Debbie from Squidgydoodle kindly wrote this guest post for us, to share her advice for flying with Kids.
Does the thought of flying with kids fill you with dread? Do you have visions of your child being the child that screams for the whole flight? Refuses to sit in its seat, or kicks the chair in front?
My husband died of cancer when our daughter was a baby. I’d always loved travelling, but it made me realise how short life could be. I was determined to show my daughter the world and let her experience different cultures. I started travelling with her when she was 6 months old. By the time she was 3 years old we’d been to Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan and a large amount of Europe on our own.
The arrival of my second child meant that travelling became more challenging, but I didn’t want her to miss out and my partner often wasn’t able to come with us due to his work commitments. Out of necessity I’ve become a bit of an expert at flying with kids.
14 top tips for flying with kids:
Before the flight
1. Flight times
Book flights at reasonable times of day where possible. If your child is tired they’re not going to be so well behaved on the aeroplane. I know it’s not always possible and flights prices may be too high, but you can’t always expect your child to sleep on a flight. Flying is exciting and aeroplane seats are uncomfortable beds! I took my eldest to Hong Kong when she was 21 months old and she didn’t sleep at all on the flight! I arrived, utterly exhausted!
2. Talk about what will happen
Flying is an adventure, but it can also be scary if you don’t know what’s going on. Talk about the flight beforehand and what will happen. It’s also worth talking about what will happen at the airport, as they’ll need to walk through the security scanner on their own. You could read some children’s books about flying (see our recommendations here) or watch a TV programme to help.
My kids have Cabin Max rucksacks. I really can’t recommend them enough. They can pull them along with the handle and wheels or wear them as a rucksack. They also have a space for a teddy on the front. My children can manage to fit all their clothes in them, plus entertainment. The bags also fit under the seat in front of them. So, you’ve got easy access to entertainment during the flight.
Dress your child in layers, so that you can adjust what their wearing to cope with the aeroplane’s air conditioning.
I know they sometimes call families to board first, but I always wait as long as we can to board. It means my kids aren’t stuck sitting in their seats for longer than they need to be and haven’t used up all their entertainment before we take-off! Also, if your aeroplane take-off gets delayed and you’re sat on the tarmac at least you haven’t already been sat in your seat for 20 minutes.
During the flight
To cope with popping ears, take something for your child to suck. If they’re a baby and have a dummy they can suck that, or drink from a baby bottle whilst you take off/land. If they’re older buy a supply of lollies. Tell them they can open it as you start to go down the runway. It adds to the excitement of take-off and works as a good distraction if they’re scared.
Aeroplane food is expensive. Plus, it doesn’t appear instantly when your child is suddenly desperately hungry! Make sure you pack some snacks. Preferably things that aren’t too messy but take a long time to eat! I take breadsticks, rice cakes, dried fruit. We also buy a sandwich and a drink at the airport before we get on the aeroplane.
Make sure you have a supply of entertainment for your child. iPads, pre-loaded with a film or games are great, but my kids get really hyperactive when they use an iPad, so I try to avoid them. I pack an aeroplane bag for them to open when they’re on the plane. It could include some of the following:
• Squidgydoodle mini craft kit – it includes everything you need to complete the craft activity
• Interactive books e.g. Where’s Wally book
• Magnetic play board
• Fuzzy felts
• Card games – our favourites are Dobble, Uno and Snap
• Sticker book
• Puzzle books
• Colouring book
• Audio books and headphones
• Fidget toys e.g. fidget spinner, Rubix cube
9. Books vs. Magazines
Don’t board the aeroplane with the expectation of being able to read that book you’ve been looking forward to. If you do you’ll get stressed when your child wants you to help with their colouring book, open their food, pick up their pen etc. If you’re stressed your child will become stressed too. I usually take a magazine with me for the flight, as I know I won’t be able to read more than a few paragraphs of a book at a time.
10. Spare clothes/wipes
Take a spare change of clothing for your child and some wipes. My eldest was sick on both of us once immediately after take-off. We had to sit in our wet clothes for the entire flight! Yuk!
11. Teddy bears
A teddy bear can help calm a fearful child, enable them to sleep, or entertain them when they’re bored. Prepare them beforehand for the fact that the teddy will need to go for a ride on the conveyor belt at security.
12. Go to the toilet before landing
They lock the toilets before landing. This can sometimes end up being a long time before you land if your aeroplane is waiting for its landing slot. Make sure that you’ve taken your child to the toilet before the seatbelt sign comes on, as you can guarantee that they’ll need it when they can’t go!
After the flight
13. Baby carrier
You can usually take a buggy to the aeroplane but be aware that it may end up on the luggage carousel at the airport on the other side. If your child is young enough to fit in a baby carrier it’s worth taking one on the plane with you, so that you can put them in it for the walk to collect the buggy.
14. If it goes horribly wrong
Hopefully if you do all the above it won’t go horribly wrong, but sometimes things happen that are out of your control.
I have been the person whose child screamed for the entire flight. My eldest had a cold when we flew once, and her ears were unbearably painful for the whole flight. She was less than 2 years old, so was strapped to my lap. It was like wrestling a crocodile! I was mortified. I thought everyone would hate me. As I left the aeroplane I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who came up to me to check I was ok and to tell me not to worry about it.
Don’t give yourself a hard time and don’t let it put you off flying. It’s an amazing world out there, so make the most of it.
This guest post was written by Debbie from Squidgydoodle- the brilliant creators of fun craft and party kits for kids (see one of our reviews here)