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16 tips to survive a plane trip with children

Traveling with children can be challenging, as all parents know. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce stress and nerves. Get your family to travel without incident by following these tips.

1. Book online. Instead of dragging the kids to a travel agency where they’re bound to get bored while you go through your options with the agency, check out online travel websites. You can spend as much time as you need once the kids are in bed or while they’re at school.

2. Book everything in advance. That means arranging and paying for not only plane tickets, but also hotel and car. When you arrive at your destination, you won’t have to drive around trying to find a vacancy, you’ll simply pick up the car and go directly to your hotel. You can even take a virtual tour of many hotels online.

3. Be prepared. Bring toys and things to keep your children busy on the plane. For older kids, surprise them with a fun travel game, a new Game Boy cartridge, or a coloring book. If the flight is going to be particularly long, buy several treats beforehand and stash them in your carry-on, pulling out a new item when the kids get bored and whiny.

4. Build anticipation. For children ages 2-10, it can develop the idea of ​​flying, especially if they haven’t been on a plane before. Learn about the type of plane you’ll be flying in and talk often about how exciting it will be before you leave.

5. Snack pack. Sure, airlines offer snacks, but some companies are cutting back on freebies like peanuts (which aren’t appropriate for kids under 2 anyway) and cookies. To make sure your child doesn’t get cranky waiting for their meal, bring them Cheerios or a sandwich.

6. Siblings separated. If your kids tend to fight, it might be a good idea to sit down with each other! This keeps them from fighting over elbow room at least and keeps them at arm’s length so they can’t hit each other. Change seats mid-flight if a window seat is involved to avoid problems.

7. Play music. Bring an iPod or Walkman for each child so they can listen to music. It helps calm the nerves and keeps them busy for a long time!

8. Layer of clothing. When flying from one hemisphere to another, there are weather changes to be aware of. If you’re flying out of warm weather but landing somewhere cooler, remember to bring sweaters for everyone on the plane. They won’t help you if you have them all stuffed in your suitcases. And, if you’re going to be landing somewhere warmer, remember to wear light clothing under your winter gear.

9. Hold on to them. In a crowded airport, it is very easy to lose a little one. Even if you lose sight of your toddler for a few seconds, he’ll have a heart attack and it’s best to avoid the situation. All children under the age of 10 must be required to physically touch a parent at all times. If you have mixed ages, you can assign the older children to be responsible and hold hands with the younger ones. This might also be a good time to purchase a child harness to use on younger children who have a tendency to stray.

10. Stay hydrated. In airplanes it is very common to become dehydrated since the air is recycled and dry. To avoid this, make sure you drink plenty of water and make sure your children do too. This is particularly important for nursing mothers.

11. Carry medications with you. Never leave medications in your bags, they could get lost and trying to get another prescription can be a real hassle when you’re miles from home. Even over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrups and pain relievers, must be carried in carry-on luggage; the last thing you want to do when you arrive is reach for Benadryl.

12. Fly at night. When traveling with a baby, it’s often a good idea to take a night flight so that the child sleeps through the entire flight. This can work for older kids too!

13. Keep the kids busy. Bring paper and crayons so they can make cards and pictures for their loved ones. These are great gifts if you are staying with family or friends. If not, it can be the start of a drawn travel journal to share with friends when they return.

14. Make it an adventure. Look out the windows at the clouds and see what you see, animals, castles, etc. What would your children do if they lived high in the clouds? Ask the flight attendant if her children can visit the cabin to see how the plane is flown and ask them to tell you everything when they return. Most long flights are perfectly set up for kids to visit the pilots for a couple of minutes once they’ve reached cruising altitude.

15. Play. There are plenty of travel games that can be adapted to airplanes. Word games are best for this, they can be kept quite quiet and distracting for children. Memory games keep kids so busy trying to remember the order of items that they forget to fight or squirm.

16. Take turns. If you’re traveling with your spouse or another adult, it’s a good idea to take turns with the kids. While one adult stays with them in the waiting room, playing a game, the other can go pick up tickets and make other arrangements. The same goes for collecting your luggage and finding your rental car.

Air travel doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you prepare ahead of time. You know best what your kids like to do and what kind of things will distract them, these should be your surprises. For example, if you know your child loves I See books, get her a new one to look at on the plane. And if your daughter is dying to get the latest boy band CD, surprise her once she gets off the ground.

Remember, keep things fun and safe and things will go much better for you and your family.

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