My daughter was recently traveling and called to tell me that a screaming baby and mom were seated behind her, and the baby kept kicking her seat. We’ve all heard horror stories of babies and children traveling on airplanes that make such a scenario a nightmare. However, I think that traveling with children, when done correctly, can be both a pleasant and a great learning experience for the children and unwitting travel companions.
My children have been traveling since birth. Primarily because of my job as a former flight attendant, I took full advantage of my travel benefits and traveled extensively with my kids. As an airline employee, I often traveled on standby and was one of the last passengers to board the airplane. I remember the looks of despair from passengers when I boarded with my kids, but I also remember the many compliments I received on how well-behaved my children were when the plane landed. I was prepared to travel with my children because I had plenty of experience seeing both sides of the issue. In the age of social media, there are plenty of nightmarish as well as beautiful stories to be heard.
To ensure your story is a beautiful one, there are a few things you can do to prepare for traveling with children. Try to take early morning flights. By the time you board the airplane, your child will already be tired and exhausted from all the new sensory experiences and from having to be up so early. Children are prone to ear infections, which can be extremely painful on takeoffs and landings. Always consult your doctor but be prepared with antihistamines, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, to help with ear pain. Baby earplugs and headphones are also a good idea.
Try to book nonstop flights as much as possible so the children aren’t exposed to too many takeoffs and landings. It can be a novelty for children to go through the waiting period, boarding process, takeoff, and landing once. More than once, and the novelty wears off. There are not enough snacks and video entertainment to help curtail children’s boredom on multiple trips, and unwanted tantrums will usually follow.
Be prepared and get to the airport early so you and the children are not rushing. Dress both yourself and the children for going through security. Save fashionable dress outfits for your destination. Slip-on and off shoes and layers of clothing that can be removed easily are advisable when going through TSA security. Bring lots of snacks but include some that require lots of chewing, such as carrot sticks. Lollipops, sippy cups, and cups with straws help to encourage sucking, and this can help with ear aches from air pressure changes in flight. You usually can’t bring liquids through security, but you can see what’s available after security.
Most importantly, bring the supplies your child will need, Extra diapers, food, change of clothing, blankets, etc. Airlines don’t always provide food and rarely baby supplies. However, they allow parents of children to board early, so take advantage of this opportunity to get a few extra minutes to get settled.
I hope these few ideas encourage you to consider taking a trip with your children, it indeed does not have to be a bad experience, and your children one day will thank you for the experience. If you feel inspired to travel with your children, let me know in the comment section below.