If you're planning on flying, and you will be taking your children with you, you could be walking into a nightmare situation, not only for you, but for your children, and your fellow passengers too. I personally have had the misfortune to be sat next to a young child who managed to scream her head off for most of the two and half hour flight while her mother muttered apologies and platitudes, but was obviously ill-prepared to deal with the situation. So in an effort to try and stop you from falling into the same unfortunate situation as this ill-prepared mum, here are some tips that might help to make the experience a little more palatable for all concerned.
Sitting Up Front
If you are booking your ticket online and you have the option to select your seats, it's always a good idea to choose seats towards the front of the plane rather than the rear. The reason for this is that it is much quieter to sit in front of the engines rather than behind them. There's also the possibility that there won't be anybody sat in front of you (less people to annoy).
Mingling With Other Children
If you happen to be travelling with one of the airlines that doesn't allocate seat numbers, and you get the choice to sit where you like, it's always an idea to lookout for other mums and dads with children of similar age, (a) because it's possible that the children may mingle and entertain each other, and (b) other mums and dads in a similar position are likely to be more understanding and forgiving if your child or children do happen to play up.
Take a DVD Player
These little life savers do not cost too much money yet when travelling with children, they are priceless. Purchase a film or two that the kids have not seen before and let them know just prior to flying that they will have some new movies to watch during the flight.
Window or Aisle?
Lots of you will have a slightly different take on this, but for me personally, I would always go for a window seat. The reason for this is that there's more things going on outside (especially when you're still on the ground), to keep your little darling amused, and if all else fails, there's always a window blind to fiddle with.
Fighting Off boredom
Boredom can be a real killer. Once you've gotten a bored child on your hands, you're in trouble. So best be prepared by making sure that you’ve got plenty of books and toys for your little ones to read and play with. There's nothing quite like taking something new out of the bag every few minutes to keep our little travellers amused and interested.
Take A Pillow
Flying can be uncomfortable at the best of times so you may want to think about taking a small pillow with you. With any luck, you have calculated your flight time just right and the little one will be ready for a good sleep.
Keeping In With The Old routine
Children get used to doing things at certain times of the day and night, such as eating and sleeping; so if possible you should try and make sure you book flights that are conducive to not interrupting these routines, especially as a tired child is always a grumpy child, (so is a hungry one).
Relieve Air Pressure Ear Pain
One of the biggest problems about flying, (and this applies to all of us, not just children), is the change in air pressure which can sometimes play havoc with our eardrums. Of course it's even worse for small children and babies who can't really understand what's happening.
One way of minimising air pressure discomfort, is to give your child a snack or two to eat during the flight. This gets the jaw moving and helps to open the Eustachian tubes in the ear which when blocked are the cause of the pain. You can also try giving the child regular drinks and if old enough a sweet to suck on or some chewing gum to chew.
Another way of relieving air pressure discomfort for children is to use a product such as “EarPlanes” which have been proven to minimise ear pain and noise. EarPlanes can be purchased online or at your local pharmacy and are simply inserted into the ears around half an hour prior to landing.
The Kitchen Sink
Unfortunately you can't take the kitchen sink with you when you go flying, but it is best to make sure you got as many of the little necessities with you for those unforeseen accidents; so it's always good to have plenty of wet wipes, spare nappies, and a supply of towels.
Involving The Stewardesses
Stewardesses can be very helpful, as a can Stewards too of course, so why not give them the opportunity to get involved by introducing your little ones to them. They can just help to make things that little bit easier for you, they may even have some special little activity packs for children-you never know your luck!
Image courtesy of haza_a on Flickr.
February 16, 2012