Air travel can be complicated when it is just you. Add children into the mix, and the situation becomes harder by tenfold. For every stage and age, you need something different--and that's just the packing. To make flying with kids easier, consider these tips for little travelers of every age to take some of the stress out of your journey.[caption id="attachment_78858" align="aligncenter" width="650"] .[/caption]
Babies can be the most difficult and the easiest. So much of how your infant will react to air travel is dependent on their temperament. Fussy or colicky babies often have a specific time of day (or night) during which they become the most uncomfortable. Avoid booking your flight during this time if at all possible. A less expensive flight will not be worth the stress and tears for you or your baby.
Be sure to have more bottles, pacifiers, clothes and diapers in your carry on luggage than you think you will need. If you're breast feeding, pack extras of anything you might need including breast pads or a nursing cover if you choose to use one. Favorite books or toys are always a great item to pack for older babies.
Young children can be particularly challenging on long flights. When taking a shorter flight, simple items like coloring books, small toys and favorite snacks for toddlers can keep them occupied long enough to prevent any meltdowns. If you have a particularly friendly crew and an inquisitive child, it can be a fun and educational experience to ask if your child may visit the cockpit.
Longer flights may call for more ingenuity. Portable puzzle cubes, word or picture searches and simple books are good for passing time. Having a few games on your phone for when they've exhausted other options is always the best back up plan.
It's important to have a change of clothes and a pack of wipes for this age group, as well, because you never know if they might become airsick or have a bathroom accident.
Avoid toys that are loud, electronic games that make noise and anything that might encroach on the space of those sitting around you.
Though it may seem like common sense, don't let your young child run up and down the aisles of the plane. It's not only a disturbance but a safety hazard.
Keep in mind that while stories have circulated on social media about parents of young children handing out “goodie bags” to appease fellow flight passengers, such offerings can put undue expectations on other parents who may not be able to meet the same demands.
Tweens, pre-teens and teens
Many kids in middle or high school now have their own devices or smart phones. This is the easiest age group to keep occupied. Be sure their devices are loaded with music and games. Don't make the mistake of forgetting to check what's actually stored on the device because once a phone is set to “airplane mode,” nothing from a cloud server will be accessible. It's also important to have multiple external back up chargers (fully charged) with you as well as charging cables, as teens run through battery power like it grows on trees.
Also have your pre-teens and teens pack an extra outfit in their carry-on bags. They'll be happy they did in the event that luggage gets lost or they find themselves in unexpected circumstances calling for a change of clothes.
Important carry-on items for every age
- Device charger
- Extra clothes
- Emergency contact card
- Any necessary medication