Plan ahead: If you are traveling with an infant, bulkhead seats are the way to go. Most airlines will let you pre-book a baby bassinet, though some will not, so be sure to ask. When flying long haul, night flights are generally easier than day flights. Consider this timing when booking your tickets and be sure to allow plenty of time for check-in and connecting flights.
One friend swears by flying on Wednesdays—rumored to be the cheapest and least busy day to travel. When heading for security, it’s a good idea to devise a game plan before it’s your turn on the conveyor belt and the strollers, shoes, liquids and laptops are flying.
Be prepared: Flights can be delayed or missed, babies are messy and even big kids can accidentally launch their lunch. I am not known for packing light, but when flying with kids I definitely adhere to the better safe than sorry school of thought.
Double the amount of diapers and wipes you would usually need, include plenty of extra baby food and kid snacks, pack empty sippy cups and disposable bibs to minimize spills, keep a portable changing mat handy, and be sure to bring extra clothes for the kids AND parents.
Bring a bag of tricks: Keep the little ones busy with special snacks, cheap and tacky toys, activity books, post-its, stickers, stamps and crayons. These days my kids mostly carry their own entertainment, but I still like to include a few small surprises in their backpacks (not Silly Putty). I have occasionally gift wrapped a stash of inexpensive toys to increase the excitement factor—introducing items one by one (and often re-gifting a few hours later).
Also take advantage of what is already available: air sickness bags can make excellent puppets, seat pocket magazines usually have great I Spy potential and airline meals can be just as entertaining as Dora.
And if not, there’s always technology—children’s video channels, portable media players, and kid-friendly games can be lifesavers on long flights.
Stay positive: As a general rule, it pays to be a kind and gracious traveler. When flying with small children, you might be feeling the exact opposite—but a positive attitude can take you far—especially when interacting with airline staff, TSA workers and fellow passengers. When people offer to help you, let them.
The grandmother nearby could be a great baby holder when you need two free hands, and your aisle neighbor might have some great magic tricks up his sleeve. Whenever possible, extend a hand to other traveling families, or at least an empathetic smile.
And lastly, breathe. You will get there. Time passes s l o w l y on long flights and the irresistible in-flight map usually makes things worse. I once burst into tears upon learning that we were only halfway through a ten-hour flight with our short-attention-span toddlers. “How are we going to make it?” I mouthed to my husband across the way.
One hour at a time.
What are your favorite travel tips? Do share!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Shaula Bellour in East Timor. Shaula can also be found on her blog, Notes From a Small World.
Photo credit to My Kaul. This photo has a creative commons attribution no derivatives license.