With the October holidays coming up, many of you will be boarding a plane for warmer destinations. However, the prospect of taking kids on a plane is stressful for many parents. You can’t expect kids to act the same way as adults on a plane; they simply won’t sit still and stay quiet for long periods of time. No parent likes to see their loud, crying children annoying other passengers, especially when other people may not find them as cute as you do. So how do you keep your kids happy and calm? Here are some tips to streamline your flight and keep everyone – not just your children – relaxed.
Before the Flight
Whether it’s a long haul or a short flight, it is important to discuss the process with your children before the trip – especially for first-time flyers. Explain what happens when the plane takes off and why they have to put on a safety belt. Children are frequently defensive about putting on their seat belt and act out in response. This is dangerous and can even get your family kicked off the plane.
With kids who are flying for the first time, try reading a book together or watching a video about airplanes to familiarize them with their new environment. Acknowledge any inconveniences and problems you may run into, such as turbulence and air pressure changes, so they don’t become afraid in case they do come up. Reassure them that you’re there for them no matter what happens.
In addition, keep reminding them about all the fun things they’ll get to do after you land.
Most airlines allow families with young children to pre-board, which allows everyone extra time to put everything away and make your children comfortable.
During the Flight
If the flight is only a couple of hours long, don’t worry too much. Get books, toys, or videos ready, but don’t bring them out all at once so each will enjoy a period of novelty. Some children may be content with simply looking around and interacting with their neighbors.
You can prepare the perfect activity bag, but if you are already pressed for time it is always good to bring something familiar, such as your child’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal. You may not realize that there are many great travel toys you already own, such as a deck of cards and blue painter’s tape. You can also also wrap gifts to add a bit mystery and excitement.
If the flight lasts more than six hours or even overnight, it is important to have a more carefully considered plan, such as booking direct flights whenever possible and packing plenty of snacks and supplies.
Although children under 2 are allowed to sit in a parent’s lap, a car seat may be considered if the flight is long enough. You do not want to hold your child for a 12-hour flight without any sleep or free hands to hold a drink with.
Don’t Forget …
Last but not least, prioritize health and safety. Pack any medications you and your child may need in your carry-on bag. Seat your child in a window or middle seat if possible, as aisle seats are more disruptive and the plane staff may not be able to see your child over the beverage cart. One more thing: Stay calm. Children pick up on negative energy and are more likely to be relaxed if you are. Happy travels!
Photo by mkorcuska (Flickr)