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Tips for Traveling with Kids

How to Stay Sane When Traveling With Kids

by Courtney Caldwell

Anyone who has traveled with kids knows it's no easy task. It doesn't matter if it's on a road trip or a plane. At least on a road trip, you can stop at rest areas and restaurants to stretch your legs or for a change of scenery. In an airplane, you're stuck.

No doubt most of us have been on a flight with screaming babies or toddlers who kick the backs of our seats. What's worse is the parent not doing much to stop the little bugger.

Lack of preparation by the parent is usually the culprit in those situations. Not only does it end up a nightmare for the parent, but it also becomes very stressful for the child. Passengers seated near the screaming child might start shooting dirty looks at the parent, who puts more pressure on the child to behave. This can easily be avoided with the right pre-flight preparation, which will make for a much more pleasant flight.

Here are a few tips to help make your flight with children a smooth one.

Consider the length of the flight. Most toddlers have a difficult time sitting still for long. Make sure you bring his/her favorite toys, blanket, games, books, and snacks. Other than a pair of cheap little plastic wings sometimes given out by flight attendants, there is nothing on a plane that will entertain your child, so come prepared.

Kids are fidgety and need to move. If your child is of walking age, it's fine to escort him up and down the aisle to stretch his little legs. Don't feel as if you have to keep your child in your lap or the seat for the entire flight. If your child is under six years old, you should always accompany walks around the plane or to the restroom. Your child may give a greeting to every person he sees, which most passengers prefer over a screaming kid. There are also porthole windows at the exits that entertain kids with a view of the world. They're never too young to start learning geography. Explain where you are and where you're going.

A sure way to instigate a problem on the aircraft is allowing your child to kick the back of the chair in front of him or bang on the tray table. This will surely inspire a head spin from the passenger in front of you.

Airplane food is unsavory, plain and simple. And because of budget cuts most flights no longer serve meals on flights that are less than four hours long. So be sure to check beforehand and/or bring your child's favorite meals in a plastic container or baggie. It's wise to also bring plenty of his favorite fruits and snacks.

Kids tire and bore very easily. If you're a parent, this is not news to you. That said, they bore quickly of their own toys too. Bring a few new toys they haven't seen yet. Leave them unopened. Opening new toys can be entertaining for kids. Crayons and coloring books do wonders. Feeding his sponge-like curiosity will quell his need to fidget, at least for a while.

If you have children, you know that cabin pressure, especially on take off and landing will affect your child's ears, which is why so many cry after take off. Have a bottle or a pacifier ready. The sucking motion may help unblock their ears.

Try to schedule your flight before your child's naptime or bedtime so that he can stay on his schedule and sleep on the plane.

The length of flight is key. Make sure you bring enough provisions and distractions for the duration of the flight. Otherwise, you may hear someone yelling at you to 'shut your kid up or we'll throw you off the plane.' And if they're not saying it, they're probably thinking it. Have a safe and stress-free flight.