A lot of parents think that it would be a better idea to hold off on any vacation plans until their kids are much older or at least until they are no longer in the toddler stage. But that isn’t always necessarily true. As a matter of fact, many airlines in the travel industry are making it easier for parents with younger kids to fly than ever before. Airlines know that family travel is big business and they want your trip to go as smoothly as possible from point A to point B.
With that said, we’ve got 10 things that parents of toddlers should keep in mind before they board their next flight.
10 Consider Your Flight Time
Just like mom and dad, kids can get pretty grumpy especially if they are expected to fly super early in the morning or super late at night. No one wants to be at the airport at 4 in the morning, right? That’s why you should consider the time you're flying while booking your flight.
Sure, early morning and red eye flights might be cheaper but if you want to avoid temper tantrums from your sleepless kid, choose the mid-day flight. You don’t want to get to your destination wishing that you never left in the first place. This way, everyone is happy.
9 Book A Direct Flight
If at all possible, book that direct flight. If you are flying alone, there’s a good chance that you can manage the aches and pains that are usually associated with connecting flights. But if you have a toddler, you want to make the trip as easy as humanly possible.
Travel Mamas writes, “As the parent of a baby or young child, it is imperative to keep the number of connecting flights to a minimum. Landing is typically what puts pressure on those little ears, causing the pain that makes babies scream on airplanes. Plus, less time spent in transit means less chances for a mid-flight tantrum.”
8 Pay Attention To The Pre-Boarding Call
Sure, your mind might be preoccupied on other things like making sure that your child doesn’t eat the goldfish off the dirty airport floor or trying to squeeze in as many emails and texts before you lose your Wifi connection on the flight. During this time, you should also pay attention to the pre-boarding call and board first with your kids.
Travel Mamas writes, “You may think you should skip the pre-board to ensure spending as little time as possible on the airplane with your little one. But getting situated on board a flight takes more time with a young child.”
7 But Exit Last
While you want to get on board that flight first with your kids, let everyone go ahead of you and exit last. There’s really no rush, especially if you’ve got a lot of baby gear with you.
Inc puts it this way, “At the end of the flight, just accept that you probably want to be last off the plane. You have a lot more stuff to gather than people traveling without kids: including the car seat, and maybe even a foldable stroller that's certified for storage in an overhead bin. Much better than gate checking, if you can pull it off.”
6 Check In Your Baby Gear
Speaking of baby gear, your life will be made much easier if you decide to check everything in before your flight. This includes your stroller, car seat or anything else you might not need on board your flight. You want your hands to be as free as possible in case you need to chase your energetic toddler around the waiting area!
Travel Mamas says, “Be sure to fold strollers before boarding. Gate checked items will typically be waiting for you in the same spot at your destination when you disembark but sometimes must be retrieved from baggage claim. Check with your airline before your flight regarding their gate check policy.”
5 Keep Your Child Fastened At All Times
Your child will want to wiggle out of their assigned seat the moment you board your plane. But by all means, keep that toddler buckled in their chair. You don’t want to be that mom who struggles to keep up with a running toddler in the middle of a flight.
Travel Mamas suggests, “Once your child tastes sweet freedom, though, you might struggle to get him or her back into the seat. An infant may want to stay in your arms for the whole flight. Meanwhile, a newly walking toddler may want to run up and down the aisle nonstop. Therefore, it’s best to stay securely fastened as long as reasonable.”
4 Sit In The Back
Sure, no one wants to sit in the back but if you are traveling with your family, it makes more sense. If you haven’t already noticed, that’s where all of the cool kids are, anyway! Believe it or not, that’s usually where the parents with kids are on most flights.
The families that travel together, commiserate together. Hey, we're being honest with you. Inc says, “If you're not flying business class or first class, and if you're not unfortunate enough to be so tall that you need to be in economy plus to be comfortable, you're better off in the back.”
3 Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time
Depending on what kind of flight you take, you might want to plan your meals ahead of time or at least pack as many snacks as you can to make sure that your child won’t be screaming bloody murder because he or she is hungry mid-flight.
While there are many long-haul flights that do offer meals, they might not be good enough for your picky eater. If you can, order a head of time or bring your own meals on the flight as long as it’s not a tuna and pickled sandwich. Consider the others on the plane, especially if they will be sitting next to you for hours.
2 Plan Your Own In-Flight Entertainment
Sadly, a lot of airlines are cutting down on their inflight entertainment packages. The most disappointing thing though is when you get to your seat just to find out that there’s no entertainment screen in front of you, especially if it’s for a flight that is more than four hours.
Inc says, “United only had their in-flight app, which is interesting enough, except that infrequent family travelers like we are didn't actually realize this would be the case until we were aboard. That meant a mad rush to try download the United app, and get it set up--all before the door closed.”
1 Expect The Worst (But Hope For The Best)
If you prepare for the worst, the flight might turn out for the best. Plan as if your child won’t take a nap. If they are super hyper and active before the flight, take them to a child-friendly indoor play area in the airport. Pack an extra outfit or a pajama.
Bring wipes with your just in case someone has an accident. Make sure that everyone’s electronics (including handheld devices, phones and back up screens) are fully charged and loaded. Pack crayons, coloring books and anything else to keep your baby occupied. And if possible, sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.