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Tips for flying with babies and children

Updated on March 23, 2011
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Tips for flying with babies and children

Remember when holidays were carefree experiences and, if travel delays happened they were a minor inconvenience, you could just sleep anywhere or go to the bar for a drink and didn’t have to worry about much, just getting on your plane when it finally decided to take off?

My, how things change when you have children. Before, if you forgot to pack something it wasn’t the end of the world, you just bought a replacement at your destination or just simply went without.

Travelling with children is a different story. When you travel with children you really do need to be prepared, prepared for every eventuality and prepared to keep them entertained should you encounter delays.

As an experienced traveller with children, I’ve been there, seen it, done it, so here are my tips on how to handle travelling with babies, toddlers and children of all ages:

Getting to the airport

Getting to the airport can prove to be a hassle with young children. The most convenient way is to drive to the airport and take advantage of meet and greet parking.

By using meet and greet valet parking, babies and small children can travel to the airport in the comfort and safety of their own car seats. Meet and greet parking allows you to drive right up to the airport terminal, so you won’t face the hassle of off-airport parking where you have to get the children on and off the shuttle bus to the airport – a big enough hassle on your outward journey, even worse after a long flight!

At the airport

Give your child their own hand luggage. Use a small backpack suitable for their age, or buy child-specific luggage, such as a Trunki – a small, pull-along trunk which young children can also sit on and ride when they get tired.

Pack your child’s hand luggage with items to keep them entertained at the airport and on the plane.

Use a backpack for your cabin baggage this frees up your hands and makes it easier to deal with your children at the airport.

If you have a baby or toddler take you collapsible pushchair right up to the boarding gate – it saves you carrying your child or taking an age for them to try to walk the distance from the airport lounge to the gate. Once at the gate, your buggy can be put in the hold and returned to you when you leave the aircraft.

If your child is still in nappies, change them at the airport prior to getting on the plan and ensure you pack plenty of nappies and wet wipes for the journey.

Keeping your children entertained at the airport can be a problem.

Check out the layout of the airport prior to arrival and get to know the dedicated children’s play areas. Once through security take your children there so they can have a run about and play before being confined to the plane. Hopefully they will tire themselves out and sleep for a while on the journey.

Watching the planes take off and land, or baggage being loaded onto the aircraft can keep children entertained for quite sometime, so check where the viewing areas are.

Take plenty of snacks for the airport and plane, this will save you a fortune at the airport and also fills them up if they refuse to eat the onboard food.

Take off & landing

Pack chewy sweets for toddlers and children to chew while taking off and landing to help alleviate ear pain.

For babies or very young children give them a dummy to suck or a bottle of juice or milk to drink.

On the plane

Take a capped beaker for toddlers to drink from on the plane, this helps to avoid spillages and can be slotted alongside them in their seat for easy access.

Carry a change of clothes for your baby or young child in your cabin baggage, just in case of accidents.

If at all possible, try to book a window seat for your child – it allows them to watch what’s going on outside while you are waiting for taxiing and take off. Some children are content to just gaze out of the window in mid flight.

When packing your child’s own hand luggage include some items to keep them amused on the plane, such as a small cuddly toy, something to write/draw with and paper or a colouring book – whatever is suitable for their age.

There is an amazing selection of travel games to choose from, so why not buy a couple to play on the plane and for quiet times before bed when they are on holiday.

Electronic toys or music will also keep them amused, but make sure any electronic devices have new or fully-charged batteries before you set out.

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