Our Top Tips on Flying with Children
I remember being a bundle of nerves the first time we took our 4-month-old on a flight to Cape Town. Being quite the seasoned ‘without kids’ traveller, I had visions of being THAT mom, you know, the one with the inconsolable baby screaming loudly - the one who gets all the dirty looks. I was almost fanatical in my research, trying to soak up every single tip there could possibly be on flying with a baby (and later a toddler) and on the day, I was very prepared: checklists, checklists for checklists, extra bottles, toys, dummies, clothes, in short: everything you could think of, we had it. And then I realised, it was actually not that bad. The flight attendants were super helpful, our co-travellers were friendly and understanding and the trip was almost, dare I say it, EASY.
We have since flown quite a few times and I have thus put together a list of our top flying tips:
Do your Research
With this I don’t mean be like me, a fanatical bundle of nerves (picture the crazy squirrel from Ice Age obsessively scurrying after his nut) but rely on a trusted resource to give you the information that you need. Travelstart, for example, has put together this user-friendly infographic with their top flying tips:
Another amazing source of information is, of course, learning from other parents who have travelled with kids before. This video gives some fantastic feedback:
Plan your Trip Carefully
When booking a local flight, I, for example, prefer to fly into or out of Lanseria International Airport as it is not quite as busy as the bigger airports.
Booking a flight around nap time is also always a good idea as this ensures that your baby/toddler/pre-schooler is sleeping during the flight. Keeping a busy 2-year-old occupied in a small confined space can be challenging.
Take legal requirements into consideration and, for international flights, always ensure that your passport is up to date (here is some handy passport renewal information). I also recently published a post which gives a detailed account regarding what you need to know when travelling in South Africa.
Pack the Essentials into your Hand Luggage
Be sure that you have these ‘in case of emergency’ essentials within reach:
- A bottle or dummy so that your baby or toddler can suck on something during take-off and landing. This helps to equalise the pressure in their little ears and prevents unnecessary pain.
- An extra set of clothing (also pack something warm as it can get cold on an aeroplane) as well as extra diapers and wet wipes
- Your child’s favourite snacks
- A few (lightweight) favourite toys
- A fun activity such drawing or a puzzle and pack in a charged iPad for older kids/toddlers
- Basic first aid kit
- Legal documentation (see above)
- A stroller and/or baby carrier – running after a busy toddler through an airport is not my idea of fun, plus strapping the kids in frees up your hands
Be Relaxed and Patient
Travelling can be stressful and it can be very demanding when you have a baby and/or toddler to contend with, but children feel your anxiety and often act out because of it. Try and remain as calm and patient as possible and simply enjoy the trip. It is a part of your holiday after all.