9 Tips For Stress-Free Air Travel With Children
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
Travel with children is inevitably stressful. Here are nine tips that will hopefully help you find some calm within the storm.
Bring surprise toys and games that are new to your children. This doesn’t mean breaking the bank. One great trick is to get a backpack and head to the dollar store before your flight. Don’t let your kids into the bag before takeoff. Sorting through the bag and playing with their new toys will kill a lot of time and may even provide you with a quiet moment.
Get There Early
Traveling is always stressful. Don’t make it even harder on yourself by arriving late to the airport. One hour is recommended for domestic flights and two hours for international. With children, I would add at least 30 minutes.
Extending your travel time means prolonging your stress. Book your flights for early in the morning. This may help to avoid flight delays and cancellations that often happen later in the day.
Prepare For Cabin Pressure Changes
There is always one screaming child or toddler on every flight during takeoff and landing. It’s usually due to the change in air pressure and the discomfort they are feeling in their ears. Without knowing how to relieve this can be painful and frustrating. Have water bottles on hand and encourage them to drink frequently during takeoff and landing to help relieve some of the pressure.
Have A Plan
Be sure to have a plan in place in case of delays or long layovers. Whether it’s making room in the budget for a long lunch or locating the child playroom often found in larger airports, make sure you have an activity in mind that will keep the kids busy and you, sane.
Ask For Help
As parents, I don’t think we do this enough. Don’t expect to carry every item, while balancing a child on one hip, and cleaning up spilled juice from another child’s hair. It’s not worth it. Ask a flight attendant or even a fellow traveler for help. I’ve found people are usually very willing and eager to help when I’ve traveled alone with my son. Chances are, they’ve been in the same shoes as you. Go ahead and take advantage of their sympathy and free yourself up of one or two headaches.
Have Someone Meet You
The best part about traveling with children is getting safely to your final destination. You feel relieved, exhausted, and proud of yourself for having accomplished a monumental feat, or so it feels. Enlist a friend or family member to meet you at the airport when you land. Ideally, have them come to baggage claim to help with your luggage and get you all to the car.
Use Pull Ups
Even if your five or six year old is fully potty trained, save yourself the stress and have them wear pull-ups on long flights. Accidents on a plane are extremely stressful for everyone and pull-ups offer a simple solution.
Avoid The Aisle
Seat your children in a center or window seat if you can. This may help prevent them from running up and down the aisle. It will also save the flight attendants a lot of trouble as they push the food and drink cart down the aisle and try to avoid crashing into small fingers and toes.