Tips to make air travel with children easier
Created by Anurima Updated on Apr 29, 2019
When a vacation is around the corner, there are always mixed feelings of excitement of the trip, and the nervous anticipation of what the journey will be like. Your life does not come to a halt when you become a parent - but the fact that remains is that most of your time travelling now would be spent entertaining your child. Throw in some meltdowns at the airport, forgetting to carry something essential and flight delays – and you've got yourself a nervous breakdown. But here's the thing – you can, with preparation, deal with these things and minimize your stress during air travel.
Things To Keep In Mind While Planning Your Trip With A Toddler
So it may seem an upheaval task to fly with toddlers, but let me assure you that it does have it positives! You will find the world become a much friendlier place, and parents often end up making more friends when they travel with children. However, with a child (or two) choosing destinations and flights is not quite straightforward. It takes more planning and deliberation keeping in mind these factors-
- Choose a destination based on how much you are willing to travel. 12 hour flights may not be a good idea with a very young child, and you don't want your holiday turning into a nightmare before it has even begun
- Flight during nap time might be a good idea if your child has a more or less fixed sleep schedule. Reaching your destination before bed time will help
- When travelling with an infant (under two years), you may book a bassinet seat (only on long haul journeys). This can be done by calling up the airline office and booking a seat a few weeks before the actual date of travel. You may also reconfirm if a bassinet seat has been assigned to you online by checking on the airlines' website or by calling their office. This is can be done the same week of travel
- For domestic flights or short haul journeys, you may request for a seat with more leg space. These seats are usually the ones at the start of the rows and facing the aisle. They offer more leg space and are comfortable as your baby will be mostly on your lap
What Should I Pack Before Air Travel With My Child?
A friend once remarked that travelling with a child is almost like moving house. There's so much that you need to carry. But it need not be such a trouble if you prioritize what you have to carry.
- Baby Bag: Diapers, Baby Wipes, Tissues, Baby bottles (at least 2 bottles), formula milk in a small container with a spoon, baby cereals, disposable bibs (as many as possible), a small bowl and plastic spoon to mix and feed cereal from, small toys to keep baby busy when awake, warm clothes (socks, cap, sweater), your baby's favorite blanket or toy (for comfort), baby food, water, burp towels
- Toddler Bag: Your toddler can carry his/her own bag pack with a few toys, activity books, story books, color pens, their own snack- a few small packets, milk preferable in tetra packs (200ml), wet wipes (even baby wipes), tissues, a set of fresh clothes, warm clothes such as socks, a light jacket
- Your main bag: Small plastic bags to store soiled or dirty clothes, wet wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, small packets of snacks (as a backup), fever or cold medication just enough for the journey, a shawl or a stole to cover when breastfeeding
- A sturdy lightweight and foldable stroller: Strollers are allowed up to the door of the flight
Navigating The Airport With Your Child
- For international journeys, you will need to pass through Emigration, where the queues are usually very long. However, in most International Airports, there are separate entry points for families with children. You may watch out for one of those lines, as the queue is usually shorter
- The Security Check areas also offer separate queues, however the wait could still be long
- Most airlines announce a ‘pre-boarding sequence', wherein families with young children are among those who are allowed to board the aircraft before the other passengers. You may need to watch out for this announcement
How To Make The Flight Comfortable For Your Child And Yourself?
- The bassinet will be provided only after the flight has taken off. So until then, your baby will have to be carried on your lap
- While take off, you may nurse your baby or give him/her milk or water in a bottle and your toddler, a sweet to suck on. This will prevent any discomfort caused due to change in the air pressure within the cabin. The change in air pressure may make the ears pop.Children find this sensation very uncomfortable and most babies cry during takeoff and landing
- You could ask for a seat extension to buckle your baby with your belt, when on your lap while takeoff. This however is not compulsory
- If not using an extension seat belt, you will need to hold your baby securely close to you as guided by the in flight crew
- For long journeys, you may dress your baby in warm clothes, feed and put him/her in the bassinet
- Once your baby is comfortable, you may use the restroom, take your toddler to the toilet, have your meal and get some sleep. It is easier when there is another adult travelling along as they can occupy the child while you have your meal or rest and vice versa
- For shorter journeys, you will need to keep your baby on your lap. If he/she is not sleepy, you could read a book together, look out the window, or play with some toys to keep the child busy. Your toddler could also read, color, or solve puzzles
- Once the flight lands, it is easier to let the other passengers leave the aircraft first. In trying to leave earlier, you may just block the way of the other passengers while helping your child put on her shoes and jacket or bringing your bag out from the overhead compartment. So letting others leave first and taking your time to sort things is a better option
Some More Tips To Keep In Mind For Air Travel With Your Child
- Comfort first: Wear comfortable clothing and footwear
- Rules:Lay down a few rules and explain them to your toddler a few days before the day of travel. Repeating and reminding them of the rules everyday up to the day of the actual journey will help
- Stay calm:Even if your baby cries out loudly in the flight or your toddler throws a fit, you may calmly try to console your baby and reason with your toddler as getting angry or irritated may make the situation go out of hand
- Breastfeed as much as your baby needs:When breastfeeding, don't worry about what other passengers maybe thinking. You may nurse your baby in your seat by covering up with a scarf or a shawl and ignore other fellow passengers.Some mothers nurse their babies in the plane's toilet. This is just uncomfortable, and unhealthy for you and your baby
- Food to avoid: Avoid giving your child sugary foods such as chocolates, packed juices before travelling. These foods tend to trigger a sugar rush and may make the child more active when instead they need to be calm and relaxed in the flight
- Hand Sanitizers and Wet Wipes: These two products are essential and we cannot recommend them enough. You may keep one set in each bag to avoid having to open another bag to bring them out
- Light Carry On luggage: Carry light luggage as you will need your hands free to manage your child
- Liquid Restrictions: Most airlines allow only liquids up to 100ml each. This restriction, however, does not apply to baby food/milk/water. You may need to take the food out to show the airport staff at Security Check
- Hygiene: For hygiene and health safety, you may buy drinking water from the airport for your children. Avoid giving tap water to my children when travelling
- Time Zone Challenges: When travelling to a different time zone, you may try to get used to the time of the destination country as soon as possible. For instance, you may try to feed your child lunch at lunchtime there (even if it is midnight in India or vice versa). This will help your child's body clock to adjust to the new time zone
While air travel with your child requires proper planning, it need not become a nightmare. Think of it like creating a home away from home for your child, and once he is comfortable, you will be able to enjoy much of your trip as a family. Keep these tips in mind and enjoy your trip!
If you have any more tips that we have missed out, let us know in the comments section.
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