Airport security, cramped seating, and limited entertainment can make flying a frustrating experience for anyone. If you're planning a flight with small children, you might be facing the prospect with more than a little apprehension. Luckily, traveling with toddlers and small children doesn't have to be all bad news. In fact, many small children enjoy flying. Proper preparation and planning are key to success. With the right items on hand and just the right level of activity, your children will likely have a tantrum-free flight and look forward to your next trip. Whether you're taking a short flight to a state nearby or embarking on an international vacation, these five tips can help you create a journey that is as enjoyable as the destination.
1. Select the Right Outfit
Comfort is an important part of airline travel, but the right clothes for your small child can go a long way toward convenience as well. Temperatures can change drastically while flying, so it's important to be prepared for whatever you and your little ones will face on the journey. Dress small children in layers that are easily removable. Avoid complicated buttons and fasteners that could turn a potty emergency into a disaster. Complete the perfect outfit with slip-on shoes that will make getting through airport screening easy and help keep your kids comfortable while they're lounging in their seats.
2. Plan your Carry-on Carefully
When traveling with toddlers and small children, plan to have more necessities on hand than you'll actually need. While you don't want more baggage than you can safely carry, you also don't want to run out of diapers. Toddlers and small children need comfort and entertainment to get through the day. They also need to eat and drink more frequently than adults and are germ magnets in an area awash in germs. A checklist for your carry-on can help ensure you don't forget anything vital.
- Comfort Item: Pacifiers, blankets, small toys, bottles, etc. can be items your child can't live without for more than a half hour. If this is true for your child, have their favorite comfort item in an easily accessible bag. If it's a pacifier, make sure to bring more than one.
- Snacks & Water: Airplane snacks aren't likely to interest a toddler and can be served way too late to avoid a meltdown. Pack a few low-sugar snacks to keep your little ones from getting 'hangry' during the flight.
- Hand Sanitizer and Antibacterial Wipes: Children will come into contact with every germ in the airport and on the plane. Come prepared and wash frequently.
- Diapers & Wipes: A diaper per hour of travel is recommended. It's also not a bad idea to consider using pull-ups for children who no longer use them. Having supplies you don't need is considerably better than the alternative in this case.
- Air Pressure Rx: Changes in cabin pressure during takeoff and descent can cause ear pain that can make the calmest child cranky. If your children are accustomed to chewing gum, chewing a piece during and after takeoff and during the last 30 minutes of descent can relieve the pressure. Sipping water can offer the same relief from the swallowing action.
- Plastic Bags for Trash: Children will accumulate trash. With plastic bags on hand, you can dispose of it without creating an icky mess in your travel bag.
- Distractions: Smartphones and tablets loaded with your kids' favorite movies can be a lifesaver on the plane. Be sure to invest in appropriately sized headphones for maximum comfort. Other supplies to have on hand include art supplies and hand-held games or a favorite toy.
3. Seek an Airline that Caters to Kids
Parents travel with kids. It's a fact of life, but not everyone can be expected to handle a child's meltdown with maturity and grace. Airlines strive to keep all passengers calm and happy throughout a trip. Providing fun options for the trip's smallest travelers makes everyone's trip go more smoothly. This is why many leading airlines offer perks designed to keep kids occupied and calm throughout their trip. Before traveling, do your research to learn which airlines offer extras like activity kits, kid-friendly headphones and movies, snacks for children, or other useful items. Some airports even include kid-friendly family lounges that offer a play area for little ones to burn off some energy between flights.
4. Book an Early Morning Trip
Delays make for cranky travelers, and this stress is doubled for small children. Early morning departures limit the potential reasons for a delay to occur and are often less crowded as well. This time of day is usually quieter at airports and on planes. As a bonus, if you start the day very early, your little ones might settle down for an in-flight nap which will limit the need for entertainment.
5. Help Children Be Prepared
For children, a new activity can be exciting. However, unexpected experiences can also be scary. Begin preparations well ahead of travel day with conversations with your children about flying and everything they can expect during travel. Explain requirements like waiting in line at security and remaining seated during certain parts of travel. Share videos with your child that provide realistic images of what to expect at the airport and in flight. Practice for the security check and good travel behavior with shoe removal drills and quiet time activities. With a variety of examples, your children can be more prepared for the trip.
Traveling with small children shouldn't be a daunting task you face with dread. It can be a lot of fun for the whole family. No matter when or how you travel, preparation is key to a happy and safe trip. In the same way preparing your children for a flight protects them (and you) from a day full of tantrums, travel insurance can protect you from unexpected disasters. Any time you travel, don't forget to protect your trip investment, and yourself, with travel insurance. Visit travelinsure.com today to learn about protection plans for your next trip and to get a free quote.