Everyone has been on a flight with an upset and inconsolable child. It’s every parent’s nightmare about traveling with their children. Will their child be the one?
This makes traveling with your family over the holidays a scary undertaking.
But there is family to visit, places to see, and experiences to have, and so you journey on. Here are some tips to help you keep your holiday travels safe and sane. Yes, it is possible.
You planned out the flight times as best you could, perhaps planned around your child’s nap time, and you have tickets in hand. Next step: packing.
Traveling with children can include so much stuff! It can be overwhelming thinking about carrying it all. You want to think ahead and through each step of the trip, and pare it down to the essentials.
Some of those essentials for plane travel include:
- Snacks: Have some of your kids’ healthy favorites on hand and bring more than you think you’ll need. Snacks can always be eaten once at the destination but you don’t want to be stuck on the plane with your child’s favorite carrot sticks when your child decides to hate carrot sticks.
- Baby wipes: Wiping up messes, wiping off hands, cleaning off puke … you never know when you’ll need these. Just keep them with you at all times even as your children grow older.
- Entertainment: Books, toys, mobile devices. Keep them small and portable, but carry several options. One idea is to bring something new or an old favorite that was stashed away for a while before the trip so it seems new again.
- Extra clothes: Messes happen, motion sickness happens, and any number of other things can happen, too. Have a change of clothes for your child and hopefully you as well, because some of those messes don’t stay contained. A flight spent covered in vomit or with a lap full of messed diaper is no fun for anyone.
One of the most important things to bring along is the car seat. This is also the heaviest and often most aggravating thing to bring along. Safety experts recommend you buy a seat even for the youngest of babies and have them properly secured in a car seat for the flight. Make sure the car seat is labeled as FAA approved for use on the airplane.
The bonus of this is it’s a familiar space for your child and comfortable enough that should sleep come over them. While it’s now recommended not to let your baby sleep in an infant carrier during car rides and plane travel, sometimes it is inevitable. Make sure to check on their breathing every so often.
Infant carriers can be used at your destination without the base, saving you from having to carry that piece, and they often fit in a stroller to get through the airport. Car seats for toddlers are bigger and heavier. They are more of a hassle.
One option is to leave your big, heavy, everyday car seat at home, and purchase or borrow a narrow, lightweight car seat for travel. This will protect your usual car seat from any possible damage and give you safety that is easier to carry.
For older children, there are travel vest (ages 3 and up) and travel booster (ages 4 and up) options. These are not for use on the plane. They are easy to pack in your carry-on for use when you arrive at your destination.
Things are hectic for parents right before a trip with last-minute packing and other preparatory measures ongoing. Children are excited and may be nervous, too. The whole family may be on edge starting out.
If you can, have your kids get some extra sleep before the trip just in case they don’t sleep during the trip. Remember to give yourself extra time for getting to the airport and for getting through the airport. It always takes longer with kids in tow. There’s a lot to see and your children may move slower than usual. The lines will likely be long. You may need to take extra potty breaks. Factor all that in to your timeline.
Most importantly, breathe. Be flexible. You never know when a delay or extra long line will happen; know that it might and be grateful when it doesn’t. Stay as positive and calm as you can, and that will rub off on your children.
Most adults travel to get from one place to another. For children, all travel is an adventure. Try to look at it through their eyes and it might be a fun adventure for you, too.