Oh travel, how we love you. Traveling with little ones? That can be a bit more work.
Traveling with little ones while confined to a metal tube at 30,000 feet can be downright intimidating. However, air travel is often the most efficient (and safest) way to get from point A to point B. Here are a few tips to help ensure a smooth flight.
Choose flights wisely
When possible, plan your flight around your child’s nap schedule to avoid meltdowns. Paying a bit extra for non-stop flights or minimal connections can help avoid the chaos of navigating crowded airports with your little ones.
Making a mad dash to catch your plane is not the tone you want to set for travel with young children. Be sure to arrive in plenty of time to make it through security and settle in at the gate in time for the pre-boarding call. Note: You can take your stroller to the gate to be checked there, which makes traveling through the airport much faster.
Learn the boarding procedures
Every airline is a bit different when it comes to their procedures for pre-boarding families. Some invite families to board first; others allow families to slide in between first class and coach passengers. Familiarize yourself with your airline’s policy to plan your boarding strategy.
Burn some energy
While waiting for your boarding call, go on a scavenger hunt, make use of designated play areas, play Simon Says – basically, keep those little legs moving so that sitting still on the airplane will come as a treat.
Opt for bulkhead seats
Parents can request bulkhead seats and a bassinet (a folding crib that attaches to the front wall and holds babies up to 20 pounds). This free perk can help baby nap soundly.
Maximize your carry-ons
Most airlines allow one carry-on bag and one personal item for each ticketed passenger. Give your child a sense of control by letting them choose the contents of their bag (within reason and sticking to TSA rules). Be sure to explain that their bag (and their toys, blankie, etc.) must take a magical ride through the Xray machine and will come out unharmed on the other side.
Pack the essentials
In your own carry-on, pack two changes of clothing (stored in plastic bags to contain whatever mess led to the change), wipes, diapers (one per hour of travel) and a variety of boredom-busting snacks. Add in plenty of liquids to keep little ones hydrated. Note: Formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities over 3.4 ounces and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. You simply need to have these items screened at security.
And then pack in a few surprises
When it comes to entertaining little ones on a flight, novelty is key. Pack a selection of toys and activities that are either new or haven’t been played with in a while. You can even wrap a few toys and dole them out periodically to increase the excitement.
Prepare for air pressure
Changes in air pressure can wreak havoc on little ears. Have your infant nurse or suck on a bottle during take off and descent. Young children should drink water after takeoff and then again during the last 30 to 45 minutes of the descent. The swallowing helps with the pressure and keeps kids hydrated. Note: Carry your own bottles or sippy cups to fill after you go through airport security.
Above all, enjoy the adventure. If there are fellow passengers who are quick to judge, so be it.