Summer is the time for vacations and relaxing, but if you’ve ever been on vacation with children, you know that relaxing isn’t always the first word that comes to mind. Especially when flying with children, your anxiety can be on high alert and all you want to do is just get there and have the travel portion of the trip be over as quickly and as painlessly as possible. While there is always a chance of traveling mishaps that will throw a wrench into best-laid plans, having good plans for flying with children will make a world of difference, both in your stress levels and the children’s enjoyment levels.
Nobody likes to be hungry, especially children. Make sure to pack enough food for your travel time, and then a little extra, just in case of delayed flights. You want to choose foods that travel well, but are healthful enough (aka not candy) to avoid a sugar rush at 10,000 feet above the ground. Good options are carrot sticks, pretzels, goldfish, granola bars, etc. When you pack your carry-on bags, these should be placed somewhere easily accessible.
Yes, this goes against the sugar-rush advice given above –however, there is a specific purpose for this. When you travel in an airplane, your ears adjust to the pressure of the height, but children can often have a hard time with this. Allowing them to have a lollipop or chewing gum (something that keeps their jaws moving) during take-off and landing can prevent pain in their ears.
Pick up a smaller (½”–1″ width) 3-ring binder and fill it with activity sheets placed into plastic sleeves. Depending on the ages of your children, you can have mazes, crosswords, tracing letters for smaller children, even math and reading comprehension worksheets. Try to find sheets that cater to your children’s interests—Pinterest is a great resource for free worksheets that have a plethora of themes, such as Minecraft, Pokemon, and Barbie. To keep the sheets clean, include a pack of dry erase markers, and your kids can fill them out on the plastic sheeting, so they are reusable.
Who doesn’t love to decorate? Pick up a sheet or two of window-cling decals and let your kids decorate their window/wall throughout the flight. These are significantly better than stickers, as they peel right up without leaving any marks. Since they peel up easily, they can also be moved around during the flight for ongoing fun.
Again, this is dependent on the age of the child—but bringing books is a fantastic way to keep reading-age children occupied during travel. Especially if you are traveling for an extended distance, try to bring books that you don’t mind getting rid of as they are read–to free up space. There are Little Free Libraries in many locations, which are a great way to get rid of books when you get to a destination and pick up new books for the ride back. If you go to their website, you can even check in advance to find out where libraries are that are near where you’ll be traveling.
Many parents prefer not to bring children’s electronic devices on family vacations, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Movies and TV Shows can be downloaded in advance, as well as age- appropriate games. It is very important to make sure to bring chargers and headphones—you’ll be in an enclosed space with a lot of people who don’t all want to listen to Paw Patrol for several hours in the air!