So you are thinking about taking your kids on a family vacation for the first time. Wonderful thoughts of spending carefree days building sandcastles and swimming in the ocean fill your head until you realize, wait, I have to take the children on an airplane! At first thought this may seem like an overwhelming prospect of how to keep the children entertained on a plane filled with other people watching your every single parenting move but it doesn’t have to be. After numerous flights with my kids starting when they were 6 months old, I have learned a few lessons along the way:
1. Snack, Snacks and more Snacks – My kids never want to eat airplane meals so I rely on my own snacks and easy to pack meals. I often scour the grocery store prior to a plane trip to find those new and different snacks that I wouldn’t dare feed them on a regular basis but know they will enjoy eating on a plane. When you think you have enough snacks for your 4, 5 or 6 hour plane flight, pack double to account for possible delays. And always remember to pack just as much in your luggage so you have something for the flight home.
2. Bring new things to play with – Do not rely on the goodie bags that some airlines provide you. All kids love new toys so a stop at the dollar store prior to leaving will do the trick. Good options are small items that don’t take up too much space and those that can be played on airline tray tables. Think crayons and colouring/activity books, small figurines, crossword puzzles and stickers. Please leave the play-doh at home.
3. Try to follow some home time routines – If you are taking an overnight flight you want your children to be as comfortable as possible. Make sure their travel clothing is easy enough to cuddle in, bring their favourite blanket and if your little ones drink milk before bed don’t be shy about asking the attendants for some assistance in warming it up. This will help your child be at ease and hopefully give you some reprieve while they drift into slumber.
4. Load up the tablet – Before tablets were invented we used to travel with a portable DVD player and cases full of DVD’s – who remembers those?? The best investment we ever made was buying 1 portable device for each child as sharing when you are sitting a few rows away is not going to make you popular amongst the other travellers. I always allow my children to load up 1 brand new movie they have never seen onto the tablet so I know it will hold their attention for a few hours. Remember to also load some apps that do not require wi-fi for hours of entertainment.
5. Relax – Kids will feed off of you and your energy. If you are well prepared and have a good attitude about the whole flying process, your children will follow suit.
So if you are thinking about that trip frolicking on the beach or sightseeing in Europe – go for it. I promise it will be better than you thought.
Clara Power is a Personal Travel Advisor and owns her own travel company based out of Vaughan, Ontario. As a family travel specialist she enjoys planning the perfect family holiday for her clients. She uses her extensive travel experience to over 27 countries to match her clients’ needs to the best possible vacation and helps to create seamless holidays that everyone can enjoy. For more travel tips follow her at www.facebook.com/ClaraPowerTPI.