Guest post by Jennifer Scott
Holiday travel can be an exciting but stressful endeavor for anyone. With all the things you have to worry about before leaving, such as making sure your home is secure, booking a pet sitter, and getting someone to water your plants, there are just a lot of things to keep track of. Sometimes adding a family with children into that equation can equal even more stress. Flying is usually the quickest way to reach your destination, but definitely requires some good pre-planning for a family traveling with children due to increased security and regulations.
Prepare in Advance
Whenever possible, add a few extra days to your trip to account for illness, airline delays, or inclement weather, and try to travel on off-peak days. You never know when these issues could pop up and cut into a perfectly planned holiday trip. Traveling on off-peak days lowers the risk of overbooking issues and crowded airports.
Find out about carry-on and checked baggage fees and requirements from your specific airline prior to your trip. These vary from airline to airline. Also, visit TSA.gov for current items and sizes allowed in your carry-on bags. This is good information to know when packing for kids to make sure you have room for their essentials, while still leaving some space for entertainment and snacks.
If traveling with a baby or toddler, bringing their car seat could be cumbersome, but beneficial. Most young children are accustomed to riding in their car seat and may actually resign themselves to the plane ride once buckled in. Sitting them on your lap may make them feel the need to want to get down or reposition during the flight. Just be sure to check with your airline about their policy for car seats.
Use your airline’s website to sign up for text and email alerts for flight delays and cancellations. You can also check in and print boarding passes online to speed up your process when arriving at the airport with children.
Book rental cars and hotels ahead of time. When you arrive at your destination, you don’t want to be scrambling with hungry, tired kids to figure out where you need to go.
Be prepared for weather at your destination by dressing the kids in layers. Sometimes the plane may be chillier than the airport or it might be a different temperature at your destination than from where you left, and you want to be able to keep kids comfortable during the trip.
Make the Flight Easier by Bringing Kid Essentials
Pack some filling but nutritious snacks. Avoid sugary snacks unless you want to unleash a sugar high mid-flight. Also, to lessen the possibility of ear discomfort on takeoff or landing, give infants a bottle or pacifier and give older children gum or something chewy to eat.
Keep kids busy while they are awake to distract them from boredom or fears of flying. Some quiet activities include coloring books or books to read, drawing or writing in a journal, or hooking up headphones to an iPad to watch movies or play games. Involve older kids in conversations planning what you might do during your trip or have them make a list of places they would like to visit while there.
Don’t forget to pack a few basic first aid staples. Anti-bacterial wipes, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer come in handy for cleaning up messes. Some medicines such as Tums and Benadryl can help with a quick fix for tummy aches or allergic reactions. Packing a few band-aids is helpful for handling small cuts that could happen during your trip.
Stay flexible and assume there will be some bumps along the way. Preparation and communication with your children on what they should expect and what is expected of them will make your flight a lot less stressful. Your family flight can be fun instead of hectic and be a great start to your holidays.
Jennifer Scott shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder.org.