If you are planning your summer holiday for 2018, you are probably already really looking forward to some relaxing, fun time away from home with your family, having fun new experiences and spending some good bonding time in a nice place. Of course, before all that lovely stuff can begin, you have to get there, and often, this is far less of an enticing prospect than the rest of the holiday!
Nobody really loves the time spent at airports or on flights, but this hassle that comes with every holiday is something that can become even less enjoyable when you have young children with you. While there is nothing that can make flying particularly comfortable or stop it from being a bit of a bore for kids and adults alike, there are plenty of ways you can make it more convenient and a lot easier.
Here is some advice for travelling with one or more young kids:
TALK TO THEM ABOUT EVERYTHING IN ADVANCE
Talk to your kids about flying, the airport, and everything that is going to happen. Do this well in advance to give them time to get used to the idea, and let them ask as many questions as they like, even if they are extremely boring or weird, and your child seems to be way too interested in some strange thing you have mentioned like the moving walkways at the airport and not all that
interested in the actual flying part. Everything about the trip is going to be new to them, and that means even the most mundane parts of it may become fascinating, or terrifying. Let them get all of this out of their system in the weeks before the holiday so that on the day they can learn by just verifying all of the things you have already told them they will see and do.
Another good thing to do when you are talking to them about flying is ask them for their own ideas about how they will cope with things that might happen, to check that they know appropriate ways
to deal with things like being hungry, bored or sleepy (asking you for a snack or a blanket, or to use their iPad, for example). This will show them that while there may be challenging parts of the trip for them, they can deal with every issue.
GET TO THE AIRPORT IN A WAY THAT IS FAMILIAR TO THEM
Getting to the airport need not be an extra stage of new, daunting and stressful experiences for your child. The best way to get there is to get a lift from someone they know well and whose car they have been in before, or to drive yourself and use the long stay parking at the airport. If you live far from the airport, you can look into things like the hotel park and fly Birmingham Airport service, which will make getting to the airport after a refreshing night’s sleep at a nearby hotel nice and easy
If you are not planning to go by car, make sure your child is already familiar with taking the bus or train or going in a taxi, so you don’t have to worry about getting them used to too many new
experiences in one day!
MAKE A PLAYLIST OF THINGS THEY WANT TO WATCH
It is pretty much accepted by most families that the only way to keep a child truly occupied during a flight is to relinquish control of a smartphone or tablet to them!
Letting them watch movies or cartoons can be a great way for them to pass the time, and depending on their age and preferences,
you can either queue up something that they like to watch again and again, which will keep them feeling secure and in control, or something they have been wanting to watch that is new, which will
give them something to look forward to, making the flight become a fun movie time for them.
Be sure to warn your child, however, that they may have to turn off the device at times in the flight. They may not be happy if the first they hear of this is when they are in the middle of an episode of their favourite cartoon!
Games can be good too, so make sure that you have some appropriate games as well as videos that they can use without an internet connection – remember you won’t be able to access things like your
Netflix account, so download and save any media you want them to have for the flight.
BRING SNACKS AND DRINKS
You won’t be able to take drinks or some types of snacks through security due to the ban on liquids, but you should stock up in the departures area of the airport so you have some things for if your
child gets hungry or thirsty. While there are usually snacks for sale on the planes (or included in the price with premium airlines), it can be frustrating for a child to wait for the member of cabin crew serving people to get all the way to their seat, and they may also not have anything they like.
If you are flying budget, it can also be cheaper to pick up some snacks in the airport than to pay the premium prices on the plane!
TRY AND KEEP THEIR USUAL ROUTINE WHERE POSSIBLE
If you are flying late at night, or going on a long-haul flight, then it is a good idea to try and keep to their usual eating, napping and sleeping times where you can. It can be hard to sleep on planes, but it is fairly normal for people to bring kids on flights already in their pyjamas and let them snuggle up
under a blanket. Doing this will not only make the time pass more quickly for them, preventing frustration and boredom, but will also mean they aren’t tired and grumpy when you arrive.
WALK THEM AROUND THE PLANE
Kids find it hard to keep still for hours at a time, so despite the limited space on a plane, take them for a stroll up and down the aisle when you can. It can be especially important to do this on long flights, as you too should keep moving to prevent issues like deep vein thrombosis.
Make sure you tell your child that they will be able to move around when the plane is in the air and the seatbelt sign is off, so if they are feeling restless and fidgety they need to hold on until then and you’ll take them for a walk – this may stave off any frustrated urges to kick the seat in front!
Flying can be fun and educational for young kids, as long as you have strategies in place to keep them from feeling overwhelmed, hungry, tired or bored. By keeping things familiar where you can
and explaining everything that will be very new well in advance, you should find they can approach flying as an interesting but not anxiety-inducing thing to do!