Flying can be daunting and scary on its own but when you have children it can become stressful and a worry. We have travelled three times by plane in the last year and I must say that each time has been a different experience. We have had early morning flights, middle of the night flights and day time flights, each have a different effect in children. Depending on the time of your flight, it can disrupt their sleeping pattern. Children are excitable, especially on short-haul flights, it’s highly likely that they will not relax and sleep and even more so if the flight is past their normal bedtime.
The first time I flew with my boys, I felt uneasy and restful. I know how hyperactive my boys can be and they are much worse when they are excited. I know from previous car journeys how much of a pest they can be. They find it hard to sit still and fidget all the time. I have three boys aged 13, 8 and 4. If I allow the two youngest to sit near each other, then I won’t hear the end of their squabbling and fighting. So I have to think about where they sit. Seat
Here are some of my top tips for a smooth flight:
- Clothing – Dress your children in comfortable clothing. I never put denim or wooly clothing on my children. They fidget enough so I don’t want to make their journey any worse. Keep it loose, cotton and layer up in thin clothing. Never travel in new shoes or clothes. My boys like to wear their track suit bottoms with a t-shirt and a hoody. I like them to wear a hoody with a zip, so that they can take it off themselves when they want to. It’s easier to take off rather than taking off a jumper over their head in refined space. Take off their shoes. My boys kick out their feet, so with out their shoes on they will be able to sit on the chair with their feet up (especially the younger ones)
- Games – You obviously can’t take any board games along with so take it back to the simple games that use your brain and eyes. For example: Eye spy, Country game – name countries through the alphabet, I went to the shops memory game-alphabetical order, alphabet game – saying everything you see going through the alphabet , spelling – think of a subject and 5 things that relate to that word and try to spell them.
- Technology – Pack the children’s tablets or phones into your hand luggage, make sure that they are fully charged and not used prior to the plane setting off, that way the battery will be full for the journey. Download apps and movies for them to play and watch before leaving home. Always remember that if you only take one along for them to share there will be arguments! Try to put a time limit on how long they have it, but keep it short like 10 minutes.
- Books or magazines – Pack a light book, magazines are always good as they are light and they have activities within them for the children to do. If it’s a book that they have chosen themselves then they shouldn’t get bored with it so soon.
- Music – Don’t forget the headphones! Music is always good for the older ones to listen to. If you have younger ones than maybe download some nursery rhymes or stories for them to listen to .
- Comforter/toy – My younger boys have a teddy bear that they take everywhere they go. We have even made up a little passport for them. Inside they write where the teddy has been, just like when they used to stamp the passports when you entered a country.
- Stationary – Pack a selection of stationary for them – a pencil (with an eraser attached), pen, crayons and colouring pencils (one colour of each shade)
- Snacks and drink – Some light snack, not too much sugar as it can make them hyper! My boys only have to smell sweets and they are climbing the walls. Raisins, fruit, sandwiches and crisps are all good choices. I don’t but on the plane as with three boys and two adults it can become very expensive and to be honest when travelling with a low-cost airline they don’t taste that good either. We normally buy a meal deal from within the airport and I let the boys choose their own, that way I don’t get any arguing over who wants what.
- Conversation – Talk about where you’re going or where you’ve been. What are they looking forward to? We make up stories too, think of a title and then between the family take in turns to say a sentence. Someone can be writing it down and then you can read it back. Look out of the window and see what they can see, Where do they think they are? What are we flying over? What would it be like to live there? Who lives there? What language do they speak? Children love to learn.
- Hand baggage – Allow the children to have their own hand luggage with a selection of their favourite things in it, like a car, train, doll. My boys put their book, stationary, little toy, a treat, a small notepad, water and their teddies passport in it.
- Seating – If you have more than one child, think about where they are going to sit. They are always going to argue over who has the window seat so try to swap half way through the journey. As I previous said, I don’t allow my two youngest to sit next to each other as they fight over the smallest of things. There are other people on the plane who don’t want to watch and listen to two children screaming and hitting each other. Take note of who is sitting in front of them, as if they are fidgety and an older person is in front it may be a good idea to move them to another seat. My middle boy is always kicking out at the seat in front, he can’t help but put his feet on it and the last thing someone wants is to feel kick on the back of their of their seat.
- Sweets – Just for the take off and landing, it takes their mind off of the funny feeling in their ears.
If you have a toddler with a weak bowel, keep a spare pair of pants and clothes somewhere easy to grab in case of a little accident and keep asking them if they need the toilet. I also like to keep the boys up to date with how long we have left on the plane.
Role play is a good idea prior to flight, especially if it’s their first time. That way they get to experience what may happen and they know about the procedures, like the seatbelt and the flight attendants.
Hope you have found my post helpful, I’m sure that I have missed off lots of other ideas, if you have any to add please write them in the comments. Thank you 🙂