Flying with kids is something we often dread. If you have a toddler to come along with you on your travels, you could be dealing with all kinds of complaints, tears, and tantrums along the way! And when you’ve got more than one child to take with you, who knows how long it’s going to take you to even get through check in?
Of course, not everyone has a bad experience with taking kids on a plane, but it is quite a common worry for a lot of parents out there. How are your kids going to cope with such a frantic environment as the airport? Are they going to settle down alright on the plane? Will they get bored really easily, and turn into little monsters for the rest of your 4 to 6 hour flight?
But what can you do to try and ensure that your kids are in for a smooth ride? Rather than try to cope with tears and tantrums as they happen, and probably failing to do so, how can you stop them from occurring in the first place? Well, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks about taking your kids through the airport and onto the plane for you below. Be sure to keep them in mind when arranging, packing for, and actually travelling off to your next trip.
Check In Online
If you get the option to do so, be sure to check in online. It’ll save you a lot of hassle when you get to the airport, and you won’t be in such a rush to get around the entire place. It’s recommended that, with luggage, you need to arrive at least 90 minutes ahead of your flight, and seeing as you’ve got a family sized suitcase to get checked in, there’s a good chance you’ll waste at least half an hour queuing and checking in here.
So, check in online, and save yourself at least two thirds of that essential period that you could put to better use. This time could be used to keep the kids calm, or to have a sit down period where you can just try to relax, and let the kids get their bearings.
You’ll also have the option to print out your boarding passes ahead of time, or save them to your phone to allow them to be scanned instantly. Doing this helps to ensure you’ve got all of the family’s boarding passes in one place, and the kids can’t accidentally lose theirs whilst you’re trying to get to and from check in in one piece! Plus, it gives you time to check your seating arrangements for the plane itself, and see if you and the kids have been placed next to each other.
Even when booking your seats, it’s common for seating arrangements to go awry, so it’s important to be prepared for that possibility ahead of time. Don’t worry, you won’t have to stick to the seating arrangement if your child has been moved away from you.
Pack Your Carry On Right
You’re going to have a carry on to take with you when getting on an airplane, and it needs to be full to the brim with the right items and accessories for your kids to make good use of whilst in the air. It’s very hard for an adult to sit still for hours on end, with no way to get out of the situation of being in mid air, so when it comes to expecting kids to do something similar, the expectation is absolutely impossible!
Your carry on doesn’t need to be over heavy and completely stuffed, but it does need to have some essentials in it. Don’t worry, you won’t be lugging a carry on even Hercules wouldn’t be able to take on his back, as long as you pack smart, and pack as small as possible!
So, for young children, be sure to pack small items that they like. Small toys and small packs of stickers or cards. Crayons and a travel coloring book, playable action figures or small dolls, etc. For anyone over the age of 8 or 10, you’re going to want to pack a book for them to read, or a handheld console they can make good use of.
Of course, depending on who you’re flying with, there’s often the option for inflight entertainment like a movie. If you can, put your child down in one of these seats and pop something animated on to keep them entertained for a good couple of hours. It may cost you a little bit extra, but it’s definitely worth it!
Prepare for Parking
Parking your car at the airport can be quite the chore in and of itself. You need to be able to leave your car in a secure place whilst you’re away, but at the same time, you don’t want to fork out for the astronomical prices a lot of airports now demand you pay to use their long term parking options. Of course, plenty of parking deals and tokens exist out there, and you could scour the web for them if you’ve got time, but we need a solution in the moment.
First of all, you need to do a bit of research. Start with some airport parking tips pages, where the most common and generally helpful parking tips can be found, and apply them to your situation to see if they’ll work.
Next, you’re going to want to remember that parking your car can mean you’ve got an awful long walk between where you’ve parked and the airport terminal you need to be at. So, make sure you pick your parking spot well, if using long term parking, and make sure there’s little to no regular traffic in the way of getting your family from point A to point B.
And of course, get to know the schedule of airport travel. A lot of people need to climb on buses to get to and from the bigger parking lots round the back of airports, and planning for getting on the most convenient bus is essential - you’re also going to need seats for all the family. Most schedules should be pasted on airport websites, so start there.
Let the Kids Know What to Expect
Your kids are what you’re worried about most, when taking them through the airport, aren’t they? You’re worried you’re going to lose them in the crowd, or leave them behind at a desk. You’re worried they’re not going to cope very well, and you’re worried they’re going to shout and scream if they’re unsure or nervous. Kids don’t really have any other way to let the adults around them know something is wrong, so this one in particular is a common concern for all parents that need to travel.
However, if you take the time beforehand, to let your kids know what to expect about the airport they’re about to go through, and the flight they’re about to go on, they’re going to handle the experience much better. Tell them that airports are busy places, and they need to stick close to you at all times.
Make sure you’ve always got a free hand for them to take, for example.
Similarly, let them know that if they’re ever feeling overwhelmed, or nervous, that all they have to do is tug on your hand, so they can tell you that they’re not feeling good about the situation. Promise them that you’ll listen, and you can always take them somewhere quieter.
So, get down to their level and talk to them. If they’ve never flown before, they’re probably going to be nervous, and need some patience from you right now - make sure you can offer this to them in spades. If you give your child the option to talk to you, and give them the words to use, they’re going to feel much more secure about the airport they’re in, and the flight they’re about to go on.
Flying with Kids: How Hard Can it Be?
It can be hard, of course! But it doesn’t have to be, especially when it comes to experienced flyers who want to take their kids away with them for the first time. All in all, flying with kids doesn’t have to be as hard as you’re expecting it to be.
It can be a smooth and pleasant experience, as long as you’ve packed right, tried to cut out as many airport staples as possible, and you’ve let the kids know what they’re in for.
The airport can be a stressful place for anyone, and even as adults, we can have a hard time going through customs and touching down on the other side. So, take some time to imagine what it’s like for your kids too. All in all, you can make the experience good!