September 27th, 2011
10 Tips for Parents to Survive Family Air Travel
A vacation with your kids is an amazing experience, but getting there? That’s the challenge. We asked Kristine, our Fiji Trip Sweepstakes Winner and mother of two (with one on the way!) to weigh in on how she successfully manages air travel with her young family.
1. Plan Well. Most airports don’t have supplies for young children, so plan ahead. From snacks (I love Pack-It™ Cubes for these) to diapers and formula, make sure to pack more than you think you need in case of delayed flights or other unexpected changes to your itinerary. One of the best snacks for my kids are sugar snap peas because they’re packed with vitamins and fiber so I don't worry about how much they eat. I've never had a problem traveling with juice boxes and recommend Honest Kids. Also, my kids love Yoplait's Go-gert, ingenious portable yogurt without a spoon. Finally, fruit snacks, fruit snacks, fruit snacks, especially organic ones.
2. Think in 15-Minute Intervals. Introduce a new activity to your child every 15 minutes of the flight such as a coloring book, new toy, cards or DVD. This helps keep young children continually interested and occupied with new tasks. We love the Cheerios Animal Play Book because it’s a healthy snack & play all in one. You can read the story or make up your own. Sometimes we use finger puppet books which keeps hands busy and my mind at ease. Also my boys love sticker books. We can make our own city, create our own battle, or just see how much of Dad's body can be covered in stickers before the flight lands.
3. Use Meals. When traveling with kids, try and choose a flight at meal time. This helps achieve #2, plus the chewing will help equalize young ears during take-off and landing.
4. Last Ditch Efforts. Last-ditch activities are great to have in your back pocket when the kids just won’t stop kicking, screaming mercilessly or anytime all hell breaks loose. Little wrapped gifts and other special treats can save you in desperate moments, like being delayed on the tarmac. DumDum lollipops can save the day. They're small enough so I don't have worry about them being a choking hazard & the perfect size to stash at least two per child in a side pocket of my favorite Eagle Creek bag.
5. Wipes, Wipes and Wipes. Seatbelts. Tray tables. Windows. Armrests. All of these can and probably will go in your little ones’ mouth. Bring antibacterial wipes for before (and after) this happens. Here are the wipes we NEVER leave home without. Note: they come in a soft travel package that's easy to stuff into your carry-on.
6. Bathroom Breaks. Airports terminals and airplanes aren’t the best places for changing diapers but they are your only option, so bring a changing pad. I love the Skip Hop Pronto Changing Pad Kit. This has everything I need, all-in-one and is a great size and shape for a baby. Plus, it cleans easily and is machine washable! Also, don’t forget to change diapers right before boarding the plane.
7. Stay Engaged. Kids are great, but they’re also a total distraction. Remain a smart traveler. Pay attention to your connecting flight times and locations, baggage claim and all the important details of your trip. Otherwise, see #1.
8. Shoes off. Little travelers can be the exact height to squarely kick the back of an airplane seat. In order to make the flight a bit more comfortable for the person in front of your child, try removing their shoes after getting seated.
9. Smart Strollers. An umbrella stroller or other version that folds-up easily will save much time and headache when going through security and also when boarding. When purchasing a stroller, be sure that it folds down quickly and easily. I love my Maclaren Triumph Stroller. It has stood the test and kept its great looks even with all the bumps and spills a 5 and 2 year old can manage. And most importantly, it's lightweight (easy to lift onto the security belt), folds with ease (while you have a long line of people standing behind you at security and when you check it at the gate). Make sure you put an ID tag on your stroller in case the two of you should part.
10. Pre-Everything. When on the road, have as much prepared as possible. If your children are still taking bottles, pre-measure formula into a formula dispenser. If they’re eating food, make snack packs for each leg of the flight. Whatever you can prepare before travel keeps you one step ahead of the game.
Do you have others? Tell us your air travel tips and tricks that help make traveling with kids as easy as possible!