Taking a long flight is a vital part of contemporary life, but many working professionals, aspiring tourists, and everyday parents who are just looking to get away for a holiday turn down vacations because they don’t know how to handle long distance flights with their children. Luckily, a few tried-and-tested tips can help make even the longest treks through the air more manageable.
Get started early
If you think you can just waltz into an airport, breeze past security, and enjoy a quiet flight with your young children, think again – everyone who has sufficient experience on long flights probably has a story or two about a crying baby or a toddler roving the aisles. The secret to successfully flying long distance with your children is to get started early, and to begin preparing them for the experience well-ahead of time so that you can ensure everything is ready when it’s time to go. Before your trip to the airport, double check that all toys, snacks, tickets, and personal oddities are in order.
Does your child have a security blanket, favorite stuffed animal, or any other personal item they clutch with them everywhere? Forget to bring that with you to the boarding gate, and you could end up with a bawling mess on your hands as you try to cram your carry-on into the overhead compartment. Incorporate these handy packing tips into your pre-trip preparations, and you’ll most likely avoid a disaster that could cause you serious embarrassment or ignite a migraine headache.
The pre-trip period is also when you should be planning things like lodgings and nourishment. Your kids may be picky eaters, and there’s no place in the world with fewer and more lackluster dining options than the cramped boarding areas of your average airport. Make sure you have amply filled your purses and bags with snacks, and that you can meal plans prepared for when you arrive at your destination. After many hours stuck onboard a plane, your kid is likely going to be grumpy, tired, and hungry.
It’s also important to review the TSA’s guidelines for travelling with kids that all parents should read before heading to their local airport. Standard screening procedures apply for any child 13 years or older, for instance, but parents may want to take special considerations for children with certain needs. Disabilities and handicaps, for instance, need to be planned for ahead of time or they could cause unexpected delays that cause you to miss your flight.
Getting through the flight
Surviving a long flight is not easy - especially when all you want to do is fast forward to the time when you are relaxing at one of the most beautiful resorts in Bali. If you bring certain toys with your during the flight, you could keep your child preoccupied. Alternatively, you may rely on digital devices to keep them entertained – something that’s rapidly becoming the norm in today’s age. Whether you’re going the digital or traditional route, however, you should only be giving your kids the gadgets and toys that other moms and dads have certified as plane-approved in the past, unless you want to end up replacing something expensive.
Some toys are excellent at keeping kids entertained in the air – review some mom-tested options if you’re unable to find one yourself. Don’t be afraid to rely on a handheld gaming device, smartphone or tablet that can be used for streaming either. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can even get adventurous and distract your kids with books, sketch pads, and brainteasers which seem to be going the wayside in favor of electronic gizmos.
Some options are banned from certain airlines. Hammocks that promise to lull your child to sleep and loud or weapon-like toys are obviously a no-go, despite the fact that they’re often marketed to parents by money-hungry companies. Always keep your other passengers in consideration – failing to consider the needs of others when flying with your child is the easiest way to end up in an unpleasant conversation with a stewardess or co-passenger.
Finally, parents need to take a deep breath, acknowledge that sometimes they can only do their best, and realize that certain things are inevitable. Babies cry, have cried, and will cry for all of history. If your child starts shedding tears on the flight, do your best to soothe them, but most passengers will understand that mom isn’t responsible for the emotional whims of a 1-year-old. Above all else, keep a level head. A calm and collected parent is the most important part of any successful long-distance flight that has kids onboard.