Are you jetting off for a family getaway this summer? If you’re taking a trip abroad with your little ones for the first time, stepping onto a plane with them can seem daunting. Follow our suggestions for keeping babies, toddlers and young children calm and entertained on board, so you can arrive at your destination stress-free!
A few months ago, we blogged about how to survive car journeys with children. Travelling by plane can be similar in many ways, but there’s often a lot more stress involved.
As a parent, it’s only natural to worry – will your child get upset or have a tantrum and disturb the people around you? Will they be bored during a long flight and become whiny and irritable? Will you have everything you need for the journey? Will you be able to manage children and luggage and passports and tickets all while finding your way around a busy airport? Fear not! Flying with children doesn’t have to be the ordeal it may seem…
- Check your airline’s policies: Every airline will have different rules and regulations for passengers flying with children, including which items of baby equipment you are able to take on board, whether your child needs to have their own seat or can travel on a parent’s lap, and how much hand luggage you can take. Children over 2 years of age will usually be required to have their own seat, but you may be able to take a car seat on board for younger babies if you have purchased a seat for them. Check the requirements of your individual airline to make sure your car seat, booster or carrycot complies.
- Plan strategically: If possible, try to book a flight for a time when your little one would usually be sleeping. If you have a night flight, they might snooze all the way and wake up refreshed on arrival. Be aware that this tactic could just as easily backfire, though!
- Pack for all eventualities: Life with a little one can be unpredictable, so make sure you’re prepared for nappy explosions, complete outfit changes and multiple snack times during the journey. Children with booked seats usually have the same cabin bag allowance as adults, so take a bag just for them, and make the most of it – you never know what you might need.
- Take plenty of entertainment: Despite the excitement of going on holiday, children can get bored quickly, so make sure you have plenty of options for keeping them entertained. Magazines and colouring books don’t take up much space if your child is old enough to concentrate on them, and small toys they can play with quietly. An iPad or tablet pre-loaded with child-friendly games and films is an essential for any flight, complete with a set of headphones – now is not the time to be too strict about limiting screen time.
- Get cabin crew and fellow passengers on side: Ask for help if you need it from cabin crew, especially if you’re travelling alone with children – an extra pair of hands can make all the difference. Hopefully the other passengers around you will be sympathetic if your child gets restless or noisy, but you can pre-empt any complaints by being as pleasant, friendly and considerate as possible yourself, and be quick to apologise for children that cause a disturbance.
The most important piece of advice you’ll receive is that stressed out parents make for stressed out children. If you plan properly and stay calm and collected whatever the journey throws at you, your child is more likely to do the same.