travelling with children
advice on flying with children
let children carry their own bags
Let your children carry their own small backpack with their chosen goodies to keep them busy in the terminal and on the plane. The smaller the child, the smaller the pack, but everyone carries their own. If the children are carrying their own stuff they get to feel grown-up, it’s less for you to carry and more hands free to direct them safely onto trains, moving walkways, etc.
pre-board and in-flight entertainment
There are a number of games and activities the whole family can engage in; traditional I-Spy, the wonderful Alphabet Game and one of our favourites “I went to the shop yesterday”. Of course you can also make up new games which is a game in itself!! Another option is a regular deck of cards. And don’t forget their travel journals and coloured pencils, and some drawing paper.
For some impromptu in-flight entertainment, an air sickness bag makes a great puppet (unused of course!). All you need is a crayon. Turn the bag over and draw a face on the bottom. Slip your hand in and the folded part acts like a mouth. Use it to talk to your kids to tell them to quit playing with the in-flight phone or to stop kicking the seat in front of them.
ground transportation – bring a stroller and gate check it
We would recommend an inexpensive umbrella type stroller for use in airports with toddlers. Toddlers tend to get really tired with all the walking that is often required. They may want to walk anyway, in which case you can use it to hold your carry on bags. It’s easy to fold up and bring through security. They are not expensive, so if it gets broken, it’s not a huge loss. Of course, if your children can handle walking a long distance and you can get by without a stroller, then that’s one less thing to haul around.
The escalators take some practice and you should always hold hands with the little ones, or take the elevator if you have a stroller. There are almost always elevators near the escalators which will be easier to use with toddlers in hand anyway. Many toddlers freak out at escalators, so sometimes it’s just better to avoid them if possible. Besides, pushing elevator buttons is fun! Whatever you do, do not bring a stroller onto an escalator.
toddler tether / child leash
If you’ve got an escape artist or a run-away child, do yourself a huge favour and get a toddler harness. Sometimes you can find them at department stores that sell child safety items. The body harness works much better than the wrist variety tether since it lets your toddler have both hands free. This harness is a win-win for both you and your toddler.
id for kids
Another great safety item for parents in crowded airports is a child’s ID bracelet with your phone number on it. The personal information is written on the INSIDE of the bracelet for privacy.
Herding children through security isn’t as hard as it might seem. If you have more than one adult to manage them, then it’s no problem at all. You just send the children through one at a time to the other adult who has gone through first.
If you are the only adult travelling with more than one child it’s another story, but you can do it. Send the children through first so they don’t follow too closely behind you and you are forced to do the whole walk-through dance over again. Keep your wild-child on the leash and have him walk ahead of you. Depending on how big they are, you can usually carry an infant or younger toddler through, but then you and the child may have to be re-scanned with the hand wand.
Older children should be able to put their own carry-on through the x-ray. Remind them that they are in charge of their own bag.
Also, try to make sure that your children are wearing shoes that are easy to remove and put on in case you are asked to remove shoes.
Above all, just explain to the children how the security check works before you get there and remind them again while you are standing in the line. Knowing what to expect will make it go much smoother.
car seat on board
Be sure to pack your BubbleBum car booster seat which can be used when you get to your destination.
thoughts on early boarding
For short trips we don’t recommend early boarding. Most airlines almost always let people with small children board the plane first. Forget it. All that does is add an extra 30 minutes to sitting in that cramped seat, when the air conditioner has not been turned on yet!!
For short flights, try to wait until “last call” and board the plane last. That way, you get on and buckle up and then the plane takes off and the air conditioning turns on. It saves a lot of headache with fidgety children.
The exception to this advice is if you do not have assigned seats. For example, if you are flying on an airline with an open seating policy, such as Easy Jet or Ryanair, you will definitely want to board first or you may not be able to sit with your children!
Forget trying to carry juice with you — it will just leak! And now days the airlines do not let you carry more than 3 ounces of liquid through security. If you must carry a drink, make it water (after you’ve gone through security of course). Definitely bring something to eat. Many young children will not like what the airline has to offer, and most airlines do not serve food anymore anyway except for a bag of peanuts or pretzels if you’re lucky. Kid friendly snacks that will vacuum easily are a must, and if you live in a warm climate, don’t bring anything that will melt.
two shirts are better than one
Be sure to carry an extra T-shirt for you and your child in that backpack – just in case! Airsickness is common for children and can happen. When you land, you might not have immediate access to your luggage to change clothes if you get vomit all over you. The extra shirt for the grownups is just as important.
Be sure to warn your video-gamers that that during certain times in the flight an IPOD, DS or PSP with headphones is not allowed to be used. Explain why — that it might interfere with the Captain’s instruments and that he will ask passengers to turn them off. As you are boarding the plane, the cockpit door is often open and you can see all the instruments that the pilots are using to fly the plane. Always make sure to point this out to the children as you are walking by. It’s fun to look at and it helps remove all doubts when they are asked to turn off the devices.
And of course, please give consideration to other passengers on board. The noise from cute little electronic games may not bother you, but it may really annoy a grumpy stranger near you on an airplane. Turn off the volume or leave the noisier devices at home.
no airborne bugs
To help eliminate airborne bugs, make up a special BubbleBum mixture to spray around in the air as follows:
- 1 x pump action spray (less than 100ml)
- mix half measures of water and Vodka
- add a health dollop of both Tea Tree and Lavender essential oil
- (the vodka preserves the essential oil!!)
- Now shake it up and it is ready to go!
If your child is prone to ear pain in flight, there are several things you can try. children often have trouble with their ears during takeoff and especially during the decent. It helps to have them keep swallowing during this time. For an infant, you should try feeding them during this time either a bottle or breastfeeding, or you can try a pacifier. Older children can try sucking on a lollipop or chewing gum.
Not all of these tips are guaranteed to work for your posse of young passengers, but they have worked well on many trips and come from families and friends. So give them a whirl for your next airplane adventure. You might find that you, your children, and your fellow travelers will enjoy a new cruising altitude together.