After enduring the challenges of the pandemic, the world is gradually returning to a sense of normalcy. As a parent, you might be excited about planning your first family trip since the pandemic began. We just travelled to Ontario as a family, our first airplane trip in 3 years, and realize things have changed a lot on the last few years.
Flying with kids can be daunting, especially after a long break, and travel these days requires additional considerations to ensure your family’s safety and comfort.
In this blog post, I have compiled my top 10 essential travelling tips to help you navigate the new travel landscape and make your family trips enjoyable, stress-free, or at least more relaxed.
Air Traveling with Kids: 10 Essential Tips for a More Relaxed Journey
1. Plan and Book in Advance: Plan your trip well in advance to secure the best flights and accommodations. Booking early lets you choose seats together (you’ll probably have to pay extra for this, but I highly recommend it) and take advantage of the airline’s amenities, like pre-purchasing your meals, etc.
2. Pack Wisely and Try Carry On: Create a detailed packing checklist to ensure you have everything you need for the journey. Travel with carry-on luggage only if possible. You won’t need to wait for luggage to arrive at the pickup carousel after your plane lands, saving you precious time. Also, you won’t need to pay extra for checked bags and risk your luggage getting lost or delayed. If taking carry-on bags only, ensure the bag meets the carry-on measures as required by the airline; they WILL check your bag if it doesn’t meet their required standards. We purchased these inexpensive carry-on bags specifically for our trip and had no problem taking them on the plane as a carry-on.
3. Check Airline Safety Protocols: Familiarize yourself with the safety protocols implemented by the airline. Understand their mask policies, sanitation measures, and specific requirements for travelling with children. Knowing what to expect will help you and your kids feel more comfortable.
4. Choose Kid-Friendly Airlines: Research and select airlines known for being family-friendly. Some airlines provide extra amenities for children, such as kid’s meals, activity kits, and in-flight entertainment suitable for different age groups. Our youngest got some colouring sheets and crayons on our return trip, which we appreciated.
5. Arrive Early at the Airport: Give yourself ample time to get through security, check-in, and other procedures. Arriving early helps to reduce stress and allows your family to acclimate to the airport environment. Always check the flight status to see if it will be delayed or if it is on time, and remember that even if the flight shows a delay, you still have to show up at the airport on time (for any delays of around 3 hours), make sure you check with the airline for longer delays.
6. Utilize Family Boarding: Take advantage of family boarding if the airline offers it. This perk allows families to board the plane early, giving you more time to get settled and organized before the rush of other passengers; this is usually for children six and under.
7. Pack Healthy Snacks: Pack various healthy snacks your kids enjoy. Airplane food may not always cater to their tastes, and having familiar snacks can help prevent hunger-induced meltdowns. I remember some airlines used to give free pretzels or cookies. This last time we travelled we got nothing, they offered a free drink but no other snacks. Be prepared to pay for overpriced snacks on the plane or purchase ahead of time to save money.
8. Entertainment is Key: Keep your kids entertained during the flight to make the journey more enjoyable for everyone. Bring books, toys, tablets with games or movies, and noise-cancelling headphones to keep them engaged. Don’t expect every plane to have screens available to watch a show. Our son’s screen was broken during our last flight, so it was nice that we had packed a charged iPad for him to use instead.
9. Stay Calm and Positive: Children can pick up on their parent’s emotions, so try to remain calm and positive throughout the trip. If any challenges arise, handle them with patience and a sense of humour.
10. Celebrate Small Victories: Acknowledge and celebrate small victories during the journey. Whether it’s your child sitting through the flight quietly or following safety rules, positive reinforcement can make air travel a positive experience.
Air travelling with kids after the pandemic can be made easier and more enjoyable by following these ten tips. Plan, be well-prepared, and maintain a positive attitude throughout the journey. By doing so, you’ll create beautiful memories and set the stage for more exciting family adventures in the future.