With the right attitude, those pesky air travel disruptions don’t have to ruin your family trip. It can, however turn into a case of “rolling with the punches” so to speak. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some tips for flying with children while maintaining your sanity.
1) Prepare your family for flexibility. Make sure you have a backup plan, and discuss it openly. Any amount of time you spend together is family time – come up with some ideas to make the most of it.
2) Make a point to fight germs. Begin before you leave getting into the habit of taking daily multivitamins. Have everyone’s vaccinations up to date. Verify the need for additional vaccines, depending on the location of your vacation. Remember to wash your hands often, eat well and get enough rest.
3) Verify your airline’s website to get an updated list of prohibited items. Personally check every suitcase before giving it the seal of approval. Explain various aspects of security protocols, such as removing their shoes when asked, or putting their belongings on the conveyor belt. This includes blankies and stuffed animals.
4) When possible, consider the use of luggage and baby supply delivery services. This will eliminate not only the headache of checking extra baggage, but also the possibility of stores in unfamiliar locations not carrying what you need.
5) Be smart about your carry-on bag. Not only do you want to stay within the assigned limits for carry-on baggage, you want to make sure you have everything needed. Ideally, backpacks are your best choice, keeping your hands free.
Don’t forget about these potential situations: diaper changes, hunger, thirst, sickness, boredom, spills and clean-ups, medical emergencies and tired or cranky kids. Make sure any medications your family takes are in your carry-on. Luggage can get lost, but carry-on baggage gets on and off with you, no matter what.
6) Charge your cell phone, mp3 players and other devices you’re bringing with you. Pack all of their chargers in your luggage. Make several copies of your “In case of emergency” phone numbers, placing them strategically in different locations-carry-on, wallet, baggage tags etc.
7) Purchase seats for everyone, including infants and toddlers. Not only will it save you from back and neck pain from holding them the whole trip, But it also keeps them properly listed on the plane’s manifest.
8) Don’t rush – it adds to your stress levels. Try arranging for extra time between connector flights if you can’t fly direct. This gives you time to board early, so you aren’t disruptive to those seated before you. And if you’re in no rush for your connector flight, allow others to disembark before you so you don’t get separated.
9) Respect that some people may not appreciate children on the flight. Basic respect for boundaries is the best way to keep peace. And yes, not many people will smile at families boarding a plane. Don’t take this personally.
10) Don’t dread the flight. Children can easily pick up on your tension or anxiety. And if they do, you can be sure they will act out as a result of it. By staying calm and collected, your children will notice that this whole “flying thing” isn’t such a big deal, and things should go smoothly.