Fly stress-free with the kids
If traveling in the air with your little ones makes you feel stressed out or horrified, you should keep reading! Our son was only six weeks old when he was at the airplane for the first time, and ever since we have been travelling a lot. Sometimes as a family and at times just me and our son.
Anyway, our flights have gone pretty well (knocks on wood!), I have to say. No major meltdowns or poop disasters. Of course, it’s not like traveling among adults and you can’t think of it as a relaxing moment when you absolutely can’t do other than sit still and rest. Nope! You have to be alert all the time and have few back up plans in your back pocket 😉 . But it’s not that bad either!
Here are my ten stress-reducing strategies, that have made our flights easier with our little one.
Plan and prepare. When planning your trip, try to choose flights that seem likely to work best with your kids’ normal everyday schedules; nap time while in the air is win-win kind of situation for everyone. And you can never have too many wet wipes, snacks and empty plastic bags (Zip bags will be your friends through the baby years and well beyond 😉 ) for the trash and messy accidents! As long as you can carry them in your hand back, take them with you.
Check in early. Especially when travelling in a bigger group, the earlier you check in the bigger possibility there is to get seats next to each other. When traveling together with our son so without my husband, we always choose the last rows in the plane as the airline staff or just people in general tend to fill the seats from front to the back. When sitting at back there’s better possibility that you have an extra seat next to you, which is really handy when the nap time comes 😉 .
Release the energy. Quite a many airports have some kind of kids’ area, were little ones can climb, run, slide and jump up and down as much as they want without disturbing anyone. Get your take away coffee, sit down and let them act like a monkeys, so they don’t have to do it in the air. And if there isn’t any play areas in the sight, walk around the airport instead of sitting at the gate and waiting, there will be enough sitting nicely in the seat at the plane 😉 .
Pack snacks. Snacks are essential for kids of any age, like they are for all of us. I always pack everything in a separate boxes and tiny plastic bags, as that way I can give them to our son one buy one and it’s always a new surprise what’s coming next. Snacking keeps him busy and happy 😉
Try pre-chopped fruits and veggie sticks, berries, grapes, raisins, rice cakes, granola bars, nuts, mini-Weetabix, cereals (not those sugar coated!), rye or whole grain bread, actually all tiny toddler sized foods that are ready to eat will work.
Don’t forget hydration. First thing after the security check is to buy water for everyone. Dehydrated kids (adults too!) will get cranky and probably you’ll also have a kid whose tummy doesn’t work when you finally arrive to your destination. Kids under two years can bring their own water bottles, juice boxes, smoothies, almost everything they’ll need during the flight, so buy as much as you can beforehand as the selection at the airport isn’t that good.
Make regular toilet stops. Being in the plane can be super exciting and your kid will probably answer to you “I don’t need to go”. Well, take him/her anyway to the toilet as the situation might change really fast and then it’s already late… (zip backs!).
About the clothes. Keep your kids comfy and forget all the pretty clothes with zippers, buttons, laces or everything that may irritate them. Dress them up with layers so you can take off or put on more clothes easily when the airplane air condition plays with you. And don’t forget the spare clothes for the kids AND for you. If your kid gets dirty, there’s a high probability that you’ll get your share too!
Also, low-cost airlines doesn’t offer any kind of pillows or blankets, so bring your own ones or use those extra clothes you have when the nap time comes.
Give them your smartphone or iPad. There’s a lot of debate whether kids should use them or not, but tablets are like magic screens, making them extremely valuable to parents inflight. We have downloaded our son’s favorite music, episodes of TV series and some games for him. I think there’s nothing wrong that he sits still headphones on playing some games part of the flight, plus at the same time he practices languages as all his games and kids series are either in English or Spanish 😉 .
Prepare to bribe. I don’t like to bribe my son with sweets and treats, but sometimes a lollipop or cookie might be the only solution. So pack small soft sweets, lollipops (these are actually my favorite as they last long!), salty snacks like popcorn and corn snacks, cookies without chocolate cover or chips and without filling, to avoid most of the sticky mess. Simply give these one by one whenever needed.
About the toys. Kids doesn’t care that much about their everyday toys as there is so much to see and do at the airplane, so pack just essentials. Forget all the noisy toys and the ones with small pieces, and pack coloring books and crayons, sticker books and kids’ magazines. And don’t forget their favorite sleeping buddy, it might be the secret weapon if flying gets too exciting!
I also always pack some surprises for our son when we are going to travel. Nothing big nor expensive, but separately packed; stickers, magazines, small figures, surprises from chocolate eggs, activity book etc. You know, it’s already exciting to open those packages not knowing what there’s inside, and then he plays a good time with his new things. Last time I had a little electric activity book for him, and it’s still a big hit!