My recent trip to France was delightful no doubt, but I couldn’t help watch couples travelling with kids struggle. Despite the excitement of the journey, many families find it stressful and challenging to travel with kids. And its not about numbers, from couples or single mums with a child to couples with as much as three or more children, controlling kids on both direct and connecting flights can be anything but stressful, if you adopt these tips.
Take a look at these six tips to make flying with toddlers to teens a breeze:
Give them each a backpack (but they have to carry their own). When you travel, make sure each kid has a backpack to fill with books, crayons, snacks and juice boxes. The smaller the kid, the smaller the backpack, which helps ensure they don’t overfill. They can pack what they want, but make sure before they head out of the house they can each carry their own.
Get to the airport early (and I mean early). Decide on a time to leave for the airport that would get you there with plenty of time to spare, and then back it up 30 minutes. Muritala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) immigration/security queue can be terribly long (sometimes couples with kids are allowed to jump the queue but not all times) and can cause delays. Most airlines will make calls for delayed passengers but that’s only for sometime, better not to be caught in that trap.
Have plenty of on-board entertainment. Bring on board whatever you think it will take to keep your kids entertained while confined on the aeroplane. I’m not a big fan of letting my son play games on my blackberry Phone, but if it keeps him happy and quiet while in flight for hours, that’s fine with me. I try to pre-populate my phone with plenty of fun, educational apps.
Snacks, snacks, snacks. Along the lines of on-board entertainment, make sure they have more than enough snacks to make it to your destination. I usually bring along cracker packets, cookies and mini-youghurts. Not every snack is super-healthy, but I don’t care much about the nutritional value of snacks when we fly. I just want to keep my kids quiet and full.
Plan for your kids to get sick (or spill their drink on their pants). For whatever reason, kids come up with all sorts when they’re airborne, from hurting ears to dry eyes. A friend’s daughter’s ears always hurt when they fly, so she now packs lollipops on trips. I don’t know if sucking on the lollipop actually relieves the pain or keeps her occupied, but it works. Also keep the airsick bag close at hand. Oh, and an extra change of clothes is good to have for spills.
Assume there will be delays. A former colleague was on a non-stop flight recently that landed nowhere near his final destination. Fortunately, she was travelling alone, but had his kids been with him, he would have needed back-up entertainment. So plan to eat snacks (from biscuits to fruit snacks), play airport games (I Spy is a good one) and listen to music. Don’t forget a portable charger for any electronics you may have, like smartphones, portable DVD players and PSP.
Additonal information from Erin Gifford at Kidventurous.