The following suggestions for traveling with children are from flight attendants:
- Fly Early
This is your best chance to avoid delays. Early in the day the children are sleepy and more interested in staying put in one place.
- Use Layers
It can get cold in the plane. Comfortable layers that are easy to get on and off are a real plus, especially if a bathroom trip is needed.
- Switch Strollers
Instead of a regular-size stroller, use an umbrella stroller. If you’ve got more than one child with you, consider a child harness (leash). The airport is a very busy place and children are easily distracted and may get lost. Better to keep everyone safe and minimize travel stress.
- Seat children Away From the Aisle
Grabbing a snack from the food and beverage cart is tempting. No one wants those little hands burned from hot coffee or water.
- Use Pull-Ups
Even if your child has outgrown diapers of any kind, the use of pull-ups is less stressful than attempting to race to the bathroom or deal with an in-seat accident.
“The floor is a Petri dish,” a flight attendant confides. “You’re in the air, things jostle. That’s not just water on the bathroom floor.”
- Keep Calm
Life is not lived in a vacuum. People will be cranky from the car ride to the airport or some other life event and blame their frustrations on others. Worry about your child and do not engage with a passenger who complains the moment your child laughs. Remember, most passengers are on your side.
- Pack Snacks
Juice and water are available on the plane but often healthy snacks aren’t. Consider bringing some low-sugar snacks to munch, like toasted oat cereal, string cheese, or pretzels.
- Prepare for Changes in Air Pressure
Drink some water right after takeoff and again during the last 30 to 45 minutes before landing. The swallowing helps with the pressure and gives the added hydrating benefit.
- A Little Appreciation Goes a Long Way
Be kind to your flight attendants, especially during the holidays. They have families too, and may be missing them.
A note about flying and driving:
When flying, then driving, rent a car seat from the car rental company. Many major rental car agencies rent children’s car seats with the rental cars. Advance reservations are necessary. Or better yet, according to Consumer Reports, bring your own. Prices average, as of this writing, $10 per day per car seat and the child safety seats vary in age and quality. The seats may or may not have installation books.
Another option is to order a seat before the trip and have it sent to a friend or relative who can bring it to the airport for you to use in a rental car, or have it installed in their vehicle, then pick you and your child up from the airport.