Flying with children can be one of those "make or break" moments in the lives of parents, when our mettle is tested and we find out what we are made of. Fortunately, some strategic planning can help make flying with children a fun and relaxed experience for you and your kids. Here are some tried-and-true tips on flying with children that will make your next trip the best one ever.
1. Build in some extra time.
Rather than stress about being late, give yourself some time to get to the airport and your gate when flying with children. Gone are the days or pre-parenthood when you could throw your bags in the taxi or a car and zip to the airport just before your flight. In addition to the time-consuming security measures at airports, you’ll have to contend with doing things on kid time, which means you should plan on adding at least an hour for trips to the bathroom, pleas for a turn on the videogames that airports so thoughtfully install near gates to entice kids, and at least several dozen "Oh, look!"s at all the various exciting things going on at the airport.
2. Pack family travel games.
Because Murphy’s Law tends to apply to any sort of travel with kids -- especially flying with children -- it’s a good idea to prepare for any delays by bringing along some fun family travel games.
3. Get some good tunes.
Load up your iPod or pack your portable CD player and get some great kids CD choices
lined up for your trip.
4. Don’t forget the books.
Bring some great kids’ books along, both in print and on CDs or on your iPod or MP3 player. And older grade-schooler may enjoy reading a book quietly while a younger child might prefer listening to an audio book
. Either way, consider choosing something exciting or action-packed, so that your child’s attention is more likely to stay focused on it for a period of time.
5. Bring some great kids movies.
Even if you don't think you have room for a laptop or portable DVD player in your carry-on, trust me: You will be grateful to have it, particularly if your flight is a long one. A good kid movie
can easily take up an hour and a half or more of your trip, which means, you probably won’t hear "I'm bored" for at least that long. But be sure to pack earphones for movies or any videogame players so that fellow passengers are not disturbed.
6. Pack snacks.Your grade-schooler may not be a toddler who needs to eat every couple of hours, but you will not want a hungry, cranky kid on your hands if there are any sorts of delays. And bringing along some healthy snacks such as lowfat cheese, crackers, and fruit can help you avoid the high-fat, high-sugar snacks that you’re bound to find near airport gates.
7. Bring lollipops or gum.The weird sensation of your ears popping due to air pressure changes during takeoff and landing can be disconcerting to adults -- think about how it can feel for a kid. To help, take a relaxed attitude about it and turn it into a game. Challenge your child to suck on a lollipop or chew on gum to see if she can feel her ears pop. Have a contest to see which family members can feel the least "pops."
8. Book aisle seats.When making reservations, book seats together so that your whole family is sitting together. Kids like to look out the window, so book a window seat. More importantly, get a seat in the aisle so that your child’s frequent bathroom breaks do not disturb fellow passengers.
9. Never let each other out of your sight.
The best way to be safe in crowded public places such as the airport is to never let your child out of your sight. And be sure to emphasize to your child that he should never wander away without mom or dad. (That goes for using public bathrooms
at airports, too.) If you’re traveling alone with a child of the opposite gender, use a family restroom.
10. Prepare your child for an emergency.Make sure your child knows his or her full name, address, and home telephone number in case you get separated. Tell your child to ask another mommy with a child for help in the event that you become separated.