It’s not often that we fly these days, so I was a little rusty on what to do with my kids when we recently went on a flight to Johannesburg. Thinking about what to bring or how to prepare for a flight can be stressful, so I compiled this list with my tips for flying with children.
1. Take them to the loo when you see one
Yes this one is first on my list… it’s the most important of all and rightfully so!!! You never realise how much time you spend moving in between check-in and coffee and getting to the gate…. some airports can take nearly an hour just to get from point A to point B. For that reason we just take them to the loo when we see one, like every now and then.
2. Check-in early online if you want the family to sit together
From 24 hours before departure you can check-in online and print your own boarding passes. This allows you to drop your bags at the quick bag drop counter and saves so much time and you don’t have to worry about where the children will run around when they start getting bored at check-in.
3. Click ISOFIX seats into the trolley
Ever tried to travel with two kids, 3 suitcases, a backpack and two car seats? Where do the car seats go you ask? Well not on the same trolley as everything else I’ll tell you! Don’t tell them I told you this but we click our ISOFIX car seats into the wire basket of the airport trolley. The suitcase goes first and then the car seat goes on top of that so when you click it in, it’s completely fastened and safe for your child to sit in as long as you make sure the seat doesn’t move an inch and is secure. Theres usually even space for a backpack by their feet. Our kids think it’s so funny and all the people smile and wave. Sure some people stare with wide eyes as they don’t realise the seat is fastened but hey, forget about the haters, this is to make the journey easier for you!
4. Take advantage of early boarding
Did you know if you travel with children you get priority boarding? Use it… they won’t come to you 25m further in the line to make life easier, you have to just go ahead to the front of the line to priority boarding! Just make sure ahead of time that your airline allows this, but we have yet to find one that doesn’t.
5. Bring as much activities as you can fit into their little backpacks
Have at least one surprise that they are only allowed to see when you get to the plane… a new toy kept my children busy for the whole 2 hours to Johannesburg once! I pack a special backpack for each child which they have to carry themselves and pack busy books, crayons and a new coloring book or sketch pad etc. My son loves transformers so these keep him busy for hours. Don’t pack things that can shift around easily and get lost like lego or small parts of toys.
6. Bring snacks
Snacks can be expensive on planes and it takes some time for the trolley to be brought out so bring plenty snacks to keep them busy. Also bring something that will last through take off and landing like a lollipop for their ears… just keep in mind if your child is prone to sugar rush, that you wouldn’t want to give them too much sugar upon take off, so in that case use a packet of nuts or something they really love but that will last about 20 minutes.
7. Have wet wipes handy
I once flow without wet wipes… I remember that well… don’t do that! You get confronted with all kinds of new scenarios where wet wipes are needed even if you don’t use them that much in everyday life. Flying is like a box of chocolates with children… you never know what you are going to get!
8. Don’t expect to keep them screen-free for the whole flight
Especially if you are going on a long flight, screen-time is inevitable. Though I prefer busy books- I even made some myself once just for the flight, I usually need the tablet at least for a few minutes at the end. If you prefer wholesome learning to in flight entertainment, bring the tablet and if anything, make sure it is charged!
9. Prepare for enough time to relax!
Make sure you are there late enough not to spend too much time in the airport, but early enough to take everything in your stride. There’s no use rushing around and running everywhere, creating stress for yourself and the children. Make them feel safe and relaxed by taking it easy, you will get there eventually and the plane won’t leave without you… well probably 😉
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