Taking your family on vacation is a lot of fun, but after the novelty of getting on the airplane wears off, any parent will know that children can easily become bored and irritable in flight. And with many passengers rating traveling near a baby or young child as one of the worst flight experiences, it’s no surprise that many parents feel anxious when traveling as a family.
The good news is that you can use a series of simple travel hacks, and good advance planning to make sure that the experience is as enjoyable and stress free as possible for everybody involved.
We’ve put together some top tips to keep in mind next time you travel with your kids.
Choose a Nighttime Flight:
If you can, it’s worth flying overnight or in the evening as your kids will be sleepy, so they’re more likely to nap on the plane. You can encourage this by taking them onboard ready for bed in their pajamas and having their favorite pillow, blankie and teddy bear ready.
if you’re taking a shorter domestic flight, or a flight across the border to Canada, for example, then you may even be lucky enough to take your little one on asleep and have them sleep the entire way through. It might be worth arriving at the airport early so that you’ve got some time to settle them. Plus, that extra time at the airport means less stress for you; you’ve got the time to relax for a while, and grab a bite to eat and a hot drink before boarding. You can book flights during the evening at flyporter.com, with many time options available to choose from. Porter Airlines offers a range of flights to and from both Canadian and USA destinations.
When you’re traveling with kids, it’s a good idea to opt for an airline that will allow you to pre-book your seats. Doing this means that you can find the best seats for you and your little ones, whether you want to make sure that you’re close to the restroom, require some extra legroom or simply want to be the first off the plane upon landing.
Even if you don’t expect them to sit in it the entire time, purchase an additional seat for your baby or toddler; you’ll be thankful for the extra space and you can use it to keep their toys organized on the journey, too.
Giving your child the window seat is a great way to both keep them contained and provide them with something interesting to do; they can look out of the window during take-off and landing and during the flight.
If you want to avoid the additional expense of choosing and booking specific seats, then be sure to check in as soon as the online check-in opens, as this will improve your chances of being able to sit all together.
Consider Staying at the Airport the Night Before:
If you don’t live close to the airport, a lengthy car journey or public transport journey right before your flight can leave everybody feeling irritable. Instead, you might want to consider getting there the day before and spending the night in an airport hotel. If you have an early flight, this means that you can all sleep in for a little longer and be refreshed when you board.
There are affordable hotel options near to almost every airport; you can use a site like Booking.com or TripAdvisor to find the cheapest hotel deal at the airport that you plan to fly from. And don’t restrict yourself to airport hotels only; you may be able to find suitable Airbnb options or other accommodation suitable for your family nearby.
Invest in Priority Boarding:
Priority boarding is definitely worth the additional cost when you’re traveling with kids; get an option that includes security fast track so that you’ll be able to get through security quicker, and get on the airplane first. This eliminates the risk of being separated from your belongings. If you don’t have priority boarding, you may find that the overhead compartments are full by the time you arrive at your seat, and you’ll be asked to check your bag into the hold.
This is the last thing that you want if your bag is filled with essentials for your little one on the plane! If you want to save money, you might want to consider booking priority boarding for just yourself or your partner; this way one of you can make sure that your most important bag gets into the cabin while the other waits to board with the kids.
Take In-Flight Entertainment:
If you’re on a long-haul flight, then your little ones will be able to watch movies or play games using the in-flight entertainment screens. But if you’re on a short-haul or domestic flight, chances are this won’t be an available option. So, make sure that you take plenty along to keep your little one entertained.
Download movies and educational game apps to your smartphone or tablet. It might be worth taking an external battery charging pack along with you, so you can make sure your gadget doesn’t run out of charge. Digital entertainment isn’t the only option, either – you can keep your child occupied with their favorite toys, coloring books and crayons, or interesting books for them to read.
Before you go, plan ahead with your packing. Make sure that you are ready for every eventuality; accidents, sickness and spilled food on board can be stressful if you don’t have the essentials for them. You can always ask a flight attendant to help you out and they’ll be more than happy to assist, but you’ll feel calmer if you’ve got baby wipes, an extra set of clothes, plastic bags and some other essentials in your on-flight arsenal.
If you can, it’s worth taking a hand luggage case for your child – you can use this to store any in-flight essentials that they will need, along with any toys, games and other items that they are taking along with them. An inflatable pillow is a great item to pack as little ones can use it to snuggle up and rest their head against the wall in the window seat when they are sleepy.
Finally, don’t forget to weigh your bag at home before you go to ensure that it’s under the airline’s cabin luggage limit. The last thing that you want is to be told to check it into the hold or have to pay additional charges at check-in to keep it with you.
The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your kids are going to relax on the flight. Your child can pick up on your signals, and they’ll pick up on it if you’re feeling stressed about getting on the flight. Take a deep breath; you’ve got this! Remember that no matter what happens, the flight is only for a few hours and you’ve got an amazing vacation awaiting you when you land.
Family vacations are the best, but kids can easily get bored and irritable on airplanes. Keep these tips in mind next time you travel as a family and have an enjoyable experience.