Flying can often be the quickest and easiest way to travel to far away destinations, but many parents find the very idea of traveling this way with kids daunting and anxiety inducing. This feeling of fear and trepidation is not without merit – how many of us have been stuck in a car with a crying child for hours or even in an airplane hearing somebody else’s child throwing a tantrum? I can’t promise that your trip will go without any hiccups, but there are some easy things you can do in advance of these travels to help everything go as smoothly as possible.
Dress for the Occasion
Long gone are the days of dressing up in a three piece suit to get on an inter-continental flight. Travel is exhausting, and the least you can do is be comfortable while doing it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing sweats to the airport – or even letting your kids wear their most comfy pajamas. While you’re at it, let them bring a comfort item – such as a small blankie, a neck pillow and a stuffed animal. This will help them feel more at home and have a calming presence.
Leave Nobody Hangry
In our family, one of the first questions when we are cranky is when the last time we ate was – for good reason. Scientists have actually done research that has shown a direct correlation between hunger and negative mood swings. If you have the space in your carry-on (and trust me, you want to find the space) fill it with your kids’ favorite snacks, especially those that are extra filling like protein heavy granola bars.
Prep the Ears
One of the hardest things to prepare kids for, especially the littlest of travelers, is the sensation you feel in your ears when in the high altitude in a plane. Adults know to yawn and move around their jaws to help pop their ears, but kids need a bit more help in this regard. To make sure you don’t end up with any severe ear pain in your progeny, make sure to bring lollipops or gum – the act of chewing gum and sucking on lollipops creates the same jaw movements that adults do to relieve this pressure.
Bring a Game
For older kids who are able to concentrate on card games, this is a great way to kill time and have fun at the same time. Our family’s go to travel games are Uno and Phase Ten. The best part of these games is that each round is usually relatively quick, so you won’t get stuck having to stop a game in the middle of it in order to board your flight.
Just like car trips, sometimes it is simply easier to get kids to sleep through the trip – especially for longer flights. Whatever works for your kids, be it Dramamine or Melatonin, make sure to pack enough for round trips. The advantage of using Dramamine as well, is it will reduce the chance of your child getting motion sickness when the only bathroom available is the size of a postage stamp.
Load Up Those Electronics
Yes yes yes, I know nobody wants to admit that they sometimes let screen time do the parenting for them – but let’s be honest about how much easier life can be sometimes if your six-year-old is paying more attention to Sid the Science Kid than you. Add educational shows and games if you want to feel less guilty, but also don’t feel guilty at all. Parenting is sometimes reduced to survival, and this is your best bet in a busy airport and a crowded plane.