With the prospect of Summer holidays becoming more and more real this year, it’s time to start thinking about how we can keep our children happy on long haul flights. If you are a family who can afford to go on holiday to tropical locations, it will be a fantastic experience for your little ones, and fear of what could happen on the flight there and back shouldn’t stop you from going.
These tips are really simple and can help to keep children happy, to enable you and the other passengers to be as relaxed as possible. Expect a few hiccups along the way, yet with these tips you will be as prepared as possible to deal with anything!
Get To The Airport Early
The first thing you can do to keep your little ones calm and happy is to arrive at the airport early. There will be nothing worse than having to rush through security and the departure lounge frantically trying to find your gate to make the flight.
If you have a very early flight, it is advisable to stay in an airport hotel the night before, as this will help to minimise the disruption to your children’s sleeping patterns and it will take away some of the panic. Whether you are travelling to the airport the day before to stay in a hotel, or on the day of your flight, try to arrive at the airport three hours before your flight.
By arriving early, you are giving yourself plenty of time for potential delays at check in and security. It will also enable you to stay nice and calm, which is important in setting the tone for the rest of the flight. Once you arrive in the departures lounge (likely to be 1.5 or 2 hours before your flight after checking in and going through security) take the little ones to the toilet. Then, find a comfy spot to have something to eat and have a look around the shops to allow them to stretch their legs.
Keep an eye out for announcements about where your gate is, and head over there as soon as you can. On your way there, go for one final toilet stop to reduce the amount of times they will need to go on the plane. Let them have one final run around before getting onto the plane! This process should help them to burn some energy and go onto the flight feeling relaxed. If they are agitated or made to feel nervous before even getting on the flight, that is when issues are likely to arise.
Pack Plenty of Snacks
Toys can only keep kids happy for a certain amount of time, so food is the way forward! When a child feels nice and full, they are more likely to feel content. The trick here is to pack plenty of variety. Invest in lots of little plastic tubs so that you can offer your child different options to help them feel in control.
If plane food isn’t included, pack a sandwich or something similar that they can eat at the start of the plane journey. Take a few dried snacks like raisins, cheesy crackers and rice cakes. Then, you should also pack some fruit and sweet treats.
Avoid anything that could cause potential mess and added stress for you! Things like yoghurts that can easily cause mess should be avoided to make your life easier. Remember to pack plenty of wipes to keep your child nice and clean so they don’t feel uncomfortable.
You can always buy food on the plane if you need to, but having plenty of snacks that you know your child likes will ensure that you have backups in place if necessary!
Have An Individual Bag for Each Child
Finally, having an individual bag packed for each child is a fantastic way to keep them occupied, as well as giving them a sense of responsibility. Choose a sturdy bag for yourself with plenty of space and compartments, like a leather baby changing bag, to help you feel organised and to keep all of the essentials safe.
Then, have a small bag for each child and allow them to choose a few of their favourite toys, including some that are interactive, to keep them occupied. Avoid any toys with small parts, as there will be nothing worse than them losing a piece of their favourite toy! Things like colouring books, relatively big action figures and removable jelly window stickers are great options.
A few days before the flight, sit down with your child or children and start talking to them about the flight in an exciting way. Saying things like “you can take your toys on to the plane and play with them as much as you like” will help to instill positive feelings about flying. In your bag, pack a new toy that you know they will like, as this will keep them occupied for slightly longer than the toys they play with everyday.
Long haul flights can be tiring, uncomfortable and stressful for your little ones at times, so it is important you are prepared to help make the process as simple as possible for them. Make sure that you get to the airport early, pack plenty of snacks that are easy to eat and have an individual bag for each of your children to keep them occupied and happy!