My kids flew for the first time when they were 6 months old. We know many friends who travel around the world with little children. It can be tough and stressful but there are ways and means to lessen the stress. Here’s how.
Prepare the kids.
Discuss with the kids the length of the flight, the possible inconveniences, limitations, such as jet lag, cramped accommodations, etc. Discuss the itinerary and what they can do, see, try, eat or drink in the place of destination.
Choose a children-friendly airline.
We’ve flown with many different airlines during our travels but none did the kids like better than Emirates airlines. They spoil kids with a whole backpack of toys, books, drawing materials and even an in-flight kiddie magazine, and kiddie meal goodies. The entertainment program includes many age-appropriate films and TV series as well as video games. A few days before the trip, my kids came home from Christmas school crafts with 2 gift-wrapped presents labeled “for Emirates crew” (and not for Mommy or Granny anymore). Yes, definitely a well-satisfied clientele of the airline.
Clothes during the trip are of utmost importance. Rather than trying to make a fashion statement, go for comfort. For kids, sweatpants and leggings are the best. Avoid the hassles of buttons and zip that can break or get stuck. T-shirts are the ideal tops, with light zip up jackets to keep them warm. Airports and airplane can be drafty and cool from air conditioning. When going from a cold region to warmer climates (as we did), follow the onion principle – put on layers to clothes that one can easily peel off layer by layer depending on the temperatures. Shoes should also be comfortable. Don’t wear new shoes for the time on trips. Having blisters while travelling is not desirable. For kids, shoes that are easily to slip on and off are recommended. Shoelaces cost time and nerves. Go for Velcro sneakers instead. And finally, pack a set of spare clothes, not only for the kids but for you.
One of our boys is prone to airsickness despite all the travels they have done. But we don’t let this small inconvenience deter us from enjoying our trips. I always have an airsickness bag in my handbag ready for use. The kid is also prepared for this contingency especially at take offs and landings. However, we always try to distract him and encourage him to nap during these times.
We took the AirBus 380 from Dubai to Sydney non-stop for 15 hours, the longest flight we’ve have so far. This is tough on the kids. We always make our kids choose 2 to3 toys that they can carry, normally plush toys. However, mini-games and card games may also come handy. Some people bring portable DVD players for long flights. We don’t have this but our kids got a portable Nintendo for Christmas (in mid-flight) and this is now their main source of distraction.
Lots of people travel with little babies. During the long flight on the A-380, I saw several moms letting their little babies have a “crawl around.” Luckily, this big plane has lots more space than the smaller models, even in the economy class.
I hope that these tips will help you to enjoy your trips with your children. Enjoy.