Traveling with babies and children can be a very challenging situation. I have had my fair share of great flights and some horribly embarrassing situations also. Here are a dozen of my favorite practical in- flight tips for parents…
1.) Remember that traveling with kids is NOT fun. Airline flights can be successful, but they are not easy for parents. Do not expect to relax and watch a movie, read a novel, or look at every page in your People Magazine. If you ignore your kids, your children will misbehave, you will be stressed out, and the other passengers sitting around you will give you dirty looks. Just plan on being a non-stop babysitter the entire flight and it will be easier for everyone.
2.) Have your child sit in their car seat if possible. You can’t expect a 3 year old to sit in a lap belt for an entire flight. It is way too much fun to jump on the seat and make faces at the people sitting in the row behind them. Entertaining for the kid, annoying for others.
3.) Pack plenty of HEALTHY snacks. Feeding your kid 10 packs of fruit snacks and candy is not a good idea. One word…Puke.
4.) Always carry on a simple change of clothes for each child and parents. There is nothing like your potty trained preschooler falling asleep in your lap and having an accident. It’s pretty rough walking off the plane with a half naked and screaming child wrapped in an airplane blanket. Even better when it happens in 1st class…classy!
5.) Bring a portable DVD player, over the ear headphones, and several DVDs. Your little one might actually sit and watch the movie. If not, the act of changing the movie 5 times can even keep your child quiet and busy for a few minutes.
6.) Loosen up on your regular media rules and let them watch something you wouldn’t usually allow. Popping in an action filled PG-13 movie for your tween son will keep his attention much better than the regular stuff he watches. Being in a crowded box, 30,000 feet in the air, with a bunch of strangers is all about survival. Save the rules for when you are on solid ground.
7.) Plan for ear pressure during take off and landing. Be ready to feed or give a pacifier to babies and encourage older kids to swallow or chew on something. Sippy cup, box juice, gum, or whatever works.
8.) Bring a small blanket and pillow for each child. It can make all the difference if they sleep or not.
9.) If you are traveling on a longer or night flight, older kids may need some help getting some sleep. I’m not a doctor and recommend talking with your family physician about what the best option is for your child. If you are interested, I have had pretty good luck with melatonin. Words of advice, think twice before using Benadryl, some kids have the opposite effect and it may dry out their sinuses.
11.) If your kid is going to kick the seat in front of them, take their shoes off. It’s not nearly as fun to kick a seat barefoot.
12.) Most importantly, keep calm. You can do everything right and your kid can still decide to behave like a total monster. Don’t let other people around you stress you out more. Parents are in a hard position on an airplane. It’s not like you can take them for a little walk out front to resolve the issue. You are stuck. Remember, you’ll never see these people again in your life.
Good luck and happy travels!