Wanderlust has hit you but travelling just isn’t the same anymore with kids in tow and a whole lot more things to pack and things to do to keep them happy. It may seem unthinkable for you to go overseas with kids, yet most airlines set the minimum age restriction from two to fourteen days old. So, if that’s it for the airlines, why restrict your baby from travel?
It’ll be a new experience for the whole family and a new environment, which means a greater chance for fresh exposure and learning together. Other families have done so, travelling especially before the child turns two, to take advantage of special or free rates offered by most airlines.
But just how do you keep it all together, stay safe, be less stressed and still enjoy the holidays? Little Day Out shares some tips and pointers when travelling with kids on flights.
Travelling with Kids on Flights
We start first with the youngest. When one thinks of packing for babies, the first thing that comes to mind is typically the mind-boggling amount of space the nappy packs would occupy in our luggage bags. This is definitely a must-bring as you do not want to risk not being able to find the same brand of diapers your baby is used to in the country you are going to. Besides, the great side benefit to this is that it actually reserves luggage space for you to pack in fantastic finds from your shopping hauls at the end of the trip!
Things to pack
What are some of the other essential things to bring along especially in a hand carry luggage for a flight? Here’s the list of things to pack:
- Passports and tickets (baby’s own and yours).
- Expressed breast milk, formula milk (your usual brand) or cow’s milk. Generally, the usual restrictions on liquids you can bring on the plane do not apply to food or milk for your baby.
- Boiled water to make a feed (must be in baby bottle).
- Baby food, including snacks and finger food.
- Individual nappy packs that include wipes so you don’t have to haul your entire hand luggage to the toilet.
- Tissues and wet wipes.
- Nappy cream (the usual 100ml restriction applies here) so bring only a small container.
- Your baby’s favourite sheet and blanket as the smell will be comforting.
- Your baby’s toys (familiar and new), pacifier and smartphone/iPad to keep baby/child calm during flight.
- Biscuits/bread/books for yourself if you are travelling alone.
- A baby carrier/sling.
- Spare clothes and more layers for your baby as it does get colder on board the plane.
- Two spare tops and 1 bottom for yourself, just in case your baby’s food or vomit spills on you.
- A travel size antibacterial hand gel to keep any bugs at bay when you disembark.
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- Take the overnight, red-eye flight so that it coincides with your child’s sleep time and you get a good rest yourself.
- Get a bulkhead seat, which is a row without seats in front. Try to book early as these comes on a first-come-first-served basis. Most airlines have special bassinets, so your baby can sleep in comfort on board. If you have older children, get an aisle seat so that you can acquaint them with the world out there after take-off!
- Call ahead before your flight if you wish to book an infant meal. If your child is weaning, ask to see if the airline has any special weaning meals.
- It is a good idea to pack things in see-through plastic bags, so that the security personnel do not have to rummage through everything and contaminate pacifiers, nipples, and teethers when searching your bag.
- If you are travelling on board alone, your helper or partner can accompany you up to the gate (if you ask for permission or an escort pass), but they are normally not allowed to board the plane.
- If you are bringing a pram, you can normally use it up to the boarding gate. Some airports may require you to check it in upfront. Hand it over to the airline crew to stow away and see it on the other side!
- Bring a big heavy duty plastic bag to pack the car seat in so that when it comes out on the other side, the felt and cushioning is not dirty.
- Don’t board so soon! Let them stretch their legs around the waiting area and expend more energy before boarding.
- Feeding your baby milk or breast-feeding during take off and landing is the best way to keep them calm and settled. Offer the older ones some sweets to suck or snacks to chew on.
- Cabin crew would be happy to warm up your milk for you, or prepare boiled water for your milk. Ask for help from them when you need it.
- Most planes have diaper changing tables in the toilets.
Ideas to keep children happy and entertained on flights
- Observe the new surroundings together to help them feel comfortable. Get them to look out of the window, point to them the clouds in the sky and all the new perspectives they are seeing.
- Bring a neck cushion to keep them comfortable.
- Do the baby walk with them down the aisle to get some exercise but be sure that they do not disturb the other passengers!
- Let them watch the TV in front of them.
- Bring some small toys to keep them busy. If you get some new ones from the airport shops, those would normally keep them excited and busy for some time.
- Bring their favourite snacks on board.
- Give them drawing and colouring sheets. Airlines usually provide a goody bag with small game sets or souvenirs for children.
- Tell them a story.
- Draw pictures on the paper bag and make those into props for a talking hand puppet show.
- Make funny faces together and take pictures of yourselves.
- Play I-spy, Peek-a-boo or create a pretend play situation for them.
Remember, the key thing is to stay calm and be relaxed. Enjoy the journey!