This is the final part of a three-part feature. For part 1 (weighing your options), click here. For part 2 (Qu Nu’er), click here.
Practical tips for traveling with toddlers
When it comes to flying with kids, not all ages are the same. Flying with babies and kids over 4 is relatively simple; most airlines are generally well set-up to accommodate infants and older kids can entertain themselves.
On the other hand, traveling with toddlers is hard work. They crawl, walk, and spend most of the flight going up and down the aisle. The galley will become your holy grail, offering that little bit of floor space to play in and where the only people you’ll be annoying are the cabin crew.
Upgrade your seats whenever possible or buy an extra seat if you’re flying economy so that you don’t always have to have your child on your lap. Book direct flights and night flights whenever possible; after the lights are turned off after the meal, the little ones are likelier to settle down and fall asleep. If night flights aren’t an option, don’t worry too much about routine; sleep times, meal times, and play times must be flexible when you’re traveling. Here are some tips from parents for traveling with as little drama and stress as possible:
Many airlines offer online check-in, where you can select your preferred seats. When you get to the airport, this usually means you can join a fast-track queue for luggage check-in.
Families tend to book bulkhead seats because of the extra legroom. Personally, I don’t like them; there’s no storage under the seat and the armrests don’t move up – not ideal when you have a tired child who wants to sleep in your lap. Bulkhead seats are only good if you’re traveling with an infant small enough to fit in a bassinet.
If your flight leaves very early in the morning, consider staying at an airport hotel the night before.
It’s a good idea to find out which hotels are located close to the airport in case your flight is significantly delayed (see sidebar on the next page).
Pack as light as possible and check if your hotel can provide bulkier items like cots and bottle sterilizers.
Consider investing in some reins – essentially a wrist “leash” for your toddler – for when you’re wrestling with bags, strollers, passports, and boarding passes in a busy terminal.
Decant any lotions and medicines into clear, travel-sized bottles of 100ml or less.
Check baggage allowances on your airline’s website; frantically trying to repack at the airport isn’t fun (see p58 for a handy table).
Keep your travel documents in a single, easy-to-access place.
Pack a change of clothes for both you and the kids, and take more nappies than you think you’ll need.
“Take a lightweight stroller for toddlers – you don’t have to check it in until you get to the gate – and a sling for babies.”
– Mel, mom of Jessica (3) and Darcey (2 months)
At the Airport
After going through security, head to a cafe for a light snack and beverage; it helps pass the time. Alternatively, pack your own healthy snacks and an empty reusable bottle to fill at the water fountain.
Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) has a small play area with a slide and a TV showing cartoons.
Before boarding, do a bit of plane spotting and playing “guess the country flags.”
Shopping options are somewhat limited at BCIA, but you could treat the kids to a few small things, like key rings and pens.
Families are usually encouraged to board the plane first, but you want your child zooming around the airport lounge, burning up as much energy as possible before the flight.
“Don’t be first on the plane! If you’re traveling with another adult or a teenager, let them board first so they can unpack all the snacks and toys. Then, at the very last minute, you and the kids get on. The novelty of their toys and snacks will last longer into the flight!”
– Bec, mom of Will (5) and Charlotte (2)
Drinks and Snacks
The dryness of the cabin air can cause mild dehydration and irritated nostrils, so it’s important for everyone to regularly drink water.
Flying can also prompt air expansion in the middle ear and sinuses, which can be painful for babies and infants because of their smaller ear passages. Sucking on a sweet or having a drink during take-off and landing can help.
If your baby is formula-fed, bring only powdered milk; you can get hot water on most flights and you can buy bottled water as soon as you pass security.
Bring non-spill drinks cups and bottles for younger children; insulated ones will keep drinks either cold or warm.
Pack plenty of snacks, such as dried fruit, crackers and breadsticks, small tubs of mini-biscuits, and sugar-free jelly sweets. If you’re traveling with more than one child, make sure they each have their own snacks to avoid arguments over who has the most chips.
Divide smaller items such as snacks into plastic zip bags for easy access.
“My kids love eating, so we bring lots of different snacks. But if possible, we take an overnight flight. Sleeping kids don’t need anything!”
– Linda, mom of Adam (5) and Alex (3)
Games and Activities
Remember that no matter how terrible your children behave or how long your baby may cry, the plane will eventually land. You will exit the plane and (hopefully) never see any of your fellow passengers again. In the meantime, here are some ideas of games and activities to take with you:
-Packs of playing cards
-Pop-up and picture reveal books
-Coloring books, pocket books, and crayons
-Finger puppets with story books
-A few, small favorite toys
-An iPad loaded to the hilt with apps, games, and some of
your child’s favorite movies
“I always take something new and wrapped, like small tubs of Play-Doh. Then we can play with it on the back of the wrapping paper.”
– Karen, mom of Keria (2)
“My kids must have everything identical to avoid any fighting. My daughter is passionate about art, so I give them drawing and doodling sets.”
– Grace, mom of Katherine (6) and Henry (4)
“After many trips with faulty in-flight entertainment, portable devices with movies and games are guaranteed to keep the kids happy and entertained whether I like it or not!”
– Julia, mom of Lily (8) and Jules (6)
Airport Hotels in Case Your Flight Gets Delayed
Crowne Plaza Beijing International Airport
Twenty-four hour Crowne Café, free 24hr airport shuttle, and late check-in and check-out upon request. RMB 777-1,277 per night.
60 Fuqian Yijie, Tianzhu, Shunyi District (5810 8888, info@
Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport
Twenty-four hour The Place Lounge Café, free 24hr airport shuttle to Terminal 3 every 15 minutes and Terminal 2 every 30 minutes, and late check-in and check-out upon request. RMB 899-1,799 per night.
1 Er’jing Lu, Terminal 3, Beijing Capital International Airport, Shunyi District (6457 5555, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hilton Beijing Capital Airport Hotel
Twenty-four hour The Point Lobby Lounge, free 24hr airport shuttle from to Terminal 3 (Gate 5) every 15 minutes and from Terminal 2 (Gate 3) every 30 minutes, and late check-in and check-out upon request.
1 Sanjing Lu, Terminal 3, Beijing Capital International Airport, Shunyi District (6458 8888, email@example.com) 顺义区首都机场3号航站楼三经路1号
The above prices reflect room rates at the time of writing for two adults and one child, excluding taxes and fees. Consult with each hotel for the most up-to-date prices.
This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org