Make Travelling with Kids Plane Sailing

The thought of taking children on a plane is enough to make some people stay within the UK, but with a bit of planning and preparation it is possible have a stress-free flight.

Last week I went on holiday with my family to Puerto Banus for a week. This was Camilla’s first plane flight and George’s 11th. Was I worried about taking a 3 month old and a 4 year old on a plane? No, as over the past few years I’ve learned how to make the experience enjoyable and relaxed for us all, so I just wanted to share some of my travel tips…..

Prior to travel

Airports can be a big, scary place for a little person. Therefore it’s always a good idea to explain to your little one what will happen when you get there, so that they don’t become scared at check-in or upset when they have to put their belongings onto a conveyor belt to be x-rayed at security.

If it will be the first time at the airport for your child and they are becoming anxious as the holiday draws near, why not take them to the airport beforehand to show them the check in desks and maybe have a juice and cake in a coffee shop, so that they become more relaxed about the environment. There are also many good children’s books on Amazon which focus on airports, so reading these together a few weeks before your holiday will help. Check out ‘Look Inside An Airport’.

At the airport

Queuing

With check-in/bag drop and then security, there can be an awful lot of queuing before you even board your flight. This could result in a very bored child! When booking flights, consider what the operator offers in terms of trying to minimise the time queuing at check-in. Thomson Flights allow you to check in your luggage the day before at Birmingham Airport, so on many occasions in the past I have sent my husband with the suitcases the night before to check them in, so that on the morning of travel, we can go straight up to security without the hassle of bag drop. If this isn’t available to you and you’re flying with an operator that offers ‘Priority Check In’, I would totally recommend purchasing this if your budget allows (it’s normally about £5 per person), as it’s worth it for a happy child! I would also recommend purchasing the ‘Fast Track’ ticket at security (note that you only need to buy the ticket for the adults in your party, the children don’t need one) as this can also save a lot of queuing, especially during the seasonal holiday periods. For our recent holiday, as we had Priority Check In and then bought Fast Track tickets, we were in the departure lounge within 10 minutes of arriving at the airport.

Toilet trip

You can just about fit one person in the tiny toilet on the plane, but when you have a little person in tow, it’s practically impossible. Therefore I always make George go to the loo just before boarding so that we don’t have to go whilst we are on the plane. We also made sure that Camilla had a fresh nappy change before we boarded and then crossed our fingers that she didn’t have a poo explosion whilst in the air, otherwise we would be subjected to the worlds smallest nappy changing room!

On the plane

Seating

Even in my late 30’s I still have a burning desire to sit in the ‘window seat’, but when you become a parent this urge has to be suppressed. Children love the window seat as they can see what’s going on outside of the plane and this will keep them happy, even if for just a little while. If you are travelling with two children, but only have one window seat, before boarding it’s worth explaining to them that they will both get a turn to sit by the window and decide who will be first – this will save any arguments when you are on the plane.

Germs

Planes are notorious for carrying lots of germs. While you can’t eliminate them all, as soon as I seat George I tell him not to touch anything until I have wiped down the seat tray, arm rests and window area with my supply of anti-bacterial wipes. Yes, my OCD is truly let loose!

Take off and decent

I always try to help the pressure on little ears. With Camilla, and when George was a baby, I gave them a feed on take off and again on the decent, as the swallowing really helps. Now George is a little older I give him a fruit pastille to chew on (yes, I know they’re not great for little teeth, but a couple when travelling won’t hurt) and again the chewing motion helps the ears ‘pop’.

Entertainment

To keep them happy, children need to be kept occupied during the flight, so I pack George’s bag with some new toys e.g. character figurines, Top Trump cards, a couple of sticker books (the Usbourne ones are great) and a (totally overpriced) children’s magazine. George isn’t allowed to open his bag until we are on the plane and he’s always excited to see what’s inside. He then happily works his way through playing with the new toys, stickering and completing the magazine puzzles, which takes us a good way into a flight. I also load a couple of new games and children’s films onto his fully charged iPad, so if he gets bored, he can sit back, put his headphones on and watch a movie.

Food and Drink

When travelling I always put together a lunch box for George. This not only keeps him occupied and his tummy filled, but it also works out a lot cheaper than buying any food on board and it is much nicer! I try to make it exciting, but I’m careful not to put too many sugar filled treats in there, as the last thing I want is George having a sugar rush on the plane! I normally put a little cheese sandwich wrapped and decorated with Paw Patrol stickers, a banana (with a smiley face drawn on with a sharpie), a tub of chopped fruit e.g. strawberries and plum, and a mini packet of biscuits – which are a real treat for George.

It’s also really important to keep children hydrated on flights, so I make sure that I buy a couple of bottles of water at the airport and then decant some into George drinks bottle, and that he drinks plenty of water while on the flight.

Essentials

I make sure that my carry on bag is packed with well stocked essentials. On my recent flight this included a full pack of wet wipes, nappies (enough for plenty of changes if there was a big flight delay) and a couple of changes of clothes for Camilla and a change of clothes for George in case he spilt anything down him.

Arrival airport

Queuing (again!)

There can sometimes be long queues at the passport control upon arrival, at bag claim, or when waiting to collect a hire car. I therefore normally have a supply of sugar free Chupa Chups lollipops, so that I can give George one while we wait. That keeps him quiet for a little while and a game of ‘I spy’ is normally also a great distraction!

Return journey

Remember to not just prepare for the outward journey. After hopefully a week of relaxation and fun, the last thing you need is a nightmare return flight!

I always pack a second magazine, sticker book and a small toy in the suitcase, which I only bring out for the return journey. This way George has something new to keep him occupied again.

I hope the above tips will help you when travelling and if you have any others, we’d love to hear about them!

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We’re two Mums who are getting through motherhood one day at a time whilst enjoying Yoga and other ‘me time’ activities. We don’t profess to be experts in Yoga, Pilates, exercise, meditation, the human anatomy or medicine and we’re certainly not experts in parenting. We are simply sharing our experience and opinions and occasionally those of people who’s advice we value, and we’ll always reference them. If you’re unsure of starting any new exercise or practice, please consult your GP. And if you’re unsure of purchasing any products we suggest, please consult your bank balance!