Traveling can be exhausting, especially if you have early mornings or late evening flights with long transit hours. Add children to the mix and your stress level might be through the roof!
As a passenger, you probably keep your fingers crossed that you’re not stuck next to someone with a child, but as a parent, you may feel the guilt and shame coming from other passengers. Nevertheless, with some advanced planning, it is entirely possible to reach your destination with all your hair firmly on your head, your sanity in tact and less reproaching looks from other passengers… well, almost.
Infants and toddlers below the age of two are often given a discount on most flights. This is due to the fact that they can be seated on their parents. Alternatively, you can purchase a seat for your child, but you would likely need a carrier (carseat) for safety. Your child is likely to feel more comforted (and calm) by being cradled by you, but then again, booking the seat next to you for your child, might prevent you from dealing with impatient strangers.
If your airline allows, select your seat online once the option is made available or with your booking agent. For parents with infants, it is better to seat infront where bassinettes can be made available. This will allow your child to sleep comfortably during the flight. Seating infront can also allow you to exit quicker while disembarking. Alternatively, you can seat close to toilets, especially if your child likes to go every 5 minutes and is also useful when changing diapers. IHowever, sitting at the very back of the plane may also be useful as you are likely to receive more help from nearby flight attendants.
Always bring more than you think you will need! This applies for diapers, formula, wipes and clothing. Load your bag with necessary items such as bottles, diapers and wipes which you can stow underneath the seat infront of you – this will prevent you from disturbing the passenger beside you by getting up often. Be sure to bring an extra pair of clothing for all the children and for yourself. Colouring books and individual packs of crayons are great for keeping little ones busy for a while. Some airlines will provide them, but just in case, pack your own toys. Other things to include can be the child’s favourite stuffed toy or book, but keep it light.
Some airlines offer online check-in to reduce waiting time in queues. You will simply have to drop off your luggage at a designated drop-off counter or at the check-in counter. This way you have plenty of time to double check seating arrangements and bassinet if travelling with a baby.
Security regulations in some countries require your shoes to be scanned so it definitely helps having shoes that are easy to slip on and off. While waiting to board, let the kids walk (or crawl) around as much as possible. They will tire themself out and will be more likely to sleep or stay quiet throughout the flight. Use the bathroom before boarding and change diapers, even if they seem to be clean.
Always carry snacks! Preferably finger foods that are not sticky, crumbly or too messy. If travelling with more than one child, try to make sure there is more than enough for everyone. Liquid items are not allowed inside the airport, so if you bring juice boxes, make sure it is small and can be finished before passing through security. You can buy additional snacks once inside the departure lounge, .
Take-off and Landing
Chewing or sucking can help children and infants to equalise the pressure between their ears and the airplane cabin, especially during take-off and landing. To relieve pressure, you can breastfeed or bottlefeed your child, use a dummy or give them anything to eat, even gum works for older kids. The motion will help to pop their ears. If you can’t be amongst the first to disembark, let the other passengers off first. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it, you’ll find that the ground staff are very accommodating. You might be stressed after having been in a long flight with a child so may be eager to disembark. Be sure to check the area around your seat and the hatch above in case you have not left anything behind.
Our biggest pro tip? Travel insurance! Nothing worse than something happening when you’re travelling with children. Travel insurance frees up space for you to worry about smaller, menial things. Should your child fall sick overseas, your travel insurance will cover the cost of medical attention for your child.
One last thing, flying with children is not easy, but you have paid for your children’s flight and no matter how exhausting it is, they have just as much right to be on that plane as the next person.
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