Flying with children can feel daunting. Use these top 5 tips to make it a little less scary.
Tip #1- Be honest with yourself.
So this is about having realistic expectations. Think honestly about your child’s ability to be well behaved on a long flight in a small area. Are they a child who will happy sit for a few hours and watch a show? Or are they a child who has lots of energy and needs to move? If you’re the latter, you might be doing a lot of walking the halls. I would also think about hoping like a bunny on your way to the bathroom. Another option, walking like a giant- note that giants move slow and take massive steps.
Tip#2- Break the rules.
If you are usually someone with strong guidelines and boundaries, awesome. A plane is not the place to enforce them. See rule #1. Break the rules while you’re flying. Tell your kids you’re planning on breaking the rules, so they are excited and feel like it’s special to be on a plane. I’d go for a discussion that looks something like: “Guess what? When we are flying we get to use the ipad, AND you can play games on my phone! Remember, there are lots of people on the plane so we need to use headphones, or keep our games silent so everyone can have a great trip. I also have some special snacks for you.” Telling your children about planned rule breaking keeps them from pushing boundaries. When we own that things are going to be different we set the expectation that the rest of the time, the rules are the same.
Tip #3- Use technology for its intended purpose.
Technology exists to help us forget about our life and zone out. So let it do it’s magic on your children. Let them watch endless episodes of “PJ Masks”. Or play their favorite games on your ipad. Remember to bring chargers, or charging capability. Many planes have outlets on them, so you can check in advance. Amazon also has some amazing power banks that will give you some extra battery life.
Tip #4- Snacks can save your life.
Snacks are my favorite, probably yours too, and most likely your children’s. So use them for your advantage! Use snacks as a reward. Seriously. It’s fine to give your child some crackers in exchange for 10 minutes of the quiet game. Remember to choose your snacks with care. Avoid sugary foods that will leave your kids jumping out of their skin, and then into a grumpy crash. Stick with fruits, veggies, and carbs. Pro Tip- pre cut into single-bite size chunks to lessen the mess.
Tip#5- Forgive yourself now.
Forgive yourself now. Be gentle on yourself is often my advice, but it’s so true here. You’re doing your best in a tough situation. If your child is crying and banging on the seat in front of them, find humor if you can. You can apologize in advance with packets of candy and ear plugs for your plane neighbors. Or you can apologize after. Or you can just relax knowing that these are people you will never see again.
If you are traveling with a breastfed baby and planning on bringing any pumped milk through security keep reading. Print your airlines TSA guidelines on breast milk. Often the agents don’t remember or understand the rules. Having rules printed and ready to reflect on keeps expectations the same. Typically any pumping gear does not count as a carry on, so you can take your pumping gear in an extra bag. They will need to test each bottle of milk. You can request they put on new gloves. Their gloves touch a lot of people and things, so I recommend this. I would also plan to give yourself an extra hour to get through TSA. Few things are as painful as being late for your flight. Even worse is being late or rushing through an airport with little ones in tow.