For many parents, the thought of traveling with their kids on a plane can strike fear and anxiety into even the strongest parent. The thought of the confinement and the potential fussiness that might plague the family the whole trip is nerve-wracking.
Prepare The Kids... and the Airline For a Snafu Free Flight
If you are going to be traveling with your children, there are many things you can do to make the trip easier. The most important things you can do are to be prepared and be early. If you are prepared, you will have all the supplies you need for any emergency that might come up. If you are early, you won't add to your stress by rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off.
In terms of preparation, make sure you have all the right documents. If you are going overseas, everyone needs a passport. It's also a good idea to get your child a picture no matter their age. Print out your itinerary and make multiple copies for you and any adult traveling companion, and be sure to give one to someone staying home. Make a list of all the items you need to survive the trip and add 30 percent to the time you expect to be en route so you will have enough stuff (diapers, wipes, medication, bottles etc.) for those inevitable delays.
Prepare Your Children for the Adventurous Event in Advance
Flying with kids can be fun if you think it through. Have something your child can open on the plane so it gives them something to look forward to. Begin talking to them about the trip well in advance. Talk to them about respecting those around them, how the plane works and why they have to stay in their seat. Read books from the library about the experience and make this a positive upbeat time so that they are looking forward to the experience. While en route, give them verbal updates about what's going on and helping them point out the pilot, the flight attendants, and others along the way so it feels like an adventure.
If the plane has television/video games, there's no shame in letting your child play as long as they want. It will give you a rest and it will keep your child occupied and less fussy. When on the plane with your child, the key is to try and keep them occupied or interested in something. If your child gets too bored, you have the potential for them to act out. So bring books, games, handheld video games, and whatever else your child likes.
Traveling with your kids doesn't have to be as stressful as you might think it'll be. Just remember, not everyone is going to love that there are kids on board the plane with them, but there's nothing you can do about that. Just focus on making your kids happy and calm, and it doesn't hurt to bring some treats for those seated around you!