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Taking your kids on a Disney vacation, a trip to visit extended family or some other faraway destination is something many parents look forward to. However, the reality of flying with toddlers or young children can be anxiety-inducing.
Fortunately, planning ahead and arming yourself with some simple supplies could ease your stress. From finding the best kids’ suitcase to knowing the best times to fly, these tips can help you avoid a crisis and have an enjoyable trip with your tot.
Choosing your luggage wisely can go a long way. For instance, the best kids’ suitcase will make it easier for you to travel. Look for luggage with wheels and a handle so your child can help pull it or even ride on it. Alternatively, you may prefer to ship your luggage separately.
Pack extra clothing, diapers and a comfort item in your carry-on bags. You will also want to bring any medication your little one might need, such as a pain reliever.
Talk About the Trip
When you are planning for your trip, explain to your child what to expect. If it’s their first time flying, talk in detail about what an airport is like, how you are seated on a plane and how long the flight will take. Give them a relevant frame of reference, such as, “It should take about as long as the amount of time you spend at preschool.”
Reading an age-appropriate book is another great idea. When they hear a story about taking a trip on a plane over and over, it will become more familiar (and less scary) to a young child.
Lighten your load by leaving the heavy gear at home and renting what you need at your destination.
Early-morning flights tend to be less crowded, plus they have a lower chance of delays. And since you’ll have to be up and out of the house at an unusual hour, your toddler might be more likely to nap during the flight.
If possible, book a direct flight to your destination. The fewer changes, the easier your trip will be on everyone.
Spring for a Seat
Although your little one might qualify for a free flight, traveling with your kiddo on your lap the entire trip can be taxing. If you are able, purchasing a seat for your tot can provide more wiggle room and may help you avoid being seated with strangers.
Let your little one sit beside you in the middle or window seat, as the aisle seat can be dangerous. Tiny hands may reach out to grab the beverage cart that may carry hot liquids.
Dressing your child in layers allows you to adjust for varying temperatures. Even if you’re not traveling to a different climate, it may be chilly at the airport and warmer when you arrive.
Ideally, your little one can wear socks and shoes that are easy to slip on and off. They may be more comfortable going shoeless on the plane.
Bringing a coloring book, a couple of action figures or a busy board can help keep your little one occupied and engaged, making the trip seem to go more quickly. If you allow your child to use a tablet for screen time, download movies or episodes of the shows they like before leaving home so that you don’t have to rely on spotty Wi-Fi for them to watch what they like with no delay.
Snacks can be an effective distraction, as well. Bring along kid-friendly foods like crackers, raisins, cheese cubes and baby carrots in containers with multiple compartments.
Prevent Ear Pain
You can also try giving them a drink during takeoff and landing. Younger toddlers and babies can suck on a bottle, and older kids can sip on some water or juice.
Use Wait Time Wisely
You’ll likely spend some time at the airport waiting to board your flight. Let your kids burn off some energy during this time so they’ll settle in more easily on the plane.
Many major airlines offer pre-boarding for families. If this option is available to you, don’t let it pass by.
Boarding early will give you the chance to find your seats, get situated and buckle in without a long line of passengers waiting behind you.
Loosen Your Expectations
Try not to worry too much if your toddler won’t nap, your kiddo only wants to eat dessert or you find out after the fact you didn’t get the best kids’ suitcase. Try to roll with whatever comes and do what’s necessary to make it through with your sanity intact.
Remember that this is as much a learning experience for you as it is for your child, and that we all learn even more from mistakes and mishaps. Do the best you can, go easy on yourself and make some wonderful core memories.