Easy Tricks for Stress-Free Flying with Toddlers
We’ve rounded up 11 simple tips for trouble-free flying with tots, so that families can have their much-needed vacation time with less hassle. By Rowena Carr-Allinson
Follow these tips for trouble-free flying with toddlers. (Flickr: Lars Plougmann)
Let’s face it: flying with kids is not easy; and flying with the little ones is even harder. But while we may be tempted to leave them at home with grandparents or aunts and uncles to avoid stressful flights filled with restlessness and tantrums, traveling is a great experience that we should immerse our kids in starting at a young age.
We’ve rounded up 11 simple tips for trouble-free flying with tots, so that families can have their much-needed vacation time with less hassle.
1. Pack wisely
Easier said than done but bring the things your toddler loves best, whether it’s a favorite cuddly toy, plastic cups or a favorite story - or all three. Bring along the entertainment you know will keep Junior happy on your family vacation. By the way, stickers rock.
2. Food, glorious food.
Bring along their favorite food for the trip. (Flickr: Melissa)
Snacks are key to keeping a toddle content over a long period of time. Even we turn up our noses at airplane food, so imagine what a fussy toddler might think of those trays? Pack healthy snacks, fruit and vegetables, and chips are always welcome too. Also bring sweet treats, if your little one is that way inclined. Think ‘carrots’ for cooperation.
3. Book an overnight flight
The chances are, your toddler will eventually fall asleep and, on a long haul flight, you’ll be glad for a few hours out of the schedule, for you all to catch a snooze. Sitting on the bulkhead row? Airline crew won’t allow you to make up a cozy kid-friendly bed on the floor, so if you are lucky enough to have your own seat for Junior, use a blanket as a hammock by wedging it into the bulkhead ‘tray’.
4. Check in your stroller at the gate.
Most airlines will allow you to bring your stroller to the gate. Some might even let you take it on board – if so, do! They are then supposed to return it when you ‘deplane,’ though this does not always happen. Be warned, it’s useful to pack a baby carrier, in case you need to travel the 12,000 miles of corridors with a sleeping child in your arms on arrival!
5. Pretend it’s Christmas
Bring along toys, gifts and surprises to keep your little one busy and entertained throughout. New things will capture their imagination and attention for a little while, and every little helps…
6. Release the pressure
Bring along something nice to drink for the way up/or down in order to deal with the pressure. The screaming infants you hear are those who are suffering from the pressure in their ears and have not been fortunate enough to suck or swallow at the right time to break the spell. A grumpy toddler in pain may not cooperate to drink water, so the best alternative is a juice box or similar treat to ensure they swallow and ‘pop’ those ears.
7. Pack emergency supplies - wipes, spare clothes etc
You never know what might happen so bring wipes – useful in most unpleasant circumstances – from a spilt juice to a trip to the bathroom. Also bring a spare change of clothes, for the little one and for you – because if the worse were to happen to you, you really don’t want to have to sit through the entire flight being reminded of it thanks to that nasty fragrance.
8. Hand out smiles
Before we take off, I always get my son to do a round of smiles for all the lucky travelers sitting around us. Mostly this buys you a lot of credit and will make your fellow passengers more clement should your offspring cause any ruckus. It really works. Making friends first is a must!
9. Manage your own expectations and take shifts
Don’t think you will be able to read that book you have been meaning to read or get some good quality sleep. Chances are, you won’t. Get used to it, so as not to be disappointed, thus seething and stressed out. Take shifts with your other half, so you can relax a little but don’t think flying with a toddler will be anything like flying without.
10. Give in to the power of the Ipad.
Keep them busy with an iPad and kid-friendly apps. (Flickr: Eduardo Merille)
Yes, it’s frowned upon, but sometimes having a little electronic entertainment can go a long way. Let’s face it, most toddlers will not watch Peppa Pig for 6 hours on the trot, so it’s nothing to worry about. Just the chance that another half hour will be filled! Incidentally, there are some great educational apps out there so it can be guilt-free too.
11. Check for free seats
At check in, ask if there are any available unsold seats on board. If yours is anything like mine, sitting several hours with a wriggling heavyweight on your lap is torture so if the check-in clerk is helpful, a free seat is a blessing.
Rowena Carr-Allinson contributed this to MiniTime. Since the arrival of her son in 2011, she has taken him everywhere from Bangkok to NYC, writing family friendly articles en route.