So you’ve been working hard the whole year and have decided that much-needed vacation is going to finally happen. As you start researching those dreamy vacation spots, you remember that one “little” detail that you just can’t ignore – your kids will be joining you. Traveling with kids is no joke. Ask any parent who has done so know this.
The thought of getting them out of the house for them to see different destinations may be exciting, but the idea of traveling with them can be a little bit of a nightmare. Why? Well, although we love our kids dearly, they can be quite unpredictable. And we’ve all seen those videos online with children that cause havoc on flights. Oh dear, could our little angels do that?
If you’ve never traveled with your kids before, don’t worry. The journey certainly may not be easy but with a little bit of planning, it can be manageable. Lots of parents travel with their kids all the time and are able to do so without strangling anyone. If you’ve traveled with your kids before and promised yourself not to ever do it again, then scroll down below as we take you through some easy to follow tips that can make your life a little easier.
20 Don't Overpack
This can be a little bit of a tricky one. You certainly want to have all the clothing and toys you may need on your vacation so that everyone can enjoy themselves but you don’t want to struggle with your luggage. Dragging multiple bags across the airport while also carrying your kid or holding their hand is no joke. Afterall, you only have two hands. What you want to do here is – pack what you are going to need. Certainly, pack backup clothing for accidents and important items like sunscreens and hats. You can bring a couple of their favorite toys but that big teddy bear that hasn’t been touched in a couple of months is not necessary.
19 Plan To Fly Around Bedtime
It is important to research all your flight options. While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest flight, don’t be afraid to spend a little extra, if it means that your kids will be more settled during the journey. The rule of thumb is – to have as much relation to their home environment while traveling as possible, and this includes bedtime. CN Traveler explains that “I have found that a later arrival in a destination helps adjust to the time zone and eliminate the effects of jet lag. This sometimes means forgoing the non-stop options, but it’s worth it”.
18 Where To Sit On Airplane
Deciding on where to sit on an airplane is perhaps one of the most important aspects of traveling to your destination. Before children, it really didn’t matter where you sat – as long as you were comfortable. But now, as you know, things are very different. Most parents prefer to sit either at the front or the back of the plane. Sitting at the front or back of the airplane means that you’ll disturb fewer people if you have to make your way to the restroom, however, you’ll also need to take into consideration the aircraft noise at the back and kitchen staff noise that is most likely to occur at the front of the plane.
17 Vacation Rental vs. Hotel
This one is all about personal preference as both options have their pros and cons. Before kids, it really didn’t matter which place you went to as you would be able to “go with the flow” of things. Now that you have kids, things are certainly a whole lot different as planning ahead needs to be done. Going to a hotel means nice perks like room service but a vacation rental sometime works perfectly for families traveling because you can be able to make proper food for your kids. Most places are also able to offer you extra beds or cots for the children to make sure that you choose the place that will make your stay the most comfortable.
16 Check-in Online
Checking-in online is definitely one item on this list that is a must-do. As much as you can try to plan and be at the airport as early as possible, the truth is – life happens. Traffic happens. Child burping all over you happens. A child needing an unexpected nappy change just when you’re about to leave the house happens. Life is unpredictable. Checking-in online will also avoid unnecessary lines at the check-in desk. We all know those little ones struggle to keep still. We don’t want to have them bored and irritated even before boarding the flight. That’s just a recipe for disaster.
15 Be Early
In the previous item, we discussed how important it is to check-in online because “life happens”. After checking-in online, don’t think that you can just relax and take your time to get to the airport. Nope. Now that you have kids, those days are long gone. Leaving early will also help relieve some of the anxiety that you may feel about missing the flight or being able to board peacefully. Having everything packed and ready well ahead of time will help you be able to leave early and have plenty of time for unexpected occurrences, which we all know happens when you’re traveling with little ones.
14 Keep Them Entertained
Keeping kids entertained is high up on every parent’s priority list. While limiting screen time is something we all trying to do, you can certainly give yourself a break for a few hours while flying. The Travel Hack highlights that “most parents start off with good intentions when it comes to screen time for their little ones but you’re definitely allowed to let your standards slip during a flight! Load your tablet with games, songs, TV shows and Disney films to keep them entertained for as long as possible. Even tiny babies can be distracted for 10 minutes by a cartoon with a catchy song and it can be just long enough to enjoy your in-flight meal or avoid a tantrum”. Just make sure that you remember those headphones.
13 Research - Visa? Medication? Jabs?
As a parent, “researching” should come as second nature. Why? Because this can help you come prepared to any destination. Find out if your little one needs a visa. Research if they may need jabs. It is also important to take into consideration the area you’re visiting – are there any illnesses that your child may be affected by while there? Do you need medication such as malaria tablets? Don’t only rely on Google or a best friend who has recently been to the destination. Speak to your healthcare practitioner to make sure that your whole family will be as healthy as possible during and after the trip. You definitely don’t want to be far from home and be dealing with a sick child.
12 Explain The Journey To Your Little Ones
If this is the first time the kids are traveling on an airplane, it is important to explain the journey so that they understand what to expect. This can also help make them excited and more likely to cooperate with you. This step can be achieved through the little things – explaining where your luggage is going as it gets checked-in at the airport, explaining to them why you need to go through the metal detectors, explaining all the fun activities that await them once you reach your destination. The point here is to excite them about the journey so that they will cooperate and look forward to it.
