Flying with Kids
Traveling with little ones can be daunting but there are ways to make the best of it. Don’t let it stop you from exploring the world with your family. We’re here for you with these five tips to help ease the way to a more relaxed, enjoyable trip.
1. Prepare Early and Fly Direct
One of the biggest obstacles for family travel is ensuring that parents are not split up from their children on the plane. That's why Liberty Travel gives you the option of viewing your seats before you book them. However, the earlier you book, the more likely seats will be available together for that flight.
If you’re planning to arrange flights around your children’s nap schedule, keep the potential for flight delays in mind. Early morning flights are less likely to be delayed and are often less crowded. Let's face it: parents don't exactly sleep in anyway and fewer delays mean less boredom for the kids. Overnight flights for longer trips are another option to help ensure your little ones sleep on the plane.
Whenever possible, go direct. Not only will it shorten your travel time, but it will also reduce the stress and frustration in the event of a flight delay. Plus, if you miss your connecting flight, it may be difficult to get your entire family on another one. If you have to connect, though, make sure you leave enough time in between flights for deplaning and re-boarding.
2. Expend Some Pre-Flight Energy
Try to get to the airport early so there is plenty of time to get some excess energy out of your children. Some kids love riding back and forth on the people movers that are common at many airports. You could also find an open space (usually by an empty gate nearby) so that they can run around to their hearts’ content until your flight is called. How about a series of hops, jumping jacks, and toe-touching in the form of a Simon Says game? The exercise and giggle fits will usually tire them (and you) out enough to combat most restless tendencies for at least some of the flight.
3. Mix New Toys with Old Favorites
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to keep kids entertained on a flight. Try taking a trip to the dollar store before your trip to pick up some toys. Favorite books are a no-brainer. A small bag of chips to shake or piece of cellophane to crinkle provides a great sensory experience for the smaller babies (9-12 months). Making bracelets using colorful pipe cleaners and some Fruit Loops or Cheerios in a spill-proof cup will entertain pre-school children while developing their fine motor skills. Old favorites like Magna Doodles, Wikki Stix, and color by number Mandalas are great for elementary kids. Older kids might enjoy Extreme Dot-to-Dot books, Sudoku, and classic Mad Libs.
The trick is to make sure (especially for very little ones) you only take out one toy at a time. Get as much use out of it as you can before you pack it away and introduce a new one. Leave tags on new purchases… those alone provide their own entertainment. You can even partially wrap (leave one side open to get through airport security) some toys to give them as presents to entice good behavior. Yes, there’s no shame in bribing kids on an airplane to avoid irritating fellow passengers with potentially unruly children. Oh, and don't forget to have your older kids to lighten your load by carrying their own backpacks.
4. Embrace the Power of Technology
Remember that technology IS your friend. Even if it goes against all your typical rules of limiting electronic games and videos, the same rules do not apply when traveling. While many airlines offer in-flight entertainment with kids' stations, downloading their favorite movies and shows onto your tablet or smartphone before your trip is a great idea, especially on a longer flight. You’ll be glad you did this if inflight Wi-Fi is spotty or not available. And don’t beat yourself up over spoiling your kids with the extra electronic entertainment. It's okay on a flight.
5. Snack Smart and Often
Some airlines still serve snacks, and even meals for longer flights, but we all know our kids for the impatient, picky little angels they are. Come prepared with a nice combination of healthy snacks and special treats to keep them satisfied. If you're bottle feeding an infant, consider using the powdered version for travel… you can always get water to mix with it, and it will really lighten your load. You can feed your little ones Kix or Cheerios one at a time and count them out loud to draw out the experience. Fruit Loops come in lower sugar versions and are great for practicing colors. Toddlers also love the squeezable food pouches you can get at the supermarket. Raisins, bananas, and crackers are also good choices, but don't forget to pick up a bottle of water at the gate so you can keep the sippy cups filled. This is another time you might choose to relax your rules a bit and treat the kids to some snacks they wouldn't normally get all the time at home, like M&M's, cookies, or gummy bears. After all, it’s their vacation, too. Don't worry. Your secret is safe with us!
With the right balance of preparation, patience, and perseverance, you can make flying with your kids easier for everyone involved, especially yourself. Just keep in mind how little of your family trip is spent on the airplane, take a couple of deep breaths, and enjoy the ride.
If you’re ready to book your next family vacation, contact a Liberty Travel consultant and we’ll be happy to create an ideal itinerary for you and the kids.