Flying by yourself or with other adults is pretty great. It’s usually easier because everyone takes care of themselves. But when you are flying with young children and toddlers, then that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
The reality is that traveling with children can be a daunting task. So you have to be adequately prepared and take all necessary precautions. However, despite your best efforts, just know one thing: nothing ever goes according to plan with children.
Something will likely go wrong. But if you’re properly equipped and have taken all preventative measures, you will be able to deal with whatever comes up. The tips in this post are designed to help ensure that you and your kids have as safe a trip as possible.
Get the Right Documents
Depending on the country you’re flying to, you may or may not need to present certain documents upon arrival. But you must present certain documents when you’re leaving the UK. In our experience, however, we recommend that you take the following documents along with you:
- Properly filled and approved child travel consent forms
- Proof of relationship
The airlines typically won’t require passports from parents for kids that are younger than 12 months. But you’ll need to have a proof of relationship document. Something like a birth certificate, court order, or adoption decree will do.
But for older children, it’s best to have at least two of the aforementioned documents –passports are often a must-have. Make sure to keep these documents safe in one place –usually a pouch in a carry-on. And make sure that you can easily reach it whenever they’re requested by immigration officials.
Flying With Young Children – Choose an Early Morning Flight
While you can begin your traveling by road at any time of the day, travel by air is usually best early in the morning. The kids are still fresh from a good night’s sleep, less cranky, less hungry, and can still sit for a while. Try your best to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours to take-off.
If you can get there earlier, by all means, do so. This way, you can check in and settle down for your flight. This beats racing to catch your flights with the kids in tow. This is a sure way for you and the kids to become flustered –you don’t want that.
Get Them Dressed in Comfortable Layers
Traveling to a different part of the world or time zone comes with its own unique set of challenges, chief of which is clothing. You can leave London cold, only to arrive in California to meet scorching heat.
Thankfully, the airplanes are usually air-conditioned. So there’s no worry there. The concern is for your destination’s climate. Therefore, check out your travel destination’s weather forecast before you head out.
If it’ll be sunny, make sure you and the kids are prepared for it. Remember that apart from the North Pole, the temperature in the UK is often lower than it is in the Americas or other parts of the world.
Flying With Young Children – Take a Smaller Stroller for the Kids
It’s very difficult to take the kids through an airport without a stroller. While you may not be able to carry the regular strollers, consider using an umbrella stroller.
If you don’t have one, a regular stroller will do just fine. Just make sure to declare it when you’re checking in. This way, the airport staff will have it ready for you to use upon your arrival at the airport.
Carry a Decent Amount of Food and Snacks
A hungry child is often a wailing child and a major source of pain for all passengers on the flight. If you’ve ever seen a wailing, hungry child on a flight, you know that the experience was unpleasant for everyone.
Unfortunately, even though airlines expect all sorts of passengers, children included, they hardly make any provisions for their meal preferences. Plus, children generally don’t like airplane food –unless it’s a long-haul flight and they have no choice because they’re starving.
Therefore, you need to be prepared with their meals or snacks. Pack enough within the acceptable carry-on weight– to keep them full until your flight touches down. And if you have finicky eaters among your kids, endeavor to carry the foods and/or snacks that they prefer.
Help Them Stay Calm and Comfortable
This is particularly when you’re on a commercial long-haul flight. Thankfully, with the average commercial plane speed being around 837 kilometers per hour –that’s like 4 hours 30 minutes from London to New York– and the right incentives, children can stay relatively calm for the duration of the flight.
Get them their headsets, computer games, their favourite movies, toys, and anything that can keep them engaged during the flight. Children who are having fun rarely make a fuss, and that’s a good thing for parents, as well as other passengers.
Talk to the Kids About What to Expect During the Flight
Children are great in the sense that they absorb information and often take things in stride. So talk to them about what to expect during the entire flying process. When children are aware of what could happen, they tend to be a bit more relaxed. If you don’t know what to tell them, have them watch this flight experience video on Youtube. The video is fun, entertaining, and does a better job of explaining the entire flight process to the kids than you can.
Flying With Young Children – Make a List of Items to Carry
Parents have been known to forget important traveling items in the middle of the traveling bustle. To prevent this from happening, create a list of every important thing that you need to carry and where they should be.
The more detailed the list, the better. Then work your way down that list until you’ve done everything. Then, double-check the list again to make sure that nothing is missing. This will not only keep you and the kids calm during the flight, but it’ll also make your travel experience much easier.
In our experience, it’s always better to be over-prepared. Early and meticulous planning takes away a lot of the stress associated with traveling by air. That way, you and the kids can sit back and enjoy the holiday or traveling experience.