Even a car ride has the potential to become a complete train wreck where kids are concerned, so the idea of taking the family in a winged tin-can 39,000 feet in the air could be the stuff of nightmares.
A full mouth is a quiet mouth. Keeping the spawn fed is a good start to a peaceful journey. Make sure you check what food you are allowed to bring. The good news is there’s no restriction on whole fruit (or cakes and pies if that doesn’t fly), so you can appeal to their sweet tooth if the little ones get cranky. There is also something to be said for buying something in the airport restaurant or snack shop. The costs can be offensive but sometimes worth it when you are juggling a traveling tot.
The plane’s climb and descent can be hard even on adult ears, but something to keep the jaw moving can ease the pain. Something chewy or gum is good for this if your children are old enough to eat these safely. A boob, juice-box, or bottle is another highly effective alternative.
Get stupidly, pathetically organized. A Rainman level of preparedness will make you feel like a lunatic, but give you the edge when things start to go pear-shaped. Get to the airport as early as you can; an extra hour or so seems ridiculous but when things go wrong (which they seem to when you're traveling with miniatures) you’ll be grateful. Also, there’s no known unit of speed small enough to account for the pace of toddlers when you’re in a hurry. That extra time will come in handy when those little legs get exhausted two minutes before a miraculous recovery on the moving walkway.
Don’t fancy airplane food? Neither does your four-year-old. Because of this, airlines do offer kids meals, but don’t forget to book them in advance.
Get your kids plane-ready. By this I mean explain to them what’s going to happen at the airport and then on the plane- even second-time fliers might benefit from a reminder. Airports, airplanes and all their attendant security checks and procedures can be intimidating or just plain annoying. Giving kids an idea of what’s ahead can make the experience easier. This sort of pre-mission brief can be a good time to set some ground rules too, whether that’s consequences of misbehavior or warnings of what won’t be acceptable on the journey.
Plug them in to the in-flight entertainment to enjoy a couple hours of peace. This is an obvious one. Not so obvious is the fact that standard flight headphones probably won’t fit on a young child’s head so make sure you bring appropriate earphones.
With these handy air travel hacks and a bit of luck, your little angels will be no trouble at all on your voyage. If not, pull a Home Alone 2 Mom and put them on a flight to New York with your credit card. Only joking! Never do that (Tim Curry’s a rubbish concierge), but remember most international flights serve free alcohol.
Got your own tips for travelling with the nippers? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments section.