Flying alone is always a pain, so it is no surprise that adding children to the mix can guarantee the maximum stress level during your trip. Children can feel environmental factors during the flight more acutely than adults, and the change of scenery/pace can send the most stoic of children into a tailspin. So, is there anyway you can lessen the load of stress involved with flying with children? The answer is yes, you can. We offer no guarantees, but these tips have worked for some of us, and any chance of lessening your stress and saving your sanity is worth a try in our book.
Before the flight:
For those children who can comprehend, it may just pay off to prepare them for the travel ahead, whether it is their first time on a plane or the umpteenth time. Explain the walk to the plane from the cab ride through the security line and onto the plane. Set limits and rules for what your child can do, explaining the limitations of flight travel and airport security. Try to explain about turbulence and changes in air pressure & what such changes can do to your child physically. Place focus on the fact that there will be loud sounds and strange people talking to them at any point, and that they need only to turn to you for explanation. It might be beneficial to purchase a book on the experience for your child. We recommend Going on a Plane (First Experiences) by Anne Civardi and My First Airplane Ride by Patricia Hubbell both for Preschool ages 4-8.
During the flight:
It will pay off to have something familiar for your child to hold for comfort. It can be anything from his/her favorite stuffed animal to a special blanket or a favorite toy. If your child enjoys working on things with you, you may consider bringing a coloring book, small puzzle or books for you to read together. Small electronic devices with headphones can save you from having to comfort a small child during times of loud noise. Keep small inexpensive gifts to surprise your child with if they behave properly on the flight. The novelty will make the flight a time of amusement and fun. Make sure to pack some sort of snacks to supply your child on the flight, as hunger can be a major game-changer when it comes to appropriate behavior. Try to schedule your flight during your child’s nap time if possible. If not possible or not applicable, shoot for early am or late pm flights. The flights themselves will be emptier, and hopefully quieter.
After the flight:
Talk to your children about what happened during the flight, and the mental and physical challenges it consisted of. Make sure to reward good behavior.