You and your family are in a confined space with little to no room surrounded by strangers and you cannot leave when you want. The air is stuffy and there is no elbowroom. That scenario sounds like a nightmare, but in reality it is travel by airplane. Now see this same picture through the eyes of a small child. However, the child is expected to be quiet, stay seated, not wiggle, and somehow entertain himself for an extended time period. This situation is challenging to say the least.
As a parent there is no way you can prepare for everything that could happen while on a plane with your children. However, advance and creative planning may save you in some cases. Make sure you have the travel documents together, have an entertainment bag for the kids, review a safety plan and security plan, and pack your patience for the flight.
Days or even weeks before the trip, gather and review all of the proper paper and documents for the trip. Consider using an accordion folder with a labeled pocket for each family member. Put the folder in your carry-on bag once you have determined it is ready for the trip.
Pack a small carry-on bag with games, a tablet, music, some ear buds, crayons, a snack or two, and a beverage for each child. Be creative when you pack. I always stick a new game or toy in the bag as a surprise. A new toy will hold you child’s attention longer than a toy or game they are all ready used to playing with. With the baby, make sure the pacifier, blanket, bottle, and extra diapers go in the bag. The pacifier is very important in case the baby is impacted by the air pressure on his ears. Sucking on his pacifier will relieve the pressure.
A busy airport is a parent’s worst nightmare if a child gets away from them. And there are times when you are focusing on boarding, making the gate, and gathering the luggage. At those times, you need to make sure that someone always has small child duty. Know who is on watch before the trip begins. Also have one common spot that is at every single airport that your children know to go to if they get lost; such as a popular fast food chain. Discuss all of these safety and security measure several times in the days before getting to the airport.
Patience is important to a successful flight. If the trip starts with you angry with your child for wiggling or frustrated that the baby was crying inflight, you have set the wrong tone for your vacation. Pack your patience along with all of the other important travel items you have brought, it is just as important as they are to the success of the trip. Keep in mind that there may be a few bumps in the road, but that before you know it you will have arrived at your vacation destination.