The lead-up to the holidays is always a mix of an acute sense of dread, anxiety about how it will all go, and a dash of excitement to get into the thick of the festivities. The most nerve-wracking parts of the ordeal are the flights.
Every day, an average of over 8 million people fly, but that number tends to skyrocket during the holiday season. Coordinating a seamless flying experience with kids at any time of the year would be a challenge, but these tips are essential for keeping kids of all ages happy during a long flight.
Bringing a baby on a plane is a big first for many families and can come with thousands of uncertainties and questions. When you’re trying to get the newest member of your family on a plane to meet family hundreds of miles away, be sure to know all of the TSA rules regarding infant travel.
Most airlines will not charge you for a seat if you keep your baby on your lap, but it can be worth it to spend the extra money on a seat for your little one. If your holiday budget allows, purchase the extra seat and bring a car seat for a secure place to strap in your baby when needed.
Pro Tip: You’re allowed to bring on board small jars of baby food, formula, and breast milk as long as it goes through security. Be sure to pack as many snacks as you need and full meals if the flight length calls for it.
To relieve your baby’s ear pressure, plan feedings during takeoff and landing. Swallowing will help with the pressure and keep them occupied during any discomfort.
While you may get lucky with your infant sleeping through an entire flight, the chances of that happening with a toddler get even slimmer. If you’re opting to hold your toddler on your lap during the flight rather than purchasing an extra seat, you’ll have an additional challenge.
Pro Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for an empty seat on the plane and don’t hesitate to ask a flight attendant if you can nab it before the flight takes off.
To keep toddlers busy, bring both electronic and non-electronic entertainment. They’ll likely sit for about 15 minutes of sustained attention when watching a movie or TV show on a tablet before looking for other things to do. Bring toys or makeshift entertainment to keep their fingers busy, like a days-of-the-week pill case filled with their favorite snacks.
For Older Kids
Traveling with children five and older can be slightly easier because they will understand the process a bit more, but you still need strategic plans in place.
To get your kids excited about traveling hours to get to grandma’s for the holidays, involve them in the planning process early on. Give them little tasks like picking out their Christmas day outfits, packing for their younger siblings, and looking up movie times for the big cousin outing. These jobs will make them feel like they have a role in the travel preparations.
Make sure you tell the kids exactly what you’ve got planned, from going through airport security to when you’ll make landing. For the actual plane ride, triple check that you have all of their books, electronics, games, and snacks to keep everyone happy while you’re in the air.
Pro Tip: Keep your kids informed. Letting them know whats coming up next can help reduce stress and tension.
Whether you’re traveling to see family during the holidays or you’re getting away to a beach vacation, a trip that 52% of survey respondents expect to take in the next year, you need a solid plan to get through the flights. Stick to your packing lists, expect the unexpected, and take some deep breaths to get through your travel itinerary.