While the thought of traveling with young children might send any parent into a state of panic, there are some helpful tips that can make the difference between a flight that becomes a nightmare and one that is relatively smooth and painless for everyone involved (especially anyone sitting near you). If you have visions of pleading with your child to stop throwing a tantrum mid-flight, rest assured the following tips will definitely help you avoid a scene.
Invest in Ride-on Luggage
While you may find it hard to justify the purchase before your trip, once you are at the airport, you will thank yourself for thinking ahead. Brands such as Trunki, Skoot Kids and Kiddee Cases have designed children’s carry-ons which allow little ones to wheel themselves around, keeping them entertained inside the airport and also include a strap so you can pull them when they complain they’re too tired to walk to the departure gate.
Take Plenty of Activities
The attention span of most youngsters is limited to say the least, so be prepared with a variety of options to keep them entertained, such as favorite stories, coloring books, notepads, stickers, small puzzles, snacks, and so on. Aim for at least ten because it is better to have too many than too few.
Take a Tablet or DVD Player
While the majority of new parents likely scoff at the thought of placating their children with cartoons and movies, once kids hit the tantrum stage, all bets are off. Taking along a device that will keep them entertained for an extended period will not only make them happy, it will give you and the surrounding passengers some peace and quiet, too. Just make sure your device is charged and any videos you need are downloaded or packed. Don’t forget the headphones!
Download Kids’ Games or Apps
In the same vein, download some kid-friendly games or apps on your tablet or smartphone (which are switched to Airplane mode pre-flight, right?) to keep their brain engaged.
Turn Activities into Presents
Children love receiving gifts (ok, maybe everyone does) so use this to your advantage. Wrap up small toys or activities that are already part of your planned arsenal, such as stickers, coloring books or small plush animals, to dole out every so often to help motivate good behavior.
Keep Them Comfortable
Take along a pillow and blanket so children can get comfortable on-board with some familiar favorites from home, and if you’re lucky they may even fall asleep for a bit.
Distract with Candy
Takeoff and landing can cause painful pressure in the ears, so help divert children’s attention with a lollipop (preferably sugar-free) which will encourage them to suck and swallow, potentially alleviating pain and fear from the change in pressure.
Take Snacks that Last
Offer children healthy snacks that take a while to eat, therefore keeping them busy longer. Fruits, vegetables, crackers and cheese sticks are kid-friendly choices while flying.
Warn About ‘Airplane Police’
While this is not a suggestion to frighten children, it’s a clever trick that most little ones will heed for those parents who don’t mind a little white-lying. Warn them that the ‘Airplane Police’ are scanning the plane for poorly behaving children, who aren’t permitted to fly. No need to go into detail about what they might actually do; the suggestion is often enough to straighten up the behavior of kids who would otherwise like to kick the seat in front of them, climb over the seats, play with the fold-down tray or worse.