Air travel with a child can be a daunting experience, but some simple tips can help you keep your child quiet, entertained and happy.
Whether you're traveling domestically or going abroad for a family vacation, bringing the children on a plane can be a difficult endeavor. From the moment you leave the door for the airport until you settle into an airport hotel, you encounter a plethora of stressful situations as a parent dealing with kids during air travel – from keeping the youngsters quiet and seated to making sure you don't lose track of the little ones along the way. If you're planning a trip for the whole family, consider these tips for a smooth, hassle-free journey:
As with any trip, the lighter you pack the easier it will be to go through security and get around. Young children may require a lot of supplies, such as strollers, car seats and cribs. But you can avoid lugging some of these larger items around by checking in advance if the travel companies you're doing business with lend these items out to patrons. Many hotels will provide you with high chairs, cribs and strollers at no extra cost, and some will even childproof your room at your request. Car rental companies often allow you to rent safety seats.
Keeping your luggage light is also essential – even if you're going on an extended trip, bring only enough clothes to last a few days for each person and stick to hotels that offer laundry facilities. You may not be excited about the prospect of washing clothes while on vacation, but it can help you save money over paying for additional bags on your flight. Even using drop-off services at the hotel or a nearby laundromat can be cheaper than paying the exorbitant cost of extra baggage. Additionally, each additional bag you bring is like carrying around another small human, which can be particularly difficult if your hands are already full with a baby or toddler.
Bring Games and Toys
Any parent knows that restless kids in a crowded and confined space can be bad news. But you can keep your children entertained (as well as distracted from any fears of flying) with some fun items. Avoid items that are loud and obnoxious to other passengers – beeping video games, rattlers and other noisy playthings are sure to get you some angry glances from seatmates. Coloring books and crayons, pop-up books, dolls and finger puppets are ideal quiet-time toys. Additionally, don't bring modeling clay, gel-based items or any toys that have liquids, as these will be confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration (also be sure any baby formula, breast milk, medications and other necessary liquids for the kids are properly packaged and meet TSA guidelines so you can get through airport security with ease). So you don't get stuck carrying around a massive bag full of goodies for the young ones, have each child store their toys in their own backpacks and make a rule that they can only bring what they can carry.
Ease Babies' Ears During Landing
If you've ever been on a plane with an infant, you know that landing time is when the tears and wailing begin. That's because the pressure changes affect small children more than adults, since the tube located near the middle ear that equalizes air pressure is not yet fully developed. It can create a painful sensation in the ears and be quite frightening for babies. To spare them the pain, have the child suck on a bottle or chew on something to mimic the popping technique that relieves pressure. For the older kids, let them chew gum or candy and remind them to keep popping their ears.