The most stressful part of the holiday for most parents is the plane journey. Read these top tips before you fly and minimise your stress
Words Holly Kirkwood
Travelling with children, whether it’s a half an hour car journey or a 15-hour flight, can often be a fraught experience, and the summer holidays are usually peak time for fraught journeys. It’s lovely when you get there, of course, and you soon forget, but flying – and in particular long haul flying – with little ones is never a straightforward process.
Below are some tips which Air New Zealand has pulled together to make the process as easy as possible, sourced from their cabin crew, who have many years of experience of flying with families.
1. Burn off energy at the gate
Make sure to harness all the excitement of flying before boarding the plane. Let them burn off their energy by initiating activities that require their concentration or movement, such as I-spy as you journey through the airport and from the large glass windows at the gate. Another tip is to prepare a ‘spot the sights’ sheet, so they can track their journey through the airport, they could even win extra points for spotting your departure flight off the screen.
2. Take advantage of early booking
Book early to grab the most sought-after seats and those with bassinets to make sure you’re altogether, and have enough room for the family to spread out: face it it’s going to happen anyway.
3. Role play
Bring a few props along and role play the pilot and co-pilot. Ask your littles questions about the places they are taking you to, and how long it will take to get there. This will get them excited about the holiday destination and distract them from the long flight (for a few minutes at least).
4. Small headphones
Bringing your own child-sized headphones for the flight is a great idea. Most airline headphones are made for adults only and will be too big for your little ones. There’s lots to choose from, available in all sorts of colours and themes, made for young children.
5. Provide surprise activities
Ensuring kids are kept occupied is half the battle when it comes to having a hassle-free flight. Therefore you’ll need a bag of fun which can be stuffed iwth colouring books, pens, and pads, along with a quiz or something that requires their full concentration; it will keep them amused (and quiet) for longer.
Ensure you don’t get all the toys and activities out at once: drip feed small surprises throughout the flight. iPads can also be very useful, especially for little children who can’t reach the in-flight entertainment system.
6. Prevent little ears from popping – and boredom
Bring healthy and yummy snacks for the kids to chew and suck whilst landing will ensure their ears don’t pop due to air pressure – and for dull moments when they’re about to lose their patience.
7. Ask for help
Parents travelling solo should always feel they can ask for help from the crew. They are there to ensure you are at ease and can be wonderful with young children. Make sure to get off the plane last if you can, you can then get a helping hand from the cabin crew with your luggage. They’ll also help you check that you haven’t left anything behind.
8. Keep your cool
Flying with little ones is challenging and no one finds it easy. The most important tip for parents is to keep calm and not to stress if there are a few tears onboard. The cabin crew understand and are there to help wherever possible.
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