10 Tips to Keep You Sane When Travelling With Kids on Plane
Travelling with children is similar to a box of assorted chocolates. You don’t know what to expect! Just like adults, children can also experience stress when they are travelling. What might cause stress? First, their routines change. Instead of eating your handmade food, they have to try and like the hotel’s cuisine. The weather may also further irritate the child. While you cannot control if your child will remain calm or not, you still don’t have to leave your judgement to fate.
If you are planning a vacation with your children, consider the following 10 tips to keep you sane when travelling with kids on plane and have a sweeter, calmer, saner journey for all:
- Favorite snacks: Hungry children are cranky children. Pack a small zip-locked bags with your child’s favorite goodies. These can be items such as applesauce, sweet potato fries, graham crackers, whole wheat biscuits and vegetable chips. Even your child’s favorite cereal can be a snack item.
- Games: Boredom elicits the same reaction as hunger: screaming! Before the situation heads in that direction, try to have different forms of entertainment ready for your children. You might consider packing lightweight toys. Items like etch-a-sketch, interactive books and card decks are excellent options. Old fashioned games such as “I spy” and sing songs are good too. If none of these work, fire up your laptop and let the child play kid-friendly games. These should ideally be educational.
- Early Plane Preparation: When booking plane tickets, try to get the aisle seat. If possible, try to get the seats in the front aisle. It will give you and your children some wiggle room. An aisle seat will allow you to get easily in and out for things like going to the bathroom or taking a walk. If you are stuck in a window or middle seat, then don’t forget to pack some lollipops to ease the pressure on your child’s ears during landing and takeoff. You can also request the air hostess to make an announcement for a seat swap with another passenger!
- Maintain a set schedule: While travelling, try to maintain your child’s bedtime and nap schedule. Newborns and infants require up to 18 hours of sleep per day while preschoolers benefit from at least 11 hours per day. These figures decrease as the child gets older. Try to schedule your activities around your children’s sleep schedule. A well-rested child is a happy child!
- Bedtime routines: Sleeping in a new environment and that too in a new bed, is quite difficult for a child. To circumvent this, pack items that the child is familiar with, such as his favorite toy, blanket or book. If your child is used to taking a bath before bedtime, then continue to do so while travelling. If your child likes hearing a few stories before snoozing, then indulge him.
- Coordinate travel time with nap time: Toddlers often scream when their sleep routine is disturbed. While it isn’t always possible, try to travel when your child takes his or her nap. It will prevent screaming matches, and your fellow passengers will be thankful to you.
- Have a discussion: Before the big travel day arrives, speak to your child about the whole experience. Explain to him or her about what is expected of them, that is “plane voice”, being quiet, listening to mommy and daddy, etc. Describe to them what the experience of travelling is like. Don’t forget to ask them if they have questions. You might also consider showing them a video online about plane travel.
- Pack extra essentials: Plane and schedule delays are a reality. The likelihood of a child’s behavior deviating from the normal is also very likely. Always pack essentials when travelling with your child. Items such as extra bottles, extra diapers, toys, hand sanitizers, plastic bags, wipes, extra clothing and small snacks are a must. Keep these easily accessible, just in case!
- Extra hands: If you are travelling with more than one child, you may consider asking your favorite babysitter, nanny, friend or family member to travel with you. Extra help is always appreciated because you never know when you might need it.
- Dress code: Dress your child in layers. It is difficult to predict what the weather will be like. It is easy to peel back layers if it gets too hot. If you are in a crowded area, dress all your children in similar colors so that you may spot them easily.
Despite all your valiant efforts, your child may still have a tantrum or meltdown on the plane. What can you do? School Psychologists recommend taking the child in a quiet area such as the rear of the plane or the air hostess’s area, holding them and creating a distraction. And last but not the least, keep few surprise gift items handy, to calm down the kids when you think their tantrums are going a little too far. At the end just remember, travelling with children is not an impossible feat. With proper planning and preparation, you can minimize if not prevent situations from occurring that might make travel stressful for all.