Whether you are travelling during school holidays or you have kids young enough to be able to travel off peak – flying is a whole new experience once you have children (triple the luggage and double the stress and you may come in close to the reality of going abroad with little ones)
But hey don’t let us put you off. Travel agent Florida4Less has teamed up with blogger and mother Katie Wiltshire, beauty and motherhood blogger Jessica Constanti, and birth and parenting coach Alexandra Kramer, for insider tips that they hope will help to keep your kids happy throughout your flight – although by posting this article in no way do we guarantee a stress free journey or holiday. (With parenting there are simply no guarantees – just saying!)
So, how can I help my kids sleep on a plane?
Alexandra says that the key to this is booking a night flight: “Getting children and babies to sleep on a plane can be tricky at the best of times. The change of scenery, lack of normal bedtime routine and the excitement of being somewhere new can all be too much for them.”
She continues: “The key thing when travelling long distances is to try and pick a night flight – that way they’re more likely to eventually fall asleep as their body clocks kick in.”
A sling is also a must, according to Alexandra. “If you are travelling with a baby, don’t be afraid to pop them in a sling and walk up and down the plane.The movement, combined with the white noise, will soon help them doze off.
“The best bit of advice I can give though is to recreate your normal bedtime routine. Go through the change of clothes, teeth brushing and bedtime story reading that will have inadvertently become sleep cues for your little ones in their day-to-day lives.”
Motherhood blogger, Jessica Constanti, explains that buying an extra seat can be really useful: “Children don’t need their own seats until they are two, which is great for saving money! However, I have found that when I purchase an extra seat for my daughter whilst travelling, it was the best idea we could have had – not only can you pop them down in it once they are sleeping, you will also have the row to yourself and won’t have the added stress of a solo passenger perched awkwardly on the aisle seat. Sit them by the window for extra distraction and entertainment.”
What can I bring when flying with my kids?
Blogger, Katie Wiltshire, says: “When travelling with a baby, to save on luggage space, do an online order of essentials like milk, baby pouches, nappies and wipes and pick them up when you get to the airport, so you can take them on the plane with you.”
Jessica’s flight must-haves consist of snacks, toys, colouring pencils, books and an iPad: “I bring as many snacks as I can carry. Some of their absolute favourites and others that are new and exciting to try.
“Healthy flight snacks are rice cakes, bread sticks, fruit, cereal in a handy pot, carrot and cucumber sticks and of course, popcorn. Favourite stories are also a must on a plane journey. Not only are they good to lull little ones off to sleep but they add comfort if they start to become overwhelmed.”
How do you travel with children?
Distraction is definitely the key to keeping your children entertained, as Alexandra explains: “Travelling with children is hard. The best thing you can do is to prepare them in advance for the journey by explaining what may happen, what they might see and and what is expected of them.
“I find it’s easier to travel one adult to each child if possible, as it allows you a chance to take a break knowing that someone is still there to help. Keep talking to them – it’s a hugely overwhelming experience for babies and young children and the more you can keep them at ease and allay any fears they may have, the easier your journey will be.
“Distraction is possibly one of the best techniques you can use when travelling. Children aren’t meant to sit still for long periods of times, so aside from getting them to walk up and down the aisle every now and then, it’s best to try and engage them in games such as ‘I Spy’. Ensure you have a stock of colouring books, children’s tablets and any comforting toys as these will all help.”
Similarly, Jessica explains how play and engagement helped her little ones: “Taking trips up and down the aisle has never worked for me personally, but I’ve seen it be a fabulous way of getting a small baby off to sleep.”
“Children need to feel a sense of control and when so much is taken away from them on a flight, a great way to combat any potential meltdowns is to offer them choices”, says Alexandra. “This may seem really simple, but it allows them to have a sense of structure and control over what may seem like an overwhelming and out of control experience.”
How do you get comfortable on a plane?
Jessica says comfy clothing works a treat: “Make sure your children are dressed in soft, comfortable clothes. Babygrows are the best for newborns, and leggings and long tops for older ones. If you are catching a night flight don’t forget pjs and swimsuits in your carry-on, just in case there is a delay at the hotel.”
“If you are travelling with a baby, try to feed them, either by breastfeeding or bottle, during take off and landing as this will help with any pressure in their ears.”
What happens when travelling doesn’t go as smoothly as expected?
Family blogger, Katie, shares her experience with her son, Otis, on his first flight, when things didn’t quite go to plan: “Back in June, we travelled to Bulgaria for our first holiday with our little boy, who at the time was seven months old. I was a little anxious about flying there and back, due to Otis potentially crying the entire journey and us parents receiving some negative comments!
“Luckily, our flight there was amazing. It fell during Otis’ usual nap time, so he pretty much slept the whole journey and when he was awake he was just taking it all in and loving all the attention. However, the journey back was the complete opposite. No matter how much we fed, changed, bounced or played with him, we got looks. However, one kind lady on the opposite aisle was very understanding as she had children of her own. She directed us to where there was a little space for us to have a little walk and change of scenery on the plane.”
Jessica says that the best thing you can do to prevent tantrums and crying is to remain calm: “Stay calm and positive throughout the whole journey. Your energy will be picked up by your kids and will get them nervous. It will be over before you know it and the rest of your adventures are waiting for you, ready to make some memories with your wonderful family.”
Jon Moulding, co-founder and director at Florida4Less, said: “We all know how stressful travelling with young children can be, which is why it’s vital to plan ahead to make holidays run as smoothly as possible.
“Organising all the finer travel details in advance, such as car hire, attraction tickets and dining will give you less to worry about once you land, and allow you to focus your attention on the things that matter. Most travel providers can now tailor-make a holiday to meet your family’s unique needs, which can help the whole trip go much more smoothly.”
For more family flight hacks from Florida4Less visit their website.