Recommendations for flying with a toddler
Imagine being locked in a confined space, a metal box of sorts, with 250 people you have never met before. You are going to have to get up close and personal with them, share a bathroom, eat and drink together and even share the same air for the next 9 hours. Happy? When you think about it, air travel isn’t the most pleasurable experience for anyone, adults and children alike.
But if you want to dip your toes in the crystal clear Indian Ocean, explore the temples of Bali or hike the mountains in Oman, then you don’t really have a choice.
Hopefully, our tips on flying with a toddler can make this experience a little more pleasurable. How do you approach this when you now have a child in tow? Our CEO and founder Richard spent a year travelling the world with his wife and then 2-year-old son. Their son took his first flight at 3 weeks old, so there is no-one better to ask how to approach flying with a toddler.
- Start preparing for flying with toddler weeks in advance
Turn the whole concept of flying into one big game by letting children use their imagination. Go full hog. Dress up and buy a couple of items to help such as an airplane seat belt. This is one of the best tips on flying with a toddler as they can use all of their senses with a tangible item in hand.
Then turn your dining room into a plane, with your chairs set up in rows. You might need to go to the garage or attic to get your emergency Christmas chairs! Get teddy strapped in and run through a full game of taking off, food and drinks service, entertainment and landing. You can even use a small torch that tells your child when they have to be wearing their seatbelt. The more realistic you make it, the better. But if they have fun doing it, they won’t be as nervous when it is time for the real thing.
- Choose wisely
We have all been guilty of trying to save some money on flights, whether making a stop and not flying direct, or departing at 4am. If you can afford to book a direct flight at a reasonable time, then we suggest go for it. There are so many options out there to search flights but we find kayak to be a good source.
We get asked a lot if it is better to book a day time or night time flight and unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer. It really comes down to a number of factors. How well do you sleep on a flight? Is your child likely to sleep? What are your plans for when you arrive? How long is the flight? What is the time difference? What is the departure time? You know your situation better than anyone else so don’t always let price decide. Richard always flew nighttime flights with his son up until his son was about three and a half years old. There were some essentials that helped with the flying journey. They found that he was happy enough on a daytime flight and they were able to entertain him for most of it. This also meant that it had less impact on the adults rather than losing a night of sleep.
- Get your snack game ready!
Another top tip for flying with a toddler is prepping some of their favourite treats. Food can be a great tool for distraction to avoid emotional breakdowns. Prepare a wide variety of small snacks that are suitable for flights and packed into their own containers or reusable pouches. We highly recommend avoiding sugary and sticky treats as this will only create a mess and leave you with a hyper child. These can be brought out periodically throughout the flight. Depending on who you fly with, they’ll be much tastier than the in-flight options. (Worth noting that nuts will be banned on flights on some occasions so perhaps avoid).
- The greatest entertainer
In addition to a hamper full of treats and snacks, our tips for flying with a toddler include stocking up on new games and toys. Again these can be introduced every half hour or hour throughout the flight. Make sure your child hasn’t seen them before so the excitement of a new toy will last longer. Again, choose wisely. Avoid small pieces that will get lost or something that makes a mess.
- Pack it in
If you still have room in your carry-on bag, then there are a few other things you should consider having to hand. At least 2 full change of clothes is highly recommended in case of spills or accidents. Wipes are a must.
- Tag team
Taking it in turn, to play a game or share a snack, is a great way to keep each other sane. Walking laps of the plane is a great way to get your step count up for the day. However, it is only fair you let each other have a go.
- Enlist the help of an iParent
Screen time should be carefully managed but there are times when it just works, and this is definitely one of them. Make sure you have downloaded as many episodes of their favourite program as you can and have a selection of new games and apps to keep them busy for hours. It is also worth investing in a decent set of child friendly headphones.
- Lead by example.
This is something we frequently talk about but it is amazing how easy it is to forget. Check out our article where we discuss how important a concept it is for dealing with fussy eaters. Try and not let yourself worry about flying with children or get nervous about what might happen to them on a plane. They will pick up on this and in turn it will make them nervous. If they see you enjoying yourself and you are having fun with them, it could make the whole experience so much more fun.
Read more: Food for fussy eaters
Read more: Eat well. Travel often
It would be wrong of us to try and pull the wool over your eyes here. Will flying with your child be hours of fun and enjoyment? Probably not. Will you get through it?
Definitely! Try not to focus too much on the flight but go to your happy place…cocktail in hand, sand between your toes and creating the most amazing family memories.
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