Travelling with children is a common worry for parents, but embarking on a long flight has to be up there with one of the most stressful forms of travel for families.
No matter what you do, there’s no way to guarantee a stress-free flight. But don’t worry, we’ve compiled our top family flight hacks to ensure your children are as comfortable and as happy as possible on their journey!
Preparing children for a flight
Planning in advance is vital for families. Last minute packing isn’t really an option if you want to avoid disaster, so make sure you pack in advance and keep a checklist of your carry-on essentials close by. Packing lunches and snacks for the flight will save you money and also keep fussy eaters satisfied too!
Kids are curious, and it’s likely they’ll have a million questions on your journey. To keep them quiet and restful, you may find it useful to explain the importance of airport and on-flight safety before your holiday begins. Just how much we reveal, however depends on a few factors. Child and adolescent psychotherapist Joanne Higgins has provided us with some great advice for parents on this subject, her comments are as follows: ‘How much to talk to a child about [airport safety] will depend on their age and their curiosity about it. If they seem unduly preoccupied with safety a parent may want to check whether their child is feeling worried about flying.’
It’s important to still tell your children the very basics about the security process, why they need to wear a seatbelt at specific times and to make sure they’re aware of staying close as they board the flight. You could even play games at home to get them used to the idea and put their minds at ease.
Keeping children quiet and comfortable
According to our research, over a third of parents feel majorly concerned about keeping their children quiet on a flight. Similarly, keeping kids in their seats worried a high percentage of parents, with over a quarter placing it as an 8 out of 10 or above on our stress scale.
Losing sleep over the thought of arguments and tantrums wasn’t unusual either. In such an intimate space, behaviour that can disturb other passengers is something most families wish to avoid.
Usually, the main cause of discomfort and unsocial behaviour from your kids will be down to boredom. Even adults get restless on long haul flights, so it’s easy to see why children act out.
Bringing enough entertainment with you is a must, and organising this in advance will make travelling pleasant for everyone. Even if space is tight in your carry-on, we promise squeezing in books, toys, puzzles and games will be worth it. For older children, don’t forget to pre-download movies and educational games onto an iPod or laptop, and remember to bring plenty of headphones! As child and adolescent psychotherapist Joanne Higgins rightly says, ‘it would be unrealistic for [children] to remain quiet,’ so don’t worry too much if they’re on the noisy side compared to other passengers. It’s definitely expected!
Keep them cosy
Remember to bring supplies if your children will need their nappies changing. An alternative set of clothing is a good idea to bring on board too – the cosier, the better! Pyjamas prove to be a hit with children on long flights, and don’t forget slippers!
Helping children to sleep
We’re all a bit grumpy if we don’t get enough sleep, so you’ll want to do as much as you can to help your children rest on their flight.
If you have very young children, ask for a baby bassinet. Most airlines provide these, and some allow them to be booked in advance – something we highly recommend doing, but supplies may be limited.
It’s worth ringing up a few days before you’re due to travel to check whether the airline can provide things like a bassinet, and there’s no harm in asking the flight crew about it once you arrive to make sure the facilities will be on board waiting for you. Trust us, it’s worth the preparation and your arms will thank you!
For slightly older children, you should invest in a travel pillow, avoid giving them too many sugary snacks and bring an item that will comfort them, whether it’s a blanket or a cuddly toy.
If you can, booking evening flights increases the chance that they’ll fall asleep from tiredness, and if you’re sharing a row with a stranger, volunteering to sit in the middle seat will allow your child to snooze comfortably next to you.
Coping with travel sickness
The key to combatting illness on a flight is to bring supplies – so be sure to pack travel sickness tablets, even if your child has been fine on previous flights. For children, you can often find tablets that taste pleasant so they shouldn’t be too unwilling to take them.
Making sure someone with travel sickness stays hydrated is key, so pack a few empty water bottles with you and fill them all up once you’ve passed security. And if the worst happens, don’t worry! It should help your child feel better, and airline staff are always sympathetic and understanding. The change of clothes you packed earlier will definitely help too!
Whenever you’re due to hop on board and begin your travels, we hope you and your family have a safe flight. And if you are planning a trip to Florida, don’t forget to take a look at Secret Florida for tips and advice on what to do in the Sunshine State!