Top 10 Tips for Flying with Kids

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Once, when my youngest child was still much too young, my husband and I attempted to fly across the Pacific Ocean. I don’t think I need to tell you it was a disaster. From the moment the cabin pressure changed, my daughter wailed inconsolably, much to the dismay of myself and every other unfortunate person on that aircraft. We apologized profusely while other passengers and staff gave us withering looks.

10 tips for flying with kids

Almost every new parent has had a similar experience. There’s no way to make traveling with small children easy, but there are a few tricks that I’ve found can make it easier. Here are some that worked for me:

  1. Can’t it wait? Some trips are really essential, but others are not. Understand that while flying with a baby is possible, now is not the time to take that extravagant vacation you’ve always wanted. Hold off on serious traveling until the kids are a bit older if at all possible.
  2. Distractions, distractions, distractions. iPads and electronic gaming devices are easy to turn to, but they aren’t necessarily the only options. Old-fashioned, low-tech family games are still pretty effective too. “Twenty questions,” “I Spy” and other classics are a good way to change it up.
  3. Bring lollipops, cough drops or candy. One of the reason young children cry is from the change in pressure at higher altitudes. Giving them something to suck on will ease the discomfort.
  4. Do not under any circumstances pack any toys that make noise. This one is self-explanatory and something of a public service announcement. Everyone on board will thank you.
  5. Bribery is very much allowed. The beauty of having slightly older children is that you can reason with them. Promise whatever it takes to get you and your family from Point A to Point B with minimal fuss.
  6. Work up to it. If at all possible, try to take shorter flights and trips before attempting longer ones. Get your kids used to the idea of flying before embarking on a long haul.
  7. Do not rely on airplane food. Those sad, microwaved square packets of chicken or pasta are depressing for adults and even worse for kids. While Asian airlines often have better culinary options than their Western counterparts, it’s still a good idea to stock up on snacks. You don’t need to haul a three-course dinner on board, but a good mix of munchies is essential. Try to include a couple treats, but not enough sugar to make little ones hyper.
  8. Pack some serious goodie bags. Whenever we go on a long trip, each of my kids is allowed to pick out one new toy or book (within reason) that they would like. It doesn’t need to be overly expensive, but it does help to have a few new things to play with on the journey.
  9. Choose the right kinds of books. In general, anything interactive or especially visually appealing is going to hold a young child’s attention for longer. Coloring books, puzzle books, pop-up books or scratch-and-sniff books are all a good call. Try to pack one or two new books, as well as one or two familiar favorites that your child knows and already loves.
  10. Be kind to strangers. If you see parents with an irritable child, try to show a little sympathy. They’re probably a lot less happy about the situation than you, and there may be nothing more they can do.

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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