Air Travel with Toddlers
Naturally, the concept of air travel with toddlers is a daunting prospect for anyone. At their worst, they can be impatient, loud, tantrum throwing, whinging, explosive pint sized people who are impossible to reason with.
Add that to a confined cabin space, loads of strangers and a seemingly infinite time to destination and it all suddenly looks best left for those other crazy families.
It's not that bad, really...
Take a step back and remind yourself that you survived the first 12 months as a parent. Something you should be - and no doubt are very - proud of!
Right, now that you’re feeling positive, it's time to progress to the next level – competent parent who travels with toddler and actually enjoys themselves.
We're not saying it'll be easy. On the contrary - it will be a challenge.
A dear friend with 4 boys (all very close in age) advised us before our first ever air travel, that if you set out with realistically low expectations of the flight, you will not be disappointed – you may in fact get a pleasant surprise!
The important thing to remember is that air travel with toddlers is simply the journey to your destination – for once, focus on enjoying your destination, rather than the journey!
Hints , Tips and Guidance - Specific to Air Travel with Toddlers
We all know that toddlers dislike being restrained or kept in one place for too long. Unfortunately, this is the first thing that they will encounter – buckled up for takeoff.
It's important also to note that takeoff can take ages if you are stuck on the runway for one reason or another, so for once don’t be over eager to be seated and ready to go – wait as long as is sensible.
- Using your toddler car seat during the flight, a familiar item to your toddler, can be helpful in reducing stress at the outset. Check with your airline for carseat restrictions.
- If your toddler is on your lap for the flight, encourage them not to be scared of the seatbelt by sitting down and showing them how you put yours on and off. They love to copy, so hopefully by making a big deal of it, you will have set off that inquisitive copy cat nature, making it easier to eventually buckle them in.
- Give your toddler 100% quality attention in time defined bursts. Sounds obvious, but it is never more important than when flying. Your toddler will be so happy to have your undivided attention for an activity and this 'fun time' can hopefully be leveraged later. I found this technique essential when I travelled solo with our toddler and baby longhaul.
- Do what ever works to keep them occupied during the takeoff or turbulent times so that you don’t have a struggling, kicking, fighting toddler trying to escape the restraint.
You know your toddler better than anyone so choose what suits best – reading, drawing, playdow, singing, dvd player, face pulling, this piggy went to market, favourite toy, handheld game, or all of the above.
- Remember to encourage them to drink or suck something on take off and landing to help equalise the ears.
- Most importantly, stay calm. Easier said than done.
- If you're highly strung and worried, make it your priority (your own personal challenge) to complete the flight, without losing your cool publicly.
And if your don’t manage it, and you find yourself embarrassed by the behaviour of your toddler – don’t worry and don’t let it get to you. Air travel with toddlers is no easy thing - we've all heard the horror stories.
- Book an aisle seat and remind yourself that air travel with toddlers is not relaxing - its a workout. Let you toddler explore as much as you feel comfortable doing. Trips up and down the aisle, a few trips to the toilet – all new and exciting.
Ultimately it's about staying abreast of your toddlers basic needs.
Preparation and patience will be the difference between a stressful journey and a straight forward one. And at the end of the day, if your toddler is happy, so is everyone else, you included!
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More information, hints and tips on flying with children
including top tips on booking your extras and how to get the most out of checking in.
Carry on Luggage checklist.
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