Flying with kids is a whole different experience to flying alone. The first time you fly with kids – especially on a long-haul flight – can be a challenge, and you may not be looking forward to it. But if you follow a few simple tips, you can make it a lot easier on everyone. Here are some suggestions to make the flight go smoother.
Pack All the Essentials
Travelling as a group means you will have a lot more to remember than when you travel alone, and it is your responsibility to ensure you have everything ready to hand.
The first thing to do is make sure all your passports are up to date. Some countries require that you have at least six months or more on your passport before entering (check the government's travel advice for your destination country) so check over your existing passports to see whether you can use them.
If you need to get new passports, arrange this well in advance. You can use a service like UK Passport Offices to arrange yours, and if you've left it late, you may want to arrange an express service to get your passports fast.
Once you have everything you need to travel, including passports, tickets and other important documents, keep them all together in a folder so you can quickly produce them when you need to.
Don't Forget Your Medicines
Remember to take a good supply of medicines, including paracetamol and ibuprofen for fevers, as well as any medicines your children normally take. Essentially, if you can think of any medications that you would not like to be without for the length of the flight, take them with you. You may also want to take a basic first-aid kit containing plasters and a thermometer.
Book an Overnight Flight
If you are going on a long-haul flight and you have the option to travel overnight, this could work out as the best choice.
The more your children sleep on the flight, the less entertaining you'll have to do. Kids can get bored and restless when they are forced to spend hours in the same seat, but if they sleep through it, you will save everyone a whole lot of hassle.
This is a personal choice, however. At night, you may have to deal with overly tired children who are too excited to fall asleep. It really depends on your children, but just make sure you consider both options.
Choose Your Seats Carefully
Have a good think about the best seats for your flight, and book them early if you can. Ideally, you may want to sit somewhere near to a bathroom for obvious reasons. If you are travelling with a baby, choose a seat with space to put a cot. Not all planes have these, so find out before you choose your airline because it can make a big difference.
Buy an Extra Seat If You Can
You only have to pay for a seat after your child is two years old. However, if you can afford an extra seat and don't mind paying for it, this is worth considering. It will give you that all important space to keep toys, magazines, food and other things.
Take Plenty to Do
Forget about your own belongings and fill up your bag with things for your children to do. This includes colouring books, crayons, games, toys, books to read and anything else to keep them occupied.
Invest in a Tablet
There is no better investment than a tablet when you fly with kids. Download a selection of their favourite movies and TV programmes, and you may find that this alone can keep your kids happy for many hours. Buy a pair of comfortable headphones, and remember to charge the tablet before you leave home. Take the charger with you as well because more planes now have charging sockets.
Help the Kids Avoid Ear Pain
One of the problems that can affect children on a flight is ear pain at takeoff and landing. To combat this, encourage them to chew on a sweet while taking off and landing. If they are still too young, you may want to give your baby a bottle of milk instead, as this will help to reduce the pressure on their ears.
The NHS has some good health advice for enjoying a comfortable flight, so check this out before you travel.
Stock Up on Snacks
Get some nice treats like chocolate, crisps and sweets for the flight, but also consider some fruit and other healthy food. Some cereal for breakfast can be a good idea because many children might not like the airplane food. Take plenty of water as well – you can get this on the plane, but it's convenient to have your own bottle.
Make Your Flight Go Smoother
Long-haul flights can be tiring and stressful, but they can be even harder when you travel with young children. However, they don't need to be overly stressful as long as you follow these tips and plan your journey carefully. So remember the snacks, the toys and the tablet, and enjoy a smoother experience on your flight.
Louise Jenkins is one of those people you are sometimes glad to see at an airport and as well providing travellers with assistance, she also enjoys going online to share her tips for stress-free travel. She is a regular writer for a number of travel and lifestyle websites.