I love travelling with my family but let’s face it travelling with little kids can be daunting. I always get nervous when preparing for a flight with the whole family especially long connecting ones. Now if your children are anything like mine, a flight to anywhere is always an adventure.
I haven’t got my black belt on kids travel yet (working on it), but here are a few tips I have picked up along the way that I hope will help make your experience easier:
When to fly
I find that kids have a better flight when they are well rested after a good night sleep; so morning flights are for me ideal, especially for short trips. On a long-haul flight however, anything goes really, the idea is to make them as comfortable as possible. In those cases I tend to plan the trip around the arrival time at destination, minding the kids sleeping pattern so that ideally we all get some rest on arrival and start off fresh the next day, if possible.
The Buzzing ears
This is probably the most common source of discomfort during a flight for small children. Ok ok many actually do very well, but in order to prevent buzzing ears and headaches, I find that giving them fluids or something to suck or chew on during take off and landing to be very helpful.
Make them feel comfortable
I touched on the comfort aspect a little earlier and here’s more. Try dressing your child in the most comfortable outfit possible and go crazy, their favorite pajama do wonders to signal “sleep time”. Here their “doudou” can also be of great help, bring him/her along! Make previsions for change of clothes for little accidents.
The fun stuff
The fact is, getting on a flight is pretty cool, especially for toddlers so let’s make it fun. Pack a bag full of their favorite not noisy toys and activity kits to keep them busy during the flight. My go-to stuff are coloring and activity books, peg puzzles (not too many pieces though), jelly stickers and play doh.
Kids today are lucky since most international flights are packed with video entertainment on board, but it helps to also have their favorite cartoon or movie on your laptop or tablet and play it to them, you’ll need to invest in a splitter if you have more than on child; it’s actually cool to make it a family fun thing by watching the movie together and not fight over headphones :).
Pinterest is your friend
Yep, Pinterest is your friend. Get on it and you are bound to find some of the great tips and tricks ever shared by parents and other travel enthusiasts, don’t be shy.
Do pack their favorite snacks especially if there will be a stop over, but stay away from candy, the aim is to keep them calm and happy :). Carrots, crisps, cheese, yoghurt, grapes and nuts (if ok) will do.
Have a small medication purse in your carry on luggage, no surprises.
Mind your documents
Always keep copies of your child’s important documents; better yet have a soft copy on your One Drive or Dropbox, documents such as vaccination records, parental authorisation, birth certificates should always be available.
If you are planning on travelling to or from South Africa, please take note of the change in regulation when travelling with a minor here.
Lastly try to relax, you’re on this flight too. Life does happen and the tough bit will last only for a little while (there’s hope), so try to enjoy and think of it as another shared experience with the little one.