Flying can be nerve-racking enough, but traveling with children can take stress to a whole other level entirely. Few are the airline passengers who have never experienced being stuck in a cabin with a mixture of crying children and their frantically shushing parents. Don’t let it happen to you! Here you’ll find a list of fun tips and tricks that will help keep your children calm and entertained throughout the course of your next flight.
Surprise them with a new toy
One of the great things about kids is that it doesn’t take much to get them super excited. If it’s your little one’s first time flying, then they may end up a bit nervous right before take-off, no matter how excited they are beforehand. A good way to help them take the edge off is to take their mind off of things by presenting them with a new toy.
You know better than anyone what your kids love, and rest assured that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Whether they’re super into Legos and get a small set they can look forward to building once you’re in the air or a new stuffed animal they can hug for comfort, the excitement will go a long way to help get them into the right mindset.
Help them count down the hours
If you’re more worried about how to keep your kids occupied during a long flight, then rather than present them with one larger toy, try breaking things up a bit. Use your carry-on or purse to bring along a series of small, wrapped presents. Each might contain anything from silly putty to small action figures or Lego sets. Explain to your kids that every hour, they’ll get to pick a new present and suddenly the flight will seem to go a lot faster for them.
If you have older kids who you’re attempting to keep from getting too rowdy, then you can also explain to them that each hourly treat will have to be earned. This is a great way to help them be mindful when it comes to being polite and respectful to other passengers without having to resort to frustrated demands.
Bring plenty of snacks
Seriously, preparation is everything when it comes to flying with kids, especially in the area of snacks. Makes sure you pack plenty before take-off because things are going to get a lot more expensive as soon as you leave the ground. Making sure you have food on hand is a good way to help your kids avoid the grumpiness and frustration that comes with being hungry. Try to keep things as healthy as possible, because you don’t need us to tell you there’s nothing worse than a five-year-old with a sugar high in a confined airplane cabin.
If you’re traveling with very young children, you may even want to bring along extra snacks for the people around you. This friendly gesture can go a long way towards making friends with the guy who your child accidentally awakens with a random bout of crying.
If your kids are old enough to chew gum, make sure to include a package of that as well. The change in cabin pressure that often makes your ears pop can be disorienting for any first-time flyer, let alone a kid who has no idea what’s going on. Chewing gum during lift-off and landing can help relieve some of the cabin pressure that has a tendency to come along with the change in altitude.
Turn the experience into a game
Kids love to use their imaginations, so help them transform a boring situation into a fun experience with a little play. During take-off, you can have young children pretend that their seat is actually the cockpit and that they are the pilot who is about to prepare for take-off. You can even introduce them to the stewardesses as they come along the aisle. Most airline workers do their best to make kids feel comfortable, so any friendly stewardess you come across will likely be more than happy to make your little one’s acquaintance.
Once you’re in the air, you can take the chance to teach your kids a new card game. This can be a fun way to keep yourself just as occupied as they are during the course of the flight. You might also consider bringing along activity books that they can work from or even a cheap camera they can use to take pictures during the flight. Just make sure you explain to them the importance of asking random travelers before they snap their pictures!
Prep your iPad pre-flight
Okay, so it’s important to limit screen time when you’re on the ground. But let’s face it, when it comes to flying an iPad is a parent’s best friend. The important thing is to make sure that you’re iPad is already filled with fun games and activities before take-off just in case you can’t access the internet. You can download a movie, install a bunch of cool games, or even surprise your kids with fun new audiobooks or music.
Equally important, however, is that you remember to bring headphones at all costs. Make sure to get a pair that are comfortable for your child to wear and that is soundproof enough that they won’t disturb other passengers. After all, the only thing more likely to get you unfriendly stares than a screaming child is a fellow passenger who has been forced to listen to Dora the Explorer’s many adventures while they’re trying to nap.