Travelling with small children can be tricky if you are not prepared. While exploring the world has its benefits, it can be extremely tough, if things don’t go as planned (and even when they do!). In our case, our first flight was delayed from 9:30 pm to 00:30 am and here is where these kind of tips might come to good use.
6 Tips for Flying with Children
1. Flight time: For long flights I try to book the takeoff as close as possible to the evening, or night. This means that they will most likely sleep during the flight and be more rested when arriving. If your flight is short (less than 6 hours) or you can’t book a flight that late, a good idea is during their nap time. If you are connecting flights, you want to read the next tip!
2. Connecting flights: If you can’t reach your destination in one flight, you might want to check the airport where you stop. Some airports have amazing amenities for the children that will keep them entertained during the wait period. I found that Madrid is a great place for stopovers. While Gatwick and Heathrow have also kid zones, they tend to be a bit overcrowded. In Madrid they have indoor playgrounds (we visited at least 3 different areas) and they are quite spacious. Also, at most of the airports you can get a stroller for FREE to use while you are inside. We had to wait for four hours and the children had a great time. It is always worth checking if the airport you are stopping at has a kid-friendly zone and where it is situated.
3. Entertainment: Bringing toys and books from home may seem to be the best option, but they can get bored of them pretty quickly. Knowing my children's interests, before I left I went to a dollar store and bought a few sticker books (story and stickers), puzzles and colouring books. It cost me about $8 and kept them entertained for a long time. I also downloaded some of their favourite’s cartoons and movies onto my tablet. Some quiet music is also a good idea for those stressful times.
4. Food: Did you know that you can bring almost all kind of foods onto the plane? You can’t bring some of them into other countries but as long as you consume them or dispose of them before leaving the plane, you’ll be fine. We brought some fresh fruit, granola bars, sandwiches and cheddar cheese with us. You can also bring, in a transparent plastic bag, any liquids up to 100 ml. We brought some yogurts (iogo drinkables and some mini yogurts).
*Also flight attendants tend to be more than happy to give some extra snacks to the children, especially if they are feeling a bit upset.
5. Other items:
It gets quite chilly sometimes in a plane; I brought a couple of muslin blankets with me. They fold up very small size and work great at keeping the children warm.
If you are travelling with an infant (under 2 years old), you can bring his/her car seat and another piece of equipment at no extra cost. I bought a travel stroller and I kept it until I boarded the plane (gate-check tag). Once we landed, the crew prepared it for us just outside the door.
6. Other considerations: Plan as much as possible beforehand but don’t worry if it doesn’t go as planned. Try to keep positive even in the tough times: children can pick up on your mood quickly. Travelling for them is much harder than for us: be empathetic. Engage them in positive and active play when possible: they are going to have to sit for a few hours. If they don’t want to sit, it's ok: I did several laps up and down the plane walkways. Enjoy!
*all bold & underlined words are helpful links within the article