If you’re flying with kids, you might worry they’ll spend the whole flight screaming or running up and down the aisles. It’s one of the biggest concerns other parents express to me. If you are one of them, let me ease your worries.
We have flown to Europe countless times and once we are there, we take multiple commuter flights. Here’s what I’ve learned: The most important thing is being prepared, prepared and more prepared! So here are my tips:
Consider the time of the flight.
I plan my trips when it’s time for my kids to sleep. If we are going on a long flight or an international flight, I pick an evening departure. I put my kids in their pajamas so they are comfortable. We then keep our routine by first eating dinner on board and then reading a book or an activity until it’s time for them to sleep. The sound of the plane works perfectly as white noise.
Pack an activity backpack.
This is where being prepared really pays off. I pack a backpack for each kid that includes earphones, coloring books, crayons, blank construction paper, activity workbooks and an iPad or tablet with a movie ready to go. Don’t assume the plane will have a movie. Even if it does, it might be in a location the kids can’t see it. Having a movie ready to go is a great way to keep them calm in their seats.
Snacks. Snacks. And MORE snacks.
My husband and I always make sure the kids have food packed from snacks to dinner. We also take their kids cups empty so that once we are through security I can buy water or milk to fill them. I pack their dinner for a couple of reasons. Not only is plane food not always appetizing for kids, it can sometimes takes an hour before it’s served. The last thing you want is hungry cranky kids. Think of easy items like pasta or their favorite sandwich. I also pack a lot of snacks. If you have an infant or toddler you can take formula, breast milk or juice on board. You just have to let the TSA agents know you have it at the screening check points.
Help kids handle ears popping from cabin pressure change.
Keep in mind little ones don’t know how to swallow to prevent the pressure from hurting their ears when taking off. So when I was nursing my babies, I always had my nursing cover ready to go in my purse. If you have a window seat it’s a little bit easier to manage, but nursing during take off has always worked for me. It helps comfort them and keeps their ears from hurting. If you’re worried about what others think, I assure you that I don’t think anyone ever even noticed because I had my cover and they are focused on taking off. Now that my kids are older, I make sure they have cups with a straw so they can drink to help clear their ears.
Even lollipops and chewing gum helps with older kids.
Ease nerves with fun games.
Just like us, sometimes kids get nervous about flying. A good way to ease anxiety is playing games with them. This can start before you even take the trip. Use your imagination to make up a flying game in your living room, let your kids pretend to be the pilot or a flight attendant. Let them tell guests where they are flying to or let them serve snacks. You can also take small games on board or play “Ispy” once you’re seated.
Don’t forget medicine in case of emergency abroad.
We never know when our kiddos are going to start running a fever or feel sick. That’s why I always have a plastic storage bag that includes a thermometer and any medicine I might need. Make sure the liquid amounts abide by the TSA guidelines. It also comes in handy to have a medicine bag if you are visiting a foreign country. Many places in Europe do not carry the same kind of medicine we use here, like children’s Tylenol or ibuprofen. The last thing you want to do is try out a medicine you’ve never used in a place you’ve never been before. If you’re going overseas, be sure to tell your pediatrician about the trip and check their schedule. I once had to call our pediatrician from Greece when my daughter got sick with a fever while traveling. The pediatrician talked me through what to do and she was just fine.
Keep it clean with plenty of sanitizer/wipes.
When flying, there’s one item I never leave behind, and that’s hand sanitizer and wipes. The first thing I do when boarding a plane is wiping down any spot my kids will be touching: tray tables, seat beat buckles and arm rest.
Just remember to pack patience too for those times when things don’t go as planned. Happy Travels!