8 Tips for Surviving a Plane Ride with KidsTaking a long flight with kids sounds about as fun as having a root canal. You can just imagine all the things that could go wrong, and sometimes it makes the trip seem like it's not worth it. I mean, who really wants to start a vacation that way? I am going to be honest and say it: It isn’t fun taking a plane ride with young children. In the air, you really never know what can happen. Even if they have been great on previous flights, it may not be so great this time. If you are anything like me, you spend too much energy worrying beforehand. Despite this fear, thousands of parents fly with children every day and live through it. You just have to plan, be patient, and do the best you can. I have listed some tips that will hopefully reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with taking long plane rides with kids.
1. Let them pack their own carry onsYour kids will love packing their own bag, and it will get them excited for the trip. Let them pick out a change of clothes, favorite toys, a book, and a small game. Also, make sure their carry on is small enough for them to handle on their own. If their bag is too big or too heavy for them, guess who is going to be stuck carrying it?
2. Don’t forget a strollerEven if your child doesn’t normally use one, it would be a good idea to pick up a cheap foldable stroller for the airport. Walking across the airport can be tiring even for an adult. Can you imagine how tiring it can be for someone with little legs? Having a stroller will make those long walks to the terminal a lot easier, especially if you have a connecting flight and very little time to get there.
3. Pack an Emergency KitFlights are unpredictable. If this is your child's first flight, you may find out that they get air sick. You do not want to sit on a long flight covered in puke because those little bags they give you are not big enough. Pack plastic bags, two sets of clothes, A LOT of wipes, and paper towels. Also, it would be a good idea to pack band aids, hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, and antibiotic ointment.
4. Bring A Portable DVD Player and HeadphonesLong flights generally offer movie options from free to expensive, but they may not be child friendly or what you want to spend money on. If you have room, bring a portable DVD player and two of your child's favorite movies. It will help to pass the time a lot quicker!
5. Don’t Forget The SnacksGone are the days when airlines would feed you well on a long flight. Your child is most likely going to get hungry in between the mini-snacks they try to pass off as full size snacks. Generally, the only real food available is food you have to pay for, and it tends to be a bit exotic for kids. Pack your own snacks to minimize hangry or winy children. Try to skip anything that requires refrigeration and I would also forgo anything that has peanuts just in case there happens to be someone with an allergy on your flight. *Especially do not pack peanut butter! Not only is it dangerous for anyone with allergies around you, it most likely won't make it past security.*
6. Take A Night FlightThis may not always be possible but if it is, it may be the best tip ever to surviving a long flight with kids. Night flights are way more relaxed than daytime flights. Plus, by the time you get through the airport and on the flight, your kids are most likely going to be ready to go to sleep. Be prepared though, because the exact opposite could happen. The excitement of being on a plane, and the fact that they are in a strange place can cause some kids to have insomnia.
7. Be Prepared For PanicIf this is your child’s first trip, or they have anxious personalities, this could be very stressful for them. The noise of the plane taking off may scare them, or the feeling of falling backwards while taking off may cause them to panic. There is not much you can do but try to comfort them and ease their fears. During a flight years ago, I sat near a little 3 year old girl on her first plane ride who panicked! By panicked, I mean her fight or flight instinct kicked in and she tried to run down the aisle. Her parents handled it well and didn't overreact. Once she figured out everything was ok, she was good for the rest of the trip. As parents, we just have to be prepared that fear is a possibility.
8. When All Else FailsLet’s face it, little kids don't have a very long attention span and boredom is going to kick in. At this point, all the movies in the world may not save you. That is when you break out the tablet or phone and consider buying the internet package. Before you leave, download some kid-friendly games (educational ones are a bonus) and a few shows they like to watch. The kids will get a change of pace and you will have a few more moments of peace (hopefully).
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