Mums and dads – grandparents, godparents or carers – needn’t let a nightmare flight spoil a dream family holiday before it’s even begun. Follow these five tips and get the family holiday off to a flying start!
Kids pick up on stress, anxiety and other negative vibes, be as organised and as stress-free as possible. Leave in good time for the airport and expect to take twice as long to get through to the departure gate with kids.
Give a pre-flight pep talk
Airports can be daunting places for little ones, with lots of big people pushing past and rushing around. Explain to children in advance what will happen and what is expected of them, such as when they have to put teddies or clothing on security trays and that they have to sit down on the plane, wear their seat belt and turn off electronic games at take-off and landing. Speaking of which, out of courtesy to fellow passengers, tell kids they must turn off the sound or wear earplugs when playing on consoles.
Choose toys with care
With careful planning, ‘on board’ needn’t mean ‘I’m bored’; but think wisely about which toys to pack. Magnetic games and stickers are good options because the pieces are less likely to get lost. Dr Parry suggests packing several different items, but not getting them all out at the same time, so when children have had enough of playing with one thing, they’re presented with another – new – distraction. Wrapping them up as presents – perhaps in several layers of paper – adds to the fun and wastes a bit more time as the kids unwrap them.
Have some on-board family time
Tempting though it might be to spend the flight catching up on downloaded TV shows, or gazing out of the window pretending the children belong to someone else, use the time constructively and engage with them. Play guessing games, make up stories or just ask them about what’s going on in their little world. Many parents feel guilty at not devoting enough time to their kids, and a recent survey revealed a third wish they had more hours to do fun and educational things with their children. With few distractions at 35,000ft in the air, it’s a good time to start talking more.
Easy on the sugar
Refreshments can help pass the time on a flight, but planes and hyperactive kids don’t mix, so go easy on the sugar. Save sweets for take off and landing as the swallowing action can help prevent ears hurting. Milk is a good soother for kids of all ages and, for babies and toddlers, a drink of milk in a bottle with a teat is also soothing to ears when the plane is taking off or touching down.
Oh, and one more tip…
Avoid the mad scramble to disembark. Wait for all other passengers to leave, then pick up toys and other items that will undoubtedly have fallen under the seat. Then go off and enjoy the holiday!