FLYING WITH KIDS

The thought of having to cope with a long-haul flight is the reason many parents won’t travel with their children at all.
As a seasoned family traveler, I can just say: the best thing you can do to reduce the stress of air travel is to change your attitude. Think like your kids, for whom flying and all that’s associated with it – from soaring above the clouds to meals in trays – is a fascinating adventure. Here are a few useful tips:

TIMING

Smooth sailing: For kids, travel can be an adventure. If you have the option with domestic travel, daytime flights are best, so you can put the kids to bed at your destination and the routine isn’t thrown out of whack too much. Long-haul international travel, with both night and day legs, is trickier.
While the general advice for reducing jetlag for all passengers is to adjust to the time zone of the destination as soon as possible, you can’t force that with kids.

Qatar Air to Thailand

SEATING

If you are traveling with a baby, book a bassinet seat. While no airline guarantees bassinets, and demand often outstrips supply, if you get one, it’s a lifesaver, but check the weight limits. Emirates bassinet for example support a child of 11 kilograms. If your baby is too big, he or she will be on your lap. Bring a wrap and a familiar toy.

Dominican Republic

UPS AND DOWNS
Changes in air pressure at takeoff and landing can be distressing for children and babies, who don’t know why it’s happening. Ironically, shorter flights can be worse than longer ones, because the pain happens twice in quick succession.
Swallowing helps the ears equalise, as do chewing, yawning, and popping the ears by holding your nose and gently blowing out.
If you are breastfeeding, do it as the plane takes off and again when it starts descending for landing. Otherwise, give your baby a bottle at takeoff and landing and encourage young children to drink. Chewing jelly sweets or gum can also help.

FOOD

Always order meals for babies, toddlers or children, or any other special meals, at least 48 hours before your flight.
If you are doing a multi-leg long-haul journey, reconfirm the children’s meals before each leg.
Children’s meals are delivered to your seat before the general meal service, which means you can help your little one with their meal before yours arrives. Children get hungry all the time, so it’s a good idea to carry snacks such as dried fruit, muesli bars and crackers.

Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT

Don’t rely on the inflight entertainment system to keep your children happy. Anyway, the screens are positioned for adults rather than kids and movies are not always suitable for children.
Carrying your own child-sized over-ear headphones will mean you don’t spend every five minutes refitting them.
Books and activity kits, which might contain notepads, coloring books, stickers, pencils and crayons, are essential.

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HAVE FUN

Do a countdown to take-off or touchdown. Read the safety cards together and learn what different parts of the aircraft are called. Look at maps to work out where you’re going. As I said, it’s all an adventure.

4 thoughts on “FLYING WITH KIDS”

  1. These are some really good tips!! As someone who has done this alot I can confirm that it can be a nightmare —- but you can make it much, much easier if you follow some of these tips. I find that lollipops are the best thing for helping with ear pain – if your kids are old enough. They tend to last longer than individual sweets. I bought a brilliant book filled with travel games and puzzles which proved a big hit with the kids. When you’re exhausted as a parent it can be tough to keep thinking of fun games so to have some written for you is handy. Also – Ipads are your friend!!!

    1. Hi Louisa,
      thx for the lolipop advice, we never used it before because kids were to small so the cup/bottle was always empty before we have reached the flying altitude:) Games and puzzles are also great idea, so we must try it next time. And of course you couldn’t be more right about it:)

  2. You’ve included some excellent ideas for traveling with kids. I agree, if you put a little thought into it before hand, air travel can be a lot less stressful. Seriously, I think some people just plunk their kids down in a seat and expect them to sit there for a 14 hour flight, then everyone suffers. Bringing lots of games and books is essential, also sticker cards, video games and whatever your kids love.
    I’d never heard of the bassinet seats, what a life saver. Wish I’d known about those when our kids were little. Great post!

    1. Hi Geaniemarie,
      I couldn’t agree more. With that kind of approach you can really annoy the entire plane. Yes they are kids…but they are YOUR kids so YOU need to entertain them because being on a plane for so long is stressful enough even for adults who can amuse themselves for that long.

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