Pack several small, easy to stash activities that can entertain your child on the airplane and at the airports.
Here are some suggestions for airline travel with young children:
• Allow plenty of time at the airport for check-in, and connecting flights. Remember how much longer it takes to achieve anything with kids in tow and apply the same formula to your travel plans.
• Ask if your flight is full when checking in. Some assistants will block out the seat next to you in a less full flight or offer you the option of seating next to a vacant seat. (Recent experience has taught me that airline flights are completely full, though it is still worthwhile to ask.)
• Get on the plane first and off the plane last to get a better chance of assistance from cabin crew.
• Take a set of reins or a harness for a toddler so that you can let him walk around the terminal - but still keep him close at hand.
• Pack a small bag with just one diaper, a few wipes, a perfumed nappy sack and some rash cream if needed and place it in the seat pocket in front of you.
• Some planes have a larger bathroom at the very rear of the plane with a correspondingly larger change table. Wait for this to become free if you have a larger baby to change, as airplane change tables are small.
• Always test the temperature of food heated in the aircraft galley before you give it to your child. If is often way too hot!
• Disposable bibs are a great idea for infant mealtimes on board an airplane.
• Ask for bottles and meals to be warmed well in advance of when you need them. Airline personnel do not have a microwave and have to heat using hot water in the galley. This takes time.
• Wrap toys to add to their entertainment value. Leave one end of the package open so that you can show the 'gift' to security staff if they ask you to.
• Bring toys out one by one - get maximum use from them, pack them away, then move on to the next toy.
• Get older children to carry their own special tote with basic entertainment contents - stickers, coloring book, reading books, cassette tapes, dolls or cars etc. KidsTravelHappy.com sell a great travel toy tote that's good for this and also fits neatly under the seat in front for take-off and landing!
• Take an extra-large purse as a carry on. That way you can fit in extra things like toys, snacks, wipes and a fresh diaper. (Since your purse is not counted as a carry-on, this is a really good idea.)
Cecii’s drawing of her parents riding on the airplane. (According to the rendering, both parents are still smiling!)
Katherine Generaux, Community Inclusion Director