How to Fly with Young Kids

So many people avoid flying with young children, because of the perceived difficulty. We’ve all seen those kids on airplanes. Will your kids be like that? Only one way to find out! With a little preparation, and some tricks, you’ll soon be jetting off quite easily – and your kids will grow up as seasoned flyers. Even the long-haul, international flights won’t seem as daunting with these parent-tested tips:

  1. Know yourself – and your kids. You know when they’ll sleep, and if they are good travelers or if they need something extra to help them through. You should also know if you can sleep on flights – this is pretty important!
  2. Book nonstop flights at all costs. It’s hard enough, getting kids together and onto a plane. Why make more of this? Book nonstop flights if at all possible. It’s worth every penny not to disembark and rush to another gate, with small kids in tow.  Check out flights at flight24.com to find flights that fit your schedule.
  3. Sleep! If you can, book overnight flights for long journey legs. If your kids and you can sleep on planes, this is a fantastic choice. You’ll all arrive rested. Otherwise, rest when they sleep. If they fall asleep on a plane (joy!), and you’re not tired, don’t get out your laptop and do some work. If you can’t sleep on flights, don’t book overnight flights. You’ll get to your destination with the kids all revved up to go, and you completely exhausted. Read a light magazine, look out the window at the clouds, or try to relax and meditate. Anything to get your brain to slow down a bit is a good thing.
  4. Don’t bring the farm. Bring a few, wrapped presents (get them at the dollar store) to dole out as your journey continues. It’ll be a surprise, and if you choose the gifts wisely, something to occupy them for a while. Other great things to bring – washable markers (or crayons) and a notebook; an ipod or tablet loaded with games and music, cards, finger puppets, and a camera. What? A camera? Yes! Give your kids a small, inexpensive digital camera. You’ll be surprised at what they come back with, these journalists-in-training.
  5. Teach (and model) manners. Besides the ever-present “don’t kick the back of the seat,” there are many things you can teach your kids about flying politely. You can even make it a game – A for A look around you, B for Be quiet, C and D for cunning detectives (this is an Eye-Spy moment if I ever saw one), E for can an Elephant tiptoe? You’re teaching them to observe, be quiet, be interested, and be silly while doing so! Kids love silliness. Bring it on.
  6. Snacks. We all know the hunger monsters can make anyone crabby (I am a perfect example). Bring plenty of healthy snacks – trail mix, protein bars, carrots and celery, even pack a cute bento box with treasures (edamame, little rice balls with tuna inside, etc.). Don’t stint on the snacks – whenever anyone is hungry, offer it. You’ll definitely stave off both hunger and possible problems. If your child is still nursing, be aware that breastfeeding while taking off and landing can help with ear problems. Bring gum for everyone else – and make it into a big treat, so they don’t swallow it!
  7. Have fun! There’s nothing like seeing the world through new eyes – this includes flying. Airports, airplanes, and even the clouds you fly by are more exciting, when seen with someone who is so excited about it all. Remember these moments – they are the stuff of life!

Whatcha think?