11 Airline Meet And Assist Service
An airline meets and assists service can be the perfect option for any parents traveling with children, especially if your partner is not around to help on your journey. Most airlines have this service so make sure to research on whether or not you’ll be able to receive assistance on your journey. Sure, you might need to pay a little extra for the service at times but this can be a real life saver and your sanity is certainly important so don’t feel bad about spending a little extra for assistance. You don’t have to do it all on your own and there is nothing wrong with asking for a little help – You deserve it.
10 Know The Charges And Regulations
This is where Google will be your best friend once again as most of the information regarding the charges and regulations of traveling with kids are on the airlines’ websites. If it is not specified for the airline you prefer, be sure to give them a call and figure this out before booking your flight. Different airlines will have a variety of charges and regulations for traveling with children and you definitely want to come prepared. Find out about if you can carry onto the flight your baby’s car seat or stroller and what the charge will be if you can’t do so for free.
9 Consider A Backpack
This item on the list all depends on preference but we certainly do recommend a backpack over dragging a bag across the airport. A backpack will help ensure that your hands are free so that you can hold your child or anything else that needs your hand. Although most of us have gotten used to dragging our luggage and it is certainly less strenuous on us, having a backpack just makes a whole lot more sense when you’re traveling with kids. You might also have anxiety about losing them because we all know how they struggle to keep still for a second. Making sure that at least one of your hands are free so that you can hold them will help ease that anxiety.
8 Spare Clothing And Wet Wipes In Your Carryon
Oh yes, this is definitely a must-do. As a parent, you fully understand that children and little accidents occur almost on a daily. You definitely want to pack some spare clothing for your child and have that in your carry-on luggage. Also, take into consideration the airconditioning. It may be hot and the airplane might have its aircon on. A spare jersey or jacket will help your child keep warm. Wet wipes are a no-brainer. Those little angels somehow manage to get their little hands sticky quite often and we all know that only a wet wipe will save the day.
7 Don't Forget Your Hand Sanitizer
So we’ve just discussed the importance of having wet wipes in your carry-on luggage. One item that also definitely needs to be in that carryon bag is a sanitizer because airplanes can be one of the most unsanitary places. Fox News discussed a study that concluded how unsanitary airplanes can be. “The study, which looked into how dirty airline travel can be, found that planes are absolutely teeming with bacteria, which can cause a whole host of illnesses”. Getting a hand sanitizer that is great for you and also safe for your children to use will be one of the best things you can do to keep your loved ones safe from those pesky germs.
6 Don't Forget Those Toilet Stops
Having a quick toilet stop before boarding is something you’re going to have to get used to as a parent as this can literally be a lifesaver. Regular toilet stops should actually be part of every trip, whether you’re traveling long hours or just going to the nearby grocery store. Even if they don’t “feel like” going to the restroom, chances are, once you get there, something will come out – to make this a habit. Go to the toilet before leaving the house, when you arrive at the airport and definitely just when you’re about to board. This will make life just a little easier for you and the kids.
5 What Could Go Wrong?
As much as we love planning, as explained earlier, anything can happen. It is therefore important and helpful to ask yourself – What could go wrong? This will help mentally prepare you for different unexpected situations. Ask yourself – what if my baby burps all over me? Do I need a burp cloth or an extra top in my carryon luggage? What if your child experiences difficulty during takeoff? Do you need eardrops? (Discuss any medication with your doctor, of course). Run through scenarios in your head that could go wrong so that if anything unplanned happens, you’ll be mentally prepared for it.
4 They'll Thank You For The Snacks
Having delicious snacks on standby is just one of the tricks that parents use for their little ones, especially when traveling and they are very far from home. Don’t forget this item on the list and don't assume that you’ll just grab something on the flight – You’re never quite sure what you might get on your flight and we all know how fussy those little ones can be. Pack a couple of their favorite snacks for them to munch on. This can also be used as a reward for good behavior – You can promise them a little treat if they get onto the flight and sit nicely in their seat with their belt on.
3 Think About Their Comfort
Having a comfort toy closeby will be an important item to have, especially for the smaller kids. As a parent, you know which toy brings a smile to your kid’s face when they are in a bad mood. Maybe they have a little teddy that they just can’t sleep without. Perhaps they have a little blankie that is all warm and fuzzy and once they grab it, they are able to relax and wind down. For the babies, a pacifier might just be all you need. Having this comfort will be an important aspect of your trip as calming baby down is what you need for the journey.
2 Remember How Magical Flying Is
This is an important one on the list. Flying is truly magical. As much as it may be stressful for you as a parent to worry and sort out all the above-listed things, remember that your child may be experiencing this for the first time and even if they’ve flown before, flying across seas and being high above is really cool. So, engage them about this wonder of flying. Explain how airplanes are able to fly (on their level, of course), explain who the pilot is and what he’s doing, explain the air hosts jobs. Try to make this as fun and enjoying as possible for them.
1 Keep Calm...Or At Least Try
Finally, number one on our list is an important one – keep calm. Yeah, we know, easier said than done. If you’re traveling with kids for the first time, know that you’re not the first person who has done this and if other parents can manage, so can you. We’ve listed quite a number of things to help make your journey a little easier but this is perhaps one of the most important aspects of your journey. Our children can certainly sense it when we’re a little tense and we don’t want to make them associate flying with anxiety. If things do go a little crazy, keep calm, breathe, and know that it will all be alright.