Traveling with Kids | Tips for Flying
For me, one of the most daunting parts of traveling is the dreaded packing. In the past I had serious anxiety about packing and could be found organising our suitcases for weeks before leaving on vacation. But I’m happy to tell you all that after years of traveling the world with my children I have a system and tips that make it a lot less stressful. And I’d like to share it with you all.
First of all, there are two important packing rituals for any trip that involves taking an airplane. You have your carry-on for the flight and your suitcases for the rest of your trip. Today, I want to chat about what we need to fly with kids (not babies, that’s a whole other ball game).
In our family, our kids are always really keen to have their own carry-on. The problem is that the enthusiasm for wheeling their little animal Samsonite cases usually lasts about 5 minutes before we end up with armfuls of baggage. In short, it’s better if you just pack a few bags so that the kids don’t have to worry about lugging anything around.
Before getting on any flight, I make sure to have the following items close at hand at all times (I prefer to store my in-flight bags under the seats in front of us instead of in the overhead storage bins because it’s so much less work and quicker to get at anything that is needed).
My all-time top item to take on any flight is a change of clothing. I have three children who are more or less the same size so I pack at least one outfit (in neutral colours that work for my son or daughters) for the inevitable spills that will happen during any meal time. Seriously, we haven’t had a flight that didn’t involve a glass of apple juice being spilled on someone’s lap (most of the time mine). My sister-in-law once had to run through Madrid airport in her underpants and a tiny scarf due to being thrown up on continuously from Argentina to Spain by her two year old son. And I had my daughter dump a cup of hot chocolate on me 5 minutes before our 13 hour flight to China. So, maybe some extra clothing for mom and dad might be a good idea as well.
Next, I would suggest a well-stocked medicine bag. I always have paracetamol, anti-nausea tablets and anti-diarrhea medicine (remember my famous flight from Milan to Belgium?). I also always keep cough syrup or throat lozenges on hand. There is nothing worse than having a toddler/kid who is coughing in a small confined space filled with strangers for hours on end (oh the looks you will get from co-passengers!). Lastly, I take lots of tissues, wet wipes and a few “air sickness” bags.
Now you have to worry about keeping your little ones busy and contented. I usually have one bag that is full of entertainment for the kids such as activity and reading books, playing cards, travel board games, art supplies (paper, pencils, markers, scissors, glue stick, etc.) and iPods that have the kid’s favourite music and narrated stories. Some people swear by Nintendos and other video game devices but until now we’ve managed without (most long flights have TV’s that are equipped with kid’s channels offering movies, TV shows, music and games anyway). One other thing that the kids always bring on a flight is a drawing for the pilot. If the air hostesses are friendly (not always the case) they take the kids to the cockpit before take-off to say hi to the pilots and give their drawings. It’s a big highlight for my kids when flying.
And last but not least, we make sure to always have a few snacks on hand for those moments between meals or when a flight has been delayed and the kids get hungry. We try and keep it as healthy as possible with crackers, nuts, water and fruit but the odd treat is also pretty smart to keep for emergencies like when you have to sit on the tarmac for 3 hours. And don’t forget a few bottles of water.
These are our basic essentials for flying with kids. If you have these items the flight should go quite smoothly and you’ll be prepared for any “disaster” that might arise. Do you have any other favourite items you take on a flight with kids?