Keeping kids happy and behaved at 30,000 feet is no joke. Whether it’s a short 40-minute flight or a long haul, preparation will save you a lot of trouble and disapproving stares from other passengers. Learning from co-parents, we were able to pull some practical tips that can help make your journey a bearable (or even pleasurable) one! Do note that we do not recommend nor condone the use of drugs for kids, on air or otherwise.
Plan various activities that can keep them occupied throughout the journey. Depending on the duration of the flight, kids will normally focus on one task for a good 20-30 minutes. Hence, make sure that your cabin bag carries as much small toys and activities they can do. From soft toys, match box cars, coloring pads or simple board games, make sure you are ready to keep them entertained!
If your flight does not include onboard entertainment, arm yourself with movies and child-friendly shows that you can download in advance on your tablets or mobile phones. This is probably the easiest way to give yourself an hour or so of silence and peace.
Snacks can do wonders too! Hungry kids can be extra cranky, so packing a full bag of snacks and treats can keep their tempers at bay. Just make sure to cut on sugar before and during the flight. Sugar high is no myth! It makes kids extra active, and surplus energy means more crawling and climbing over seats and running along the isles. Opt for dried or fresh cut fruits, healthy chips and small packets of milk or yogurt drinks.
Don’t forget the essentials. This includes common medicines, bug sprays and itch creams. A pack of wet wipes is also very handy for meal times, toilet breaks and for simply wiping surfaces that may be dirty. Anything to keep them from feeling extra uncomfortable or irritated!
Pacifier can help alleviate discomfort from ear pressure during takeoff and landing. Older children can be given lollipops. Again, just be careful not to load them with sugar so opt for sugar-free alternatives.
Role play with air police. Tell your kids that the cabin crew are secret air police who looks out for rowdy kids while also rewarding the good ones. Ask one of the stewards to give small treats (which you would have packed) when your child behaves. They will be happy to assist you, as a screaming child onboard is also the last thing they want to deal with.
Invest in a child locator device. There’s nothing more horrifying that losing your grip on your kids in the middle of a very busy airport. Simple devices that can be placed inside their pockets and can be triggered to alarm will save you the heartache. Some parents find the backpack leash useful. You can also place your calling cards inside their pockets, in the unfortunate event that they get lost. For older children, train them to memorise your information such as name and mobile numbers.
Lastly, precondition their minds. A few days or even weeks before the travel, talk to your kids enthusiastically about the upcoming fun vacation for the family as well as the activities they can expect. Giving them something to look forward to and anticipate will help them feel more positive about the trip and will less likely throw a tantrum.
Follow these tips and you might just get yourself a perfect flight, or at least a near-perfect, hassle-free one.
Have a good holiday!