How to travel with kids

Flight with kids- how to fly with kids and stay alive.

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The first time I flew with a toddler was when my eldest was almost two years old. I flew with him alone to Paris. I don’t remember overly dreading it, but on the other hand, it’s been almost twelve years since and I might have suppressed it… that was before the personal TVs and I remember he spent a big part of the flight listening to the earphones (that were huge on him), switching stations on the radio that used to be the ‘Multimedia’ package that came with the plane.
Since then two more were born and we gained, the four of us, many many flight hours. Including journeys of over 24 hours between airports.

But you’re not here to read about my flights with my kids.

You’re here to get tips. So here they are:

1. If you’re going for a short while and leave the car in the airport’s parking lot- take a picture of its location. It will save you the need to remember where it is the entire vacation.

2. Write all the flight details, the address you’re going to and everything on your phone’s calendar, under the flight date. Or just let google do it.. that way, all the info will be accessible to you both on and off line, both on your phone and on your mail (which you have access to from any device).

3. Small kids that are carryable in a Yuka- it’s the safest place for them throughout the entire airport process.

4. Strollers take with you to the departure hall and deposit them only when boarding. That way you’ll also earn the right to get it back the second the plane lands.

5. Put a personal mark on every passport. Even just small stickers in a different color for every family member, on the top left corner (of the cover of course). That will help a lot more than you might expect.

6. Dedicate one carry-on bag to all the electronics and the phones and all the other things they usually ask us to take out in the security check. Give it to a responsible adult (in our family the responsible adult is my thirteen years old son…). Beyond that bag, I like it when every child has with him his own personal bag.

7. Put in every child’s bag a small bottle of water/juice. Make sure they finish it before you have to give it over to security. That way you’ll know the kids drank before the flight (important). Keep the empty bottles. After getting to the duty-free buy a big bottle and use it to refill the smaller ones. That way you’ll know the kids have something to drink whenever they want, regardless of takeoff/landing times and whether or not there is a flight attendant around.
If finished, you can ask the flight attendants to fill the bottle with water or juice. In addition, before landing make sure the bottles are full. Sometimes it takes a while before getting to a place where you can buy more water. That’ll help you relax even if you see a very long line ahead in immigration.

8. Today in the age of personal TVs flying with kids is heaven. The kids are glued to the screen. But in case they aren’t- small coloring books, stickers and some colorful pencils are a solution that doesn’t make a mess, doesn’t weight anything and doesn’t take up any space. Occupation for hours.
The kids can dedicate the finished artworks to the nice flight attendants.

9. Flight with babies or very young kids– consider sending a package to the hotel or the address you’ll be staying in on your first day of your trip. If it’s a modern country simply use the delivery service of a supermarket near the address. Send yourself a package of diapers, wet wipes and other useful things that it’d be a shame to carry with you all the way. And they should be ready and waiting when you arrive.
In many places you can ask this of the owners of the hotel or lodge. Explain that you’re coming with a young kid, after a tiring flight and if it’s maybe possible to make sure a few necessities are waiting for you in your room or the reception. Especially if you’re arriving early in the morning or late at night.
You can go large and ask to have a meal waiting for you. Just knowing that you have a meal and the basics waiting for you at the hotel should help relax you the whole way there.

10. Going for a long time or with lots of bags: when checking-in your luggage do it by weight, heaviest first. This way, if it’s overweight and you need to move things around it won’t be too much of a problem. (Bags that are weighted first are also tagged and sent on before the other bags are even weighted. There could be a situation where you already sent the light bags and now the heavy suitcase is the last one left and it’s a bit too heavy…)

11. If you have a night to pass in the airport between flights, I always ask the attendants in the first flight to take the blankets with me (there are those that give freely and those that ask you to return them to the company office before the next flight). So the kids can sleep all snug and comfy even in a busy airport bench. I always look for a place near bathrooms and away from the heavy traffic.

12. The first thing we do when entering the duty-free is check exactly where is our gate. Just to see how long it will take to get there. Check how long is left until boarding and manage our time accordingly.

13. Flight is the ultimate time to use all the free samples that have been sitting in the closet for months. Tiny face cream, tiny toothpaste, a drop of perfume. All the big containers put in the big bags, only take with you a few small things that in some situations can make your day.
Give every child an individually packed wet wipe. Just in case.

14. Some airports demand a special form on border crossings. Both for exit and entry. Check the requirements in advance at the airport’s website. If possible print the forms and fil them at home. That will save you a serious headache. If not, ask a flight attendant enough time in advance if she has immigration forms. It takes a long time to fill five of those and it’s better to do it on the plane in comfort and save time at the airport.

15. In many lists and websites I saw they recommend giving the kids small gifts during the flight, to keep them busy. I don’t think that works. Kids not used to flying will be overexcited anyway. They’ll be busy checking-out their new environment, and excited for the unknown future towards which they’re setting out. To challenge them with presents will only add to their excitement and in my opinion get an opposite result. It’s better to let them be excited and explore their new surroundings, cooperate with them, answer their questions and contain this experience for them with calm, safe, empowering energy. Let them calm down in their own pace. It’ll come. And then they’ll probably just fall asleep.

16. Check in advance how much a taxi should cost from the airport to the address you’re going to be staying in. if you haven’t had the time or haven’t managed to find out- you could always ask a local on the plane with you. As a rule, it’s always best to talk with people that live where you’re going on the plane, ask them some questions and get some ‘insider’ information. Sometimes even friendship comes of it :-).

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