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Travel with Children Made Easy

Although traveling with children by any means isn’t easy, air travel has its own set of difficulties; confined area, other passengers, the flight attendant and being on an airplane just to name a few. Here are a some suggestions that may make the trip more enjoyable… for Everyone!

Planning and packing

Let your toddlers and school age children pack their own carry on bag. This will not only allow them to choose their most favorite activities, but will help them to understand that not all of their toys get a vacation too. Pack some extras in your own bag, but don’t let them know; that way they will have a few surprises to break-up the flight. Buy a few new toys or activities and wrap them up like a gift to add a bit of excitement to the flight.

If you have a portable DVD player, bring it! Along with some headphones and a few of their favorite movies, the airline won’t mind and it will keep the children quite for the other passengers. You may also want to download some of their favorite songs on a MP3 player so they can listen while they do other activities such as coloring or doing a puzzle.

Additionally, you should plan for illness during the flight or once you have landed. Always pack children’s pain reliever, cough and cold medication, gas and tummy aids and any prescription drugs they may need.

Getting through security

Always plan to arrive at the airport a minimum of two-hours prior to your flight. Let your children know what to expect when going through security so they won’t be overly frightened by the experience. Make it a game by letting them put their own carry-on bags through the x-ray machine and encouraging your children to walk through the metal detector on their own, if they are of an appropriate age. Stay calm if you are singled out for additional screening. Remind them that it is all a part of the game; this will help them to remain calm. Remember that the screeners are trained to deal with traveling families and will not separate from you children.

Safety FIRST

Everyone knows that it is not safe to travel in a car with a child on your lap. This goes double for airplane travel. Always make room in your travel budget for your children to have their own seat. Bring cars seats/booster seats for infants, toddlers and young child. This will not only keep them from being harmed in the event of turbulence or emergency landing, it will also keep them from bothering other passengers. A child’s car seat will also be a familiar and secure place to be while having this new and possible scary experience. There is also the added bonus of not having to worry about finding a car seat that is safe and/or clean to rent once you have reached your destination.

When booking your flight be sure to request seats that are not located in the emergency exit area or bulkhead seats. Take advantage of early boarding so that you can get the safety seats installed before the aisles are full of other passengers. Prior to installation, lift one arm rest to provide the extra room needed for the child seat. Recline the airline seat before installing the child’s safety seat then place the seat back in its upright position. This will make the child seat more secure during the flight. Wait until everyone is off the plane before disembarking. This will make removal of the seat and other carry-on items easier on you.

If you don’t like airline food, what makes you think they will?

Be sure to pack enough snacks and juice to get your children through the flight. If your children won’t make the trip without a glass of milk, be sure to bring a small cooler with milk. Always give your children something to drink or eat during take-off and landing to help their make their ears pop. Bring "sippie" cups or spill proof travel cups to use during the flight as well as a garbage bag to gather any trash or used diapers before disembarking.

Other Helpful Hints

  • No pre-flight naps
  • Take older children to the rest room prior to boarding the plane
  • Start infants out with a fresh diaper
  • Have children walk to the terminal if possible
  • Let children buy something at the gift store prior to boarding the plane
  • Let children watch the planes on the runway to make the wait more fun.

Related Article: Best Airplane Seats >>

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