carry-on bags.
Getting through security
Not only do you have to worry about taking off your shoes and belt, folding up the stroller to be scanned, and pulling out liquids and snacks, you have to keep your kids close. A handy trick is to put one of the security bins on the floor and put your baby/toddler in it. The novelty of sitting in a bin goes a long way to keep them amused and allows you to walk through the metal detector and reorganize yourself.
What to pack
Aside from standard necessities like a change of clothes, extra diapers or pull-ups and wipes, there are a few things that you may not consider a must-have. Lollipops are a must. They help with ear pain during take-off and landing, as does drinking so make sure you have water bottles handy. A variety of snacks important to keep kids and mommy happy and don’t forget to bring children’s Tylenol in case of ear aches, teeth aches, or other aches. One other must-have – a bottle of hand sanitizer.
To keep your kids amused, bring some new books and toys –board books and colouring books, stickers, crayons, a magnetic doddle board, and small containers of modeling clay. And don’t forget the iPod, iPad or tablet loaded with kid friendly games, apps and movies. Headphones are a must. Avoid purchasing the in-flight headphones. Instead visit your favourite electronic store before your trip to buy a suitable pair and make sure to avoid earbuds.
Before you even leave for the airport, make a commitment to yourself to remain calm. Don’t stress. Kids will get frustrated and tired and chances are they’ll have a meltdown during the trip at some point. Tears, diaper blowouts, judgmental travelers, over tired and over stimulated children, you’ll probably run into a few of these. Relax and deal with them calmly. You’re on an adventure! A little perspective goes a long way to make a long trip enjoyable.