Gone are the days when flying meant relaxing with a snack (and perhaps an “adult” beverage or two) while watching an in-flight movie. When babies and children are in tow, flying can easily become a stressful and upsetting event.
Travelling with children doesn’t have to be disastrous. Here’s how you can make your travel plans go as smoothly as possible:
Before you go
- Schedule breaks
As eager as you may be to reach your final destination, younger children will need to have breaks every three to four hours (if not sooner!). If you’re driving, plot out rest stops, restaurants, parks and other areas of interest along the way to let your kids move around and enjoy a change of scenery.
If you’re flying, break up long flights with two to three hour-long stopovers. This gives your children lots of time to eat, use the washroom, and burn off excess energy.
- Check the airline’s policy on checked baggage
In some instances, you may be able to bring aboard extra “baby” items (like a baby bag or a pram) free of charge. It’s also a good idea to check each airline’s policy to ensure that you aren’t stuck with a huge fee for having luggage that is too large or too heavy.
- Pack separate carry-on luggage or backpacks for the kids
Children who are toddler-age and older will appreciate having their own carry-on or backpack full of their favourite stuffies, new colouring books, toys, reading materials and electronic devices (if your child is using an electronic device, be sure to bring along a set of headphones).
- Practise for the airport
Airports are overwhelming for a lot of people – especially young children. Dress your children in bright clothing, snap a picture of each before departure, and remind them to stay close and cooperate with security.
- Don’t forget about packing for yourself!
Parents worry so much about packing enough nappies and wipes for their littlies that they often forget to bring a book, a tablet, or another source of entertainment for themselves.
During the flight
- Keep nappies and wipes near
It’s always a good idea to fill a small toiletries bag (think one that is about the same size as the back pocket on a seat of an aeroplane) with two or three nappies, a travel packet of wipes, a folding change mat and a nappy bag.
- Give out new and old toys one at a time
If you’ve purchased a few new toys for the trip, distribute them every 30 to 60 minutes, or whatever works best for your family. Wrap them up and play a game like pass the parcel to help pass the time.
- Snacks are a great distraction
Lollipops are a great choice for flights since they’re small, and sucking on them will help your kids stay comfortable both during takeoff and during the descent (if your baby is breastfeeding or bottle feeding, try to do so at these times. Our Peachymama tanks, shirts, and dresses make this super easy because they offer you and your bubs greater privacy and comfort.) Always pack more than you think you need and focus on healthy “non-messy” foods like apple slices, raisins, and nuts.
- Teach your children how to be respectful
Children should be reminded to speak in a quiet “indoor voice”, use headphones when using electronics, and not to kick the seat in front of them. For the youngest of travellers, distraction techniques may work best.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Many airlines offer a complimentary “meet and assist” service where a staff member will meet you once you exit the plane and help you receive your bags and get your family through immigration.
Happy and safe travels!