Before flying or travelling with children it is important that you invest some time and consideration into what your child will need and how you can make your kids more comfortable going through security, in the departure lounge and on the flight.
A flight to the United States may take seven hours but with new security measures you will spend at least three hours at the airport before your flight and maybe one to two hours getting through security and out of the airport at the other end.
If you are travelling long-haul, airlines will often have a child’s menu and entertainment, simple games, colouring books and so on. As well as a good selection of electronic entertainment such as movies, cartoons and electronic games.
Depending on the length of the flight this may not be enough to keep your child not only amused but also feeling comfortable. In your hand luggage you should pack items that make your child feel more comfortable (his favorite toy, a story, a bottle with his favorite juice, etc.)
Don’t mislead children
It is not a good idea to mislead children about the length of the journey, if you tell them it will not be long and it goes on for hours they will wonder just how long this could go on for, and will continue to ask if they’re nearly there yet.
Prepare them for the flight
If it is a long haul flight, or perhaps your kids first flight, it is a good idea to prepare them for the upcoming ‘adventure’ and getting them accustomed to the idea that this is an exiting prospect, and there is nothing to be feared about flying.
Good mental preparation of a child for the airport wait and the actual flight is vital on the day itself. Don’t forget that most children will pick up on their parents ‘vibes’. They will know if you are stressed or angry because the flight has been delayed for an hour.
Kids will nearly always react to these emotions with their own versions of stress and annoyance, so these reactions are best avoided to stop a spiral of child/parent stress. In other words, parents, relax, and enjoy the flight.
Let kids of any age select for themselves something to take with them to comfort or amuse them, a little one may select a teddy bear, not much use for amusement, but maybe a big stress reliever for them, older ones may want something more practical like a hand held game.
Set flight rules
Don’t forget to spell out the ‘rules’ well before the flight, young children can be surprised to find that they are not allowed to roam free or make as much noise as they would like, so be sure that they know what is expected in advance.
Be organised, make a list
Lastly make sure that you have everything you need, make a list. Forgetting the teddy bear could prove a minor mistake with big knock on effects. Check the list off as you pack the items, and make sure you have the right things packed in your hand-luggage.
Remember to carry as much food or toys or other items that will help you as is practical, without giving yourself added stress, remember to carry simple items such as baby wipes and tissues for the inevitable problems. It is worth checking what you can and cannot carry onboard.