Many people dread taking their children onto a plane. The organisation, the hassle and the worry that they won’t behave themselves and cause a nuisance to you and other people makes it tempting to put it off until they are older. But having this attitude means you will miss out on going on some lovely family holidays together, or if you want to travel to visit people in other countries then this becomes virtually impossible.
Instead, planning the trip and putting steps in place to make things easier makes the whole experience far easier to handle.
Book flights at convenient times
Children find it much more difficult to adapt to getting up really early in the morning, and can get grumpy if they have to stay up late to catch a flight, so try to make things as easy as possible by booking your flights around their usual routine. If they have a nap in the afternoon for example, try to get a flight that leaves in the morning and arrives in time for them to still enjoy their sleep. It’s worth using a flight planning tool like Amadeus to find the departures and airlines that will be the most convenient.
Make sure passports are up-to-date
Arriving at the airport excited about a holiday, only to realise that your child’s passport isn’t valid and you therefore cannot go can be devastating. It’s important therefore to check that you have in-date, valid passports for every member of your family well in advance of travelling day. Realising at the last minute could end up in a very expensive trip to London for a last-minute copy of the paperwork you need!
Bring enough entertainment
Trying to occupy young children on a flight for hours on end can be an incredibly arduous task, so it’s important that you have enough with you to try and keep them entertained. These days you can get some very cheap tablet computers and it’s worth making the investment in one if you know you are going to be travelling. This will then allow you to load episodes of your children’s favourite programmes onto it for those times when you need to keep them quiet. Also remember to bring plenty of snacks to stop the grumps from settling in!
Help them cope with ear popping
The cabin pressure changes during a flight take-off and landing can be a bit distressing for young children. You can help them to cope with this by getting them to take regular gulps of a drink or to chew on sweets. The chewing and swallowing motions can help to regulate the pressure in their lower ear so it doesn’t become too painful during the steeper climbs and descents.
Don’t worry about other people
Whilst you will want to teach your child to behave themselves and to respect other people around them on such a confined space, you also shouldn’t get too stressed out about what others think or the looks you get if your child is crying or making noise. Usually these are people who have not experienced having kids themselves - those who do will usually understand the pressure you are under. By the time people are off the flight nobody will usually have any problem, and it’s not like you will see them again anyway! So relax and try to enjoy yourself as much as possible.