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ROAD & TRAVEL Travel Advice: Flying with Kids

Flying with kids in tow? - Use these tips for easy travel

by Jessica Howell

"Are we there yet?" The never-ending question bounces off of airplane cabin walls every day and can be heard in airports 'round the world as families navigate strollers and luggage through crowded terminals. And if you haven't taken your child overseas yet, or been stuck sitting next to a family traveling across borders, it's likely that you will sometime soon.

In a recent survey of travel professionals, 42 percent say they are booking more international trips for parents with children, the top international destinations for families being the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe.  

International travel, however, means long flights in cramped spaces - not a good combination for little ones who like to squirm and play. How can you make flying easier for yourself and the travelers around you?

Start ahead of time by calling your specific airline and inquiring about child pricing and rules. You don't want to be surprised once you've arrived at the airport. Most suggest that you have the child's birth certificate on hand and will offer a 50% discount to infants who will be taking up a seat in a child carrier.

Now is also the time to request a child's meal should your flight offer food services, and to ask about diaper changing facilities on the plane. It may seem like a minor necessity, but on a long flight, a diaper-changing station in the restroom is an absolute godsend.

When it comes to packing, be sure to include those items that will keep your child occupied, and hopefully, quiet. Snacks like goldfish crackers, Cheerios and pretzels are some good, unmessy options that can be easily bagged and stored inside of a carry-on. You may want to pack some wipes in the carry-on as well, even if your child isn't in diapers. It's much easier to clean hands in your seat than to squeeze into the aisle and share a restroom.

Bring your child's favorite toys and a few new surprises if possible. Also be sure to pack their favorite blanket or comfort item. Planes can be scary to kids that haven't flown before.

It's also a smart idea to stick a few empty plastic baggies in your carry-on just in case motion sickness kicks in. A change of clothing is advisable for the same reason.

When you get to the airport, double check that you haven't been placed in an exit row. If so, you'll be required to move since children aren't allowed in these rows. In fact, you may want to consider a window seat, especially on a child's first flight, so they can look outside easily.

When ascending, have chewing gum handy for children, ear plugs for toddlers and a bottle for babies, all of whom may be affected by the cabin pressure changes.

Lastly, if bad behavior ensues, don't ignore it. Handle your child with the appropriate response and consequences so that other passengers know you're trying your best. After all, many have been through similar situations and will hopefully be understanding. If all else fails, offer up those ear plugs to your neighbors, they may just accept your offer.

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