Airplane travel can be tough. The flight delays,
cancellations and uncertainty of it all. Add a couple of kids to the mix and
it can seem outright impossible. So, here are my top five tips for airline travel
1. Tell them what's up
Kids do well with routine. And unless you're some jet-setting movie star, your kids probably aren't that accostomed to travel. So,
let them know what's going on. Explain the details: when you are
leaving, what's expected of them on the plane (lots of sitting, very little
screaming), how long the flight will take and what happens when you land.
When my kids understand their schedule for the day, they are
calmer and happier. And when I task my big one with helping mommy take care of
his little brother, he gets excited about the idea of travel.
2. Always travel with an extra set of clothes
I haven't learned this one first-hand, but a friend of mine
did when her tot vomited all over himself (and her) on a 3-hour flight and
she had nothing for either of them to change into. Pretty much a nightmare, right?
Now when we travel, I always keep a change of clothes in a Ziploc, along with a few extra Ziplocs (for dirty clothes) and a muslin (for
quick cleanups). When we get to our destination, I just throw the Ziploc into
the trunk of our rental car so that I have it for any day trips we might take.
Air travel is unpredictable.
3. Protect ears
A few lollipops or gum for older kids can be a godsend when
the pressure changes on the airplane. The sucking motion will help them pop their own ears and keep
themselves comfortable. Plus? Candy!
4. Bathroom breaks
Make sure your kids use the potty before you board the
plane, and then again before the plane's descent (usually about 30 minutes
before your arrival time). If you're unsure of when the plane will begin its
descent, it's a good idea to ask the flight attendant about timing on your
little one's bathroom break before the "fasten seatbelts" sign comes on, and you
get stuck in your seat. You want to avoid this at all costs.
5. Get something to eat
Air travel is unpredictable. On our last visit to see my
mother-in-law, our flight got diverted just before our descent, due to weather
conditions. That meant an extra hour on the plane, and then another two hours
to get our baggage, since the airport wasn't expecting our flight. And then a
very long drive home through ice and snow. We should have been home at 3 o'clock.
Instead, we pulled into our driveway at 7. Luckily, I'd stocked up on bagels
and bananas at the airport café before we left. So, while our kids were cranky,
at least they weren't starving, too.
Airline travel with kids can be tough. But with preparation, you can make it a bit easier on yourself.