Flying with kids is not easy! One of the most common questions parents ask is how to keep children happy on flights. Whether it is the child behind you kicking your seat or your own little ones screaming their lungs out during turbulence, unhappy kids can make flights feel endless.
The good news is that a strategic approach to flying with kids can completely transform your experience. As you probably have already learned from life as a parent, having a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can change everything.
Ready for a relaxing escape? Here is your ultimate guide on how to keep children happy on flights.
Plan Ahead Before You Get to the Airport
When it comes to flying with kids, preparation is everything. It might seem obvious to prep the essentials, but it’s so easy to lose track of the basics. When you are focused on organizing passports and finding confirmation codes, it is easy to forget the essentials.
Start creating a packing list a couple of weeks before you go. Write down absolutely everything that you use on a daily basis. Even if it seems like a self-evident thing that you would never forget, write it down! It may seem old fashioned and unnecessary, but actually taking pen to paper and physically checking off each item as you pack can be a game-changer.
Prevent Boredom to Keep Children Happy on Flights
The best way to keep children happy on flights is to stop boredom before it starts. Before flying with kids, find things that they will look forward to doing. If there is a movie that they are dying to watch, tell them they have to wait for a flight. If there is a new toy they want to play with, save it for the airplane. Make it like a mini Christmas!
If your kids love drawing and coloring, get them excited about making a picture of the plane. Flight attendants will be happy to accept drawings, and you can even ask your little tikes to request that they are delivered to the pilots. It is a fun way to get them excited about the whole experience and make it feel more interactive.
Bring tech for older kids like games or an iPad. Most planes have USB charging ports, so be sure to keep all of your cords handy.
Flying with Kid-Friendly Foods
Bring snacks and, ideally, even a meal when you’re flying with kids. Airline food isn’t always great, and fussy eaters might struggle. One of the best tips on how to keep children happy on flights is to keep them well-fed.
Airports aren’t a great source of good food. In fact, it is easy to spend a fortune on overpriced snacks, drinks, and meals that no one likes. While people tend to think that no liquids means no food, you can bring a good selection of eats onto the plane. You can pack baby food as well as breast milk or baby formula. Special drinks for kids are exempt from TSA regulations. According to them, “formula, breast milk, juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag”. Read all about it on the official Transportation Security Administration site. When you are finally on board the plane, do not be shy to ask a flight attendant for help with heating up bottles or any other essential task.
Tip- Stay hydrated! It is crucial for both you and the little ones. Flying with kids is much easier when everyone is well fed and watered. Adults need at least eight ounces of water for every hour in an airplane. While kids don’t need quite as much, they should be sipping throughout the flight.
On top of these additional drinks, you can bring a wide selection of foods. Most foods, in fact, can get through airport security. You can bring bread, cheese, and cooked meats, cooked eggs. This means you can bring sandwiches or just a range of bread, crackers, and cheese. You can even bring pizza for a very kid-friendly meal! If your kids are snackers, bring veggies with hummus, popcorn, or nuts. If you are short on time and space, pre-packed options like Lunchables are ideal.
If you are planning to travel outside of the United States, do your homework. While most airports around the world have similar policies, it’s best to avoid any surprises. Most of Europe (all of the European Union) follows the same regulations and you can read about them on the European Commission website.
Make Friends with the Cabin Crew
Everyone working on an airplane has had at least one flight with a crying baby or unhappy child. That is why cabin crew are happy to get ahead of things whenever they can. If there is anything they can do to make flying with kids easier, flight attendants are always happy to help. If you need a quick babysitter while you run to the bathroom or just want to get some extra pretzels, ask. While flight attendants can be busy, they will help you if they can. Don’t be shy!
Prepare for Landing
Things tend to be smooth up in the air. Take off and landing, however, can be a bit more stressful. Kids might get scared when their ears pop and it can be painful for young ones. If you are still bottle feeding, try to time it for the landing. The sucking will help to prevent pressure from building up. For bigger kids, a lollipop is a good solution. You can make it more fun by making faces too. Just opening your mouth over and over or making fish faces will prevent air pressure build-up as well.