Flying with Kids, Top Tips to make a Plane Journey with Children Easier.
We lived in the US for 3 years when our children were younger, and have loved travelling as a family since then. Over the years we have experienced both the highlights and horrors of flying long and short haul with our kids at their various stages and phases, and have found that the following all go to make those long journeys easier!
1. Check passport expiry dates…especially for children’s passports as they only have 5 years!
OK, so this is obvious, but when I discovered that our twins passports had expired, the evening before our family holiday to Norway, I thought that our holiday was scuppered before we’d started. After gleaning advice from a pilot, steward and well-travelled friend I found myself weeping up at the passport office in Victoria, London, where they rushed through our applications and we made it onto our 6pm flight by the skin of our teeth with passports hot off the press! That was a few years ago, and now not even a good cry will get you a passport in record time, so check passports before you book your trip and make sure you have time to get replacements in time if necessary. I know a few friends who’ve experienced this, so know that we’re not alone!
2. Check the Visa / entry requirements for the countries your visiting and make sure you have allthe right paperwork completed before you go.
3. EHIC cards for Europe and Medical insurance. We’ve had the odd mishap on our travels and the security of knowing your covered is essential.
Booking your trip:
1. Timing is key especially when travelling with kids as a sprint through an airport isn’t anoption. Check all connections (if you’re trip involves them), especially if you’re booking online, make sure that stopover time is reasonable, and check that the airport, terminals and dates all tally… you don’t want any nasty surprises mid-journey!
2. If going to the USA you must clear Customs and Immigration at your ‘first point of entry’, which can involve long lines. So check your connection point and allow a good 2 hours.
3. Note: a ‘Direct’ and ‘Non-Stop’ flight aren’t always the same. A ‘direct flight’ can stop and change air craft, even with the same flight number.
4. Check the airport locations, especially with low-cost airlines. They can often list a city destination, but fly to an airport some distance away.
5. Consider paying for priority boarding / reserved with low-cost flights, if seating isn’t allocated then this can ensure you are all sat together on a flight.
6. If you can’t get seats together in a row, then book seats in rows directly infront/ behind and opt for aisle seats where it’s easier to get in and out without climbing over someone you don’t know.
1. I highly recommend only taking onboard the things that you will need during the flight. Distances to and from aeroplanes before andafter a flight can be lengthy and numerous weighty bags and kids are not a great mix!
2. Backpacks with plenty of pockets make it easy to locate what you need, and keep hands free when you’re getting on and off. If you can pack it up small enough then it can be stored by your feet (and can provide a handy raised foot rest!)
3. Food / Snacks, if it’s in a ready to eat state and not to liquidy, then you shouldn’t have any problems getting through security, and if your children don’t like what’s on offer on-board, then back up can be invaluable! I would avoid anything with peanuts in, as a precaution.
4. Low cost airlines charge vast sums for pretty unpalatable sandwiches, so if there is time I recommended factoring in a meal at the airport before you fly.
5. Calpol / ibruprofen sachets are useful to have to hand during a flight. It is a myth that children need to suck something during take-off or landing, so don’t panic if your kids are snoozing
at either of these times. The key time for ear issues is at the top of the decent usually 40 mins – 1 hour before the end of a flight. This is when a bit of calpol can be handy, and sucking on the sachet can help the chidren to equalise the pressure.
6. Drinks. You won’t be able to take these through security, but we take empty water bottles withsecure lids and sippy straws/ valve. You can fill these before you board or with drinks offered on board, which can avoid spillages, which easily happen in the busy confines of an aircraft! They can also help if kids are stuggling with their ears and are also useful to have whilst away.
7. Pack lip gloss / chap stick. Lips can get very dry onboard and end up stinging if kids end up licking them a lot. A handy chap stick is great to have.
8. Kids entertainment. Flights involve a lot of waiting and sitting (preferably quietly), and can be prone to delays. The whole experience is much easier if kids are happily entertained at the airport and during a flight. Tablets and phones can be useful, and the Pipity Activity Case offers creative entertainment, ideal if kids aren’t good after being plugged into devices for long periods of time. Entertainment that kids can carry
themselves, is lightweight and compact and that can be stored handily in the seat back is ideal to avoid rummaging in overhead lockers and bags under seats. Pipity was designed with this scenario in
mind, and provides hours of entertainment while you’re away - so do bear it in mind!
9. Moving around the plane isn’t always easy, and not allowed if there’s any turbulence. Small stress reliving / physical toys can be useful and if you wrap them up as small gifts, the kids love an onboard pressie. I recommend ‘Tobar twist and lock blocks’, Bestoyard fiddle toys, Tri-Fidget Hand Spinner.
10. Onboard entertainment is usually only available on long haul flights, and tablets and phones aren’t allowed on a number of routes, so do check this.
11. Accidents and spillages do happen, so a lightweight change of clothes for both kids and adults is a good idea. I pack spare t-shirts and either shorts or leggings for everyone.
12. Socks! Bear in mind that it can get chilly in the air conditioning onboard, and a pair of socks for everyone is great to have if you’re not going to be wearing them when you board.
13. Baby wipes, are so useful in a multitude of situations, from wiping faces to table trays!
I’d love to hear any top tips that you might have, please post in comments below.