In an effort to make your next flight with the kiddos as stress-free as possible, we consulted with industry experts and moms who have been there to get some of their best tips and tricks for keeping kids (and you and everyone else on the plane) sane and entertained while in flight.
1. AVOID LAYOVERS AT ALL COST
Airplane travel is hard and scary enough for kids without the hassle of additional missed flights and long airport waits that can come with connections. “It’s better to take a direct 6 a.m. flight than a 9 a.m. with a connection,” said Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, mom and founder ofMomaboard.com, a trip planning service for families.
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2. PUT IN THE PREP TIME
A great way to get your kids excited about visiting a place or understanding more about its history and culture is to watch a movie based on your destination.
“My kids have recently enjoyed The Sound of Music, Paddington and Jodha Akbar in Salzburg, London and Rajasthan, respectively,” said Bhojwani-Dhawan. The bonus is if you can explain to your kids that the plane they’re on right now is taking them to these places, and have them watch movies or shows related to those destinations while in flight.
3. MAKE NEW TOYS MORE INTERESTING
We’ve all heard the advice about bringing new and exciting toys that your kid has never seen before onto a flight in the hopes of keeping them entertained for a while. But Randi Wolfson, head of communications with travel search engine Skyscanner.com, suggests taking this trick one step further.
“Buy some cheap toys at the local dollar store and wrap them up to give out during the trip,” he said. “Kids will get a kick out of unwrapping them, and it won’t break the bank.”
4. NIP EAR PROBLEMS IN THE BUD
The uncomfortable sensation that many people feel in their ears when flying is actually related to pressure changes in the air space behind the eardrum. That popping feeling we can often experience when yawning or swallowing on a flight is actually just your Eustachian tube adjusting to air pressure in the middle ears.
Kids can of course feel this pressure as well, and Robin Hutson, mom and publisher of Luxe Recess, a luxury hotel directory for parents, says understanding when and how to handle this pressure can be the difference between a happy and a screaming kid.
“Take off isn’t typically a problem, and it’s not the actual landing either,” she said. “It’s the descent, which begins about 45 minutes prior to landing.”
To help your child avoid that ear pain, ask a flight attendant for warning on when this initial descent will begin (it’s usually announced by the pilot, as well, so be listening for that), and plan to feed or nurse a baby at the beginning of the descent. You can also have water and snacks ready at that time to offer for older children.
“I also open my mouth as wide as possible in a silly face and ask my toddlers to make this same expression in return,” she said. “This opens the ears or induces yawning, which will open the ears, too.”
5. PACK SNACKS, SNACKS AND MORE SNACKS
It might seem fairly obvious, but it’s worth repeating — never, ever leave your house for a flight with kids without snacks.
“Snacks are a traveling mom’s best friend,” said Kim Schaefer, a veteran traveller with kids and CEO of Great Wolf Lodge. Things that are easily contained and can be readily accessible — like cereal in a sippy cup, crackers or fruit – make the best options.
6. LOAD UP ON WIPES
A simple pack of wipes can really be your best asset when it comes to tight spaces, dirty bathrooms and messy kids.
“Having wipes on hand is not just for changing diapers,” said Schaefer. “You never know when you might need to wipe sticky fingers or quickly clean up a juice spill. It doesn’t matter [where you are]; traveling with wipes is just smart travel.”
7. REMEMBER: LESS IS MORE
It can be tempting to pack every last toy, blanket and movie your child owns in an effort to not be caught without something you really need, but keep in mind that you’ll be carrying everything you bring for a lot of your travel (probably along with your kid).
“Really think about what you need, and what is provided at your destination,” said Schaefer.
If your flight is simply bringing your family from your hometown to Grandma’s a couple states over, it might not be worth the trouble of packing up your entire nursery for the trip.
8. BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS
By now we’ve all heard about the parents who handed out goodie bags to fellow passengers when they were flying with their 12-month-old baby girl. In fact, a little care and understanding can really go a long way when it comes to flying with kids — and not just with your fellow passengers.
“Flight attendants and other passengers will not look kindly to parents who let children disrupt the peace, or parents who do not attempt to keep their children and babies quiet,” said Hutson. “All parents have had a crying baby in public, so parents get credit for trying, of course. The more every other passenger sees you trying, the fewer the daggers sent in your direction.”
When it comes to traveling with kids especially by plane you can never take too many precautions. Not only can screaming, crying, cranky kids ruin your own flight, but the people around you will probably be less than impressed, as well. In an effort to make your next flight with the kiddos as stress-free as possible, we consulted with industry experts and moms who have been there to get some of their best tips and tricks for keeping kids (and you and everyone else on the plane) sane and entertained while in flight. Read more…