Flying with children can be an incredible experience. Their excitement, inquisitiveness and adventuresome spirit help make a mundane journey a special one. As you and your family are preparing for what might be your first flight together or for those families who have been flying together for years, here are ten tips that might help make your upcoming flight a little more enjoyable.
Airplane books and apps
For your first time flyer, find some fun books like The Airplane Book by Edith Kunhardt that will help explain what flying is like to your children. There is also a great app that’s available on iTunes called “Off We Go— Flying on a Plane.” It allows your children to interact with the story and also has great sound effects for them to hear and get accustomed to.
Visit your local airport
A great thing to do with your children before their first flight is take them to your local airport. Pack a picnic, park your car at the end of the runway and let them watch the planes take off and land. This prepares them for the loud noises and the power of the planes and gives them a chance to ask questions.
Take full advantage of the early board. This gives you and your children the time to get settled on board and get your things organized before the rush of the other passengers.
Book seats close to the bathroom
Kids can get fidgety during the flight and may ask often to use the bathroom. Selecting seats near the restroom makes things so much easier. I often choose seats in the last row for just that reason.
And lots of them! Especially if you’re sitting in the rear of the airplane. It takes a while for the snack cart to reach you so have some of your children’s favorite yummies ready for them throughout the trip. Also a lot less expensive!
Have your child pack their own backpack with a few of their favorite things for the flight: DVDs, iPad, LeapFrog, books and toys, etc. Make sure to charge the electronics the night before.
Prior to the flight, visit your local electronics store and purchase some earphones for your young travelers. They will be able to plug them into their own electronics as well as the airplane console if your flight offers entertainment.
Pack them a brand new toy, load a new movie on your iPad or load a new video game for the trip. And don’t show it to them until it is absolutely necessary. This is great for when the excitement has started to wane and they lose interest in the things they packed in their backpacks. The surprise provides a fantastic distraction and they get excited about having something new!
Well sounds silly right? But, if your kids wore sandals or flops, they’ll have cold toes!
Wet wipes, tissues, paper towels
Take ALL of them. You know your kids (don’t act like you don’t!). They will sneeze, spill, sneeze again…and spew. Be prepared to tackle the mess in a flash and it won’t be so embarrassing when your toddler bumps your tray and your coke falls all over your pants (with any luck, you have paper towels to absorb the most and your flight is long enough so you don’t look like you peed in your pants when you land)
I am a believer in booking flights with a stop instead of flying direct. For flights over 4 hours, it’s beneficial for children to have some time to get off the plane and have a change of scenery. It may be a little more inconvenient for the parents but you’ll find that it’s like hitting the reset button for young travelers.