Not too long ago I took a short haul flight without my family, only to be seated behind a mother and her two young children. The mother was putting on a brave face trying to manage flying with children aged around 3 and 5 years. For the duration of the flight she was flustered and anxious and clearly not having a great flying experience with kids laughter turning into tears and tears turning into tantrums with in between toilet stops just to add to the poor ladies plight. On a number of occasions she turned and apologised and even when some of us offered to assist she declined, conveying the impression that she would somehow manage.
Memories began circling in my head to the time when we were living in Munich, Germany and I was flying on my own to Mallorca, Spain with my daughter not quite 2 years of age and my son 4 years. Let’s bypass check-in which still remains a blur, to finding our seats in the front row and trying to communicate with a toddler who would not only not get up from my seat but demanded that the seat was hers. I struggled to pick her up with her wriggling body, which was going in all directions and myself letting out a sigh and wondering if we’d ever be able to take off. Well we did somehow manage even if exhausted.
From what I know now after many years of flying with children (let’s call them ‘adventures’), with or without my husband, I have adapted to the fact that there will always be new travel situations unlike ones you have experienced before and other ones, which you’ll have down pat. You just have to go in with the mindset that the flight will be a little rocky at times but that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, your arrival!
Here are five things to know about flying with children to help everyone enjoy that next flight!
1. Encourage your child/children to pack their own carry on travel bag
Both my children now aged 5+7 fly with their own carry-on and love it.
Let go and let them pack things they want to have on board with them, you may not agree with half of what goes in them but it’s part of their own travel independence. We do have some rules about just one bedtime toy being packed, games which won’t get lost on the floor and in between seat cracks and essentials like a sweater and pair of Collegien socks to keep their feet comfy and protected during a long-haul flight.
2. Selecting the right carry on bag for YOU
Whether or not your child will be taking a carry on bag, no doubt you will definitely need one. A lot has to do with the selection of the type of bag you are travelling with. I have found either a back pack or an over the shoulder compartmentalised bag works best as order is the solution to not getting flustered when you need things fast. The last thing you want to be doing is rummaging through your bag trying to find the one thing you need most. If you need to stow your bag away for take-off have a clear pouch with essentials that you can stow in your seat pocket for accessibility.
3. Find a friendly face
Whenever I travel I try to strike up a conversation with one of the neighbouring passengers. Whether I am travelling on a long-haul economy or business flight or short-haul flight this has never failed me. You’ll be surprised at how many people are genuinely happy to assist. I’ve had fellow passengers offer to stay with one of my children while I had to take the other to the toilet. On other occasions other travelling families share their books and toys with mine and visa-versa.
4. In Flight Entertainment
If there is one time I don’t have a strong opinion about the use of i-pads and inflight entertainment it’s when we are flying. Just “Let it go”! If they’re happy you’re happy which means you can reenergize your batteries for when you need it. If your child uses the ipad don’t forget to load some new apps before you fly to keep them entertained. The same applies to travel games and toys that you take on board. It’s always great to keep a surprise game or toy up your sleeve, but only use it as your last option as this is like your Ace of cards!
5. Simply for Flying Logbook
I’m forever grateful that my parents had the vision to have all my flying adventures logged from the age 1. Issued back then by one of the commercial airlines I can still remember handing my logbook to the flight attendant and waiting in anticipation for it’s return, to see the captain’s signature. Sometimes the Captain would even return it an invite me to the flight deck.
When my children were born I had trouble sourcing one myself and with the encouragement of my husband I decided to designed a flight logbook, which I believed other families would enjoy as well. Similar in size to a passport the easy to handle flight logbook has room for 42 flight entries for the Captain to complete and 42 journal pages for the logbook owner to add their own memories and keepsakes.