Try to relax and don’t get over anxious with the build up to the flight. There’s a high chance it will all be fine and that worry will have been for nothing and if something does go wrong, just ask for help. And smile. Lots.
If you have kids with ASD or sensory issues it is helpful to prepare them in the lead up to the flight on what they can expect and pack items that are likely to keep them calm. There are some great books available on what to expect from arriving at the airport, to boarding the plane and also what to expect during the flight. Travel identity bands are great if your child is likely to run off at the airport. I have also seen parents write their mobile number on their child’s hand.
Get organised and plan ahead for the flight
Pack two cabin bags. One with snacks, wet wipes, small pillow/blanket , comforter, grobags and a change of clothes. Pack both summer and winter clothes and a jumper as you can never be sure what the temperature will be like onboard and also at your destination. Pack another bag with toys/technology/charger etc.
First Aid Kit – Pack some bandaids, thermometer and pain relief. My daughter fell sick on the plane when she was little and I thankfully had these with me. Antihistimine is also helpful to carry in case of an allergic reation.
Request a toddler or child’s meal when booking. I always pack snacks and a meal for the kids as well and if they eat the plane food that is a bonus. Better too much than not enough. I like to pack a range of healthy snacks that I know they enjoy and some treats too. A lollipop or juice can help with the kids ears on take off and landing as well as a bottle or breastfeed for babies and toddlers. The squeeze pouches are great as they save mess and are a novelty for little ones.
Entertaining the kids on a flight
The key here is to keep it new and exciting. I like to pack a backpack for each child with some new toys and activities. This way the kids can get up and choose a new activity themselves when they need.
Quiet activities such as Colouring In, Aqua Doodle, Magnetic sets, Sticky Mosaics (You can get plain cardbord ones or cute little purses, bags etc), Lego cases and Playdoh (I like the themed kits where you can make designs). There are also plenty of free printables available online. My kids are entertained for hours with these free printables from Picklebums.
If your little one is like mine and is not interested in the iPad or TV yet, or they have a short attention span, entertaining them for the flight can be a little more challenging than with older children. Great activities for older Babies and Toddlers include things like; books, felt busy books, a pill box with little things in that he could open and close (amazing how much time this killed), threading snake (DIY ribbon and felt squares or shapes). Purchase a few new toys for the flight. You can pick up some great items from the cheap shops like farm animal sets, dinosaurs and fairy sets. I wrapped a few new toys up in tissue paper and let the kids open something every hour. This kept them occupied for a while opening them. Stickers are also good for fine motor and takes a lot of time!
On our first flight I spent what seemed like most of the flight picking up toys and items off the floor. While packing for the next flight I thought…there must be a better way. Be sure to pack Blu Tack or velcro dots to stop the pencil cases and other items falling on the ground, it really is a lifesaver. For Toddlers it is also helpful to add velcro to a clipboard and wrap velcro around each crayon and stick them on there.
Technology is your friend. Pack your ipad and have some apps ready on your phone should you need this as a last resort. Download some new apps and movies that the kids haven’t used before as well as the trusty old favourites. Save it for a last resort and believe us, you’ll need it. Purchase a pair of kids headphones that will fit their little ears confortably. They also restrict the volume so that they can’t hurt their ears if they turn it up too loud. Don’t forget a converter jack should the kids wish to watch inflight entertainment.
Getting to and from the flight
Baby carriers are a life saver when travelling, especially when travelling alone. Just be mindful that you need to take them off when going through security screening which is tricky (especially in US with so many checks).
Seat Requests & Travelling with Prams
Book a bassinet if your child is under 14kgs. Some airlines only take babies with a weight limit of 10kg, so it is best to check with your airline. Check out websites like www.seatguru.com to find the best seat. If you have a toddler that likes the arm rest up so they can sleep on your lap keep in mind most bulk head seats ( bassinet) don’t allow this.
Seat guru can also tell you where the toilet with the change table is so you can book close to this. Carry a toilet pack, which just has the essential you need for one change. There is no room in those toilets for a big nappy bag.
If you are checking in with your stroller and car seat and can’t get a plastic travel bag for the items I highly recommend bringing along your own cheap glad wrap or roll of bubble wrap and wrap it yourself. It’s amazing how easily they can be damanged in transit and this just adds a little protection.
Choosing an Airline
Stay loyal to one airline such as Virgin and do family pooling of your points. It makes it easier to reach silver or gold status quicker.
Virgin also have a great point of difference where you can do a pregnant pause on your status credits. Basically they understand when you have a new baby you are not going to be flying (applied to dads as well) so they give you extra 6 months to make your goal.
Arriving at your Destination
If you are travelling Domestically within Australia you can visit www.whatson4littleones.com.au to find things to do, parks to visit, family friendly events, school holiday ideas and much much more. We also have International online directories for the UK, Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland and Ecquador.
Do you have any travelling with kids advice of your own? We’d love to hear it! Tell us in the comments below.
This post is part of an entry to the Virgin Australia competition for the Problogger Event